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UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs. Prochazka
#UFCVegas25 MMA Betting Preview
The winner in Saturday night’s main event could be next in line for the strap with a big performance, and I believe we will get one out of these two combatants, as the UFC is back from Las Vegas for UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs Prochazka. Expect a firefight from these two light heavyweights, with will cap off a night filled with some solid scraps across a scheduled 12-fight card, all live and available on ESPN+.
- DATE: SATURDAY 05/01/21
- BROADCAST: ESPN+
- VENUE: UFC APEX
- LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada
- # of MATCHES: 12
MAIN CARD TAKES, PREDICTIONS & BETS
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 205LBS: #3 DOMINICK REYES 12-2 VS #5 JIRI PROCHAZKA 27-3-1
Do not blink. I will be very surprised if this one goes into the over rounds. Jiri Prochazka entered the UFC via Rizin last July and got into a war with Volkan Oezdemir and eventually turned his lights out in the first minute of the second round. The large majority of Jiri's 31 fights have ended in the first round, and the guy has 26 finishes across his 27 wins. He will come forward with his hands down, baiting his opponents into trading, and will take a shot to land two as they say. He's slick with his counters and moves very unorthodox, making it very hard for his opponents to time. Dominick Reyes needs this win here. He was on a massive roll, winning 12 straight, which led to his war against Jon Jones, in a fight where many thought he won, though Jones was handed the unanimous decision, keeping his belt. After Jones vacated the division to move to heavyweight, Reyes, via his solid performance against the champ, was slated to fight Jan Blachowicz for the vacant belt. We took Jan and cashed in that fight as he put Reyes away via TKO, making it two straight losses for Reyes. I'm not into MMA math, but a few fights back, Reyes fought Oezdemir and was awarded a split decision, though I truly believe he lost that fight. The majority of MMA media saw it the way I did as well. This is the same Oezdemir; Jiri just flatlined. Stylistically, Reyes tends to like to settle in and get into a groove, while Jiri comes out guns blazing. I suspect Reyes will have some issues with his style and awkward movements, and after coming off his knockout loss, and now fighting a guy that does nothing but sleep his opponents, it's set up to be a tough fight mentally as well.
Prediction: Jiri Prochazka with another finish
Bet: Jiri Prochazka -125
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: #14 GIGA CHIKADZE 12-2 VS #15 CUB SWANSON 27-11
Big step up for Chikadze here, and well deserved as he’s now won seven straight, and now 5-0 under the UFC banner. Cub makes his 20th UFC walk here and looks to make it three straight after winning his last two, while oddsmakers had him a pretty moderate underdog in both those fights. Cub has faced some of the world's best along the way, including Frankie Edger, Brian Ortega, Max Holloway, and Artem Lobov. (had to throw him in there) Cub has only lost against guys that have held titles, challenged for titles, or have been highly ranked. Chikadze has promised a finish against Cub, and if he utilizes his speed and range, he could rip one off here. Cub won't go away easily though, and as we've seen Chikadze fade the later the fights go, Cub has that gas tank for days. Cub doesn’t grapple much, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him implement that part of his game here, especially if it goes into the later rounds.
Prediction: Cub Swanson edges out Chikadze.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 205LBS: ION CUTELABA 15-6 VS DUSTIN JACOBY 14-5
Cutelaba is a fun guy to watch. Typically looks to bully his opponent, which starts at the weigh-ins, but he has issues when his opponents don't get sucked into his mind games. If you don’t stay on your game against this guy, he can finish you, as he’s done in 14 of his 15 victories in his professional career. As of late, he's dropped three of his last four, only defeating Khalil Rountree, who is one of those guys that looked to be mentally rattled against this guy. Dustin Jacoby is taking this fight on short notice and has been undefeated since 2016 when looking at his MMA and kickboxing matches. Jacoby will be the much better striker from a technical standpoint and should keep range and avoid the big shots from Cutelaba.
Prediction: If Jacoby can avoid the big shots early, he should take this fighter over the longer it goes.
Bet: Dustin Jacoby +120
MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS: #15 SEAN STRICKLAND 22-3 VS KRZYSZTOF JOTKO 22-4
Strickland is on a little tear here and has looked impressive since his motorcycle accident, and most recently finished Brendan Allen pretty decisively last November, in a fight many thought Allen would win. On the other side, Jotko has lost three straight, but since has rebounded, winning three in a row, though against what I would say is lower-level opponents, in comparison to the three that beat him, and Strickland in this matchup. Jotko throws with much less volume, with more power and intent to hurt you with every shot, while Strickland will look to pepper you with shots from all directions via a very well-rounded skill set.
Prediction: Strickland should do enough to get the nod.
BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135LBS: #12 MERAB DVALISHVILI 12-4 VS #13 CODY STAMANN 19-3-1
Interesting matchup for Stamann here. He usually has the grappling advantage in his fights, but Dvalishvili will be a big problem here. Stamann is ok on the feet but doesn't carry enough heat to hurt his opponents, and as we've seen in the past, Dvalishvili walks forward and will take some shots to secure the takedowns as he goes to work. As Stamann has been taken down successfully in six of his last seven fights, Dvalishvili and his aggressiveness should have no issues doing the same and multiple times. He's landed 11 or more takedowns in three of his UFC fights and averages almost eight every 15 minutes on average.
Prediction: Dvalishvili via decision.
Bet: Dvalishvili via DEC -140
WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS: POLIANA BOTELHO 8-3 VS LUANA CAROLINA 6-2
Botelho should be the much better fighter wherever this one goes. Although she got out grappled by Gillian Robertson in her last fight, I suspect she will take that role here against Carolina. Not much invested here.
PRELIMS TAKES, PREDICTIONS & BETS
WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT BOUT 115LBS: RANDA MARKOS 10-10-1 VS LUANA PINHEIRO 8-1
The UFC has kept Markos around for 17 fights, though she's lost three straight and four of her last five. This has to be it here with a loss, especially against a debuting fighter in the likes of Luana Pinheiro. Pinheiro won her spot via KO finish last November on DWCS, as she finished Stephanie Frausto inside of one round. She's won via finish in her last seven victories and has just one loss, though via a close split decision back in 2017. Markos is just 10-10-1, though better than her record portrays her to be, as she’s fought some of the best along the way. As we've seen, she's not the best on the feet and looks to close and grapple bell to bell. Although not the best technically, Pinheiro will be aggressive on the feet, and usually presses enough to throw her opponents off track. If Markos gets this one down, Pinheiro should have enough skills to compete, and that coupled with her advantage on the feet should be enough to win her debut here.
Prediction: Luana Pinheiro
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: GABRIEL BENITEZ 22-8 VS JONATHAN PEARCE 10-4
Benitez moves back down to 145 after splitting his last two fights up at lightweight, most recently coming off an impressive finish vs. Justin Jaynes. Pearce isn't bad himself winning 80% of his fights via KO. Benitez will be the quicker of the two on the feet and take the majority of the exchanges. Pearce will have the grappling/takedown edge, but when Benitez gets taken down, he’s typically always quick to get it back to the feet with limited issues. Benitez will pose some issues for Pearce and catch him in a similar fashion to what the vet Joe Lauzon did a couple of fights back. Pearce is a guy that will look to finish or go out on his shield and has only two of his fights reaching the final bell.
Prediction: Benitez and he has a shot to finish this one.
Bet: Gabriel Benitez -200
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: KAI KAMAKA III 8-3 VS TJ BROWN 14-8
Both guys are looking to bounce back off of losses. Kamaka looked good against Tony Kelley in his UFC debut but unfortunately followed that by getting finished by Jonathan Pearce. TJ Brown won his spot on the DWCS, though he has lost his two fights in the org and has his back against the wall here, most likely fighting to avoid that pink slip. Kamaka isn't afraid to stand and trade, and although he’s not much of a finisher, he will do enough to press Brown to look to grapple. We will see just that, Kamaka is winning the exchanges while Brown is looking to close and grapple. Kamaka isn't afraid to grapple himself, and I see him with the more well-rounded skill set in this one.
Prediction: Kai Kamaka III
WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT BOUT 115LBS: LOMA LOOKBOONMEE 5-2 VS SAM HUGHES 5-2
Hughes didn’t look horrible against Tecia Torres, though she got finished via eye injury at the end of the fifth round. Torres, not known as a finisher by any means, did show there are levels here, and Lookboonmee will do the same. Hughes will be the bigger fighter, though Lookboonmee stays busy on the feet and has shown some technical skill in all three of her UFC fights. Though just 2-1 in that stretch, she's out-struck each of her opponents, including Angela Hill, and you know how busy Hill usually is. The UFC must see something in Hughes putting her against Torres and Lookboonmee in back-to-back fights.
Prediction: Although the line is wide, I see Lookboonmee being able to at least out-score Hughes in two of the three rounds.
Bet: Lookboonmee via DEC -135
MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS: ANDREAS MICHAILIDIS 12-4 VS KB BHULLAR 8-1
Michailidas was on a little run before his UFC debut last July, where he lost via TKO at the end of round 1. His debut was against Modestas Bukauskas, where they traded strikes most of the round with Michailidis having the slight edge, until he was hit with some elbows, ala Travis Browne style, where the ref ended up stopping the fight between rounds awarding Bukauskas the finish, as Michailidis went to lean against the cage, and rather went through the unlocked cage door. Not a good look. Speaking of not-good looks, KB Bhullar was on the wrong end of an absolute rout against Tom Breese in his UFC debut last August, where he was finished via punches in under two minutes. Before the Breese fight, Bhullar strung eight wins in a row, though against very low-level opponents for the most part. I expect Bhullar to come out very defensive, looking to stretch this one out a bit, as Michailidis is a very fast starter with all 11 of his wins coming in the very first round, though three of his four losses when the fight reaches the second round or later.
Prediction: Michailidis TKO via strikes.
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: LUKE SANDERS 13-4 VS FELIPE COLARES 9-2
Tough to back either guy here as consistency lacks on both sides. Sanders is all about keeping the fight standing, as he’s only landed one takedown in his UFC career, and when his opponent gets him to the mat, it gets hairy. Sanders has a perception to be in fights, then eventually succumb to submission, three times recently during his UFC stint. If this gets down, he’ll struggle again against the BJJ black belt here, with a decent chin to boot. Sanders takes this fight if he can keep it standing, with Colares potentially sneaking a submission if it goes down. Although he gets hit a lot, Colares has only lost to opponents that lead their fights in takedowns, and we know Luke ain’t about that life.
Prediction: Sanders early, Colares late. I’ll side with the Brazilian.
- Strickland/Dvalishvili -108
- Add Pinheiro +196
- Add Benitez +335
THE GUPPY SPECIAL
Now, this is no "whale play," and actually, it's completely the opposite. This one is for pure entertainment purposes only. Many of you know that I've run the board a handful of times as I've thrown out predictions, and one of these week's we will hit one of these "guppies."
Use this play to round your balance off at your book, nothing serious, just entertainment purposes only.
This week's Guppy Special (odds from DraftKings):
Parlay pays +1744
FULL CARD PREDICTIONS
- JIRI PROCHAZKA defeats DOMINICK REYES
- CUB SWANSON defeats GIGA CHIKADZE
- DUSTIN JACOBY defeats ION CUTELABA
- SEAN STRICKLAND defeats KRZYSZTOF JOTKO
- MERAB DVALISHVILI defeats CODY STAMANN
- POLIANA BOTELHO defeats LUANA CAROLINA
- LUANA PINHEIRO defeats RANDA MARKOS
- GABRIEL BENITEZ defeats JONATHAN PEARCE
- KAI KAMAKA III defeats TJ BROWN
- LOMA LOOKBOONMEE defeats SAM HUGHES
- ANDREAS MICHAILIDIS defeats KB BHULLAR
- FELIPE COLARES defeats LUKE SANDERS
UFC PREDICTION BET SUMMARY
- 2021 Fight card predictions overall: 93-66-3 (58%)
- 2021 Targeted matchups (wagers): 51-52-1 (49%)
Be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook options as well, on top of the daily fantasy tournaments available for Saturday. The sportsbook has lines up and available for fight lines, method of victory, and round betting!
DFS PLAYS & STRATEGIES
- Choose active fighters. Coupling an active fighter on his/her way to a unanimous decision will give you key points for your team. Just like any other DFS traditional sport, you want the active, offensive player that scores. Key metrics here are SLpM and TD AVG/15min.
- Play the heavyweights. The approximate overall finish rate in the UFC is 54%. Most weight divisions range from 40%-60%, while the heavyweights push a 75% finish rate. You will receive bonus points for finishes inside the distance.
- Try always to include the main event or title fights. Five-round fights mean more time to rack up points if you pick the right fighter. In some cases, even if you have the loser, the points can be more than a three-round winner.
- Don't get excited and rush a pick based on stats; consider sample size. Some fighters have limited fights compared to their opponents when looking at metrics. Stats could be exaggerated. Do your research. Watch for spots with debuting fighters as well. Always check the records of the opponents they faced on their way to the UFC. Always pull fight tape as well. You’d be surprised at what you will find.
- Review methods of victory. I supply the finish rates within this article, and as you dive in, you can compare method of victory to method of loss for the matchups. For example, you can find matchups where Fighter A has a high % of submission victories matched up with Fighter B, with a high % of submission losses.
As mentioned in the tip sheet above, here’s my MMA DFS Heat Chart for UFC Vegas 25. As you can see, the chart is ranked based on fight finish odds. Fight finishes are where the points are in MMA DFS. Take a glance at the stack, and we will break down the individual matchups below.
Two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns. They get off on their opponents; watch your points rack up quickly. Here's my Offensive Output Meter for the card. With this chart, you can compare historical fighter averages in these two key metrics as I rank all fighters participating Saturday.
Below is the striking differential, sorted by those that historically land more than they absorb.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT DFS RECOMMENDATIONS
- Fighters that typically press the action, land takedowns, and/or high finish rates matched up against those that get finished, roster. (see my charts above)
- Fights projected to NOT go to a decision:
- Reyes/Prochazka -365
- Jacoby/Cutelaba -325
- Michailidis/Bhullar -240
- Benitez/Pearce -185
- Colares/Sanders -135
- The five-round main event is in play here, although this one most likely ends early. I’m siding with Prochazka here. As mentioned, his awkwardness and power could cause Reyes some issues.
- Top-tier fighters to build around include: Michailidis, Strickland
- Mid-tier fighter considerations are: Dvalishvili, Prochazka, Pinheiro
- Live dogs that could score: Jacoby, Swanson, possibly Colares
Good luck, everyone. I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night! Follow me on Twitter @Y2CASEY