UFC Vegas 77 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Della Maddalena vs. Hafez, Azaitar vs. Prado, More
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Jack Della Maddalena of Australia
Check out our UFC Vegas 77 best bets for Saturday's ESPN-televised event at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas.
UFC Vegas 77 airs tonight on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT) for the preliminary card and 10 p.m. ET for the main card. ESPN+ also simulcasts the entire UFC Vegas 77 fight card.
It's not the deepest lineup of fights, but with 13 bouts, we still have plenty of UFC Vegas 77 betting opportunities.
So where should be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed four fights and six UFC Vegas 77 picks for Saturday’s ESPN 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.
* Odds as of Saturday afternoon
Dann Stupp: Tucker Lutz vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan
Senior Editor at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 9:25 p.m. ET
Despite both fighters coming off losses, Saturday's UFC Vegas 77 featured prelim of Tucker Lutz vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan could be an interesting one.
Ultimately, like many fights I end up betting on, I feel like this one should be lined much more closely to a 50-50 fight, so I'll take the solid plus-money on Lutz (+136 as of this writing).
The current odds suggest Lutz wins this bout 42.4% of the time. However, with the 29-year-old's solid all-around game, including a good wrestling edge, I like his chances of keeping it close.
Baghdasaryan can be a remarkably quick starter, and a lot of pundits think it's simply on Lutz to survive that early volley and then take over on the ground as the fight wears on.
However, Lutz has to take it a step further: He needs to initiate the contact. He needs to be proactive and not just reactive. He's taken a lot of damage in recent fights while waiting for counters instead of pouncing first.
It's a dangerous game to play against someone like Baghdasaryan, but the sooner Lutz applies pressure, the sooner his opponent should start to wilt. Additionally, applying pressure is going to set up takedown attempts for Lutz, who has more than enough strength to ground Baghdasaryan if he can simply corral him.
In addition to the Lutz moneyline, I also like a small play on Lutz via decision (+320), which accounts for what I believe is his most likely path to victory, as well as Lutz in Round 3 (+1800) as a bit of a hedge.
The Picks: Lutz (+136), Lutz via decision (+320), Lutz in Round 3 (+1800)
Sean Zerillo: Terrance McKinney vs. Nazim Sadykhov
Senior Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 9:55 p.m. ET
I projected Nazim Sadykhov as a 63.2% favorite (-171 implied odds) in this matchup and would bet his moneyline pre-fight up to about -160 against the dangerous Terrance McKinney.
All 18 of McKinney's career bouts have ended inside the distance, including 15 in the first round. However, McKinney is just 1-3 in bouts that have exceeded the three-minute mark.
The Washington native is an explosive athlete with dynamite in his hands and powerful takedowns on the offensive end; still, McKinney's cardio has consistently failed him – and when he can't put his opponents away early, McKinney tires exceptionally quickly.
He took a slightly more measured approach in his last bout against Ismael Bonfim but got picked apart by a more skilled fighter and ultimately still tired during a lower-tempo scrap.
I expect McKinney to return to his strength – and attempt to blitz and finish Sadykhov early – after his change in strategy against Bonfim led to a significantly worse performance.
Sadykhov is hittable – and McKinney can spark him early – but the "Black Wolf" also appears highly durable, and he has an extreme cardio advantage in this fight. He also trains with a top gym – and an excellent coach in Ray Longo – and should continue improving from one fight to the next.
Bet Sadykhov pre-fight and look to add more live as McKinney starts to fade near the end of the first round.
The Pick: Nazim Sadykhov (-145 at BetMGM)
Tony Sartori: Ottman Azaitar vs. Francisco Prado
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:25 p.m. ET
On the UFC Vegas 77 main card, there is a lightweight bout between Ottman Azaitar and Francisco Prado.
Two unranked 155-pound prospects, both Azaitar and Prado are coming off a loss and look to get back into the win column.
Neither loss should be considered a "bad" one, given that Azaitar got clipped by Matt Frevola while Prado put up a valiant effort against the always-game and veteran Jamie Mullarkey. Prado did not have an answer for Mullarkey's grappling after getting taken down with relative ease while unable to do anything once on the mat.
With that said, Prado looked much more comfortable on the feet and stuck with Mullarkey in that department, which is an important takeaway given this fight against Azaitar, a guy who has yet to even attempt a takedown through three UFC bouts. Azaitar has yet to get past the first round through those three scraps, with two knockout wins and the aforementioned knockout loss to Frevola.
He possesses good power, but his striking is wild. He throws heavy, but he keeps his head up while looking for the kill shot. Mix that style with an untrustworthy chin, and it is not surprising that he got finished by Frevola last time out.
Can Prado do the same? He looked good on the feet against Mullarkey, but the trouble came on the mat, which led to his exhaustion by the third round and an inability to get those first two rounds back.
With that said, he survived some strong shots from Mullarkey, so if he can endure Azaitar's power and wait for that opening, then Prado should be able to knock him out in the early stages of this fight.
The Pick: Francisco Prado via KO/TKO/DQ (+250 via BetRivers)
Billy Ward: Jack Della Maddalena vs. Bassil Hafez
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Fighter walkouts: Approx. 11:55 p.m. ET
Rather than open with the bet, let’s talk about the story of this fight.
The heavily favored Jack Della Maddalena is on his third opponent and second fight date of the last seven days. He’s halfway around the world from his home in Australia, and he has had to go through (most of) the process of peaking for a fight and cutting weight in back-to-back weeks.
He’s undefeated as a professional since his first two fights in 2016, with a 4-0 UFC record comprised entirely of first-round victories.
His new opponent is Bassil Hafez, who has a less-impressive 8-3-1 record and feels like a bit of a sacrificial lamb. On the other hand, he has everything to gain here, stepping up to face a top prospect on a few days' notice.
Hafez is also better than that record suggests, with the draw on his record coming to undefeated-in-the-UFC Jeremiah Wells, and two of the three losses via split decision (with the third a unanimous decision).
If there’s ever a time for a fighter – and the market – to take someone lightly, this is it. This feels like the perfect setup for a "moral victory" for Hafez, which in this case would be anything other than a first-round loss.
Hafez is an excellent grappler with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and a grappling match against Gordon Ryan that went to a decision. Della Maddalena isn’t known for his grappling prowess, making this a tough stylistic matchup.
But how do we bet it? That depends on your risk tolerance. I have no problem with going all-in on Hafez’s moneyline, which is as high as +440. I also like his +3.5 spread (+270) on DraftKings – he’d need to win one round and survive to cover that line.
The safest option, though, is the over 1.5 rounds. It’s a juicy price, and all we need is Hafez to make this one interesting for a bit – even if his cardio doesn’t hold up down the stretch due to the short-notice fight. A stoppage by Della Maddalena in the second half of the fight would be a moral victory for Hafez – and a cashed ticket for this prop.
The Pick: Jack Della Maddalena vs. Bassil Hafez over 1.5 rounds (+165 at Caesars)