UFC Vegas 78 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Vicente Luque vs. Rafael dos Anjos: Right Side Clear for UFC Main Event (Saturday, August 12)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight Rafael dos Anjos
Vicente Luque vs. Rafael dos Anjos Odds
On Saturday the UFC returns to Las Vegas for a UFC Vegas 78 main event between No. 10-ranked welterweight contender Vicente Luque and current No. 9 lightweight Rafael dos Anjos ("RDA").
Saturday's 170-pound headliner at the UFC Apex facility is meaningful for the UFC's welterweight rankings and will mark the finale of a 13-fight card (4 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN+).
RDA previously fought and competed at welterweight, and he challenged for an interim belt against Colby Covington in 2018. He returned to the 170-pound division this past December with a win against Bryan Barberena and will now look to ascend the rankings and make one final title run at age 39.
Dos Anjos potentially has the most challenging schedule in MMA history (Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kamaru Usman, Leon Edwards, Covington, Kevin Lee, Donald Cerrone, Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis, Eddie Alvarez, Tony Ferguson, etc.) and sufficient experience in five-round fights. The former lightweight champion is 5-5 in bouts that have reached the championship rounds.
Despite his age, RDA has won three of his past four bouts while out-wrestling his opponents.
Luque, meanwhile, enters UFC Vegas 78 off consecutive losses to Belal Muhammad and Geoff Neal. He's never won a fight past the 15-minute mark, but Saturday will mark just his second-career five-round test.
Below, I'll provide my analysis and projections and utilize those factors to bet on the UFC Vegas 78 main event between Rafael dos Anjos and Vicente Luque.
Tale of the Tape
|Average Fight Time||9:20||14:36|
|Weight||171 pounds||170.5 pounds|
|Date of birth||11/27/1991||10/26/1984|
|Sig Strikes Per Minute||5.49||3.56|
|SS Absorbed Per Minute||5.51||3.21|
|Take Down Avg||0.51||2.05|
As a natural welterweight, Luque is the bigger man; he's three inches taller with a six-inch reach advantage, and he can put that size and length to use striking against a more rigid and plodding opponent.
Luque hits harder and is the better offensive technician, but RDA is the superior defensive fighter and should be able to avoid severe damage and counter a very hittable opponent (61% vs. 52% striking defense in favor of RDA).
Given his age – RDA will turn 39 in October – lengthy 46-fight professional career, and a nine-month layoff since his most recent bout, dos Anjos' athleticism may fall off a cliff soon.
Still, he is a future UFC Hall of Famer with a lengthy sample of elite cardio, durability and fight IQ, and given the potential wrestling advantage in this fight, you have to favor his style on minute-winning.
Aside from striking defense, Luque has also struggled with takedown defense (61%) throughout his career. Sometimes he accepts takedowns to search for sweeps or submissions off of his back.
Still, against pressure wrestlers like Muhammad, Luque can get bottled up, especially when he's forced to defend both the striking and wrestling together against the fence.
I expect RDA to employ a similar game plan as Muhammad – to force Luque's back against the fence and switch between takedown attempts and clinch striking. That should also serve to exhaust Luque, who has significantly less five-round experience, for the championship rounds.
RDA's best plan is to stay chest-to-chest with Luque as often as possible, whether up against the cage or by keeping his opponent's shoulders flat on the mat.
If he can avoid striking at distance – where Luque's length should prove the difference – or limit Luque's ability to scramble off his back in hunt for submissions, this should be his fight to lose.
Luque should find his best success early in the fight, when both men are fresh, but the longer this one goes, the more it favors RDA's cardio advantage and his grinding wrestling style.
With the grappling edge, dos Anjos has more ways of winning rounds clearly – or in dominant 10-8 fashion, and emerging as a hindsight dominant favorite.
In contrast, Luque must win on narrower margins, landing more damage in competitive rounds in which he's likely behind on control time. And considering that he's never won a 25-minute decision in his career and is 2-6 on the scorecards overall, Luque may need to finish a durable – though aging – opponent.
However, the age factor in this fight doesn't concern me so much, considering Luque's potentially declining durability. While he has fewer fights than RDA, Luque has arguably taken as much or more damage since he constantly engages in brawls and rarely defends head strikes.
He also suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage in 2022, before his knockout loss against Geoff Neal, which he had to be specially cleared for.
I'm just as concerned about Luque's durability – and overall health at this stage of his career – as I am about RDA.
Luque is the better striker and hits harder between the pair, so he's more likely to exploit any potential durability issues on either side of this matchup.
Luque vs. dos Anjos Pick
I projected Rafael dos Anjos as a 58.5% favorite (-140 implied odds) in this matchup, and I would bet RDA's moneyline up to -135 (57.5% implied) at a 1% edge compared to my projected line.
I expect this bout to reach a decision 45% of the time (+124 implied odds), and I don't see value concerning the distance prop or the totals.
In the winning method market, I would consider betting RDA to win by decision (projected +211, listed +235) or his combined decision/submission double-chance prop (projected +101, listed +110 at FanDuel).
However, placing those wagers would express a more minor edge than just betting his straight moneyline (-120 as of this writing). And if you're going to bet those winning-method props, save them for round-robin tickets.