Best bets for UFC Vegas 78
This week’s Fight Night will be the last event from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas for a few weeks as the organization readies itself for a worldwide tour over the course of the next month.
Meanwhile, on this slate, we have twelve scheduled matchups featuring athletes from 115 pounds to the 265-pound heavyweights, with the main event a welterweight bout between two decorated Brazilian mixed martial artists.
Favorites in the UFC are realizing a 63% success rate thus far in 2023, and we fought ourselves back into profitability last week with the main event wager of Over 3.5 Rds. -140 as Sandhagen and Font went to decision.
2023 profitability: 13-14 + 0.15u
Rafael dos Anjos -120 vs. Vicente Luque +100
Welterweight (170 pounds) main event
Rafael dos Anjos is the ninth-ranked lightweight (155 pounds) in the organization, but in this scrap, he’s stepping up in weight class to face his countryman Luque.
At 32-14, RDA has a wealth of fight experience in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions. He’s a well-versed mixed martial artist as witnessed by the fact that he owns a fourth-degree black belt in BJJ. He’s also a Black prajied in Muay Thai.
Dos Anjos has faced elite competition throughout his career, and although he is 38 years old, he can still perform and compete with world-class mixed marital artists.
Last December, dos Anjos competed at welterweight, a division he is 5-4 in, and looked crisp in taking ‘Bam Bam’ Barbarena down to the mat for a submission win in the second round. He looked like the faster, quicker more skilled fighter that night, but he faces an opponent more dangerous than the singularly-dimensioned Barbarena come this weekend.
Fellow Brazilian Vicente Luque is a cold finisher decorated with his own black belt in BJJ and a black belt in Luta Livre Esportiva. Ranked tenth in the welterweight division, he arrives the legitimately sized welterweight, focused, driven and desperate after losing his last two bouts.
Luque’s seven years the younger man, he’s a couple of inches taller, and he’ll hold a five-inch reach advantage in this bout. On top of that, 13 of Luque’s 14 UFC wins have been via the finish!
Luque is the far more dangerous, lethal striker between these men, so it’s my belief that dos Anjos will look to force this fight into the clinch, then pressed against the cage. At that point, dos Anjos must do all he can to take Luque to the mat, where he may gain top position and performs his most effective work.
Material to this handicap is the fact that Luque enters this bout after being diagnosed with ‘brain hemorrhaging’ as a result of his last bout against Geoff Neal.
We’ve been told that Luque has had the appropriate time off and is ‘medically cleared’ to compete per the rules mandated by the UFC, which I believe must be relatively stringent given their exposure to litigation.
So, an important aspect when considering any wager on this fight is the physical, mental and emotional condition Luque hauls with him into this bout. This is something I’ll be looking closely at/for in the fighter interviews Wednesday.
On his game, Luque is an aggressive, forward-pressing, ’walk his opponent down’ buzzsaw of a power striker, and that’s what I expect him to present once the bell for round one rings. He’s certain to yearn to get back into the win column to improve upon his already top-ten ranking and keep his potential title hopes alive.
Luque’s size, the fact he’s the legitimate welterweight power striker and the intense forward pressure he delivers into his bouts, all signify advantage in this bout provided there are no lingering effects from that last bout.
For Dos Anjos, I believe his tactics must revolve around forcing the proud, seasoned warrior into a mistake that may lead to RDA transferring this fight to the floor. It’s from top position where he is most dangerous, and it’s there where he stands the best chance at upsetting Vicente Luque.
At the end of the day, I lean to Luque.
Total in this fight: 4.5 Rds. Under -145
Hakeem Dawodu -220 vs. Cub Swanson +190
Featherweight (145 pounds) co-main event
Swanson is a grizzled UFC veteran with a professional record of 28-13.
The 39-year-old warrior is a black belt in BJJ and has competed in three descending weight divisions during his storied career, lightweight (155 pounds) then featherweight (145 pounds) and in his last bout, bantamweight (135 pounds).
What’s worthy of mention is that after getting decisively finished in his last outing at bantamweight last fall, Swanson is returning to featherweight in a change that at Cub’s age seems a move of desperation.
A precision striker with a well-rounded fight arsenal, Swanson has shown the ability to out-skill, out-strategize and out-execute lower-level UFC talent, but he struggles mightily with competition that is top twenty worthy.
Dawodu, much like his foe Swanson, comes from the mean streets where his outward aggression was steering him straight to the “Graybar hotel.”
At 14 though, Dawodu was exposed to Muay Thai fighting as a release for his deep seeded anger. He excelled in the gym realizing, a 42-5 record as an amateur and then a 6-0 tally as a professional.
In this bout, Dawodu will be the younger man by six years as well as the thicker, larger, more explosive athlete who will hold a three-inch reach advantage. He’ll look to use his footwork and length to maintain distance so he can club Cub on his way inside to engage.
Cub, meanwhile, may want to mute Dawodu’s power by clasping, clinching, pressing against the fence and wrestling. Swanson’s ability to force the younger, more violent man to expend energy early and allow Dawodu’s arms to swell and slow seems the more logical approach to him getting his hand raised.
Dawodu appears to be in a favorable spot in this, a fight that can showcase his youth, speed, power and aggression.
Dawodu opened -325 for this bout which was hammered down to the current price of Dawodu -220.
Total in this fight: 2.5 Rds. Over -145
Pick: Luque/RDA Over 2.5 Rds. -205 to Dawodu -220; parlay +114 (DraftKings)
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