UFC Vegas 68 isn’t your standard Vegas card.
Not only is it starting at a special time to cater to the Asian market, we’ve got the long-awaited finals of Road to UFC. Originally intended to be in Korea, this card features no less than 7 Korean fighters and multiple fighters from Japan. The main focus of the night will be the 4 tournament finals taking place in the prelims ranging from flyweight to lightweight.
Outside of the tourney, we’ll also finally see the return of Doo Ho Choi after years of waiting. 2022 rookie standout, Tatsuro Taira will also return. Plus, the ‘Black Beast’, Derrick Lewis, will be hunting for another KO win in the main event against Serghei Spivac.
Main Card (10:00 PM PST)
Yusaku Kinoshita vs. Adam Fugitt
Kinoshita: -334 Fugitt: +260
Over 2.5: +116 Under 2.5: -148
Like the prelims of this card, the main card opens up with a couple of relatively unknown fighters. As such, this matchup could go either way. We saw Fugitt make his debut last year, doing fairly well against a VERY promising, undefeated prospect in Michael Morales before eventually getting finished. Kinoshita is making his debut this weekend, but made his first UFC-related appearance on the Contender Series with an exciting brawl, eventually grabbing a 3rd Round finish.
It’s tough to pick a winner for these kind of matchups, but after watching both of their last fights, Kinoshita seems like the safer choice. He’s over 10 years younger. Plus, he’s more aggressive, seems a bit faster and is very durable. This should allow Kinoshita to grab a finish at some point.
Kinoshita by Finish
Doo Ho Choi vs. Kyle Nelson
Choi: -193 Nelson: +157
Over 1.5: -137 Under 1.5: +108
This is by far the most unpredictable of all the main card matchups. Doo Ho Choi was on an incredible tear for a while, sitting at 14-1 in 2016 with multiple 1st Round finishes. Sadly, since then he lost three in a row and hasn’t fought since 2019. As for Nelson, he’s also had some rough times recently, losing 4 of his 5 UFC fights. With both men being a similar age and size and having similar recent records, this decision comes down to some general trends.
In general, when you’ve been away for a few years and haven’t won in over 5 years, it doesn’t look good. Already, Nelson is a much safer choice. It should also be said that in Nelson’s last fight, he was fighting up at 155 against the tough, hometown favourite of Jai Herbert in London and did very well. Choi could come out like an absolute animal and get an early finish, but Nelson’s style and activity makes him the safer bet.
Nelson by Decision
Marcin Tybura vs. Blagoy Ivanov
Tybura: -140 Ivanov: +114
Over 2.5: -220 Under 2.5: +171
Here we’ve got a fairly simple pick. Tybura is coming off of a win over one of the most promising heavyweight prospects, Romanov. The majority decision win was questionable, but Romanov was starting to look like a real top 5 contender. As for Ivanov, he’s 36 and seems to be on his way out of the UFC. Neither one of these guys gets finishes, so the easy pick has to be Tybura by decision.
Tybura by Decision
Da Un Jung vs. Devin Clark
Jung: -250 Clark: +200
Over 2.5: +130 Under 2.5: -167
Like most of the matchups on this card, here’s another close one. Clark was in the top 15 at one point, but has now found himself with 3 losses in 4 fights, including Anthony Smith, Cutelaba and Murzakanov. Jung’s record certainly looks a lot better on paper, but he also doesn’t really have any big wins, even walking away with a draw against the likes of Sam Alvey in 2020. This could go either way, but Jung simply just seems like a much safer bet on paper. He’s got a better record, he’s younger and he’s on a card that is intended to be a showcase for the Asian UFC fighters.
Jung by Decision
Derrick Lewis vs. Serghei Spivac
Lewis: +183 Spivac: -234
Over 1.5: +100 Under 1.5: -128
We go through a similar process every time we see heavyweights like Derrick Lewis. The question is always “can he get a KO?”. Spivac has had some recent success, shutting down some fairly notable power punchers like Hardy and Sakai, but his loss to Aspinall is more telling. I’ve talked about how incredible Aspinall is, even calling him a potential future champ, and he showed that against Spivac with an easy 1st Round KO.
Lewis is nowhere near as fast as Aspinall, but Spivac needs to get in close and grapple to win his fights. We’ve seen what happens when you try and grapple Lewis… you get knocked out. Thanks to that, I see a beautiful KO win for Lewis. There’s one potential problem for Lewis though; this is a 5 round fight. In this case, I think Lewis will still get the knockout, but, if he doesn’t get it quick, it could be a problem.
Lewis by Finish
BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 7:30 PM PST)
We’ve got a special set of prelims this week; it’s the grand finale for the Road to UFC tournament!
Seung Guk Choi vs. Hyun Sung Park (Flyweight Finals)
Choi: +160 Park: -200
Over 2.5: -234 Under 2.5: +175
Starting with the two men from Korea, it should be a close and technical fight. They’re both obviously familiar with each other, making it even more interesting. Based on what we saw this weekend though, I’m going to have to give the edge to Park. Park survived the striking of Kiwram, one of the best kickboxers on the planet. He then proceeded to take him down and give him his first submission loss. On the other side, Choi did very well against Qiulun, but had nowhere near the level of success of Park. I don’t know if he’ll grab another finish, but Park should be able to grab the win.
Park by Decision
Rinya Nakamura vs. Toshiomi Kazama (Bantamweight Finals)
Nakamura: -450 Kazama: +325
Over 1.5: -132 Under 1.5: +100
This one is the most exciting and even matchup on paper out of all the finals. Kazama didn’t have to fight this round, so we didn’t get to see him a second time. That being said, he was one of the most impressive fighters in the opening round with his win over Keremuaili Maimaitituoheti. It has to be said though, Nakamura looked like a top 20 fighter in the UFC back in the semi-finals. With both men preferring grappling, Nakamura will likely do what he did this weekend: turn to his striking. He’s already got a slight edge on the ground, but Nakamura will likely have an even bigger edge on the feet. He should be able to dominate a decision or grab another KO.
Nakamura by Finish
Zha Yi vs. Jeong Yeong Lee (Featherweight Finals)
Zha: +200 Lee: -260
Lee is similar to Nakamura in that he is already UFC level. The only difference: Lee is so powerful, skilled and smart that he could make a run for the top 15 over the next year in such a wide open division. Zha is good, but Lee is an absolute animal. Lee will more than likely grab another early finish to make his way into the UFC.
Lee by Finish
Jeka Saragih vs. Anshul Jubli (Lightweight Finals)
Saragih: -107 Jubli: -116
Over 2.5: -105 Under 2.5: -123
Going into this weekend, it actually seemed almost inevitable that Won Bin Ki was going to win this tournament. Instead, he was outclassed and got SMOKED by Saragih. He’s got the power, speed and skill to finish anyone in this tournament. Jubli has a huge edge in boxing technique, making it harder for Saragih to land clean. The problem: Jubli likes to walk forward constantly and gets hit quite a bit. If he doesn’t adjust, Saragih will get an easy, easy 1st Round KO.
Saragih by Finish
BLÜ’s Best Bets
Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC Vegas 68. 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.
Saragih vs. Jubli Under 2.5 at -123
Saragih has only made it to a decision ONCE in his 15 fight career and has grabbed finishes in both of the previous rounds of this tourney. With both men favouring a stand-up brawl and being comfortable in an absolute slug-fest, this is one that seems very likely to end in a finish.
The Underdog Kyle Nelson at +157
Considering the explosive style of Doo Ho Choi, especially in a card that’s favouring Korean fighters, I understand why the odds have swelled in this direction. That being said, he hasn’t fought in 3 years and hasn’t won in almost a decade. Meanwhile, Nelson did well fighting up a weight class against a tough, hometown favourite in his last fight. With the line at +157, there’s some insane potential with this one.
The Underdog Derrick Lewis at +183
We’ve been through this exact scenario dozens of times. At heavyweight, especially when it involves the KO King, Derrick Lewis, anyone can win in a split second. Already, that pushes us towards the underdog. In this case though, this is also a matchup that seems to favour Lewis. Spivac needs to get in close to grab a win; usually, that means a KO for Lewis. At +183, it’s well worth a bit of a sprinkle.
The Short Run
Jun Yong Park + Nakamura + Tybura
The Long Run
Taira + Jun Yong Park + Nakamura + Lee + Tybura