It’s a heavyweight doubleheader this weekend with UFC Vegas 68 and Bellator 290 taking place on Saturday in Las Vegas and Inglewood, Calif., respectively. In the UFC, Derrick Lewis faces Sergey Spivac, while over in Bellator, heavyweight champion Ryan Bader puts his title on the line against the great Fedor Emelianenko in the final fight of the legend’s esteemed career. There’s no time to waste so let’s hop to it.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Fedor Emelianenko, +270
If it wasn’t clear to everyone by now, I love Fedor. This is entirely an emotional pick, and it’s objectively wrong. Bader has almost all of the advantages and won handily not that long ago. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to go against “The Last Emperor” on his final walk. The man has given me too much. I don’t know how it happens. Either Fedor clips Bader early, or he clips him early and chokes him out — a la Tim Sylvia — but I’m desperately hoping he pulls it off, one final time.
Jesus Santos Aguilar, +750
Don’t bet a full unit on this one. I’m in for just a flyer, but JSA is a serviceable fighter, and these odds are super long. Don’t get me wrong, Tatsuro Taira is the truth, but he’s also still only 23. That’s young to be treated with this much respect from the books, and I’m taking a small shot on the possibility that the young man fumbles the ball.
Derrick Lewis by KO/TKO/DQ, +240
Perhaps I’m just being bamboozled by “Fit Derrick Lewis,” but have you seen the man now? “The Black Beast” is trimmed down and ready for action. Assuming Lewis’ changes in physique are accompanied by a similar change in recent performance, and that’s shaping up for an unfortunate evening for Sergey Spivac. I know Lewis has lost three of his previous four, but those were very different stylistic matchups. Spivac is going to look to wrestle, and while statistically, Lewis isn’t great at defending takedowns, he excels at getting back up to his feet. I think Lewis fends off Spivac’s best effort and then gets things going with the ol’ lunch boxes, at which point it’s goodnight, Irene.
Marcin Tybura by Decision, +150
If there’s a finish in this fight, I’ll eat my hat. Blagoy Ivanov hasn’t been finished since 2014, the lone stoppage loss of his career, and he hasn’t earned a finish of his own since 2017. Tybura is slightly better, he still won four decisions in his past six. This has all the makings of a heavyweight cardio affair, with Tybura pulling away in the later rounds by virtue of volume and effort.
Ryan Bader – Fedor Emelianenko Ends In Round 1, -190
Fedor has not seen the second round of a fight since his 2014 decision “win” over Fabio Maldonado. That is six total fights in Bellator with a collective time of less than 12 minutes. This man does not get paid by the hour. He’s in there to settle things, on way or the other, as soon as possible. Get or get got, baby. Last time it took Bader 35 seconds, even if we double that, it’s still a comfortable first round finish.
Johnny Eblen by Decision, +100
In arguably the best fight of the whole weekend, Eblen puts his middleweight title on the line against the highly-regarded Anatoly Tokov. This fight rules and it’s a close one, but I favor Eblen’s athleticism and wrestling to make the difference. That being said, Eblen is not much of a finisher, with six decision wins in eight Bellator fights, and Tokov has only been stopped once in his career. This should go 25 minutes, and I favor Eblen to get his hand raised.
Parlay of the Week
Da Un Jung, -245
This three-leg parlay features fighters who all have a distinct athletic advantage over their opposition. Devin Clark is a fine athlete and a solid wrestler, but Jung has proven to be better in both categories in the world of MMA. Jung will stuff takedowns and light Clark up on the feet.
Doo Ho Choi, -190
“The Korean Superboy” is back! It’s been three years since last we saw Choi and almost seven since we’ve seen him win. But Choi was an electric athlete before, and I suspect that’s still in there. Kyle Nelson is a good test to see if Choi still has it, and I believe he does.
Jun Yong Park, -215
I love “The Iron Turtle” so very much. Park is not a great athlete, and maybe not even a great one. Still, he’s durable and disciplined, and Denis Tiuliulin is one of the slowest people in the UFC today. Park can win ugly or he can win clean, but either way he’s winning.
Parlay these three bets together for +214 odds
Long Shot of the Week
Derrick Lewis by KO/TKO/DQ in Round 3, +1800
Do y’all remember when Third Round Lewis was a thing? Pepperidge Farm remembers. Back in 2018, Lewis knocked out both Marcin Tybura and Alexander Volkov in the third round, and there was a belief he might become a mythical fighter, like Third Round Yoel Romero or Motivated B.J. Penn. Well, I’m bringing it back. I’ve already run down why I think the KO is happening, and the third round seems very fitting. Spivac will be tired from the takedowns and the slimmed down, fitter Lewis will take advantage.
We had a rough go of things at UFC 283, that nearly didn’t matter because we were seconds away from cashing the Long Shot. But alas, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Time to get back on track.
Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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