UFC Vegas 74: Kara-France vs. Albazi Predictions, Analysis, and Free Picks (Free Premium)
YTD Premium Record: 122-77 (61%)|(+19.68 units)
I took down the paywall for the Dern vs. Hill card two weeks ago, and we picked up our third straight winning week going 7-5 (+3.25 units) on the night. Through the first part of the season, premium subscribers have now cashed at a 61% clip and are now up 20 units on the season so far.
Summer is finally here, however, and there are some absolute bangers of cards on the UFC calendar as it stands right now. I’ll be introducing some new things to the newsletter over the next few weeks, including probably getting this out more often on Thursdays/Fridays instead of early in the week. I’ve put a lot of work into fights that ended up getting scratched, and the line movement from Tuesday to Friday has been mostly minimal anyway.
For the non-PPV events, I’m also going to start offering the prelim dashboards to free subscribers, while main card fights (and modeled odds) will remain behind the paywall for now.
Let’s jump into this week’s card.
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Location: UFC APEX, Las Vegas, NV
Prelims: 6:00 PM EST - ESPN+
Main Card: 9:00 PM EST - ESPN/ESPN+
Da’Mon Blackshear vs. Laun Lacerda
A pair of bantamweights in search of their first UFC win will square off Saturday at the Apex, as Da’Mon Blackshear steps into the octagon for the third time while Lacerda makes his second appearance.
Prior to getting beat by Basharat in March, a fight he mostly lost on the ground, Blackshear was fortunate to get a (majority) draw in his debut fight vs. Youssef Zalal. In what was Zalal’s final fight with the promotion, it stopped a three-fight slight for him, a guy who went 3-3-1 with the UFC before being cut in the fall of 2022. Actually losing per one of the judges, Blackshear got beat everywhere and should have very well lost that fight.
On the other side, Lacerda comes in on the heels of a fight that ended a 10-fight losing streaking, drawing UFC vet Cody Stamann in his debut. Though he definitely lost the decision, Lacerda won the battle on the ground, losing the striking battle in the later rounds.
Striking is where he has the significant edge in this one, however, with more than 2x the significant strikes landed. I like for him to rack up points here early as he grinds out his first UFC win.
Pick: Luan Lacerda (-155 at FanDuel Sportsbook) to risk 1.55 units
Elise Reed vs. Jinh Yu Frey
We’re behind the line movement on this one, but I absolutely believe Reed is on the right side in this one. Reed is just 30 years old and in the prime of her career, compared to Yu Frey stepping in at 38 on Saturday.
And a closer look at recent fight history shows the wheels are already falling off for the nearly 40-year-old. Losing her last two fights (and four of six), her two wins in that span come against opponents with a combined record of just 13-9. Losing in the first round here last time out to Polyana Viana via TKO in the very round, I expect a wary start from her in this one which will play to her detriment.
As for Reed, though she’s alternated wins and losses since 2021, all have come on the ground via submissions and ground and pounds. That shouldn’t be an issue here, as Yu Frey hasn’t finished opponent since 2014.
Add in edges in both striking and on the ground, and I like Reed to take this one with relative ease.
Pick: Elise Reed (-135 at FanDuel Sportsbook) to risk 2.7 units
Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
Though heavyweight fights typically last longer than it takes to correctly pronounce these two names, these two come in with an average of just 42% finishes inside the distance.
Starting with Zaleski, he joined the UFC in 2015 and went 7-1 to start. Since 2019, however, he’s just 2-2 as injuries have caused him to be sidelined since October of 2021. While his striking is solid, his Achilles heal has been on the ground, with metrics well below the average in the upper echelon of the division.
Nurmagomedov, as the name suggests, has had no such problem, as he comes into this one with nearly 3x the takedown average and 2x the takedown accuracy. His last two wins come against top-tier guys in Gadzhi Omargadzhiev and Jared Gooden, and another win here puts him in range of a top-15 fight in the division.
Though he does trail in striking, his striking defense should largely balance things out, and I think he takes Zeleski into deep waters late in this fight. Add in the nearly two years outside of the octagon, and I think we see Nurmagomedov edge this one out.
Pick: Abubakar Nurmagomedov (-115 at BetUS) to risk 1.15 units
Alex Caceres vs. Daniel Pineda
After some recent shifts this one got sent to the co-main event of the evening, and I think could just be one of the best fights on the card.
Joining the UFC in the summer of 2020 with a win (R2 TKO) over Herbert Burns, Daniel Pineda has been relatively inactive in the time since, going just 1-1 (1 NC) inside the octagon. He was impressive his last time in the octagon, finishing Tucker Lutz in the second round in March of this year.
For Caceres, who is the #15 fighter in the featherweight division at the moment, to be successful, he’ll have to rely heavily on his takedown defense edge (+16%). Based on his 66% takedown defense in his fight last year vs. Sodiqu Yusuff, his only loss in six fights that spanned 2019 and 2022, I think he does just that.
On the feet, Caceres has the edges across the board, landing 4.16 significant strikes per minute with a 51% accuracy. He also absorbs fewer shots and has a 25% edge in striking defense.
Having never gone the distance in a victory in his professional career, I expect Pineda to take a chance early and get caught in the process. Anything less than -200, to me, has value on Caceres who has more paths to victory and is almost across the board the superior fighter.
Pick: Alex Caceres (-175 at BetUS) to risk 1.75 units
BMP (Beer Money Parlay) of the Week sponsored by CBD MD
Luan Lacerda (-155 at FanDuel Sportsbook) to risk 1.55 units
Elise Reed (-135 at FanDuel Sportsbook) to risk 2.7 units
Abubakar Nurmagomedov (-115 at BetUS) to risk 1.15 units
Alex Caceres (-175 at BetUS) to risk 1.75 units
All Fights - Picks w/ Confidence Levels & Modeled Odds
YTD Premium Record: 122-77 (61%)|(+19.68 units)
*All bets are one unit
All Fights - Dashboards (not found above)
*All odds as of the day of posting.