UFC Vegas 78 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for dos Anjos vs. Luque, Rountree vs. Daukaus, More (Saturday, August 12)

UFC Vegas 78 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for dos Anjos vs. Luque, Rountree vs. Daukaus, More (Saturday, August 12) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweights Vicente Luque and Rafael Dos Anjos of Brazil

Check out our UFC Vegas 78 best bets as our MMA experts share their favorite picks from Saturday's ESPN fight card.

UFC Vegas 78: Luque vs. dos Anjos takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The entire fight card airs on ESPN with the preliminary card beginning at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) and the main card commencing at 7 p.m. ET. Additionally, ESPN+ has a full simulcast of the event.

So where should be looking to place your UFC Vegas 78 bets today?

Our crew has pinpointed four fights and picks on Saturday’s 13-bout fight card, including the night's Vicente Luque vs. Rafael dos Anjos main event, that present betting value.

You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo's projections below using odds from BetMGM.

Moneyline Projections

Prop Projections

Tony Sartori: Da'Mon Blackshear vs. Jose Johnson

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 4:20 p.m. ET

At UFC Vegas 78, bantamweights Da'Mon Blackshear and Jose Johnson clash on the prelims.

Johnson makes his UFC debut on late notice after Brady Hiestand withdrew due to a medical issue earlier this week. Not only does Blackshear possess the advantage of a full training camp to prepare for his originally scheduled bout with Hiestand, but he is also the much more experienced fighter in this scrap.

While Johnson appeared twice on Contender Series, he lost the first time and then earned a brief contract following a unanimous-decision victory. However, he never even got to fight due to his own injury and weight problems.

Making weight for this bout, Johnson finally gets to make that long-awaited walk to the octagon, though he has a massive test in Blackshear. Not that Blackshear is a world-beater at 135 pounds, but his only loss over his past seven professional fights came against the undefeated and highly touted Farid Basharat.

A superior wrestler, Blackshear will likely stay in the clinch or shoot for takedowns and rack up the control time. As a heavy favorite, the two best ways to back him in this fight are either via decision or via submission.

While Blackshear will be content in just taking an easy unanimous-decision victory by just racking up control time, one mistake by Johnson could lead to a submission. This is where Johnson's inexperience and taking a fight on short notice could easily come into play, especially considering that nearly half of his professional losses have come via submission.

If we are correct in assuming that Blackshear's wrestling will be on full display, then finding the neck at any point during the 15 minutes is a very likely outcome. For those in certain available states, I took his submission prop at +220 at Circa.

If that is not available, I would still take it down to +175 at DraftKings.

The Pick: Da'Mon Blackshear by submission (+220 at Circa)

Dann Stupp: Francis Marshall vs. Isaac Dulgarian

Senior Editor at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 5:40 p.m. ET

I've got a feeling that Francis Marshall vs. Isaac Dulgarian on Saturday night could be one of those bouts that really prove the value of a little UFC experience.

Marshall, a Contender Series vet with two UFC bouts now under his belt, is a moderate -163 favorite over UFC newcomer Dulgarian.

Dulgarian is a bit of an unknown. And for good reason. He's 5-0 as a pro, but he's accumulated just 7.5 minutes of pro fight time, all in the same Missouri venue, and against opponents who were a combined 12-8.

We know he can win quickly. But beyond that? There's a lot we don't know about Dulgarian: his cardio, durability, hittability, composure and sustained wrestling ability, just to name a few dynamics. He also hasn't fought in 18 months.

Marshall is no grizzled vet, but he's certainly been around the block a few more times than his upcoming opponent.

In addition to earning a UFC contract on Contender Series, Marshall notched a 64-second win over Marcelo Rojo in his UFC debut and then showed some grit in a recent split-decision loss to William Gomis. He's also seen the third round five times – with a 4-1 record in those bouts.

(You know what else I like about Marshall? He's got some past experience fighting in the small UFC Apex facility, which can be a bit of a sensory jolt for the uninitiated.)

Blindly betting modest-sized UFC favorites is a losing long-term wagering strategy in MMA. But sometimes modest-sized favorites should be much bigger ones, and right now, I think the betting markets are giving far too much respect to a fighter with an extremely limited sample size.

Give me Marshall, the guy who's already walked the walk. At the current -163, he's got an implied win probability of 62.0%, and I'd take it down to -200 (66.7%).

The Pick: Francis Marshall (-163 at bet365)

Billy Ward: Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Chris Daukaus

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 8:25 p.m. ET

One of the hardest parts of betting MMA is evaluating the difference between what a fighter should do and what we think a fighter will do.

What Chris Daukaus should do in his fight with Khalil Rountree Jr. is, unquestionably, grapple. The BJJ black belt has been knocked out in three straight heavyweight fights, and he's taking on one of the worst grapplers in the light-heavyweight division.

But that’s not what Daukaus has done so far in his seven-fight UFC run. He’s yet to attempt even a single takedown in the UFC octagon after picking up knockout victories in his first four fights.

However, there are at least some logical reasons to explain why Daukaus has yet to utilize his grappling. At heavyweight, he was generally giving up 25-plus pounds to his opponents, but he frequently had a speed edge. It’s a lot easier to hit a bigger, slower opponent than it is to take them down.

That’s not the case here with Rountre. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

While Daukaus has the power to hurt Rountree on the feet, it’s not his easiest path to victory.

The other explanation is that Daukaus was bonus-hunting early in his career whereas now he’s likely fighting for his job. I like to think he realizes that, and will take the path of least resistance in order to stay employed.

Outside of all of that, I’m also generally in favor of chubby heavyweights moving down to 205. He was in visibly better shape at the weigh-ins, and he likely had to train a bit harder to get the weight down. All of which should help his chances here, especially if the fight goes long.

While I loved this play at the +170 or so that was out there earlier this week, I’m still happy with it at +150. I’d take it down to +140 or so before pivoting to inside-the-distance props.

The Pick: Chris Daukaus (+150 at Caesars)

Sean Zerillo: Vicente Luque vs. Rafael dos Anjos

Senior Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 9:25 p.m. ET

I projected Rafael dos Anjos ("RDA") 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.

As a natural welterweight, Vicente 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 also 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). Or, RDA can look to change levels consistently; aside from striking defense, Luque has also struggled with takedown defense (61%) throughout his career.

Given his age – RDA will turn 39 in October – lengthy 46-fight professional career, and a nine-month layoff since his most recent bout, RDA's 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.

Considering Luque's potentially declining durability, the age factor in this fight doesn't concern me so much.

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 – and suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage in 2022 before his knockout loss against Geoff Neal.

With the wrestling edge, RDA 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 where 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.

The Pick: Rafael dos Anjos (-120)

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