Betting Guide for UFC Vegas 58
Arguably, the two best "Rafaels" in the sport will go head-to-head on Saturday for lightweight supremacy.
UFC Vegas 58: Dos Anjos vs. Fiziev will take place Saturday from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Which MMA bets stand out on FanDuel Sportsbook?
Said Nurmagomedov and Ricky Turcios to Both Win (+100; 1.5 Units)
When you lose a "goes to decision" bet by an inadvertent eye poke, it's not your night. Luckily, Maycee Barber and Jim Miller still took care of business to bump the two-legger to 12-6 YTD.
A pair of rising bantamweight studs make up this week's two-leg parlay: Said Nurmagomedov (-290) and Ricky Turcios (-200).
Nurmagomedov -- bizarrely zero relation to the former champion -- snatched Cody Stamann's neck in seconds to solidify his status as a contender to watch. That was really the first grappling we've seen from him at all in UFC; he's primarily been a dominant striker (+2.40 striking success rate) than puts defense first (61% striking defense).
Arguably, Nurmagomedov's test will be easier this week than Stamann was. Douglas de Silva Andrade has back-to-back wins over opponents yet to secure one, but he's never carved out a specialty in UFC. His striking has been pedestrian (-0.36 striking success rate), and he's never gone to the wrestling enough (0.64 takedowns per 15 minutes) to make it a real threat.
As for Turcios, he was the 29th winner of UFC's reality show The Ultimate Fighter, which was capped by a wild finale against Brady Hiestand. Turcios piled up significant strikes in his first bout, landing 7.00 per minute on solid 45% accuracy. Really, his one problem was the wrestling of Hiestand (45% takedown defense), but it likely won't come into play this week.
Aiemann Zahabi scored a much-needed flash knockout in his last bout, but he's still struggled in UFC to mount any offense. He's landed just 2.82 significant strikes per minute on lower accuracy than Turcios (40%), and he's only scored one takedown across four UFC-affiliated appearances.
Both opponents here scored fortunate finishes to end losing skids last time out, but they've proved long-term to not be very dangerous tests for the two prospects they'll face.
Rafael Dos Anjos to Win (+180; 1.0 Unit)
The line on this weekend's main event is wild.
I'm here for action-packed fighters, and Rafael Fiziev is one, but a -220 standing over one of the greatest to ever grace the octagon is just too much respect.
Through Fiziev's high-paced, kick-heavy appeal, there are warts. Namely, a 50% striking defense that's handily lost him rounds against lower competition like Bobby Green and Brad Riddell. His highest positive striking differential in any one fight was just a +11 margin against journeyman Alex White.
In the other corner, Rafael Dos Anjos (+180) needs no introduction to diehards. He's now back at lightweight full-time after a foray to welterweight, and he's responded with lopsided wins over Paul Felder and Renato Moicano.
Dos Anjos is averaging 120.7 significant strikes per 25 minutes in his last three bouts in this weight class, so the pace of Fiziev isn't really a concern. While RDA should struggle -- as many have -- to bust Fiziev's 95% takedown defense, Dos Anjos' 61% striking defense is a world-class mark considering it has come at a championship level.
At worst, this fight should be handicapped as a pick 'em, but I'd personally lean in the corner of the bonafide ranked experience of the former champion. At +180, Dos Anjos' moneyline is phenomenal value.
Dart Throw of the Week: Michael Johnson to Win by Decision (+600; 0.5 Units)
I don't really understand how Michael Johnson (+200) is a distant underdog in the matchup he would probably craft by hand if given the opportunity.
Johnson's 78% takedown defense has been a strength his entire career. As a boxer, it's been the game plan to defeat him since his debut back in 2011. So, while Jamie Mullarkey can absolutely wrestle (3.38 takedowns per 15 minutes), his efficiency hasn't been great (32%), and Johnson is an adept challenge.
On the feet, this fight isn't close. Amidst all his late-career turmoil, M.J. has a +0.41 striking success rate coming off a knockout win over grappler Alan Patrick. Mullarkey's willingness to absorb punishment in order to get to his grappling has led to a -1.63 striking success rate and a wretched 47% striking defense.
"The Menace" had a very similar matchup with Clay Guida back in 2021. The difference was Guida's striking defense (62%) was leagues beyond Mullarkey's, and Johnson still had a +9 striking differential in a close decision loss.
I respect the durability of Mullarkey (only 3 knockout losses in 19 pro bouts) in a fight that should look very similar to that Johnson-Guida affair, but this time, I'll take M.J. to get his hand raised.