MMA Best Bets: Picks, Odds, and Predictions for UFC Vegas 71

MMA Best Bets: Picks, Odds, and Predictions for UFC Vegas 71

This article is part of our UFC Picks series.

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, April 22 for UFC Vegas 71. In the main event, Sergei Pavlovich takes on Curtis Blaydes in a battle of top-five heavyweights.

Below, I'll share my favorite play, an underdog, a prop and a two-fighter parlay. All odds are via the DraftKings Sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article. 

Weight Class: Heavyweight

Curtis Blaydes (17-3) vs. Sergei Pavlovich (17-1)

Sergei Pavlovich has been running through the competition since he came back in 2022 after three years off and knocked out Shamil Abdurakhimov. He then followed that up a 55-second knockout win over Derrick Lewis and a 54-second TKO win over Tai Tuivasa.

With all those KO's, some bettors might like Pavlovich as the underdog, as many think he would be able to KO Blaydes knowing that Lewis knocked him out and he was TKO'd by Francis Ngannou twice. Yet, those three wins are not good as they look on paper, as Abdurakhimov was on a skid, Lewis is clearly on the decline and Tuivasa fought him two months after getting knocked out by Ciryl Gane.

The problem with Pavlovich is we haven't learned anything about him since his debut. He entered the UFC with a ton of hype, and Alistair Overeem was able to take him down at will and beat him up with ground-and-pound. Since then, he has KO'd his opponents early and hasn't shown whether he has improved his wrestling and grappling.

To me, Pavlovich is first-round or bust, and I do think Blaydes can avoid those power shots. Once he gets Pavloivich down, he will be able to wear on him and get a third-round ground-and-pound TKO win.

UFC Vegas 71 Best Bet: Curtis Blaydes (-170)

Weight Class: Bantamweight

Brady Hiestand (6-2) vs. Danaa Batgerel (12-4)

Opening up the card is a bantamweight bout between Brady Hiestand and Danaa Batgerel, and I like Hiestand to get the win as the underdog.

Hiestand is super young and green and is improving every fight, but I do worry about his chin, as we have seen him get knocked out and rocked. Yet, the key to his success is his wrestling, as he averages 4.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and has a success rate of 47 percent. Meanwhile, Danaa has a takedown defense of 66 percent, so I expect Hiestand to get him down.

Danaa can KO Hiestand (and that wouldn't surprise me), but he's on a two-fight losing skid and is 3-3 in the UFC. He simply hasn't been very consistent, and all three of his wins are over guys that aren't in the UFC anymore.

I like Hiestand to survive that first round, and as Danaa gasses, he will up the takedowns and edge out a decision.

UFC Vegas 71 Best Bet: Brady Hiestand (+125)

Weight Class: Lightweight

Bobby Green (29-14-1) vs. Jared Gordon (19-6)

Bobby Green is coming off a KO loss to Drew Dober in a fight Green was winning and looked good with his jab -- until he got caught. Gordon, meanwhile, is coming off a decision loss to Paddy Pimblett in a fight that should have gone his way, as many thought he was robbed.

In this fight, I like Green to win a decision. While he is not a finisher, he has all the tools to just jab Gordon and win on points. Gordon will look to push Green against the fence and grind out a decision that way, but Green is hard to hold and take down. 

On the feet, Green is the much better striker, as he lands 5.99 significant strikes per minute. Out of his last eight wins, seven have come by decision. Gordon, meanwhile, has gone the distance in five of his last six fights.

UFC Vegas 71 Best Bet: Bobby Green by decision (+105)

Weight Classes: Women's Flyweight & Featherweight

Iasmin Lucindo (13-5) vs. Brogan Walker (7-3)
Francis Marshall (7-0) vs. William Gomis (11-2)

For my parlay, I'm taking Iasmin Lucindo to beat Brogan Walker and Francis Marshall to defeat William Gomis.

Lucindo is moving up to 125 pounds after her debut loss at strawweight in a very close fight against Yazmin Jauregui, who has looked impressive in the UFC. The Brazilian is only 21 years old and is a great striker, while Brogan Walker is coming off TUF and was finished by Julianna Miller in the finals, which isn't a good loss to have. Walker, to me, is just average. On the feet, Lucindo will be able to pick her apart and get either a late TKO or a one-sided decision.

The other leg is taking Francis Marshall over William Gomis. Marshall is 7-0 and coming off a KO win over Marcelo Rojo in his UFC debut. The well-rounded, undefeated fighter averages 6.26 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 4.95, in addition to averaging 4.95 takedowns per 15 minutes. Gomis, meanwhile, doesn't throw much volume, as he averages just 2.13 strikes per minute. He is a great wrestler, however, as he averages three takedowns per 15 minutes and has a 100 percent takedown defense.

I expect this fight to play out on the feet and Marshall will land the better shots and either get a knockout or another one-sided decision, as it depends on how durable Gomis is.

UFC Vegas 71 Best Bet: Iasmin Lucindo & Francis Marshall parlay (-108)


UFC Vegas 71 Best Bets:

Here is a recap of my best bets for this weekend's UFC Vegas 71 event:

For up-to-date information on the latest odds and props from multiple sportsbooks, check out the UFC odds page on RotoWire.

If you're in Ohio where legal betting just launched, check out Ohio sports betting promos. Sports betting is also officially live in the state of Massachusetts. To get the most bang for your buck when selecting a sportsbook as a new customer, check out these Massachusetts Sports Betting Promos.

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Cole Shelton
Cole Shelton is a full-time sports writer focusing on MMA.
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