MMA Prop Squad for UFC Vegas 61: Krzysztof Jotko via Knockout (+550) Among Top Picks

MMA Prop Squad for UFC Vegas 61: Krzysztof Jotko via Knockout (+550) Among Top Picks article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC middleweight Krzysztof Jotko

  • The MMA Prop Squad has five long-shot bets for UFC Vegas 61 and looks to build upon a 35.9% ROI to date.
  • The odds for today's plays range from +510 to +1050 and include multiple types of prop bets.
  • Check out the picks and analysis from all the Squad members below.

Welcome to the latest edition of MMA Prop Squad, in which we offer an array of prop bets with oversized odds for UFC Vegas 61.

In this weekly feature, the Action Network's MMA team welcomes in a revolving cast of outside contributors and fellow combat-sports analysts. Each #MMAPropSquad installment features a handful of picks from our squad of prop-betting enthusiasts, who have combined for a 35.9% ROI since launch.

This week marks the return of contributors Tony Sartori, Dan Tom and Liam Heslin, as well as full-timers Billy Ward and Dann Stupp.

Check out their picks for Saturday's event, which streams on ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET) from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, below.

As with all betting, always wager within your means. That guidance is especially important when dealing with prop bets. Although the props often offer tantalizing odds, they also cash far less frequently than standard bet types.

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Dan Tom: Julija Stoliarenko via Round 1 Submission (+700)

Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Protect Ya' Neck podcast

UFC Vegas 61 is full of matchups that you may want action on – but not necessarily a ton of exposure to (which is why I love to target round props by the method).

Although I'm siding with the fighter who is jumping in on short notice, I believe that Julija Stoliarenko matches up quite well with UFC newcomer Chelsea Chandler.

Chandler seems to have a penchant for bullying her opposition, but she's seldom fought fighters with strong physicality, and she has arguably struggled when she has.

Not only is Storialenko a former featherweight with some decent size to her, but the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is also a more experienced and accomplished competitor in both grappling and MMA.

Chandler may be a relentless purple belt who is only getting better, but her aggressive style (that has seen her rocked on a few occasions) coupled with the small octagon in the UFC Apex will likely funnel this fight right into Storliarenko's submission wheelhouse.

For that reason, I'll gladly take a small shot on the specialist to add another armbar to her resume.

The Pick: Julija Stoliarenko Submission & Round 1 (+700 at FanDuel)

Tony Sartori: Krzysztof Jotko via KO (+550)

Contributor at The Action Network

We have a very exciting middleweight bout set to take place during the prelims as Krzysztof Jotko meets Brendan Allen. While this fight opened as a pick'em, the line has moved in Jotko's favor, and he currently sits at around a -125 favorite.

Large money has been dropping in on Jotko during the week, with 74% of the betting handle wagered on the Polish striker despite just 53% of the tickets. This fight will likely stay standing, with each guy posting a takedown defense of 50% or higher and a takedown average per 15 minutes south of 1.40.

If this fight stays standing, the advantage should be with Jotko, who boasts a two-inch reach advantage. My biggest concern for Allen is his poor striking defense, which sits at just at 44% since joining the UFC.

The guy takes a ton of strikes, absorbing 4.18 per minute. Because of this poor striking defense, both of Allen's losses under the UFC promotion have come via KO/TKO.

Now, to be fair, those two losses were to Chris Curtis and Sean Strickland. While Jotko is not at those guys' level, he enters this scrap in great form with five wins in his last six fights.

We are getting a long number in this prop because none of those five wins came via knockout, but he has shown in the past that he is capable of putting someone down with his first-round finish over Tamdan McCrory. My main reason for backing Jotko here is that he looked absolutely fantastic in his most recent fight against veteran mainstay Gerald Meerschaert.

Winning the scrap 30-27 on all three scorecards, he looked outstanding both on the feet and on the mat. Jotko landed 65 significant strikes at 52% accuracy, with 51 of those going to the head.

Meerschaert's chin saved him from being knocked out in that fight, and I am not sure Allen's will do the same. At better than 5/1, Jotko via KO is worth a shot.

The Pick: Krzysztof Jotko to win via KO/TKO (+550 at FanDuel)

Liam Heslin: Mike Davis via Submission (+1050)

Contributor at The Action Network and host of Liam Picks Fights

Mike Davis to win by submission makes sense for a few reasons.

Davis comes from a Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling background, so he's comfortable fighting on the mat.

The 29-year-old also has solid athleticism and a variety of potent skills he can use when he meets fellow lightweight Viacheslav Borshchev in UFC Vegas 61's main-card opener.

Therefore, the idea of getting a method-of-victory prop on Davis at greater than 10-1 is very appealing. It's especially attractive considering his opponent, "Slava Claus," gave up more than 12 minutes of control time in his most recent bout against Marc Diakiese.

If Davis is able to get on top in the same way, he may be more interested in looking for his own finishes.

If you bet Davis straight up, the best line you'll find is -190 or so. But going with the submission option makes this a true MMA Prop Squad play with a pretty substantial payoff.

The Pick: Mike Davis by Submission (+1050 at BetRivers)

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Billy Ward: Daniel Santos via KO (+510)

Staff Writer at The Action Network

I was high on Daniel Santos ahead of his UFC debut at 273, giving out a similar prop on the Action Network UFC Podcast.

The logic is the same here: Santos is a flash striker, mixing in tons of spinning techniques, kicks, and knees while hunting aggressively for knockouts. He also trains at Chute Boxe, the current home of lightweight champion (until proven otherwise) Charles Oliveira, as well as the gym that launched the careers of the Rua brothers and Wanderlei Silva, among others.

All of those fighters have a similar ultra-aggressive muay-Thai style, and Santos fits that bill, as well. Santos has six stoppages (four knockouts) in nine professional wins, an impressive ratio for a bantamweight. He also fought fairly tough competition on the Brazilian regional scene, which should have him ready for his UFC on Vegas 61 opponent, John Castaneda.

The bet didn’t work out last time, but in hindsight, there was a logical reason. Santos hadn’t fought in almost two and a half years – presumably due to the pandemic – before making his UFC debut. For a relatively young fighter, the ring rust and UFC debut jitters could’ve been a big factor. Santos even attempted more strikes with each successive round in his debut, suggesting he got more comfortable as the fight wore on.

This time, Santos should be more comfortable right from the jump. I also like his inside-the-distance odds of +400 on DraftKings given his submission ability, but his line is just below the unofficial Prop Squad threshold at every other book.

The Pick: Daniel Santos by KO, TKO or DQ (+510 at BetRivers)

Dann Stupp: Randy Brown vs. Francisco Trinaldo Ends in Round 3 (+900)

Senior Editor at The Action Network

As a 44-year-old man with physical therapy twice a week to work on a lengthy list of back, knee and hip ailments, my brain just can't comprehend how fellow 44-year-old Francisco Trinaldo is still doing the damn thing at MMA's highest level.

So, sure, I'm biased (and perpetually achy and sore). But I also know Trinaldo's commendable battle with Father Time can't possibly continue much longer – not after a career of fighting savages at lightweight, welterweight and even middleweight.

And if Trinaldo's renowned resiliency is finally going to start crumbling, opponent Randy Brown could be the guy to quicken it. Brown probably won't score that one-hitter quitter on you, but he can just pick you apart and wear you down from distance with his length and height advantage, which are both substantial against Trinaldo.

That's why, initially, I planned to bet on Brown to win in Round 3 at +1300 odds. However, I also know Brown has experienced his own lapses and letdowns in the second half of fights. The 32-year-old has solid cardio, but Brown has also suffered three of his four losses via stoppages after the first round.

One of my official plays for this card is for Brown-Trinaldo to win inside the distance at even money. I like that bet quite a lot. But I'm also going to take a Prop Squad flier on this fight to end in Round 3 at +900. With both fighters showing enough durability to get to the third round – but enough question marks about what happens when they get there – I can see one of these vets finally forcing the other to quit.

The Pick: Francisco Trinaldo vs. Randy Brown Ends in Round 3 (+900 at FanDuel)

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