A week before the belt will be defended by Carla Esparza, the main event of UFC Vegas 64 could determine the next title contender with a matchup between Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos.

Also looking to make a statement in the rankings are the men in the co-main event: Neil Magny and Daniel Rodriguez. We’ll also see standout flyweight contenders Miranda Maverick and Tagir Ulanbekov looking to prove their worth with a big win over their opponents. All of these matchups (plus more) are covered below and feature BLÜ’s predictions along with the Bet99 Sportsbook Odds.

UFC Vegas 64 Main Card (4:00 PM PST)

Mark Madsen vs. Grant Dawson

BET99 Odds
Madsen: +171 Dawson: -217

Over 2.5: -213 Under 2.5: +162

The Olympian, Mark Madsen is back again, defending his undefeated record against Grant Dawson, who’s got an impressive record of his own at 18-1-1. Madsen has been doing well, of course, staying undefeated, but this will easily be his toughest test to date. After getting an early finish in his debut, he’s been edging ahead in decisions against some of the more… seasoned UFC fighters. Dawson, on the other hand, has been taking on younger, rising contenders as well as a couple of wily veterans.

Madsen is obviously a threat in grappling scenarios given his Olympic wrestling background, but Dawson’s youth and striking will be a huge problem. With Madsen’s undefeated record and toughness, I’d be a little surprised if Dawson could grab a finish. Still, he’s 10 years younger and is a MUCH more well-rounded MMA fighter. With that, he’ll have a decisive edge in this matchup.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Dawson by Decision

Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Nate Maness

BET99 Odds
Ulanbekov: -234 Maness: +185

Over 2.5: -234 Under 2.5: +175

Here we’ve essentially got a showcase bout for Tagir, who if we’re being honest, should be ranked right now. He was doing well, cruising ahead in a decision against ranked contender Tim Elliott in his last bout. Then, Elliott started to cheat, which he openly admitted. He was grabbing the gloves of Tagir multiple times, leading to a loss on the cards for Tagir. Maness, on the other hand, just lost to someone who’s VERY similar to Tagir: Umar Nurmagomedov.

Given the fact that Ulanbekov should be ranked and his style is the same as Nate’s last loss, he should be able to control the action and win on the cards. It should also be mentioned that Khabib coaches both Tagir and Umar, clearly shifting the momentum even more towards Tagir.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Ulanbekov by Decision

Josh Parisian vs. Chase Sherman

BET99 Odds
Parisian: +114 Sherman: -140

Over 2.5: +122 Under 2.5: -158

Sherman somehow managed to stay alive and win his last bout, but this is shaping up to be his final UFC appearance. It’s already his second stint in the UFC since he got cut before. Plus, he lost 4 in a row before somehow beating Vanderaa. He’s also sitting at a shocking 16-10 record: a rarity in the UFC to say the least. Parisian has had a couple of tough losses in the UFC too, but grabbed a finish in his last time out, knocking out Alan Baudot.

This one’s gonna be a fun one to watch and will likely produce one of those highlight-reel heavyweight knockouts. With Sherman’s history, his smaller size and lack of striking defence, I’d be shocked if Sherman made it to the final bell.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Parisian by Finish

Co-Main Event

Neil Magny vs. Daniel Rodriguez
BET99 Odds
Magny: -125 Rodriguez: +100

Over 2.5: -234 Under 2.5: +175

Magny got fed to the dogs in his last matchup, getting absolutely dominated by the terror, Shavkat Rakhmono. But he is still rightfully in the top 15 given his lengthy career and continued talent. Rodriguez is the same age as Magny at 35, but has seemingly been on his way UP the rankings instead of down. His last fight was that robbery of a decision, defeating Li Jingliang at UFC 279.

He may not have deserved the nod over Li, but he should be able to win the decision here. It just seems as though Magny has been losing his edge, while “D Rod” is still moving up and improving his record all the way up to 17-2. It’ll be close and could easily be another split decision for both men. I’ll be siding with Rodriguez who seems to be carrying the momentum in this matchup.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Rodriguez by Decision

UFC Vegas 64 Main Event

Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Lemos

BET99 Odds
Rodriguez: -234 Lemos: +183

Over 4.5: +105 Under 4.5: -134

From one Rodriguez to another, it could be a great night for anyone with that last name. With wins over Yan, Dern, Waterson and Ribas in her last 4 fights, her lone career loss came to none other than the champ, Esparza in a split decision. It’s actually somewhat surprising that we’re not seeing her in the title fight against Esparza in the PPV. Lemos is a dangerous contender with multiple early UFC finishes, but BARELY edged a decision over Angela Hill because of her cardio

As I said, Lemos is an extremely talented fighter, but Rodriguez should be fighting for a title right now. She’s been in a main event before, she’s got all the skills to be a champ; Rodriguez should dominate this matchup and win on the cards. What really pushes it over the edge is the 5 round cardio for Rodriguez. Lemos will likely start to slow down tremendously as the fight goes down, while Marina will keep that pace going. In fact, I’d even say that Rodriguez has an outside chance at grabbing a finish later in the fight.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Rodriguez by Decision

BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 1:30 PM PST)

Jake Hadley vs. Carlos Candelario
BET99 Odds
Hadley: -275 Candelario: +220

Over 2.5: -234 Under 2.5: +175

With both men losing in their UFC debut, this will likely determine who stays and who’s next on the chopping block. Hadley received a lot of hype going into his UFC debut with an 8-0 record, but ultimately lost to Allan Nascimento in a decision. Candelario didn’t have any hype, but performed well against Tatsuro Taira who were both making their debut at the time.

With an almost identical career so far, it really comes down to their last couple performances. Hadley lost to someone who doesn’t seem like a real threat to the division. Meanwhile, Candelario made it to the final bell against Taira, who some people are hailing as a future champ. Based on what we’ve seen from these two men, I have to give a slight edge to Candelario.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Hadley by Decision

Miranda Maverick vs. Shanna Young

BET99 Odds
Maverick: -800 Young: +500

Over 2.5: -113 Under 2.5: -113

Maverick got a raw deal, losing in one of the biggest robberies of the year last year to Barber, She then met a likely future title contender in Blanchfield. She made up for those two losses with a dominant win over Sabina Mazo. Now she’s being given another favourable matchup in Young. Not only has she been dominated by grapplers in the past… she was already submitted by Maverick in Invicta FC. I have absolutely no idea why this rematch has been made, they’re simply not on the same level. Maverick should be able to destroy Young with her grappling, probably submitting her for a second time.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Maverick by Finish

Darrick Minner vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke

BET99 Odds
Minner: +180 Nuerdanbieke: -225

Over 2.5: +120 Under 2.5: -150

With some unusual records on both sides, this is dead-even on paper. Minner has 2-3 record in the UFC, beating Charles Rosa and T.J. Laramie and losing to Grant Dawson, Darren Elkins and Ryan Hall. Nuerdanbieke has a 2-1 UFC record, losing to Culibao and beating Sean Soriano and T.J. Brown.

For this matchup, with everything so close, it might be best to look at the momentum of both fighters. Nuerdanbieke lost his debut to Culibao who’s 10-1, then grabbed two wins. On the other side, Minner has now lost two in a row. Based on this, I’ll give the slight edge to Nuerdanbieke.

BLÜ’s Prediction
Nuerdanbieke by Decision

BLÜ’s Best Bets for UFC Vegas 64

Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC Vegas 64. 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 Daniel Rodriguez at +100

This matchup is 50/50 as it stands. When that happens, the underdog will always give you the better return. That aside, Rodriguez’s momentum has been pushing him UP the rankings, while Magny has been moving down. ‘D Rod’ also likely has the better striking skills, giving him another edge in this matchup. It’ll be close, but at +100, it’s worth the shot.

The Underdog Josh Parisian at +114

With Sherman’s shockingly bad UFC record, it’s honestly a wonder why the odds are skewed in his favour. Before catching Vanderaa with a late TKO, he was probably on pace to lose that fight, which would have been his 5th loss in a row. Parisian has been about 50/50 in his UFC bouts, but has multiple finishes. With his bigger size and MUCH more impressive recent history, +114 is an absolute bargain.

The Underdog Mark Madsen at +171

I gave Dawson the overall edge in the matchup, but the profit margins are slim. Given these odds, the better return is with Madsen. It’s also important to remember that he’s also undefeated, an Olympian and that Dawson came in overweight on the scales this week. Tipping the odds at +171, it’s not a bad idea to take some risk on Madsen.

Parlay Opportunities for UFC Vegas 64

The Short Run
Hadley + Maverick + M. Rodriguez

The Long Run
Hadley + Bautista + Maverick + Ulanbekov + M. Rodriguez