Adam Martin’s GPP Plays and Cash Game advice for UFC Vegas 25: Reyes vs. Prochazka
We are back with another fantastic UFC event this weekend as the world’s leading MMA promotion heads back to Las Vegas after a pitstop in Jacksonville for UFC 261. What an amazing card that was last weekend, and it was another successful night with my bets and picks for the card. Now, it’s time to get back to work with this weekend’s slate of fights. We have 12 bouts to break down for UFC Vegas 25, so let’s get right into this weekend’s set of fights now.
UFC Vegas 25 Card
Jiri Prochazka ($8300) vs. Dominick Reyes ($7900)
The main event of UFC Vegas 25 is a five-round light heavyweight bout between Jiri Prochazka and Dominick Reyes. I’ll say right off that bat that I don’t see this fight going the full five rounds as both men have incredible power and not-so-great defense. Starting with Prochazka, he’s been on a roll as of late with 11 straight wins, including a knockout over Volkan Oezdemir in his UFC debut last summer on Fight Island. He has a ton of power in his hands and all of his limbs in general, as 24 of his 27 career wins have come by stoppage. Prochazka also has a very unique and confusing way of moving on the feet that helps him in his fights as well. He is a very dangerous fighter who packs a punch. I just wish he kept his hands up higher when he fights.
I’m not sure what to think about Reyes in this fight. I was one of the people who thought he beat Jon Jones, but he got destroyed by Jan Blachowicz in his next fight, and that worries me going forward. As dominant as Reyes was on his way up the light heavyweight division, the way he lost to Blachowicz was concerning. I know it’s the champ, and losing to him doesn’t mean that Reyes is terrible now or anything, but if Blachowicz can finish him, so can Prochazka. Reyes can definitely win this fight by being technical, staying on the outside, and utilizing his kicks. But if he gets into punching range with Prochazka, it could spell serious trouble for Reyes here.
This should be an awesome fight for as long as it lasts, and I do think we get a finish here. Thus, it’s a top fight to target from a DFS perspective. The prices are close here, and it reflects what a competitive fight this is on paper. From a fantasy perspective, it feels like the type of fight where you would want to have shares of both men as a knockout win seems likely either way. I would lean more towards the favorite Prochazka to win this fight, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Reyes come away with the upset either. It’s a fight where you want to play both sides.
Pick: Jiri Prochazka
Giga Chikadze ($8600) vs. Cub Swanson ($7600)
The co-main event is a featherweight fight between Giga Chikadze and Cub Swanson. Chikadze has looked phenomenal in the UFC so far as he’s gone 5-0 and is coming off of his best win yet, a head kick knockout over Jamey Simmons. Chikadze hasn’t been fighting a high level of competition, but he has looked great in dispatching everyone in his path so far. He has elite striking skills and appears to have improved his takedown defense to the point where he can keep his fights standing and knock his opponents out on the feet. Against Swanson, Chikadze will have four inches of reach, four inches of height, and he’s five years younger. Those are all things I look for in matchups, and it looks like Chikadze has the edge there.
As for Swanson, you have to love the guy. He’s been around the UFC for the past 10 years and has been involved in so many memorable wars over the years. That being said, all those wars add up, and to me, Swanson is on the last legs of his career. I know he has looked great in his last two fights by beating Kron Gracie and Daniel Pineda, but it wasn’t that long ago that Swanson had lost four straight fights, and he’s just hard to trust given that he’s 37 years old now. Swanson is a live dog here just because he does have KO power, and he has really good wrestling. But overall, Chikadze is the better striker. In a fight that takes place on the feet, you have to favor Chikadze to win this fight. But from DFS, Swanson’s cheap dog price is nice.
Pick: Giga Chikadze
Ion Cutelaba ($8200) vs. Dustin Jacoby ($8000)
At light heavyweight, Ion Cutelaba takes on Dustin Jacoby. Cutelaba is coming off of back-to-back knockout losses to Magomed Ankalaev and overall looks to be on a bit of a decline. He obviously has huge power, but he basically only has one round of cardio. If you can survive the first round against Cutelaba, then you can beat him. Cutelaba has a puncher’s chance in this one, and he’s great for GPPs because of his high upside. However, he carries a massive amount of risk, too, given that he doesn’t have a good chin and his cardio is bad. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cutelaba did get the knockout here, but I have a feeling Jacoby will outstrike him.
Jacoby is a very technical kickboxer, and if he can keep at range, he should be able to outstrike Cutelaba and either win a decision or get the knockout himself. In this fight, Jacoby is two inches taller and has one more inch of reach. As long as he doesn’t get himself knocked out in the first round, he should have a huge edge in cardio as the fight goes on. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Jacoby get finished as he was dropped twice in his last fight against Maxim Grishin, which is obviously a concern going up against a big puncher like Cutelaba. But overall, I think Jacoby should be more technical, and that should help him edge out this win as the underdog.
Pick: Dustin Jacoby
Sean Strickland ($9200) vs. Krzysztof Jotko ($7000)
At middleweight, we have Sean Strickland against Krzysztof Jotko. Strickland has looked absolutely outstanding since returning from a motorcycle accident, having won his last two fights against Brendan Allen and Jack Marshman. He looked amazing in both of those fights. He kept the fight standing and showed off his improved boxing attack. Not only is Strickland good on the feet, but he also has very good grappling and cardio, which makes him a real dark horse contender at 185lbs. Overall, there is a lot to like about Strickland in the middleweight division.
Jotko should be a good test for Strickland as he’s been a guy who has hung around the top-15 for the last five years or so. But I also think it’s a test that Strickland can pass. Jotko will look to slow this fight down and just grind Strickland out against the fence, but I have a hard time seeing Strickland letting that happen. I feel like the clearest path to seeing how this fight takes place is for Strickland to shrug off the takedowns, stay mobile on the feet, and outstrike Jotko for either a decision win or potentially even a knockout. There just really aren’t that many advantages for Jotko in this fight, and the big price on Strickland seems more than fair here.
Pick: Sean Strickland
Merab Dvalishvili ($9000) vs. Cody Stamann ($7200)
At bantamweight, we have Merab Dvalishvili against Cody Stamann. Starting with Dvalishvili, he is one of the most physically strong fighters at 135lbs. In nearly all of his fights, he is able to pick up his opponents and slam them to the ground, and he often gets more than 10 takedowns per fight. Training with UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, Dvalishvili is constantly improving his overall game. In this matchup with Stamann, another grappler, we may see Dvalishvili strike more on the feet. If that’s the case, his four-inch reach advantage should help.
As for Stamann, he is a fellow grappler who will be looking to stop Dvalishvili’s takedowns, keep the fight standing, and outstrike his opponent on the feet. I’m just not confident he will be able to stop all the takedowns, and even if he doesn’t, Dvalishvili can just push him against the fence and win a grinding decision that way. Stamann will really have to fight the perfect game plan if he wants to win this fight. I think he has a chance to pull off the upset, but it’s just a small chance. I totally understand why Dvalishvili is a big favorite here, especially if he can get takedowns and spend time in top control. If that’s the case, then he will be well worth it.
Pick: Merab Dvalishviili
Poliana Botelho ($8900) vs. Luana Carolina ($7300)
At women’s flyweight, we have Poliana Botelho against Luana Carolina. Based on the style matchup between these two fighters, I am expecting a striking battle that stays on the feet. Starting with Botelho, she is a good striker with some power in her shots. Since moving up to flyweight, she has struggled a bit with the size of her opponents, which is something to keep in mind here. She definitely has good striking and can win this fight by decision or by stoppage, but I do have a lot of questions about her cardio, and that could come into play here, too.
Carolina hasn’t had a great run in the UFC so far as she’s gone 1-1 with a win over Priscila Cachoeira and a loss to Ariane Lipski. But after re-watching her fights, I feel like she’s been overlooked here. She is a high-volume striker who is always staying busy on the feet, and she does have some finishing ability of her own. Though Botelho is two inches taller, Carolina has two inches in reach, and she’s also five years younger. There are some underdogs on this card who will win, and Carolina is someone who I am looking at for a potential upset. I think she can hang with Botelho on the feet for 15 minutes, so I don’t mind her as a potential upset pick.
Pick: Poliana Botelho
UPDATE: Luana Carolina missed weight, so my official pick will be Poliana Botelho.
Luana Pinheiro ($8500) vs. Randa Markos ($7700)
At women’s strawweight, we have Luana Pinheiro taking on Randa Markos. Starting with Pinheiro, there is so much to like with her. She is coming off of a knockout win on Dana White’s Contender Series, and, looking back through her career, she is also a very strong grappler who comes from a judo background. Overall, she has a very well-rounded game and looks to be an excellent prospect. Considering she is just 30 years old, she has a long career ahead of her.
As for Markos, she has been in the UFC for years and has been extremely inconsistent, often winning one fight then losing the next, only to currently have a three-fight losing skid. At age 35, I don’t see Markos being the same fighter she once was. She does have good grappling, but I think it will be neutralized in this fight, and her striking is not very good, either. Markos is very durable, and she might be able to hang on for a decision, but I don’t like this fight for her. This looks like the UFC setting up Markos to lose, and I think Pinheiro wins.
Pick: Luana Pinheiro
Kai Kamaka III ($8400) vs. TJ Brown ($7800)
At featherweight, we have Kai Kamaka III against TJ Brown. Starting with Kamaka, it’s been a tale of two fights for him in the UFC so far. The 26-year-old Hawaiin had a “Fight of the Night” decision win over Tony Kelley in his UFC debut, but he was smashed by Jonathan Pearce in his second fight and lost via TKO. It’s worth noting that his gas tank cost him in that fight, but he took that bout on short notice. The hope would be that having a full camp here to fight Brown will help him out. As far as his overall game goes, Kamaka has some good wrestling skills to go along with some striking abilities, making him a well-rounded fighter who is on the rise.
As for Brown, there is a lot to like about him, as well, as he is a strong grappler who often gets top position against his opponents. He also has a two-inch height advantage and a three-inch reach advantage here. Still, I see holes in Brown’s game. His submission defense is really bad, and he’s been tapped out several times in his career, including against Jordan Griffin in the UFC. I also don’t see much in the way of striking from him. I like the fact he’s training with James Krause now, but I’m not convinced that will be enough for him to win this fight. This one could go either way, so you have to play both sides, but my slight lean is for Kamaka to win.
Pick: Kai Kamaka III
Gabriel Benitez ($8800) vs. Jonathan Pearce ($7400)
At featherweight, we have Gabriel Benitez against Jonathan Pearce. Starting with Benitez, he has been in the UFC since 2014 and has gone 6-4 overall, so he’s been pretty inconsistent. When he’s on, he looks great as four of his UFC wins have come by stoppage. But in his losses, he really struggles and has been finished twice by strikes. He has been bouncing around at 145lbs and 155lbs but is moving back to featherweight for this bout. I do think he will have some more durability concerns in this fight, but he still has a great chance to win. I would imagine, if Benitez wins this fight, it will come by stoppage, so you can see why the price is so high.
Having said that, I think Pearce has a good chance to win this fight. I know he got destroyed by Joe Lauzon in his UFC debut, and that’s a bad look. But that fight was at 155lbs, and he looked much better back at 145lbs in his last outing against Kai Kamaka III when he won the fight by knockout. In this matchup, Pearce has a four-inch height advantage, and he’s also four years younger, which is a plus. There’s definitely a chance that Pearce can get knocked out here by Benitez, but I feel like this is a very close fight that could go either way. Considering the discrepancy in the prices, my lean is towards the dog Pearce finding a way to win this one.
Pick: Jonathan Pearce
UPDATE: Gabriel Benitez missed weight at 150.5lbs. I still like Jonathan Pearce to win the fight.
Loma Lookboonmee ($9400) vs. Sam Hughes ($6800)
At women’s strawweight, we have Loma Lookboonmee against Sam Hughes. Both women have identical 5-2 pro MMA records, so they are two of the lower-ranked fighters in the division. The biggest difference between these two is the striking, as Lookboonmee is a talented Muay Thai striker who is constantly throwing and landing on her opponents. If Hughes isn’t able to get this fight to the ground, it seems likely she will be chewed up on the feet by Lookboonmee instead. It also helps that Lookboonmee is the younger fighter in this fight by four years, so she should be making a lot of improvements in her training camp. She is a big favorite here for a reason.
Having said that, I don’t think this fight will be a complete blowout as Hughes isn’t as bad as some people think. Yes, she did quit against Tecia Torres in her UFC debut, and that makes it difficult to back her against other UFC fighters. However, there are some advantages for Hughes in this fight, as she is four inches taller, has three inches more reach, and is probably the better wrestler overall. Still, her striking defense is really bad, and I can’t imagine it’s improved enough to the point she can avoid Lookboonmee’s shots. I think Lookboonmee wins a decision here. Her price tag makes it difficult to back her, but she should roll against Hughes.
Pick: Loma Lookboonmee
Andreas Michailidis ($9100) vs. KB Bhullar ($7100)
At middleweight, we have Andreas Michailidis against KB Bhullar. Starting with Michailidis, he is dropping back down to 185lbs after losing via TKO to Modestas Bukauskas in his UFC debut last summer on Fight Island. That wasn’t an impressive showing by the Greek fighter, but looking back at his previous fights, there is a lot to like here with Michailidis. He is a big, strong man who packs power in his strikes and also has some wrestling to fall back on. I like the fact he is training at MMA Masters now, and he should come into this fight in better condition in his UFC debut. Michailidis is a big favorite here as most expect him to finish Bhullar by TKO.
Honestly, it’s hard to disagree with that sentiment after seeing Bhullar get finished by a jab from Tom Breese in his UFC debut. That was a very poor showing by Bhullar, and it really makes me question if he’s a UFC-caliber fighter or not. It’s hard to find tape on this guy, so he’s a big unknown on this card. Physically, Bhullar is a big middleweight who has a four-inch height advantage, three-inch reach advantage and is three years younger than Michailidis. I like all those things, and they make Bhullar a bit of a live dog in this spot. But overall, I just can’t back a guy who was knocked out by a jab, so I have to lean towards Michailidis to get the knockout.
Pick: Andreas Michailidis
Luke Sanders ($8700) vs. Felipe Colares ($7500)
At featherweight, we have Luke Sanders taking on Felipe Colares. These two fighters usually compete at bantamweight, but since the fight was booked on short notice, it will be at 145lbs instead. Starting with Sanders, he is coming off of a bad loss to Nate Maness, where he got dropped and finished by submission. Throughout his UFC career, it has been frustrating to watch Sanders as he is such a talented fighter. Yet, he makes bonehead mistakes that cost him fights as he’s prone to getting finished. At age 35, it would seem that he is on the decline, but stylistically, this could be a good matchup for him as he is going up against another grappler.
Colares has looked strong with his grappling in the UFC so far, going 2-1 in the promotion and even putting up a tough fight against Montel Jackson. In this matchup, he also has a two-inch height advantage and a two-inch reach advantage, and he’s nine years younger than Sanders, so he has several edges. However, he doesn’t possess knockout power which to me is the biggest issue when you fight Sanders. If Colares had more power in his hands, I would say he should be favored here against Sanders. As it stands, he’s a grappler, and I believe he will struggle wrestling Sanders. Look for Sanders to find a way to grind out a decision here.
Pick: Luke Sanders
MVPs: Sean Strickland ($9200), Andreas Michailidis ($9100), Merab Dvalishvili ($9000)
Live Dogs: Cub Swanson ($7600), Jonathan Pearce ($7400), Luana Carolina ($7300)
Avoid: None, everyone is live for this week’s slate in my opinion.
Luana Pinheiro 1.6 to win 1
Giga Chikadze 1.55 to win 1
Dustin Jacoby 1 to win 1.3
Jonathan Pearce 1 to win 1.8
Parlay: Strickland/Michailidis 1.02 to win 1
For more on UFC Vegas 25, check out Duke’s MMA Breakdown!