UFC Props: MMA Prop Squad Picks With Odds up to +3500 for UFC Vegas 73 (Saturday, May 20)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC lightweight Chase Hooper
Welcome to the latest edition of MMA Prop Squad, in which we offer an array of UFC Vegas 73 prop bets with oversized odds for Saturday’s event.
Each Prop Squad installment features a handful of picks from our squad of prop-betting enthusiasts, who have tallied +27.0 units and a +15.9% ROI to date.
This week marks the return of squad members Liam Heslin, Clint MacLean, Tony Sartori, Sean Zerillo and Billy Ward.
Check out their picks for tonight’s UFC Vegas 73: Dern vs. Hill event, which streams on ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET) from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, below.
As with all betting endeavors, 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. And be sure to shop around for the best price since prop odds can vary substantially depending on the sportsbook.
Liam Heslin: Themba Gorimbo by KO (+900)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of Liam Picks Fights
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 3:55 p.m. ET
Themba Gorimbo made his UFC debut against an athletic, tricky grappler in A.J. Fletcher and showed promise but fell short due to jitters and positional errors. Now, Gorimbo has the uninspired opposition of Takashi Sato, a 2-4 UFC veteran with no meaningful wins and three of four losses inside the distance.
Sato has yet to eclipse 29 significant strikes landed in any of his fights, and he will be at a three-inch height and reach disadvantage in this pairing.
I bet Gorimbo via KO in his last fight at +1300, and he was desperate to get takedowns almost to a fault. If he can be more measured and violent with his ground and pound, it can open up more finishing opportunities. Sato has been rocked with multiple headkicks in the UFC, including in his last fight against Bryan Battle when he was knocked brutally unconscious in the first exchange.
Sato has been out nearly 12 months, so he could experience cage rust, a lack of confidence, and the discomfort that comes with fighting another longer, taller opponent with dangerous attacks from kicking range.
Gorimbo has tended to start hot and heavy in most of his finish wins, so you can look for alternative options such as +500 for Gorimbo in Round 1 or +290 for Gorimbo & under 1.5 Rounds. I think the KO offers the most value, though. It’s +900 on FanDuel compared to +800 or worse in most other markets. Offshores opened around 12-1 before shading the number down to +800.
Pick: Themba Gorimbo by KO (+900)
Clint MacLean: Chase Hooper by KO (+700), by KO in Round 3 (+3500)
Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Die Hard MMA Podcast
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 4:55 p.m. ET
Chase Hooper is massive. After looking at Hooper next to his opponent at face-offs, I wonder where the 10 pounds came from that he used to cut to get down to 145.
Hooper may not be the best striker, and his overall MMA game is a work in progress, but what he has going for him is that he’s tough and has great cardio. He’s known for his grappling ability, and the UFC is now throwing him an opponent who was basically a punching bag in his UFC debut and is a primary grappler.
If Nick Fiore is going to engage with Hooper where he is most confident, that’s also where Hooper has the best path to victory. Hooper has an ability to scramble and find his way to top position that most grapplers can’t keep pace with.
Fiore is a BJJ player who naturally attacks chokes and who attempts to play off of his back. The one place where Hooper can convince the ref to pull him off is in top position on the mat.
I cashed this exact combo of bets against Felipe Colares (rest in peace), and we are going right back to that well. I have a hard time seeing Fiore keeping up with Hooper, who will be stronger with even more energy now that he’s at 155.
We aren’t looking for a highlight reel here with our split bet; we are simply looking for him to pound away until the ref has to step in.
The Picks: Chase Hooper by KO (+700 at DraftKings) | Chase Hooper by KO in Round 3 (+3500 at DraftKings)
Tony Sartori: Carlos Diego Ferreira by Decision (+400)
Contributor at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 6:55 p.m. ET
To kick off the main card, we have a lightweight bout between Carlos Diego Ferreira and Michael Johnson. These two veterans do not need much of an introduction, as they have been two staples in the lightweight division for a decade.
For those who may have just started following the UFC recently, Ferreira may be more of an unknown name to you due to the fact that he has taken the last year and a half off to focus on his mental health. A contributing factor to this hiatus could be the fact that he has lost his past three fights.
However, it is hard to hold those defeats against a very capable lightweight. Two of those losses came to Mateusz Gamrot and Beneil Dariush, who are respectively ranked No. 7 and No. 4 in the 155-pound weight class.
The other loss came against Gregor Gillespie, who boasts a 14-1 professional record and would likely be ranked if he were not under his mysterious hiatus from the sport. Ferreira’s three-fight losing skid and year off from the sport is the reason he is priced at only around the -150 mark. But he is certainly the more gifted mixed martial artist in this scrap.
With that said, you can never count out Johnson, who possesses, as Dann Stupp referenced in our Best Bets article, a “well-rounded but sometimes decision-prone fighting style.” I could not say it better myself, and that is the reason three of his past four losses have come on the scorecards.
Johnson can absolutely win this fight, and I would not be shocked if he does, but Ferreira’s win by decision prop can be found at +400 at DraftKings, which implies a 20% probability of occurring. You are telling me that the more gifted mixed martial artist in a Michael Johnson fight wins on the scorecards only 20% of the time? I disagree.
The Pick: Carlos Diego Ferreira by decision (+400 at DraftKings)
Sean Zerillo: Anthony Hernandez in Round 2 (+575), in Round 3 (+1000)
Senior Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 8:25 p.m. ET
When I see a massive cardio discrepancy between UFC fighters, I generally target the fighter with superior cardio in the later rounds, opting to bet them to win in Round 2 or Round 3 (or Rounds 4 or 5 in a main event) at juicy odds. That’s when their opponent fades, and their win probability drastically increases.
While Edmen Shahbazyan is a talented fighter, the 25-year-old is just 2-3 in bouts extending beyond the first round. He lost a wide decision in one of those fights (against Jack Hermansson) and was finished by both Derek Brunson and Nasourdine Imavov in the two losses.
And in the UFC Vegas 73 co-main event, I expect Shahbazyan to succumb to a hectic pace set by Anthony “Fluffy” Hernandez, who weaponizes his cardio as well as any fighter in the UFC, drawing comparisons to Cain Velasquez.
While I expect Shahbazyan to find his best success early, you can look to live bet Hernandez after Round 1 – hopefully at a better price than you find pre-fight.
For my Prop Squad pick this week, I’d prefer to split my bet and take a couple of small round prop stabs, as my colleague Dan Tom did in his UFC Vegas 73 co-main-event breakdown.
I will take Hernandez in Round 2 (+575 at BetRivers) and Round 3 (+1000 at DraftKings) pre-fight, down to around +450 and +900, respectively, in the event that he drowns Shahbazyan with wrestling from the outset, and the price moves in Fluffy’s direction.
The Picks: Anthony Hernandez in Round 2 (+575 at BetRivers) | Hernandez in Round 3 (+1000 at DraftKings)
Billy Ward: Angela Hill by Split/Majority Decision (+800)
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 8:55 p.m. ET
The makeshift UFC Vegas 73 main event between Angela Hill and Mackenzie Dern features a stylistic matchup that is almost certain to be difficult on the judges.
Dern is an old-school jiu-jitsu stylist, with limited striking and wrestling abilities. However, she’s a major threat when the fight gets to the ground, and she has four first-round finishes in her UFC career.
Hill is the polar opposite stylistically, with a background as a muay Thai fighter and solid defensive grappling abilities. She’s unlikely to be able to work much offense on the ground against Dern, but she likely has the experience to stay out of submission trouble.
That puts the judges in a tough spot, as most rounds will feature Hill getting the better of the striking exchanges while Dern looks to force a grappling match. Dern may even resort to pulling guard, leaving her to work from the bottom.
I expect Dern to be the more active fighter on the ground – even from bottom position – but that relies on judges’ subjective opinions (and understanding of jiu-jitsu) in order to score. All it takes is one judge to buck the “fighter on top is winning” trend and give a few extra rounds to Dern.
If looking for a less risky (but still juicy) option, the fight to end in a split/majority decision for either woman is +500 on DraftKings. I’ll be sprinkling a bit on that line, as well.
The Pick: Angela Hill by split or majority decision (+800 at DraftKings)
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