UFC Vegas 65 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Sherman vs. Cortes-Acosta, Fialho vs. Salikhov, Johnson vs. Zhumagulov (November 19)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Muslim Salikhov
- UFC Vegas 65 kicks off on Saturday (1 p.m. ET) with a 12-bout lineup on ESPN+.
- Featured bouts include Derrick Lewis vs. Sergey Spivak and Ion Cutelaba vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu.
- Below, MMA bettors Billy Ward, Sean Zerillo and Dann Stupp share their best bets for the event.
(Editor’s note: UFC officials announced midway through the card that the UFC Vegas 65 main event of Derrick Lewis vs. Sergey Spivak has been pulled from the card due to an undisclosed medical issue for Lewis.)
Before a week off for Thanksgiving, UFC Vegas 65 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas (1 p.m. ET on ESPN+).
The afternoon event features 12 bouts, including heavyweights Derrick Lewis vs. Sergey Spivak and light heavyweights Ion Cutelaba vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu. You can check out those breakdowns by clicking on the links, but the event offers many other evenly matched fights.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed three fights and four picks on Saturday’s card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo’s projections below using odds from BetMGM.
Billy Ward: Chase Sherman vs. Waldo Cortes-Acosta
Staff Writer at The Action Network
While the line for this bet is approaching MMA Prop Squad territory, I’ve talked myself into it as a best bet. Both Chase Sherman and his opponent, Waldo Cortes-Acosta, are coming off wins over Jared Vanderaa in their most recent bouts.
Both of those fights made it into the third round. For Sherman, that win was a come-from-behind third-round knockout, while Cortes-Acosta won a decision. That decision was questionable at best, and it didn’t inspire much confidence in Cortes-Acosta moving forward.
Sherman is a volume puncher with a below-average knockdown rate but a solid chin. While Sherman has been finished on the ground, Cortes-Acosta is a pure striker with a boxing background. With Sherman being extremely durable standing, that makes an early finish by either man unlikely.
That explains the over 1.5 rounds portion of this Same Game Parlay bet. As far as the Sherman side, there are a few reasons to be on the underdog. He was originally supposed to fight Josh Parisian two weeks ago, which means he’s been training for a fight for some time. Cortes-Acosta took this one on less than two weeks’ notice, after winning his UFC debut three weeks back.
I’d hazard a guess that he didn’t hop right back into training following a UFC debut win, so Sherman should be sharper here. Additionally, based on the “MMA math” of their performance against Vanderaa, Sherman is the better fighter.
With that said, I wouldn’t fault anyone for ignoring the Sherman side of this bet, and taking the over 1.5 rounds, or fight to start Round 3 prop.
The Pick: Chase Sherman and Over 1.5 SGP (+320 at DraftKings)
Sean Zerillo: Andre Fialho vs. Muslim Salikhov
Senior Writer at The Action Network
Whether by confidence or accident, the five fights on Saturday’s main card are all favored to end inside the distance, while the seven prelims are each favored to go a full 15 minutes and see the judges.
I actually like the Over 1.5 rounds and the goes-to-decision props in the heavyweight fight (which Billy covered above). In the Andre Fialho vs. Muslim Salikhov welterweight clash, which immediately precedes it, I see value in both the Unders and the fight-to-end-inside-the-distance prop.
Fialho is an aggressive boxer with quick hands and good power but poor defensive tendencies. He’s hittable (48% striking defense) and not particularly durable. Still, he also tends to go to war, justifying a pick’em price in nearly any fight if he can sucker his opponents into a brawl.
Salikhov is the more well-rounded fighter and versatile striker. “The King of Kung Fu” offers excellent (and flashy) kicks and will target all areas of the body. Fialho, meanwhile, mostly headhunts.
Salikhov is the far superior kicker and grappler too, but he’s 38 years old with a wealth of fighting experience under his belt and looked slow in his last fight, a knockout loss to Li Jingliang.
Fialho should be able to touch the chin with his reach and speed, but I also expect him to get overzealous and for Salikhov to find spots to land huge counters.
I expect an all-action affair and targeted the Under 2.5 Rounds (-130) and the Fight to ends Inside the Distance (-165) at Caesars.
You can find a better price on that inside-the-distance prop at -152 at Bet365. I’m comfortable betting it to about -186 (65% implied), in line with my projection.
The Picks: Under 2.5 Rounds (-130, 0.5u at Caesars) | Fight ends Inside the Distance (-165, 0.25u at Caesars)
Dann Stupp: Charles Johnson vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Although my most profitable bets over the long haul have been on small MMA underdogs, I find myself betting a lot of modest chalk this week.
With lots of fairly evenly matched bouts, we find a ton of favorites in the -150 to -200 range. Those are often trap spots for recreational bettors, with casual punters naturally drawn to fighters who – on paper – appear to have a small edge.
Flyweight Charles Johnson fits that bill in his UFC Vegas 65 bout with Zhalgas Zhumagulov. But with Johnson at -165, I think we’re actually getting a bit of a bargain on the former LFA champ, who has a dynamic skill set and remarkable cardio – even by 125-pound standards.
I think we’re getting a discount on Johnson because of some recency bias. Folks who look up Johnson’s record see a UFC-debut loss to well-regarded prospect Muhammad Mokaev in July. Those fight fans will even see 30-27 scores across the board. But those scores don’t reflect just how game Johnson was in the fight, especially as the bout wore on.
Sure, Johnson suffered some frustrating takedowns late in the fight, but he never surrendered or even really slowed down. He’d pop right back up and continue looking for openings each time.
That tenacity should serve him well against vet Zhumagulov, who will likely try the same game plan that Mokaev did – but without as much success. I think those failed takedowns could ultimately sap Zhumagulov’s energy reserves, which is a recipe for disaster against a well-conditioned foe such as Johnson.
Zhumagulov is on a 1-4 skid, though he was undoubtedly screwed out of a decision win over Jeff Molina in his most recent bout. Still, though Zhumagulov can be relentless – even stubborn – he’s 34 and with declining power in his hands. This could be a bad spot for him.
I like Johnson straight up at the current -165 line and up to -200 (you might also find a much better price after Round 1 in the live markets). I also think there’s value in late-fight stoppage props, which is why I also like Johnson to win in Round 3 as my MMA Prop Squad pick this week.
The Pick: Charles Johnson (-165 at Caesars)