UFC Vegas 67 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Soriano vs. Kopylov, Nurmagomedov vs. Barcelos and More (January 14)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC bantamweight Mateus Mendonca of Brazil
- The first UFC event of 2023 is down to 11 fights after a series of injuries, illnesses and cancellations ravaged the card.
- Despite the changes, our experts have a slate of best bets for Saturday's UFC Vegas 67: Strickland vs. Imavov card on ESPN+.
- Check out their picks, which include a pair of underdog plays, below.
The UFC kicks off its 2023 campaign on Saturday, and when perusing the latest UFC Vegas 67 odds, we see some worthwhile betting angles.
Saturday's event, also dubbed UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Imavov, takes place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, and the entire 11-fight card streams on ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET).
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our MMA crew has pinpointed four fights on Saturday’s UFC Vegas 67 betting card that present betting value.
Check out those UFC Vegas 67 best bets from Billy Ward, Dann Stupp and Tony Sartori below.
Billy Ward: Javid Basharat vs. Mateus Mendonca | Charles Johnson vs. Jimmy Flick
Staff Writer at The Action Network
I’m starting off the new year by bucking convention. I’ve got a pair of longer-odds bets for the first UFC event of 2023, and I’d strongly suggest taking both of them – or neither.
We’ll start with Mateus Mendonca. He’s a Dana White's Contender Series vet making his UFC debut against Jahvid Basharat, himself 2-0 following his time on the DWCS feeder series. Mendonca trains at Chute Boxe – home of Charles Oliveira among others – and is an all-action, aggressive striker with a solid BJJ background.
This makes him a tough matchup for Javid Basharat, who himself is a pure striker with zero takedown attempts in his two UFC fights. Basharat’s pre-UFC record was entirely stoppages, but since entering the UFC octagon, he’s produced two solid but underwhelming decision victories.
Mendonca has less tape available, but he absolutely flattened his DWCS opponent with a right cross. In what should be mostly a standup fight, I’ll take the guy with better power on tape. Additionally, Mendonca is shorter but with a longer reach than Basharat – the ideal combination.
Mendonca opened as high as +300 before being bet down across the industry, and I’d play him to +230.
As for Jimmy Flick, there are a couple of reasons to believe he’s undervalued in the market in his matchup. He’s fighting Charles Johnson, who stepped in on short notice to replace Jeff Molina. We never know what kind of shape fighters are in when they step up to these bouts, but I’ll take the plus-money on the other side.
Additionally, Flick is a challenging stylistic matchup for Johnson. Johnson tends to fall back on his wrestling at times, yet Flick secured 14 of his 16 professional wins by submission. He’s not a guy who needs to win the wrestling and secure dominant positioning either – he landed a flying triangle in his UFC debut.
While Johnson is the much better overall fighter, sometimes having one dominant skill as Flick does is enough. Especially when the opponent had a short camp; Johnson won’t have had time to prepare for the variety of submission attacks Flick will throw out.
Like Mendonca, Flick opened as an even heavier favorite (+320) before being bet down everywhere. I’d play Flick down to +250 (at which point I’d look to his submission prop, which can be found as high as +500, instead).
The Picks: Mateus Mendonca (+275 at BetMGM) | Jimmy Flick (+285 at DraftKings)
Dann Stupp: Punahele Soriano vs. Roman Kopylov
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Punahele Soriano is far from a world-beater, and he's anything but a perfect fighter.
Thankfully, though, the UFC middleweight is facing a far more imperfect opponent on Saturday in Roman Kopylov. And at the current odds, I'm happy to take my chances with Soriano, as flawed as he might be.
For starters, Soriano clearly passes the eye test. In fact, he seems to sprout a new muscle group with each passing bout (dude has muscular armpits, for crying out loud).
But Soriano also packs a heck of a wallop in his hands, he's a more active striker, he's a more eye-catching striker (which is great for optics with the judges), he's got better wrestling, better jiu-jitsu, he's proven to have durability, and he's got a killer instinct and will engage quickly and violently.
That last point is especially important. Soriano is a quick starter who won't allow his opponent to get comfortable, but he's got some gas-tank concerns. We've seen Soriano fade down the stretch, and in most matchups, that might be a deal-breaker when it comes to backing him at the betting window.
However, Kopylov is arguably just as flawed in that department. Granted, he's technical and can be quite adept when counterstriking, but Kopylov is also too willing to stand there and get hit and waste rounds while looking for those opportunities.
And against an opponent like Soriano, who is busier? And more powerful? And who's perfectly happy to throw caution to the wind and engage first? Well, that's unlikely to be a winning scenario for Kopylov.
I worry about Soriano tiring down the stretch, but honestly, I don't think this one even makes it past the first round or two. I think Soriano wins, and I think the Hawaiian slugger does it via stoppage in the first two-thirds of the fight. That's why, in addition to his moneyline, I'll be wagering a bit on Soriano to win via KO (+190 at BetRivers), as well.
But, for my official pick, we'll keep it simple with a straight moneyline play on Soriano.
The Pick: Punahele Soriano (-150 at DraftKings)
Tony Sartori: Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Raoni Barcelos
Contributor at The Action Network
To kick off the main card, we have No. 13 bantamweight contender Umar Nurmagomedov vs. unranked Raoni Barcelos. A younger cousin of former UFC champ Khabib, Umar looks to build upon his spotless 15-0 record without the GOAT in his corner.
With that said, Umar still trained under Khabib's tutelage for this camp and worked with UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev and Bellator lightweight titleholder Usman Nurmagomedov, the latter of whom is Umar's brother.
Wrestling is the key focus in a camp with fighters such as the aforementioned ones, which is how Umar has established his dominance in his young UFC career. In his first two UFC bouts, Nurmagomedov submitted Sergey Morozov and Brian Kelleher, dominating each guy on the mat in quick fashion.
In his most recent fight, Nurmagomedov went the distance and claimed a unanimous-decision victory over Nate Maness. In that fight, Nurmagomedov's wrestling looked as dominant as ever as he landed three of four takedown attempts while amassing a whopping 10:49 of control time, which is absurd for a 15-minute bout.
Judge Chris Lee even gave Nurmagomedov two 10-8 rounds in that fight, and a similar result could be in store against Raoni Barcelos. While oddsmakers are giving Barcelos only a puncher's chance in this scrap, there is optimism that he can at least take Nurmagomedov to the final bell.
Boasting a tremendous 93% takedown defense, Barcelos is going to make Nurmagomedov earn every second in the wrestling department. Additionally, even if Barcelos gets taken down, he should be able to survive on the mat.
Through 20 professional fights, Barcelos has tapped just once, which occurred almost nine years ago. In his two UFC losses, he survived to the final bell each time.
Barcelos deserves a ton of credit for taking this fight – because no one else is really willing to take on Nurmagomedov in the bantamweight division. While Barcelos is probably in over his head with this scrap, he should be able to limit the number of takedowns by Nurmagomedov.
In typical "student of Khabib" fashion, look for Umar to win this one on the scorecards with his wrestling and take the decision via points.
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