UFC Vegas 54 game preview: best bets, parlays and long shot of the week
Charges of very hectic UFC 274, the world’s premier MMA organization returns with a Fight Night Las Vegas follow-up card to keep the momentum going. In the main event, former light heavyweight champion John Blachowicz takes on one of the division’s top prospects, Aleksandar Rakic, in a fight that could have huge implications for the 205-pound title. Outside of the main event there is a little less name value but we still have 10 more fights on Saturday, with several good betting opportunities.
As always, every chance is courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Aleksandar Rakic, -195
In a world where the judges did their job well, Aleksandar Rakic would be undefeated and have a lot more hype behind him. Instead, a split decision loss to Volkan Oezdemir leaves him a modest favorite over nearly 40-year-old Jan Blachowicz. Don’t get me wrong, Rakic isn’t the best fighter in the world, but he may be the best light heavyweight, and he should be more than a match for the former champion here. He is younger, faster and keeps a higher pace than Blachowicz. Also, I like his low kicks to disrupt Jan’s rhythm and allow him to score steadily while Blachowicz spends the whole fight trying in vain to land his legendary Polish power.
In what might be one of the most entertaining fights on the entire card, Araujo takes on Andrea Lee in a flyweight undercard bout that features a huge clash of styles. Lee is a solid fighter who does a bit of everything and works at a very high pace on her feet, but she’s not a great defensive fighter or grappler, and that’s where Araujo excels. Araujo will almost certainly be able to launch her takedowns early, and from there, I think she’ll build a track that Lee can’t come back from.
Bets on accessories
Davey Grant/Louis Smolka Under 2.5 turns, -185
This bet was suggested to me by my co-host of the No Bets Barred podcast, Conner Burks, and I have to say, it won me over. Grant is a natural puncher on the feet, playing well against Smolka’s sometimes suspect chin, but he’s also a liability on the ground, having been submitted in four of his six career losses, something Smolka can take advantage of. Since returning to the UFC in 2018, Smolka has been a classic Get-Or-Get-Got fighter, alternating between wins and stoppage losses.
Katlyn Chookagian by Decision, +110
Death, Taxes and Katlyn Chookagian winning by decision – this has been the history of the flyweight division since Chookagian made her UFC debut in 2016. Chookagian is an elite fighter and one of the top weights flies on Earth, but she’s just not a grad. Ribas, on the other hand, is a very good fighter, but she’s also a natural strawweight. The size difference here will be very difficult for her to overcome, especially considering Chookagian’s ability to nullify the opponent’s attack. Ribas might be able to score some kills early on, but she’ll struggle to build lasting success, and all the while, Chookagian will be snacking and racking up points.
Angela Hill per Decision, +200
I don’t know what MMA god Angela Hill pissed off, but “Overkill” had one of the most unfortunate careers that wasn’t plagued by injury. In her last five fights, Hill has lost three by split decision, and in each of them she had a legitimate reason to feel robbed. Against Virna Jandiroba, a similar fate could befall her if she gives up too many takedowns, but Jandiroba is too wild on her feet and not a great wrestler. I think Hill can separate Jandiroba from a distance and avoid most holds, which should put her in line with ultimately get a win by decision.
bet of the week
Maximov is the biggest favorite on this card for a reason: he’s going to beat Andre Petroski. Maximov is far from a finished product and has obvious weaknesses, but the man is an excellent wrestler and grappler, and if he has nothing else on Saturday, that alone should get him the win. Petroski is also a grappler but he isn’t as good at it, after being ninja choked out by Bryan Battle on The ultimate fighter. Maximov should win comfortably.
Katlyn Chookagian /amanda ribas Go to decision, -225
In her 14 fights inside the octagon, Chookagian has never stopped an opponent and has only been stopped twice, against Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade. Ribas is a good fighter, but she doesn’t have the physical strength of these women. If this fight doesn’t make it to the final cards, that would be magnificent.
Viviane Araujo/Andrea Lee Over 1.5 rounds, -650
Araujo and Lee have combined 14 UFC fights between them. A bet over 1.5 rounds would have cashed each of those fights. Simply put, neither woman is a great finisher, and when they get them (or are stopped) it’s later in the fight after attrition has set in.
Multiply these three bets together for odds of +110.
Long shot of the week
Louis Smolka by submission in round 1, +1500
As mentioned above, four of Davey Grant’s six losses have come by submission, and seven of Smolka’s 17 career wins have come by tapout. Don’t get me wrong, the most likely scenario this weekend is that Davey Grant lands a big shot early and takes Smolka away, but Grant isn’t the best finisher in the world and if he tries to force something too soon, Smolka may find himself taking an error in judgment from the England fighter.
UFC 274 was one of our worst weeks, having invested heavily in Rose Namajunas before she laid one of the biggest eggs of all time we’ve ever seen in a title fight. That, plus Shogun Rua and Marcos Rogerio de Lima, who made tough decisions against them, solidified an all-time bad night. But we’re moving on to the next one this week.
Good luck everyone and gamble responsibly!
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