UFC Vegas 65 DFS Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

UFC Vegas 65 DFS Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

Saturday's 12-fight card may seem like a chance to catch our collective breath after the epic spectacle that was UFC 281, but we still have several intriguing fights to be analyzed for betting and DFS opportunities. We'll cover every bout across five platforms, including a record-setting heavyweight who has fallen on hard times, and an all-action wrestler who could put up big numbers as an underdog. Our betting line this week comes from William Hill and is accurate as to the post date of this article.

Plays to Consider on DraftKings

Brady Hiestand ($8,800)

Hiestand got out-scrambled and out-struck by Ricky Turcios in his UFC debut but acquitted himself well as an active wrestler with some pop in his hands. He draws a favorable matchup in Fernie Garcia, a boxer who stands heavy on his front leg. While he may need to fade some heavy exchanges early, Hiestand should be able to ultimately get this fight where he needs it, as Turcios was taken down twice by Journey Newson in May.

Ricky Turcios ($8,600)

The aforementioned Turcios can do a bit of everything in the Octagon, combining solid wrestling and grappling skills with a kickboxing base. That's more than we can say for Kevin Natividad, who generally resorts to trying to counterstrike while ceding the center of the cage. Turcios should be able to win this fight wherever it goes, but may opt to wrestle in an attempt to fade the considerable power of "Quicksand."

Muslim Salikhov ($8,300)

Salikhov lived up to his "King of Kung Fu" moniker early in his UFC career but has leaned more heavily on his wrestling recently, notching six takedowns in the last four contests. He will likely go back to the well here, as Andre Fialho is a pure boxer with power in his hands. Salikhov will also have a sizable speed advantage here, which should prevent him from getting backed against the cage by his opponent.

Ion Cutelaba ($7,400)

The "kill or be killed" mindset has been working out poorly for Cutelaba of late, as he has lost his last two fights by submission in the first round. Kennedy Nzechukwu has a big frame and power in the division but frequently gets off to slow starts in which he allows opponents to jump out ahead of him. This would be a disaster in a fight with someone like Cutelaba, who will put the pedal to the floor from the opening bell looking for takedowns and submission attempts. There is a chance he could gas himself out looking for a finish, but it's very likely that Cutelaba finds at least one takedown in this fight, making him an excellent underdog play.

Plays to Consider on SuperDraft

Chase Sherman – 2.1 X Multiplier

Part of this pick is a fade on the opponent, as I can't justify Waldo Cortes-Acosta as a big favorite over a UFC veteran. This is particularly true given his performance against Jared Vanderaa, in which he took the opportunity to literally lunge at his opponent when he was bothered by leg kicks. Sherman may not have the same kicking game, but he possesses fast hands and can throw in combination. This could help him outwork Cortes-Acosta, who generally likes to control the range with jabs and throw big single strikes. There is certainly a chance that the former boxer is too much for Sherman, but it's something I would have to see before I would be comfortable trusting Cortes-Cortez in a spot like this.

Vince Morales – 2.05 X Multiplier

Morales has underwhelmed in the UFC, but he remains an athletic wrestle-boxer who is adept at working the body. While Miles Johns has power for the division, he is something of a slow-footed puncher who doesn't use his wrestling pedigree often, as evidenced by the fact that he hasn't notched a single takedown in any of his last four fights. Morales should be able to stick his opponent out at range using his jab and footwork before scoring with heavier shots as the fight progresses.

Maria Oliveira – 1.9 X Multiplier

Oliveira's style of standing straight up in the pocket and blitzing with strikes will likely get her into trouble soon, but I don't imagine it will be against Vanessa Demopoulos, who is easily pressured in the cage and has recorded just one KO/TKO in her eight wins. It is also worth noting that her takedown accuracy rate in the organization stands at an anemic seven percent. This should give us confidence that the bout will stay on the feet, allowing "Spider-Girl" to overwhelm her opponent with offense.

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks

Natalia Silva UNDER 1.5 Takedowns and Maryna Moroz UNDER 1.5 Takedowns.

If anyone was going to have an active wrestling attack in the matchup between Silva and Tereza Bleda, I would expect it to be Bleda, who is much stronger and relies on her physicality to win fights. Silva's best path to victory will likely be her footwork and movement, as she uses an assortment of kicks to both hurt her opponent and control the distance. Silva may have seven submission victories on her record, but I question whether that will translate to the highest level, as she was only able to garner 1:07 of control time against Jasmine Jasudavicius despite taking her down twice.

Moroz has scored two takedowns in each of her last two fights, but those came against women with similar height and reach, which may have made "Iron Lady" more hesitant to exchange in the pocket. She will enter this matchup with advantages of three inches in both height and reach against Jennifer Maia, who is dangerous with her hands but doesn't offer consistent offense anywhere else. This should allow Moroz to use her length to score from the outside.

Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight

Charles Johnson OVER 61.5 Strikes and Zhalgas Zhumagulov OVER 45.5 Strikes

Total strikes tend to pile up with both fighters constantly engaged in grappling exchanges, and that's what we can expect here. Both these men are accomplished scramblers, which means neither one will shy away from a fight on the ground. For perspective, Johnson landed 71 total strikes in a fight where he was completely controlled by Muhammad Mokaev. While I expect there to be a bit more parity here, the standup phase combined with 50/50 scenarios against the fence should provide more than enough strikes for us to exceed the totals.

Jack Della Maddalena OVER 45.5 Strikes and Danny Roberts OVER 23.5 Strikes

It looks like the makers of these totals weren't impressed with Roberts' performance against Francisco Trinaldo, as this is the lowest mark  I can recall seeing for such a veteran. While he got hurt multiple times in that fight, he never gave in and saw the final bell after recording 44 strikes. It's that toughness that I think will push this fight over, as Della Maddalena looks to come forward and land power strikes to all quadrants. Roberts is also an underrated grappler, so it won't be surprising if he attempts to clinch with his opponent after eating a big shot. This will also work to inflate totals.

Bets to Consider

Derrick Lewis wins Via KO/TKO (+200)

It stands to reason that oddsmakers think an accomplished, strong grappler like Sergey Spivac will simply take Lewis to the ground and dominate him there for the duration of the bout. The only problem with this theory is that no other fighter in the UFC has been able to do it. Shamil Abdurakhimov, Marcin Tybura and Ilir Latifi populate a partial list of fighters who scored multiple takedowns against "The Black Beast" but could not hold him on the mat. On the flip side, Spivac has been absolutely crushed by big punchers such as Tom Aspinall and Walt Harris, and you don't get much bigger than the power of Lewis. When it's all said and done, I think Lewis will overcome yet another grapple-heavy attack and make this line look like a gift.

For more UFC betting picks, check out our UFC Vegas 65 Best Bets for this weekend. For the latest in UFC odds, head to the RotoWire Sports Betting section. 

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Christopher Olson plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Sommerset, FanDuel: Christop, Yahoo: Martins.
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Christopher Olson
Christopher Olson writes DFS articles and blogs for a variety of sports including MLB, NFL and MMA. Follow him on Twitter @RealChrisOlson
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