After an epic three title fight card in front of 15,000+ fans in Jacksonville, Florida, this past weekend, the UFC is back home at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada ,for UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs. Prochazka.
Unfortunately this event will have no fans in attendance, but the card itself has some intriguing matchups that we'll cover below. Dominick Reyes, who lost his light heavyweight title fight to Jan Blachowicz, is back in action against the surging and dangerous Jiri Prochakza in the main event. The winner here is all but guaranteed a matchup against Aleksandar Rakic for the right to fight for the light heavyweight title.
But before we take a look at some key betting opportunities on this card, as always let's take a look back at UFC 261: Usman vs. Masvidal 2 and review our best bets. You'll find my full list of fight picks for both the main card and the preliminary card at the bottom of this article as well. Lines provided by DraftKings.
Last Week's Recap - UFC 261: Usman vs. Masvidal 2 Betting Record:
All Fight Picks: 7-6
Official Plays: 1-2
What can I say except for…that’s MMA for you. The sports itself is unpredictable, and just when you feel like you have everything figured out, the mixed martial arts betting gods humble you. Uriah Hall (+100) won his bout over Chris Weidman (-125) via TKO without throwing a single strike, marking the first time in UFC history that a fighter won without doing so. We ended up being on the wrong side of that historical moment, as Weidman threw a hard leg kick, that that when it landed, it snapped his leg in half.
Tough break for us, no pun intended (and wishing all the best for a Weidman speedy recovery). Next up, Rose Namajunas (+165) landed a beautiful head kick on Zhang Weili (-200) that put us at 0-2 going into the main event. As I said in my breakdown, Weili was susceptible to strikes from the left side. While I did not foresee the fight ending in this manner, I do expect an immediate rematch between Weili and Namajunas before the end of 2021. Finally, Valentina Shevchenko (-435) dominated Jessica Andrade (+325) en route to a TKO victory, cashing the first leg of our parlay. The contenders for Shevchenko are few and far between, so we’ll see what’s next for her soon. Last up was Kamaru Usman (-435), who landed a beautiful straight right on Jorge Masvidal (+320) and finished him via TKO which cashed our best bet parlay. That cash alone was not enough to make up for the previous two losses though, so we now we refocus and set our sights on Saturday's UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs. Prochazka card. Let's dive in:
Dominick Reyes (+112) vs. Jiri Prochakza (-137)
We have an incredible main event matchup going down in the light heavyweight division between Dominick Reyes and Jiri Prochakza. Reyes is looking to get back into the win column after dropping consecutive title fights, while Prochakza is looking to show that he's the real deal at 205 pounds. This should be an exciting fight, to say the least, as both of these guys love to stand and trade. Prochakza will look to use his unconventional/unique movements and feints to keep Reyes guessing on the feet. It should allow him to land his powerful combinations on the feet too, especially his check hooks. But while Prochakza is a very skilled, powerful striker on the feet, Reyes will also look to take advantage of his supreme confidence in his chin (as he often fights with both of his hands down and his chin in the air.)
Prochakza has fought some powerful strikers - and his chin has held up for the most part - but Reyes will definitely test it here. Reyes throws power on the feet as well, and where I believe that will really be a factor is when he's retreating. Prochakza stays in the face of his opponents and keeps them on their heels, but Reyes is good off of his heels too - he’s also able to land hard counter shots on his foes in that spot.
What Reyes will really want to do in this matchup - and what will be key to his potential victory - is land his vicious leg kicks. Prochazka does not check leg kicks, so his legs are there for the taking. Reyes does a good job of throwing heavy leg kicks at his opponent’s legs to slow them down, and he’ll need to do that to keep Prochakza off of him throughout the fight. Prochakza is extremely confident and talented, sure, but he also understands the threat in front of him, and he’s said as much this week in pre-fight interviews.
Reyes, on other side, is also looking to prove to himself that he belongs amongst the division’s best after two devastating losses, in particular the Jon Jones defeat, where he thought he had done enough to beat the greatest MMA fighter of all time. That loss specifically seems to have affected his mental state - just based on his interviews alone - and this is not the matchup where you want to be questioning yourself.
All in all, I believe that these two fighters are on different trajectories at the moment. Prochakza is clicking on all cylinders and eyeing a run at the title, while Reyes is trying to figure out if he still belongs amongst the top in the division. The one thing that definitely worries me about picking Prochakza is the fact that he fights with his hands down and his chin in the air. He does this to entice his opponent into throwing punches so that he can counter, but Reyes is so talented and powerful enough to land a big shot and knock him out. Even with that said, however, I look for Prochakza’s unconventional movement on the feet, in combination with his powerful counter-striking, to be enough to keep Reyes on his heels and eventually knock him out. The pick is Jiri Prochakza (-137), and I will put one and a half units on him to win outright.
Cub Swanson (+135) vs. Giga Chikadze (-165)
I really like this matchup in the featherweight division, as the +135 underdog in Cub Swanson is having a bit of a career resurgence as he’s now won two in a row after dropping four straight and questioning retirement. Giga Chikadze, on the other side, is looking to stay undefeated in the UFC and add a big name to his resume with a win here. Chikadze is a diverse kickboxer who throws a multitude of strikes on the feet, and in this matchup he'll look to use those strikes to pick Swanson apart from the outside and not allow him to get in close and grapple with him. Swanson is primarily a striker himself, but he also knows that Chikadze’s weakness is in the grappling department. Case in point: something has to give here.
Chikadze can indeed be out-grappled and controlled on the mat at times, but whether Swanson will attempt to do that remains to be seen. But if he wants to make it three in a row, then he will. On the feet Swanson is a big puncher with a solid 1-2 and powerful overhand right. He’s battle-tested and no stranger to stand-up wars either, so he’ll certainly need to tap into that part of him as Chikadze loves to slug it out on the feet himself - he’s a prideful fighter that will not back down. Will Swanson stand and trade with Chikadze for three rounds, or will he look to go out of his comfort zone and try and grapple Chikadze?
Either way, Chikadze’s length and reach advantage will be the difference in this fight. I believe that he will keep Swanson on the outside and do a good enough job picking him apart with his leg kicks. Swanson has trouble checking those leg kicks, and in one of his most recent fights he was so badly effected by them to the point that he had to change stances. Chikadze’s legs kicks will be the key at the end of the day here, en route to a close, but decisive victory. The pick is Giga Chikadze (-165), and I will put two units on him.
Live Dog of the Night - Dustin Jacoby (+120)
Last week, for my “Propof the Night” aka pizza bet of the night, I focused on a prop and it came through for us as the Anthony Smith vs. Jimmy Crute fight ended inside the distance. This week we’ll take a look at a live dog that has a legit shot of winning at +120 odds, and that dog goes by the name of Dustin Jacoby.
A fun matchup takes place here in the light heavyweight division between the hard-hitting and wild man Ion Cutelaba (-148) and the decorated kickboxer in Jacoby (+120). Cutelaba will do as Ion Cutelaba does - he’s going to aggressively come forward all night and will look to take Jacoby’s head home with him.
Cutelaba throw big hooks and overhand rights with bad intentions on the feet. He’ll utilize his switch stances and his varied/powerful strikes, like his leg kicks and his vicious knees in the clinch. Jacoby will need to avoid those shots at all costs here and utilize his reach advantage to keep Cutelaba at the end of his punches and kicks. Leg kicks on Cutelaba should slow him down enough though, as Cutelaba does not check leg kicks well. Jacoby should also look to drag this fight into the late rounds, as Cutelaba gasses and slows down considerably given his propensity for high-output first round outing. This should be a fun scrap through and through, and it lines up to be a contender for fight of the night on this Saturday card.
Cutelaba is most dangerous in the first round, so if Jacoby can survive that initial onslaught, then I believe he will do enough to win by decision. Another pizza bet for me on Jacoby to win outright at +120 here.
All Picks For UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs. Prochazka
MAIN CARD (10PM EST on ESPN+)
Dominick Reyes (+112) vs. Jiri Prochakza (-137)
Cub Swanson (+135) vs. Giga Chikadze (-165)
Ion Cutelaba (-148) vs. Dustin Jacoby (+120)
Sean Strickland (-265) vs. Krzysztof Jotko (+210)
Merab Dvalishvili (-250) vs. Cody Stamann (+200)
Poliana Botelho (-250) vs. Luana Carolina (+200)
PRELIMINARY CARD (7PM EST on ESPN2/ESPN+)
Randa Markos (+150) vs. Luana Pinheiro (-190)
Gabriel Benitez (-215) vs. Jonathan Pearce (+170)
Kai Kamaka III (-150) vs. TJ Brown (+120)
Loma Lookboonmee (-375) vs. Sam Hughes (+285)
Andreas Michailidis (-265) vs. KB Bhullar (+200)
Luke Sanders (-148) vs. Felipe Colares (+119)