UFC concludes its six-week stretch of events on Saturday with UFC Vegas 73, headlined by a strawweight main event between Mackenzie Dern and Angela Hill. It’s a sneaky event, low on name value but high on competitive matchmaking, which means there are 13 total fights and only a few good places to lay action. We’re keeping it tight this week so let’s get to it.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Michael Johnson, +135
We backed Michael Johnson at UFC Orlando and it paid off in a big way, so we’re doing it again this week.
Johnson is one of the most mercurial talents in the UFC and he’s a little long in the tooth, but Saturday he faces another fighter with the same downsides, but one who hasn’t competed 17 months. Diego Ferreira has shown flashed inside the octagon but he’s stumbled every time he stepped up in competition, and with how good Johnson looked against Marc Diakiese, I’m backing the southpaw with the lightning quick hands.
Mackenzie Dern by Submission, +175
After she barely lost to Yan Xiaonan, I swore I’d stop believing in Dern. Welp, here I am.
Everyone knows the story on Dern by now. She’s a world-class grappler, the best in women’s MMA, but she doesn’t have great takedowns and she refuses to go for ground-and-pound. Meaning if you can do just enough to survive, like Yan did, then she’s runs out of options pretty quickly. Fortunately for Dern, Hill probably can’t do that. Hill is game, but she’s not a bullet-proof takedown defender and her grappling, while good, obviously cannot hang in this fight. Virna Jandiroba, a much less accomplished grappler, was able to stymie Hill with top control a year ago. I suspect Dern can actually get the job done.
Joaquin Buckley by KO/TKO/DQ, +100
Andre Fialho is the quintessential get-or-get-got fighter. In 23 career fights, he’s only gone to decision four times, and in six of his career losses, four of them have come by knockout, including his previous two fights inside the UFC. Likewise, Buckley is also not here for the judges help, with 11 of his 15 career wins coming by knockout. And in this fight, I favor Buckley to get his way. He’s faster and hits harder, and I think the move down to welterweight should give him a pretty clearly size advantage that he can leverage into a highlight-reel win.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz by Decision, +110
Vanessa Demopoulos has been a fun story the past year, but this is where the fairy-tale ends. As with Johnson, I’m an unabashed Kowalkiewicz backer, and while there was a pretty rough stretch from 2018 to 2021, we got back on track in a big way in 2022 after she changed everything up and refocused on the game. Since then, it’s been two wins in a row — and Demopoulous figure to make three. Kowalkiewicz is a high-volume striker who mostly out-works opponents. That’s a path to success against Demopoulous, who isn’t great on the feet and also lacks a strong wrestling game. Kowalkiewicz straight up is the safer play, but given her lack of finishing overall and the fact that Demopoulos has never been stopped, I assume this one goes to the cards.
Parlay of the Week
Anthony Hernandez, -205
I definitely have some concerns with this one given that Edmen Shahbazyan looked great after moving to Xtreme Couture, but everything else says this fight lines up for Hernandez. One of Shahbazyan’s greatest weaknesses is his takedown defense and grappling, and Anthony Hernandez excels at both. We are most likely in for a replay of the Shahbazyan vs. Derek Brunson or Jack Hermansson fights.
Emily Ducote/Loopy Godinez Over 2.5 Rounds, -700
In 12 career fights, Godinez has gone to decision 10 times. In 19 career fights, Ducote has gone to decision 11 times. Godinez has never been finished. Ducote has only been finished once. These are two very durable women who aren’t great finishers. This fight is extremely likely to go to the scorecards.
Parlay these three bets together for +102 odds.
Long Shot(s) of the Week
Chase Hooper by KO/TKO/DQ in Round 1, +1200
Outside of a Long Shot bet, I think this could be a good “buy low” spot on Chase Hooper. Hooper has been very hit-or-miss in the UFC, but he’s only 23-years-old and he’s still developing. This will be his first fight up at lightweight and it’s against about as favorable a matchup as he could ask for. I’m not here to say Nick Fiore is bad, but he hasn’t beaten anyone remotely good and he looked awful in his UFC debut. Hooper is still a dynamic grappler, and when faced with an opponent who isn’t going to big brother him physically, he should be able to have some success. Over the course of his career, that usually means a quick finish.
Painful week last week as I feel a little hard done by with the Cody Stamann controversy. Oh well, that’s the game we play. On to the next one. Tricky card this week, but hopefully we can bank something good before the week off, and then the summer rush starts in earnest.
Until next time, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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