The women of the UFC sit on the throne this weekend with strawweight contenders Mackenzie Dern and Angela Hill headlining UFC Vegas 73.

We’ll see more of this division earlier in the main card with Emily Ducote taking on the always-game Lupita Godinez. Other female standouts include the veteran Karolina Kowalkiewicz, the entertaining Vanessa Demopoulos and the young, rising assassin, Natália Silva. Other incredible, explosive matchups include Edmen Shahbazyan and Anthony Hernandez in the co-main event along with Andre Fialho and Joaquin Buckley. All of these matchups (plus more) are covered below and feature BLÜ’s predictions along with the Bet99 Sportsbook Odds.

Main Card (4:00 PM PST)

Michael Johnson vs. Diego Ferreira

BET99 Odds

Johnson:  +130     Ferreira:  -163

Over 2.5:  +120     Under 2.5:  -155

This is a tough matchup to call, opening the main card action. Johnson is notoriously inconsistent while Ferreira hasn’t fought since 2021 and hasn’t won since early 2020. With both men seemingly close in skill on tape, you’ve gotta side with the guy who’s been more active and still grabbing wins. The pick has to be Michael Johnson in a close decision, especially with those plus money odds.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Johnson by Decision

Andre Fialho vs. Joaquin Buckley

BET99 Odds

Fialho:  +180     Buckley:  -225

Over 1.5:  -134     Under 1.5:  +105

When Fialho first burst onto the scene, I thought he was quickly going to be a problem for the top 15, knocking out everyone in the way. Sadly, his last two fights, which have been both KO losses, have painted a different picture. As for Buckley, he’s been finding success against the bigger guys at 185. With Buckley being MUCH larger, more well-rounded and holding the more impressive stretch recently, he’s the clear pick in this matchup. Considering Fialho has been knocked out by smaller men in his last two, it wouldn’t be surprising if Buckley was able to do the same.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Buckley by Finish

Emily Ducote vs. Lupita Godinez

BET99 Odds

Ducote:  +130    Godinez:  -160

Over 2.5:  -350     Under 2.5:  +250

On a night headlined by two top female contenders, we’ve got another pretty exciting strawweight bout right here. Ducote brought the heat in her debut against Jessica Penne. Sadly, her last fight against one of the headliners, Angela Hill, was a VERY one-sided affair with Hill putting on one of the most dominant striking displays we’ve seen in a while. She’ll have a speed advantage here, making it easier for her to get back to a normal pace, but she’ll have to overcome the size, strength and grappling of Godinez. From what I’ve seen, Ducote will be a tad too small to handle that onslaught, likely leading to a decision loss once again.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Godinez by Decision

Co-Main Event

Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Anthony Hernandez

BET99 Odds

Shahbazyan:  +180    Hernandez:  -225

Over 1.5:  -150   Under 1.5:  +120

Similar to what I said about Fialho, Shahbazyan appeared to be that next top contender, but was then thrown down the ladder with 3 straight losses. He took the year off and looked great against Lungiambula a few months ago, but Hernandez is a MUCH tougher test. With 3 wins since his brutal loss to Kevin Holland, Hernandez is climbing the ladder, somehow managing to submit the (at the time) undefeated submission ace, Rodolfo Vieira. He also managed to finish Barriault. If Hernandez can submit two dangerous, huge grapplers like that, Edmen is going to have a problem. Edmen could always get a KO, but Hernandez is tough to finish and Shahbazyan has struggled against grapplers. There could be a finish on either side, but I’ll side with Hernandez.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Hernandez by Finish

Main Event

Mackenzie Dern vs. Angela Hill

BET99 Odds

Dern:   -184    Hill:   +150

Over 4.5:  -150    Under 4.5:  +120

This one’s a bit of a strange matchup on paper. Hill hasn’t been successful against the top contenders in the division while Dern has consistently near the top and having close fights, losing to Yan in a majority decision in her last fight. Hill definitely has the better striking, but Dern has 5 rounds to use her size and her grappling skills to control the fight and possibly grab a sub. I just don’t think Hill will be able to shut that down consistently and land enough strikes to win a decision.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Dern by Decision

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

Maheshate vs. Viacheslav Borshchev

BET99 Odds

Maheshate:  +133    Borshchev:  -163

Over 2.5:  +133    Under 2.5:   -172

If there’s one thing that’s certain about this matchup, it’s the action. Both men love to brawl and go for knockouts and neither man is really into grappling. As such, either man could grab the finish or the hard-fought decision. Coincidentally, they both had a win on DWCS and followed it up with a 1st Round KO in their UFC debut. We’re in for some violence here either way, but I’ll side with 23 year old and the slightly larger man, Maheshate. He’s HUGE and, with his size and growing skillset, he can be a real problem in this division.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Maheshate by Decision

BLÜ’s Best Bets

Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC Vegas 73. 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.

Latifi vs. Nascimento Over 2.5 at +100

Latifi has been almost exclusively in decisions in the UFC; it’s just his style of fighting. While Nascimento looks for finishes, he was brought to a decision by Boser, just like Latifi. At plus money, it’s at least worth a stab.

The Underdog Maheshate at +133

Both guys have had an almost identical experience in their UFC journeys, but Maheshate is bigger and a lot younger. I’m not saying he’s got the win locked up, but at plus money it’s worth the shot.

The Underdog Michael Johnson at +128

Johnson has been a lot more active than Ferreira and has also been grabbing wins. With that in mind, it seems crazy not to put a little bit of money down on Johnson.

Parlay Opportunities

The Short Run

Silva + Kowalkiewicz + Dern

The Long Run

Silva + Fiore + Buckley + Dern