UFC Predictions & Luck Ratings for Matheus Nicolau vs Alex Perez: 2 Undervalued Fighters (Saturday, April 27)

UFC Predictions & Luck Ratings for Matheus Nicolau vs Alex Perez: 2 Undervalued Fighters (Saturday, April 27) article feature image

Paul Rutherford/Getty Images. Pictured: UFC flyweight Karine Silva of Brazil

Check out our UFC predictions for UFC Vegas 91: Nicolau vs. Perez for this Saturday, April 27, with our Luck Ratings.

The UFC gave fans a much-needed week off last week to digest UFC 300, but we're returning to our regular programming this week. That means another lackluster UFC Apex card in Las Vegas before the promotion heads to Brazil for UFC 301.

Still, money spends the same whether you win it on the UFC 300 main event or a forgettable Fight Night prelim, so let's break down the early values on UFC Vegas 91. Saturday's preliminary card airs on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT), and the main card airs on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.

One of the first “aha!” moments I had in gambling (generally, not just MMA) was to start thinking about why markets might be wrong, rather than just trying to predict what I think will happen.

At its core, that’s what a betting line is: a market where we can “buy” or “sell” events happening. For the most part, these markets are efficient, with the “price” eventually reflecting the true odds of the event.

While this is less true in MMA – where there are far more information asymmetries than in major markets like the NFL or NBA – it’s still broadly (and increasingly) the case. Therefore, to beat the markets over the long term, we need to figure out spots where they’re wrong.

That’s the point of this piece. Inspired by our NFL “Luck Rankings,” I’ll look into spots where variance has favored one fighter more than another, causing the line to be inefficient. The biggest input will be split and/or controversial decisions, with short-notice fights, fights that are later overruled, fluke injuries, and out-of-weight-class fights also considered.

The focus will be on fights reasonably likely to see the scorecards here, or where one fighter holds most of the finishing upside.

*UFC odds as of Monday and via DraftKings. Bet on UFC Vegas 91 with our DraftKings promo code.

UFC Predictions & Luck Ratings

Matheus Nicolau (-185) vs. Alex Perez (+154)

The UFC Vegas 91 main event features a pairing of top-10 flyweight contenders: No. 5-ranked Matheus Nicolau and No. 8 Alex Perez.

Nicolau comes into the fight following a loss to Brandon Royval in what appeared to be a No. 1 contender's fight, and he's looking to build back towards a title shot. He's been on the shelf since April of last year following a failed pairing with Manel Kape in January.

Perez is no stranger to canceled bouts himself, with nine of them in the three and a half years since he challenged for the flyweight title. In that time span, he's competed just twice. Both fights were losses, including a submission against now-champion Alexandre Pantoja, as well as a close decision loss to No. 7 flyweight Mohammed Mokaev.

However, the loss to Mokaev was extremely close. About a third of media members scored it for Perez, and it was easily the closest fight of Mokaev's undefeated career.

We'd be having a different conversation right now if Perez was coming in off a win over Mokaev. He's slightly undervalued at his best price of +155 at Caesars Sportsbook, as of this writing, but no rush as the line seems to be holding firm.

Verdict: Alex Perez Slightly Undervalued

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Karine Silva (-148) vs. Ariane Lipski (+124)

I really wish I'd have gotten to this one sooner.

Karine Silva opened between +110 and +120, depending on the sportsbook, and she's now fallen to a moderate favorite. And entirely deservedly so, by my estimation.

Silva is an elite submission specialist with all 17 of her professional wins coming inside the distance. Lipski is the better technical striker, but she lacks power.

That gives Silva the bulk of the finishing upside here. Lipski has finished just two of her six UFC wins, both by submission. Since that's unlikely to happen against the superior grappler, the best-case scenario for Lipski is probably a close decision.

Regardless, at this point, it's just about picking off the slowest-moving line possible while we still can. As of this writing early in the week, that would be on FanDuel, where Silva is still listed at -146.

Keep that bet to half a unit for now; we'll look for some potential juicier angles on Silva later in the week.

Verdict: Karine Silva Undervalued

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