UFC Vegas 73: Three Best Moneyline Bets
UFC VEGAS 73: THREE BEST MONEYLINE BETS – It’s a little bit of an off week for UFC, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find something to wager on. I’ve already previewed the main event here. After you’re done with that, make sure you check out Trent Conner’s main event props for a little bit of added action.
Let’s have a look at where the value is on the undercard.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz (14-7) vs Vanessa Demopoulos (9-4)
It was a long four years for Kowalkiewicz to eventually get her hand raised after going 0-5. The UFC had built such a great relationship with her that they kept her throughout her drought and now she is riding a two-fight winning streak.
The difference maker seems to be her willingness to initiate grappling more rather than rely on a volume-based striking style that sees her exchanging in the pocket. It worked against her in the Jessica Penne fight, but she had better stylistic matchups against Felic Herrig and Silvana Gomez Juarez which allowed her to get the two victories. She is still a great striker, but you must wonder when her age (38) and fight miles will start to catch up to her, especially as she starts ascending the ladder once again.
Many are still surprised that Demopoulos, the former LFA strawweight champion, is holding onto a UFC roster spot. Not only is she holding onto a roster spot, she’s on a three-fight winning streak and she continues to get better each time out.
She has spent time at Black House, Fight Ready, but most recently she is setting up camp at Factory X in Colorado. I love this pairing for her and am excited to see how she continues to grow her game. She is a BJJ black belt, and you see her leaning on that strength in most of her wins. She is very strong from that top position and her transitions are very slick. At 34 years old, Demopoulos is in the best shape and at the highest talent level she’s been at, primed to keep this run rolling.
As much as I am a fan of Kowalkiewicz, it’s difficult to see how she will deal with the BJJ black belt of Demopoulos. I feel Demopoulos has picked up enough good tips and tricks from Factory X to get the edge in this fight. The main one being to work on her striking, which didn’t look half bad in her last fight as it led to a couple knockdowns that allowed her to use her BJJ by following her opponent to the ground. I think she can rely on traditional takedowns in this fight to exploit her grappling advantage and I think it will end up with her getting a submission.
Andre Fialho (16-6) vs Joaquin Buckley (15-6)
After having his two-fight knockout streak halted and now on a two-fight losing streak, the allure of Fialho seems to have vanished. Many were blinded by his knockout powers and didn’t see that he is a mediocre fighter at best with decent early knockout power. Most of his wins come in round one or the under 1.5 round mark, after that he starts giving up on his power and allows his opponents to take over.
His ground game is not that great, especially when he is the one on his back with not many paths to get back to his feet. He can train with the Kill Cliff FC boys for as long as he wants, I think he will remain capped as an early knockout or bust kind of fighter.
An aspect of the fighter I originally overlooked, Buckley will be making his UFC welterweight debut this weekend and I think it’s a division he should have been in a long time ago. He wasn’t a big middleweight by any means, he was more bulky than anything. He looks in fantastic shape ahead of this matchup and it looks like he lost some of the unnecessary bulk.
I’m curious how this will impact his game and if his knockout power remains. I am confident in the latter and I think he has always shown good enough cardio to keep a decent pace over 15 minutes. I think this will be a great move for Buckley’s longevity at this level and we’ll see an even better version of the 29-year-old this weekend.
The danger of Fialho’s early knockout power will be present, but I feel Buckley is smart enough to stay on his bicycle and land his kicks from distance. If he can stick with that, maybe even get some grappling going, he can wear on the gas tank of Fialho and knock him out midway through the second round. This is a bit of a chalky spot, so I don’t blame anyone for some hesitancy on this line. However, alternative ways to play it are taking Buckley by KO at +100 or eating a tad bit more chalk and take the fight doesn’t go to decision prop at -260. That latter prop will cover an early Fialho KO, which is a possibility. However, I expect Buckley to make a statement in his welterweight debut.
The Pick: Joaquin Buckley -210
Edmen Shahbazyan (12-3) vs Anthony Hernandez (10-2)
‘The Golden Boy’ finally bounced back from a tumultuous 0-3 run with a big victory over Dalcha Lungiambula in December. In that fight, we saw Shahbazyan more conservative with his output which allowed him to maintain his offense for a longer period. He let the knockout come to him rather than chase it as he used to in the past.
That could be a testament to him changing camps and joining the Xtreme Couture team. However, I believe the stylistic matchup that night allowed Shahbazyan to have his way with Lungiambula. There will inevitably be opponents that will make Shahbazyan work at a rate he is uncomfortable with, which will cause him to gas out and slow down just as he did during his three-fight losing streak.
The former LFA middleweight champion is finally building up some momentum after going 1-2 in his first three UFC bouts. He is now on a three-fight winning streak where he has finished two of his opponents. I’ve long hailed Hernandez as the ‘poor man’s Cain Velasquez’, not just because they share the Mexican heritage, but because of their relentless fighting style and endless gas tank.
At his best, Hernandez puts his foot on the gas from minute one until the final bell rings. He stays in his opponent’s face, puts countless takedowns on them, and is completely okay with letting them work back to their feet so he can plant them right back down on their butt. He has one of the most successful styles in all of MMA, it just comes down to him avoiding the big shots of his opponent on the feet until he can close the distance and get the fight into a safer position.
If he can improve his striking defense, I have no doubt he will find himself in the top 5 in no time.
There has been a ton of love on Shahbazyan this week which has plummeted the number on Hernandez, and I could not be happier. We often find ourselves in an echo chamber of opinions in the MMA betting space, which is why it’s great to distance yourself at times to have your own opinions and let the tape do the talking. Yes, Shahbazyan has a chance of clipping Hernandez early, but if he is unable to have much success in the opening minutes of this fight, Hernandez will have worn him down enough that the knockout threat will no longer be there by the fourth minute of this fight.
I expect Hernandez to keep a high pace and finish Shahbazyan by the second round. I will call a submission as well, so hone in on that prop if you’d like.