UFC Vegas 71 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Brad Tavares vs. Bruno Silva and More (Saturday, April 22)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: UFC welterweight Matthew Semelsberger
- Our UFC best bets for tonight's UFC Vegas 71 card target three fights from the 11-bout card.
- The event kicks off at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN+, and it features a Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes heavyweight headliner.
- However, our MMA experts are instead betting on the Brad Tavares vs. Bruno Silva co-headliner and two other bouts.
Check out our UFC Vegas 71 best bets ahead of Saturday’s event at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, which streams entirely on ESPN+ beginning at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT).
The main event features heavyweights Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes. However, our MMA experts have their eyes on other matchups from the fight card, including the co-main event.
So where exactly should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed three fights and picks on Saturday’s card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and best bets for those matches – plus Sean Zerillo’s projections below using odds from BetMGM.
Sean Zerillo: Brady Hiestand vs. Danaa Batgerel
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 3:55 p.m. ET
Brady Hiestand, a finalist on The Ultimate Fighter 29, has a high ceiling as an MMA prospect, but he is still very young (23) and raw with a limited striking skill set.
Hiestand is a good chain wrestler with excellent cardio, but he has little of an offensive game plan beyond putting opponents on their backs.
Not only is his UFC Vegas 71 opponent, Danaa Batgerel, the best opponent that Hiestand has faced, but he’s also extraordinarily physical and powerful – and a much more capable defensive wrestler than Hiestand’s recent competition.
I suspect Hiestand may have difficulty landing takedowns when Batgerel is fresh, and Batgerel should have a massive edge in the striking. Hiestand is extremely hittable (43% striking defense), and Batgerel should land clean power shots when the two stand at range.
I projected a finish as roughly 80% of Batgerel’s win condition and set his odds to win inside the distance around (or by finish) at 46.4% (+116 implied odds). I would bet that prop down to +125.
Batgerel should have opportunities to land – and hurt Hiestand – if he can deny the early takedown attempts. However, the longer the fight, the more Hiestand should be able to weaponize his cardio. I would rather bet Batgerel by finish than lay juice on his moneyline in Saturday’s curtain-jerker.
The Pick: Danaa Batgerel to win by any knockout, submission or DQ (+130 at DraftKings)
Dann Stupp: Jeremiah Wells vs. Matthew Semelsberger
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 6:55 p.m. ET
After I was firing on all cylinders betting on MMA totals in 2022, the year has seen more downs than ups. And it’s not even due to bad luck: They’ve just been some bad calls in hindsight.
But forever a glutton for punishment, I’m going to tap into the well of over/unders once again for Saturday’s UFC Vegas 71 event.
This time I’m going with welterweights Jeremiah Wells and Matthew Semelsberger, who kick off the main card. I expect them to put a bow on this fight within 2.5 rounds. Betway is still hanging -138 odds for the u2.5 if you have that book available in your state. If not, DraftKings (-145, under “alternate totals”) is a suitable alternative.
Well is a known first-round finisher with five straight wins, including four in 1.5 rounds or less (the other one was 21 seconds too long). He’s no youngster, but the 36-year-old still has relatively low miles on his odometer. Still, he puts the pedal to the floor and drains the gas tank during those explosive and electric first rounds.
The hard-hitting Brazilian BJJ black belt now fights Semelsberger, Wells’ toughest test to date. I think Semelsberger is going to be a willing dance partner for Wells’ all-offense style in the opening round.
And frankly, I think Wells will the best of it, and I backed him with a standard bet on the moneyline. And though this may be a bit of a hedge, I also really like under 2.5 rounds because I feel like it covers me in the case that Wells again drains his tank too much in the first round.
Semelsberger can not only win the fight in this case, but he can also get the stoppage himself. He’s got seven of them in 11 career wins (though he went the distance in recent victories over A.J. Fletcher and Jake Matthews).
Both fighters have ground games – both rarely want to use them – and I give Wells the edge and see plenty of finishing ability on the mat. But I think this one stays standing.
Wells likely gets the better of it and will do it early. But even if I’m wrong, I think Semelsberger is just likely to get a stoppage in a victory since his straightforward striking style could be effective against Wells’ more wide-open game.
The Pick: Jeremiah Wells vs. Matthew Semelsberger under 2.5 rounds (-138 at Betway)
Billy Ward: Brad Tavares vs. Bruno Silva
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 8:25 p.m. ET
Honestly, Saturday’s event doesn’t feel like a great betting card. A handful of the lines I liked earlier in the week have seen their value disappear by this point. Which is a bit of a mild disclaimer that this is more of “one bet I like” rather than a truly best bet for the card.
Still, I’m definitely on the Bruno Silva side of the co-main event, and I think he should be the rightful favorite here. The issue is Brad Tavares’ fighting style. He’s a solid striker who offers little in the way of grappling – but also has very poor power for the division.
Tavares has finished just two of his 14 UFC victories, with the most recent coming more than five years ago. It’s hard to lay favorite money on a fighter who’s relying on the judges to declare him the victor in a point-fighting match.
Silva is the complete opposite, with a negative striking differential in his UFC tenure but all three of his wins coming via knockout. Tavares is durable enough that I don’t need to play the knockout line for the extra odds, but possessing that power scores much better with the judges than a fighter landing light strikes.
He also might have a bit of grappling upside here, as Silva is a BJJ black belt and was able to use his wrestling semi-effectively against Alex Pereira. While Tavares is a tougher grappling test than the former champ, mixing in a takedown or two could also work to sway the judges.
I’m concerned about Silva’s recent fight against Gerald Meerscahert, in which he gassed out early and appeared to be a step behind the whole time. However, that’s why we’re getting him at plus-money here, and I’m willing to trust the entirety of his resume over one bad night at the office.
I’d take this one down to +120.
The Pick: Bruno Silva (+140 at Caesars)
How would you rate this article?
This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.