Betting picks for Cannonier-Strickland, others at UFC Vegas 66
It’s the final UFC fight card of 2022 – one of the most unpredictable and chaotic years in the company’s history. In fact, only the men's bantamweight, men's featherweight, women's flyweight, women's featherweight and men's heavyweight titles failed to change hands from the 12 divisions in the UFC, and we finish with another thrilling battle at the Apex this weekend.
UFC Vegas 66 sees Jared Cannonier and Sean Strickland meet in the middleweight division after both got within touching distance of the title in 2022. Following are our betting picks for the UFC this weekend.
Jared Cannonier vs. Sean Strickland
The main event promises fireworks, although both fighters head into this bout coming off a loss. Cannonier was outclassed over five rounds against Israel Adesanya for the middleweight belt, while Srtrickland lost to current champion Alex Pereira.
With Strickland, most fights are predictable. He’s going to get right in his opponent’s face, crank up the pressure over the course of the fight, and likely only use his boxing skills. Unlike Cannonier, he doesn’t have great knockout power.
His six-fight win streak before his loss to Pereira involved three decision wins and two TKO victories. In fact, one has to dig through the archives to see Strickland use any other form of mixed martial arts, as he has just a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
As for Cannonier, his path to winning should be to knock Strickland out. After losing to Adesanya by barely landing a punch, he needs to turn back the clock and get another excellent TKO/KO if he is to make a statement in this division, as he did earlier this year against Derek Brunson.
Strickland deserves some credit; his record of 25-4 is better than most in the middleweight rankings. However, what separates Cannonier is that he used to be a heavyweight with brutal knockout ability. We think he’ll put this on full display and get a knockout here.
Jared Cannonier by KO/TKO is +300 with FanDuel.
Arman Tsarukyan vs. Damir Ismagulov
Two of the most impressive lightweights on the roster face off in the co-main event, the most intriguing bout of UFC Vegas 66. Arman Tsarukyan and Damir Ismagulov have only four losses combined in 46 fights.
Ismagulov is 31 and has one loss; Tsarukyan is 26 and has three. On the other hand, Tsarukyan has been sensational at times in the UFC, losing only to reigning lightweight champion Islam Makhachev and rising star Mateusz Gamrot.
It's important that Tsarukyan uses his wrestling in this bout. The Georgian has a master of sport rank in freestyle wrestling and six submissions in 18 wins. He used his superior wrestling skills to secure recent decision victories over Davi Ramos, Matt Frevola and Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
Ismagulov has not dropped a match since losing to unknown fighter Ramazan Esenbaev in 2015 on the local Russian MMA circuit. He moved into the UFC three years later and since has won five fights via decision, including a victory over Thiago Moisés.
Ismagulov's record doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. Tsarukyan's overall MMA ability is better, and he is only improving at age 26. It could be a close fight, but we expect it to go the distance.
Fight to go the distance is -200 with DraftKings.
Amir Albazi vs. Alessandro Costa
One of the rising stars of the bantamweight world gets his fourth fight in the UFC as Amir Albazi aims to move to 16-1 in MMA. Albazi was making noise in Bellator and Brave CF just prior to his move into the UFC. With a submission win over Malcom Gordon and Francisco Figueiredo as well as a decision victory against Zhalgas Zhumagulov, Albazi heads into this fight as the clear favorite.
This seems like an easy win for a rising star like Albazi, although Costa has a lot to offer, and his knockout power should not be underestimated.
Albazi’s entire skill set, however, is vastly superior. The Iraqi-born fighter already has nine submission wins in his 15 victories, and we think he'll get No. 10.
Amir Albazi by submission is +110 with DraftKings.
Alex Caceres vs. Julian Erosa
Given he has a record of 19-13, it’s incredible that we’re still seeing Alex Caceres in the UFC. In fact, he only seems to be active in the organization to take on fights like this against men with a point to prove, like Julian Erosa.
Erosa is just one year younger than Caceres, but with 28 wins and 10 losses, the American can put his marker down on the featherweight rankings with another win. Should he defeat Caceres, it will be his fourth in a row and his sixth victory in seven fights in the UFC.
Records like that don’t go unnoticed in the UFC, and with Caceres losing convincingly to Sodiq Yusuff in March, we think Erosa should win here and do so on points.
Over 2.5 rounds is -225 with FanDuel.
Drew Dober vs. Bobby Green
Drew Dober and Bobby Green enter with a combined 80 fights behind them. Each has fought twice in 2022.
Dober is evolving better with age after fantastic TKO/KO wins over Terrance McKinney and Rafael Alves. Dober's win over McKinney was unexpected, and his KO of Alves earned him a Performance of the Night bonus.
As for Green, he was beaten quite badly last time out by reigning champion Makhachev, but in defeating Nasrat Haqparast via decision in February, he proved he still has a bit to offer.
Dober is the favorite at -164, but we think this fight is heading to the judges' scorecards regardless.
Over 2.5 rounds is -174 with FanDuel.
Cody Brundage vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Two fighters with a lot to prove will kick off the main card at UFC Vegas 66, as 28-year-old Cody Brundage meets 27-year-old Michal Oleksiejczuk.
Despite their close ages, Oleksiejczuk has the far better record in MMA. He also comes into this fight off the back of a full camp, while Brundage took this bout on late notice.
Brundage has fought three times in the UFC, registering a knockout win over Tresean Gore in his last fight and an equally impressive submission win over Dalcha Lungiambula four months earlier.
Given the late notice for this fight and how Oleksiejczuk has turned a corner in his career with three wins in his last four fights, we think he will get another win.
Michal Oleksiejczuk to beat Cody Brundage is -275 with DraftKings.
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