UFC Vegas 78 – Vicente Luque vs. Rafael Dos Anjos – Main Card Betting Predictions

This card absolutely sucks, but I’ll still be placing a couple of wagers. Check out my MMA predictions for the main card.

Josh Fremd vs. Jamie Pickett

Despite his athletic gifts, Jamie Pickett is not a natural fighter and his performances inside the octagon have been underwhelming. He either chips away with weak kicks and straight punches while circling on the back foot or tries to grind opponents against the fence.

He also reacts badly to being hit and can be taken down and dominated on the mat.

Pickett has a path to victory by making this an awkward fight and squeaking out a sports decision, but I don’t like his chances.

Josh Fremd leaves his chin high, but he is the more technical boxer and you can count on him to pursue the takedown. Fremd’s left hook could be useful against a southpaw and he is always looking to attack the neck as soon as the fight is horizontal.

I like Josh Fremd here and I can’t argue with the heavy juice.

Tafon Nchukwi vs AJ Dobson

After a rough run of results at light heavyweight, Tafon Nchukwi returns to the middleweight division where he has a significant weight cut.

I like Nchukwi’s Muay Thai arsenal (particularly his knees and kicks), but his foot speed and defense are both problematic.

The Cameroonian will have to walk through fire in order to emerge victorious, because AJ Dobson is the faster athlete with the sharper hands.

There is nothing remarkable about Dobson’s skill set. He has a good 1-2 and left hook, but his style is boxing-centric and he is still a raw talent despite being in his early thirties.

Dobson held a good account of himself against a high-level striker in Armen Petrosyan and he seems to be improving from fight to fight.

This could come down to the speed and boxing combinations of Dobson versus the kicks and relentlessness of Nchukwi.

I like AJ Dobson as a slight underdog, but I’m expecting a closely-fought contest.

Polyana Viana vs. Iasmin Lucindo

Polyana Viana has some good aspects to her game, as well as some glaring drawbacks.

She has an aggressive guard game with numerous armbar finishes in the first round, but she doesn’t have the wrestling to compliment her ground skills and her striking is still a work in progress.

We saw improved boxing against Jinh Yu Frey, but her static head movement and lack of defense makes me think she’ll get knocked out sooner rather than later.

Viana also suffers from poor fight IQ and tends to fade in the later rounds.

Iasmin Lucindo looks like an exciting prospect and you can see clear progression from fight to fight. She takes the front foot, throws punches in bunches and gets plenty of torque into her hooks.

This striking style should work well against a rigid opponent like Viana.

Lucindo is also a good wrestler and positional grappler with a nice body lock takedown. I think she can control Viana on the mat if she chooses, she just needs to be aware of the submission threat in the early stages of the fight.

I like Iasmin Lucindo at -190, I think she should be a bigger favorite.

Chris Daukaus vs. Khalil Rountree

After a strong start to his UFC career, Chris Daukaus suffered three consecutive knockout losses and has decided to drop to the light heavyweight division.

I’m not sure if this was the right decision, since his speed was a distinct advantage at heavyweight that he will no longer have.

Daukaus has good boxing and throws well in combination, but his defensive lapses have cost him. He doesn’t see shots coming and look visibly surprised when haymakers land directly on his face.

He also hasn’t fared well against fast twitch power punchers, which Khalil Rountree certainly is.

Interestingly, Rountree has a habit of losing fights as a favorite and winning fights as an underdog. He is one of the most high variance athletes on the roster and a difficult guy to trust.

I prefer Rountree’s Muay Thai skill set to Daukaus’ boxing. Fighting from the southpaw stance, Rountree has huge power in his left and has dangerous kicks with both the rear and lead leg.

However, Rountree suffers from bad fight IQ, can lose rounds on volume and tends to fade when he exerts too much energy. He also has a huge deficiency on the mat, which may or may not be relevant against Daukaus (who has a black belt, but rarely grapples).

I’ll pick Khalil Rountree to win, but I want my money nowhere near this mess.

Cub Swanson vs. Hakeem Dawodu

Cub Swanson is looking worse for wear these days. He appeared slow and labored in his victory against Daniel Pineda and got completely dominated by Jonathan Martinez and Giga Chikadze.

Worryingly, Swanson has struggled with leg and body attacks – both of which are part of Hakeem Dawodu’s repertoire.

Dawodu can look unenthusiastic at times, but he is a skilled kickboxer who mixes up his targets intelligently. He needs space to operate, but I think his jab, lead hook to the body and low kicks should work well here.

Aside from the smooth striking, Dawodu has some obvious flaws.

He concedes cheap takedowns, presents his back when getting up and his chin is questionable. A younger version of Swanson could capitalize on these weaknesses, but the current version looks like he’s at the tail end of his career.

After eating a couple of low kicks, Swanson may be scared to crash the distance – which is imperative in order to win.

A few things give me pause for concern, but Hakeem Dawodu has the potential to look like a huge favorite in hindsight.

Vicente Luque vs. Rafael Dos Anjos

Once a top prospect in the welterweight division, Vicente Luque has been exposed in recent fights.

He does good work against opponents who will strand right in front of him and trade in mid range – but more sophisticated fighters who can move laterally and mix in takedowns have given him problems.

Furthermore, we’ve seen Luque struggle against southpaws and I’m not sure he should even be fighting after overcoming a brain haemorrhage.

Despite being the older man, Rafael Dos Anjos hasn’t shown much of a decline and has performed well in his past couple of fights.

Dos Anjos can fight toe to toe in a phone booth if he wants, but his ability to hit takedowns, ride opponents and drain their energy should serve him well here.

Both men are black belts, but Luque suffers from poor takedown defense and struggles to get back to his feet. Dos Anjos is the superior wrestler and positional grappler.

The one reservation I have with Dos Anjos is that he is best suited for the lightweight division and has openly stated he wants exciting fights rather than another title shot.

I can’t blame him for prolonging his career and getting paid while he still can, but does he still have the same championship mentality that he had earlier in his career? We’re about to find out.

I like Rafael Dos Anjos to win and I think there is a bit of value at pick ‘em odds.