On the heels of an epic UFC 281 comes UFC LV65, a 14-fight card at the APEX Center in Las Vegas.
After Saturday’s event, the UFC will take Thanksgiving week off, then will close the year with three fight slates in December.
2022 profitability: 24-18 (+ 7.07 units).
Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night. Check UFC Betting Splits.
Sergey Spivak (-190) vs. Derrick Lewis (+165)
Heavyweight (265 pounds) | Main event
Spivak is a well-rounded mixed martial artist from Moldavia. The “Polar Bear” has a sturdy grappling/clinch game and though he is somewhat awkward competing on the feet at distance, he does have power inside the pocket.
As his nickname indicates, his approach is to engage, grapple and grope with the intention of tiring his opponent out. Once exercised, Spivak drags opponents to the mat, where he is able to deploy his most effective tactic, raining ground-and-pound from the dominant top position.
Lewis is a limited, singularly dimensioned mixed martial artist. He has tremendous brute strength, profuse power and intestinal fortitude but limited cardio ability.
Lewis fears no one and he is willing to face more skilled fighters because he trusts his power as well as his natural strength, which, early in bouts, allows him to get back to his feet after being taken down without any form of technique.
Lewis is 37, and while that’s not terribly old for heavyweight fighters, his lack of anything to offer opponents but the threat of power and four minutes of cardio is of concern.
Lewis has lost three of his last four via finish, but he was in the octagon with legitimately ranked opponents. The fact that each of the losses occurred violently in the third, second and first rounds, in order, may indicate time catching up with a man less able to compete in MMA with legitimate top-10 talent.
I anticipate Spivak taking a measured approach with respect to Lewis’ damaging power. He’ll need to time to effectively earn inside position, then from the clinch, press Lewis into the cage, where tripping him to the floor is easier. If Spivak is able to drag him to the mat, Lewis will be in dire straits.
Lewis must find a way to back Spivak up in order to detonate a right hand and earn Spivak’s respect early. Lewis tires quickly, but his power carries late as well. He’s crafty and capable of putting opponents' lights out at any time. Lewis is desperate and very dangerous in this spot.
Spivak must make Lewis expend what little cardio he has attempting to escape the clinch. Once this fight evolves into the clinch, Spivak will have the advantage because in close quarters, Lewis’ power will be neutralized.
Spivak opened -105 and is now -190
Spivak -190 first leg open parlay
Total in this fight: 1.5 Under -120 (Circa)
Muslim Salikhov (-110) vs. Andre Fialho (-110)
Welterweight (170 pounds)
Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The analogy holds for this bout.
Fialho (16-5) has competed professionally in MMA since 2014. He has a boxing background, great desire and an aggressive nature. He is 10 years younger than his opponent, an inch taller and has a five-inch reach advantage.
An aggressive, forward-pressing, high-volume striker, Fialho initiates exchanges and seems to thrive in the heat of battle. This will be his fifth fight of the year after having four in the first five months, so this recovery time should be helpful to him, especially after the drubbing he took at the hands of Jake Matthews in June.
Fialho is 2-2 in UFC, with his victories coming in first-round firefights. In his losses, both against ranked opponents, he was taken into the second round, where he couldn’t overcome his opponents’ experience and diversity of attack.
Fialho is the hare. He offers diverse power striking and intestinal fortitude but has no ability to wrestle, which will be important in this matchup.
The tortoise is Salikhov, a 38-year-old Russian who is an honored Master of Sports in Wushu Sanda, a Master of Sports in Complex Martial Arts and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
He is 12-3 in the UFC, but that’s only part of Salikhov’s story as he has been competing in professional Sanda and kickboxing tournaments since 2006.
His professional experience, diversity of attack and durability should prove to be a firm test for Fialho.
Salikhov’s striking is power based, and he’s fairly premeditated with his intentions, but he packs every bit of the power of Fialho and has shown durability until his last fight against Li Jingliang.
If Salikhov can get this fight into the second round, the advantage may swing to him because that’s when we’ll see the grappling and durability that is foundational to the his attack.
Salikhov opened -185 for this bout.
It’s my position that Fialho’s aggressive, colorful, entertaining manner of fighting coupled with the fact fans have seen him perform four times already in 2022 is providing considerable recency bias toward him, thus offering potential value on the Russian.
I’ll have more on this bout later this week as this line may continue to move.
Total in this fight: 1.5 rounds Over -165
Check out “GambLou’s ’Bout Business Podcast,” available Friday afternoon, for all of my final releases.