UFC Vegas 72 looked a lot different a month ago, but all the new additions have come together to form a decent card before next week’s PPV.
The new main event is a bantamweight blockbuster between the young powerhouse Song Yadong and the surging contender Ricky Simón. Just before that, it’s the return of one of last year’s standouts, Caio Borralho, who will be looking for another dominant win over Michał Oleksiejczuk. There’s a lot of new faces on the card, but we’ll also see a couple familiar faces like Julian Erosa, Marcos Rogério de Lima, Stephanie Egger and flyweight standout Charles Johnson.
All of these matchups (plus more) are covered below and feature BLÜ’s predictions along with the Bet99 Sportsbook Odds. Bet 99 is the official betting sponsor of the Area 51 Sports Network.
Main Card (4:00 PM PST)
Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs. Marcos Rogério de Lima
Cortes-Acosta: +150 Rogério de Lima: -184
Over 1.5: -150 Under 1.5: +120
Waldo had quite the year last year, grabbing his contract on the Contender Series in August, then winning his first two UFC fights after that. As impressive as that is, those two wins were over two notably… subpar UFC fighters in Jared Vanderaa and Chase Sherman. De Lima is far better than those two, most recently coming off of a 1st Round finish over the legend Andrei Arlovski. With Cortes-Acosta struggling to overcome Sherman and Vanderaa, de Lima should be able to dominate this fight. I’m not sold on a finish or decision, but, either way it goes, de Lima should be grabbing the win.
de Lima by Decision
Julian Erosa vs. Fernando Padilla
Erosa: -140 Padilla: +114
Over 2.5: +125 Under 2.5: -163
This one seems a bit strange in terms of the matchmaking. On the one side you’ve got Erosa; a pretty solid featherweight with wins over the likes of Dawodu, Jourdain and Landwehr. Meanwhile, on the other side, Padilla making his UFC debut with a loss to former UFC fighter Spike Carlyle and a split decision win in LFA making up two of his last 3 fights. Padilla may or may not have a future in the UFC, but Erosa isn’t someone to make a debut against; this won’t be close. I’d give Erosa the finish, but Padilla has yet to be finished in his career, so I’ll lean towards the decision.
Erosa by Decision
Cody Brundage vs. Rodolfo Vieira
Brundage: +200 Vieira: -250
Over 1.5: -113 Under 1.5: -113
On paper, Vieira looks like a lock to dominate this fight. While I’m surely leaning in that direction, there are a couple concerns. Vieira has some pretty well-established cardio issues, usually gassing out later in the fight and losing, even getting submitted by Anthony Hernandez. This was shocking when you consider the fact that Vieira is one of the most accomplished BJJ practitioners in MMA. This is especially troublesome when Brundage is a grappler with a lot of cardio.
Regardless, I’ll still be siding with Vieira. Brundage has a bad habit of getting too aggressive and getting finished. With Vieira always taking an equally aggressive approach, I think Brundage is going to get stuck in something and will get tapped out.
Vieira by Finish
Caio Borralho vs. Michał Oleksiejczuk
Borralho: -367 Oleksiejczuk: +275
Over 2.5: +136 Under 2.5: -175
Without a doubt, this is one of the bigger mismatches we’ve seen on a main card lately. Since making his debut last year, Borralho has looked unbeatable, dominating all 3 of his opponents. Most impressive out of them all was Makhmud Muradov in his last fight; someone who looked like another real contender. In terms of competition, this is actually a step back. Oleksiejczuk’s record looks impressive with no less than five 1st Round finishes in the UFC, but none of them came over anyone close to as good as Borralho. Every time Michal faces an elite opponent, he has either been finished or completely dominated for 15 minutes. With the pace, pressure and skill of Borralho, I’m expecting another dominant win and a finish.
Borralho by Finish
Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simón
Yadong: -105 Simón: -119
Over 4.5: +108 Under 4.5: -138
Shifted back a week in the schedule, this absolute banger has now become the main event. Song has been building up his name for a couple years now, electrifying audiences with his finishes over Julio Arce and Marlon Moraes. He brought that excitement into his first main even against Sandhagen last September. Sadly for him, the fight ended a tad unceremoniously with the doctor calling it off after the 4th Round thanks to a NASTY gash on Song’s face. Simón hasn’t been able to grab the crowd’s attention yet, but his talent has been on full display recently with 5 straight wins and 3 finishes.
This matchup is sure to bring the heat, closing the night with a bang. Although that much is certain, it’s tough to pick winner here. Song is an extremely powerful striker with decent grappling while Simón is an unbelievable, high-pace grappler with good striking. With this being 5 rounds, both of them will have to adjust their pace to not gas out. With that in mind, I’ll have to side with the better grappler, Simón. He should be able to avoid the power shots of Song and win enough of the rounds to win a decision. We saw Sandhagen was able to take down Song a few times, so, with Simón’s extra skill, he should be able to keep him down there a bit longer and control him a bit more.
Simón by Decision
BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 1:30 PM PST)
Cody Durden vs. Charles Johnson
Durden: +114 Johnson: -140
Over 2.5: -209 Under 2.5: +160
Here we’ve got another pretty clear mismatch, very much favouring Johnson. Durden struggles with high-intensity grapplers, getting subbed in the 1st Round by both Muhammad Mokaev and Jimmy Flick. Coincidentally, Johnson has also faced both of those men. In his case though, he finished Flick and brought Mokaev to a decision by staying competitive with his own grappling. Johnson’s grappling will likely be what wins this fight, but he’s also probably got the edge on the feet as well. With Johnson holding the edge everywhere, I’d be a little surprised if Durden made it to the final bell.
Johnson by Finish
BLÜ’s Best Bets
Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC Vegas 72. These are odds that favour the bettor. Although some of them may conflict with my picks, they offer a fair reward for a slight bit of risk.
The Underdog Hailey Cowan at +125
Cowan actually opened as the favourite. There seems to be no reasonable indication as to why she’s now moved to an underdog spot. Unlike Horth, she’s been exposed to UFC audiences and she’s looked HUGE and fairly skilled. The way their styles match up, Cowan’s edge in size and experience should win the matchup. That aside, we’ve talked about a potential Canadian MMA curse before and Horth is not only Canadian, she’s also making her debut… historically, not a good combo.
The Underdog Irina Alekseeva at +240
The experience is CLEARLY in favour of her opponent, Egger, but, with the way their styles matchup, Alekseeva may be able to grab an upset here. She’s making her UFC debut, so this may be a bit of a long shot. That being said, this division is wide open and anything is possible with these ladies.
Johnson vs. Durden Under 2.5 at +160
As covered above, this is looking to be a complete mismatch. With Durden getting subbed in the 1st Round by both Flick and Mokaev, there’s a VERY good chance Johnson will able to grab a finish as well. Johnson has shown that his skills are comparable to Mokaev and he ran straight through Flick. At plus money, this is one you’ll want to look at.
The Short Run
Johnson + Newson + Borralho
The Long Run
Johnson + de Lima + Erosa + Borralho + Newson