UFC Vegas 75 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Nicolas Dalby vs. Muslim Salikhov: Is Kung Fu Good Here? (Saturday, June 17)
Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC welterweight Nicolas Dalby of Denmark
- The first fight of the UFC Vegas 75 main card won't have much of an impact on the rankings.
- Still, Nicolas Dalby vs. Muslim Salikhov could produce some fireworks.
- Below, Billy Ward explains which in-your-face welterweight he's favoring in the matchup and offers his best bet.
Nicolas Dalby vs. Muslim Salikhov Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-170 / +130)|
|Venue||UFC Apex in Las Vegas|
|Time||9:55 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via BetMGM|
The main-card opener of UFC Vegas 75 probably has no bearing on the welterweight title picture or even rankings, but it's still one to watch.
Every now and then the UFC matchmakers get one right, pitting together two reasonably matched, fun fighters in what's likely to be an entertaining back-and-forth bout.
Both "The King of Kung Fu" Muslim Salikhov and Nicholas Dalby are nearing 40 with their best days behind them. But they're action-packed fighters sure to kick off the main card in style.
Let's dig in and see if we can't make this one a bit more fun with some betting action.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||13:47||10:58|
|Weight (pounds)||170 lbs.||170 lbs.|
|Date of birth||11/16/1984||6/9/1984|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.74||3.30|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.35||2.43|
|Take Down Avg||1.09||1.20|
Salikhov is a native-born Dagestani who unlike most of his countrymen made his entry into the world of combat sports via striking rather than grappling.
He's a multiple-time world champion in the sport of sanda, a form of full-contact kung fu that is mainly striking-based but allows competitors to execute various takedowns, as well. However, ground fighting is prohibited.
This makes a great base for MMA since Salikhov was forced to ply his striking trade under the threat of takedowns, differentiating him from the slew of muay Thai and kickboxing veterans who attempt to transition to MMA.
That's evident in his strong 77% takedown defense rate, as well as his ability to pick up the occasional opportunistic takedown when needed.
He generally doesn't hunt takedowns, but when he's hurt or able to catch a kick, he'll seize the opportunity for some control time. As one might expect from his background, once on the ground, he's usually content to win minutes from the top rather than hunt for finishes via submissions or ground and pound.
His striking style is heavily influenced by the traditional martial arts. He prefers to operate at a distance, giving him the time and space needed to line up his trademark spinning and flying attacks at a distance.
Muslim Salikhov secures the third-round TKO with style 😯 #UFCVegas65
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) November 19, 2022
This makes him a far better hammer than nail. He looks extremely impressive when he's able to develop a rhythm, but occasionally he finds himself in trouble when pressured.
We saw this in the second round of his knockout loss to Li Jingliang. Jingliang turned up the pressure in the second round, stalking Salikhov and keeping him behind the black line for much of the round. Once there, "The Leech" was able to connect with a big right hand while Salikhov dropped his hands, before finishing him shortly thereafter with another right cross.
Dalby also has a traditional martial arts background with a karate-inspired striking style. Unlike Salikhov, though, Dalby prefers to fight at close range, walking his opponents down with a high volume of strikes. While his strikes landed per minute isn't all that much higher than Salikhov's, notice the accuracy figures. They highlight that Dalby is attempting far more strikes per minute than the more measured Salikhov.
That can be taxing on the cardio of course, but Dalby has an excellent clinch game against the cage. When he's able to stick his opponent's backs to the cage, he likes to wear them down with knees to the body and legs, a strategy that pays dividends the deeper the fight goes.
👊 The always dangerous Nicolas Dalby is just one of over 100 fighters to make their way through Cage Warriors to the UFC!
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) January 31, 2022
Dalby is also underrated on the ground. He's a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, and he was able to survive numerous trips to the canvas with decorated grapplers like Claudio Silva and Warlley Alves.
I've also been impressed at Dalby's ability to do damage on the mat while staying out of submissions, particularly against Silva. Hurting your opponent while staying out of trouble is the ideal game plan on the ground, as it allows you to soften up your opponent and win minutes on the mat – rather than rely on a fight-ending submission that may not come.
Dalby vs. Salikhov Pick
Salikhov is the better wrestler here by a considerable margin, but Dalby's ground game is superior. For that reason, I expect this one to be contested mostly on the feet. Dalby would struggle to bring this fight to the ground while Salikhov is best served to avoid it entirely.
Therefore, the winner of the standup battle is likely to be the victor here. While I mostly avoid relying on my personal combat sports experience in my betting analysis, I'm going to break that rule a bit here. Like Salikhov, I came into MMA with a traditional martial arts style (taekwondo). The hardest type of fighter for me to contend with was one who stayed in my face and who didn't allow me the space to launch flashy kicks and combinations.
That's exactly the type of in-your-face fighter Dalby is, making him an extremely tough matchup for someone like Salikhov – especially as this fight wears on since Dalby has excellent cardio and also loves to "invest" by softening up his opponent's legs and body.
Salikhov's best chance is in the early goings of this fight as he has a "kicker's chance" of catching Dalby with one of his patented wheel kicks. Those tend to slow down outside of the first round, though, at which point Dalby should take over.
Given the moneyline odds on Dalby I'm more than happy to make this a straight bet. However, I'm also considering Dalby and "over" parlays, and I would likely hedge those with a Salikhov Round 1 knockout bet.
For now, though, my money is on "Danish Dynamite" to win straight up. I'd bet it down to +140 before exploring other options.