UFC Vegas 50 – Thiago Santos vs. Magomed Ankalaev – Main Card Betting Predictions

I like UFC Vegas 50 from a betting perspective. There are plenty of interesting fights and some of the odds look inefficiently priced.

Here are my main card MMA predictions.

Bruno Silva vs. Alex Pereira

I enjoy betting on Russian regional fights, so Bruno Silva has been on my radar for a while. Wins over Alexander Shlemenko and Artem Frolov are impressive, particularly as the foreigner in enemy territory.

While he has a black belt in BJJ, he is not a dominant wrestler and instead prefers to bang it out on the feet.

Silva has plenty of offensive firepower, but is basic in his approach. He will take the front foot, unload flurries and hope to land something big.

He leaves a lot of defensive openings and is slow-footed, which could be problematic against a taller, rangier, more technical opponent.

Alex Pereira has fought and beaten many of the best kickboxers in the world, including UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya. The UFC would love to see that rematch inside the octagon, so I suspect we’ll see strategic matchmaking to make it happen.

Training under Glover Teixiera, Pereira has the perfect coach to help him round out his grappling skills and become a complete MMA fighter. If I recall correctly, Teixeira referred to him as the best athlete he’s ever worked with!

In open space, Pereira is a sniper. It’s amazing to see him fake opponents out, disrupt their boxing guard and land the kill shot (often a ferocious left hook).

I think he’ll have a field day with Silva, who is wide open defensively.

In his fight against Andreas Michailidis, it was evident he has been drilling takedown defense and get-ups. He refused to accept bottom position and was quick to scramble to his feet.

I didn’t like how he got trapped with his back against the fence, but he’s facing a savage knockout artist in Bruno Silva – who is not the type of guy to try and squeak out a sports decision with positional control.

I think this is a great stylistic match-up for Alex Pereira.

Drew Dober vs. Terrance McKinney

Terrance McKinney is coming off a streak of first round finishes. In fact, he has rarely left the first round throughout his career.

As the competition level increases, he won’t be able to blow guys out of the water so quickly and we’ll get to see what he’s made of.

McKinney is wild and chaotic on the feet. He primarily strikes in order to get opponents to swing on him, which makes for easier takedown entries.

He is persistent at getting fights to the mat and is an adept back taker.

Drew Dober had his back taken by Olivier Aubin Mercier and Beneil Dariush, so he must be careful when scrambling back to his feet – or he could get choked out or lose rounds being controlled in the body triangle position.

If he can weather the early storm, this is his fight to lose.

Dober throws nasty hooks in the pocket as well as hard calf kicks against other southpaws. McKinney has long, skinny legs and won’t want to eat many low kicks unanswered.

Despite losing to superior wrestlers, Dober has strong hips, a low center of gravity and serviceable first layer takedown defense. However, he can get overzealous when swinging on opponents and leave himself open to reactive shots.

I wasn’t interested in betting Drew Dober at -250, but value is starting to appear at -165.

Khalil Rountree vs. Karl Roberson

Khalil Rountree is an impossible guy to trust. Sometimes he looks like a legitimate light heavyweight contender, at other times he looks like a nightclub bouncer.

Part of the problem is his fast twitch physiology. He either scores a spectacular knockout or blows his gas tank in the second half of the fight.

Yoel Romero and Tyron Woodley had success fighting in bursts by adopting a low-volume, counter-striking style – but that isn’t Rountree’s game.

Rountree has fantastic low kicks and throws big bombs on the feet.

However, his boxing technique is crude. He often loads up and overextends, which could get him into trouble here.

Karl Roberson is more energy efficient, has the better shot selection and superior countering ability. I also feel he has the sharper jab hand, which is relevant against another southpaw.

For once, Roberson will have the grappling advantage. His IQ in scrambling exchanges is atrocious, but he has a good reactive double leg and could take Rountree off his feet when he gets over-aggressive.

If Karl Roberson stays patient on the feet, looks for counters and mixes in well-timed level changes, I think he’ll do well in his return to the light heavyweight division.

Alex Caceres vs. Sodiq Yusuff

At 33-years-of-age, Alex Caceres is on an impressive win streak and is in the best form of his career.

Fighting from the southpaw stance, Caceres moves light on his feet and has a good body kick, straight left and right hook.

He has worked on his grappling, which was an overt weakness earlier in his career. He executed a beautiful standing back take and rear-naked choke submission against Seung Woo Choi in his last fight.

I don’t think he’ll be able to take Sodiq Yusuff down with conventional takedowns, but I expect him to utilize his BJJ skills if opportunities present themselves.

Yusuff can grapple as well, but is primarily known as an explosive striker.

His jab and outside calf kick are his best weapons – both of which were negated against Arnold Allen (who fights out of the southpaw stance). In that bout, he was unsuccessful in trying to cut the octagon off and line Allen up for a big right hand.

While Caceres has good footwork, his boxing defense is disastrous. He might be able to stick and move successfully for a while, but I think he’ll eventually get walked down and pulverized in the smaller octagon.

Sodiq Yusuff is lined at -235, and that feels about right to me.

Marlon Moraes vs. Song Yadong

In terms of pure skill, Marlon Moraes is a phenomenal Muay Thai striker.

While he is on a rough patch of form, he could’ve easily finished Henry Cejudo and Merab Dvalishvili if those dudes weren’t paranormally durable.

He throws devastating low kicks (Song Yadong is heavy on his lead leg) and has one of the best switch kicks in combat sports. The way he set up Jimmie Rivera to defend his low kick before blasting him in the dome was one of the best knockouts I’ve seen.

He has power in his hands too. A flush left hook, uppercut or right overhand can detach most bantamweights from their consciousness.

The problem for Moraes is his cardio and durability. He has taken an absurd amount of damage in recent fights and consistently falls apart when he can’t find the early finish.

Song Yadong is also a front runner, but fights through fatigue better than his opponent. He has less mileage on his body at only 24-years-of-age and seems to be improving from fight to fight.

The Chinese athlete has fast hands and does a good job of switching up his combinations to avoid getting predictable. I feel like body shots would be a good investment for Yadong, in order to drain Moraes’ gas tank faster.

There might be a bit of value on Marlon Moraes at +205, but it’s difficult to put your money on such a shopworn combatant.

Thiago Santos vs. Magomed Ankalaev

Thiago Santos is wild, unpredictable and dangerous. The Brazilian throws destructive kicks from both stances and does a good job of mixing up his offense to the legs, body and head.

His boxing technique is raw, but he swings with maximum force. If one of his big, telegraphed hooks connects cleanly – most light heavyweight competitors will be out cold before they hit the canvas.

While Santos has a black belt in BJJ, it must be from the same school as Edson Barboza – because both men are useless off their backs.

Magomed Ankalaev doesn’t possess the same concussive power as his opponent, but his punches are more accurately placed.

The Dagestani manages distance well and is a superb counter-striker. He should be able to find holes in Santos’ defense when they exchange.

Furthermore, Ankalaev has the ability to mix things up and shoot takedowns. He has lethal ground strikes from top position and could leave Santos’ head bouncing off the canvas just like Wagner Prado’s in his 2017 WFCA fight.

If Ankalaev comes out with a wrestling-heavy game plan, it’s difficult to see him losing.

Magomed Ankalaev to win inside the distance is the line that stands out to me at +110