Tag Archives: UFC Vegas 65

UFC Vegas 65: Lewis vs Spivac – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas after a stunning pay-per-view card last weekend for two heavyweight scrappers as Derrick Lewis takes on Serghei Spivac in the main event.

The number seven and number 12 ranked big men in the UFC go head-to-head in this headline clash, with both guys knowing a win puts them on track to get into title contention during 2023.

It’s a fun card with a few debuts and some sleeper fights, so be sure not to miss it.

Last weekend at UFC 281 we went 10/14 with one perfect pick to move to 776/1202 (64.56%) with 320 perfect picks (41.24%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, and after starting with the early prelims section of the card and moving on to the rest of our prelims picks, here are our main card picks.


Jack Della Maddalena (12-2) vs Danny Roberts (18-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Potentially the fight of the night opens up the main card here. Maddalena is on a 12-fight win streak after losing his first two professional bouts, earning first-round knockouts over Pete Rodriguez (UFC 270) and Ramazan Emeev (UFC 275) to date in the UFC. Roberts returned from a two-year layoff to defeat Emeev back in October 2021, but lost to Francisco Trinaldo at UFC 274 via decision last time out.

Maddalena is a tremendous boxer with unbelievable power in his hands, earning 11 finishes in his last 12 fights which were all victories. He’s got an excellent kicking game too, to go with a pressure that exhausts his opponents. Roberts is a decent kickboxer himself too, but he has a lack of volume. He usually makes up for that with his decent wrestling game though, and his grappling is decent too earning him five tap out wins in the past.

But this seems like a bit of a set up fight for Maddalena. Roberts is a fighter who always brings it, and his name is probably bigger than his abilities. Maddalena is going to push forward, land lots of power shots and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see him just melt Roberts as the fight goes on before landing a nasty shot to earn the win.
PICK – Jack Della Maddalena via Knockout, Round 2

Andre Fialho (16-5) vs Muslim Salikhov (18-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Another really exciting welterweight scrap up next between two guys who love to strike. Fialho is 2-2 in the UFC, losing to Michel Pereira (UFC 270) before knocking out Miguel Baeza and Cameron VanCamp (UFC 274). He was KO’d himself last time out though by Jake Matthews at UFC 275. Salikhov saw a five-fight win streak snapped last time out against Li Jingliang, with “The Leech” KO’ing him with strikes in the second round.

Fialho is a powerful boxer, who walks forward like Terminator and lands lots of power shots while being willing to take some of his own too. There is a decent kicking game in him too, but his game leans quite heavily on his boxing skills. Salikhov is a sambo world champion, with phenomenal kung-fu skills including spinning attacks and distance management. He lacks real power in those strikes though, without a KO win since 2019.

This is a battle of technique vs power, but on this occasion I expect power to come out on top. Fialho isn’t short of technique and after Salikhov got put out last time out, he’ll want to test the chin. Fialho is likely to come forward and close the distance to limit the kicks of Salikhov and eventually I expect him to back him against the cage and start landing big shots before the referee steps in.
PICK – Andre Fialho via Knockout, Round 2

Chase Sherman (16-10) vs Waldo Cortes-Acosta (8-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Big boys step up to the plate once again in this one in an interesting fight. Sherman has lost four of his last five, snapping a losing streak by claiming a KO win over Jared Vanderaa most recently back in July. Cortes-Acosta made his UFC debut just a couple of weeks ago, beating Vanderaa too via unanimous decision.

Both of these guys are your typical heavyweight scrappers, with Sherman having a decent leg kick to go with his overhand right while Cortes-Acosta is simply a boxer in an MMA cage. Sherman is also good with his elbows and his cardio is decent, but Cortes-Acosta definitely has the power edge here.

Neither of these guys are tearing up any trees in the UFC any time soon, but the low kicks are almost certainly going to play a big part here. Cortes-Acosta has good combinations with his striking and decent body work, but the experience of Sherman added on to those leg kicks means he should claim the win.
PICK – Chase Sherman via Decision



Kennedy Nzechukwu (10-3) vs Ion Cutelaba (16-8-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Fun light heavyweight scrap up next in the co-main event. Nzechukwu is 2-2 in his last four with knockout wins over Danilo Marques and Karl Roberson either side of defeats to Da Un Jung and Nicolae Negemereanu. Cutelaba has just one win in his last six (1-4-1), losing each of his last two via submission to Ryan Spann and Johnny Walker most recently.

Nzechukwu is a pressure fighter with good Muay-Thai skills in the clinch and big power in his hands, but his takedown defence leaves plenty to be desired and is a big hole in his game. Cutelaba alternatively is a seriously impressive wrestler with scary power in his hands, but absolutely no fight IQ whatsoever and a lack of ability to pace himself while going in with crazy aggression. Both of these fighters have flaws where the other has strengths, which makes this a hard fight to pick.

Cutelaba has just struggled once too many in fights that he’s supposed to win for me to pick him. He has the big advantage in wrestling for sure, but his will to always go at 100 mph means if he doesn’t get it done early then he will burn out. Nzechukwu may not be able to cope with the early blitz, but his ability to be able to push a pace and retain his power late leads me to think he survives that initial blast from “Hulk” and puts him away later in the bout with combinations against the cage.
PICK – Kennedy Nzechukwu via Knockout, Round 3

Derrick Lewis (26-10) vs Serghei Spivac (15-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweights step up in the main event of this one as they look to put together a run for a potential title run in 2023. Lewis has lost three of his last four, getting KO’d by Ciryl Gane (UFC 265), Tai Tuivasa (UFC 271) and Sergei Pavlovich (UFC 277) with a KO win of his own against Chris Daukaus coming in the middle of that. Spivac on the other hand has won his last two after defeat to Tom Aspinall, KO’ing Greg Hardy and UFC 272 before a KO win against Augusto Sakai most recently in August.

Lewis is the scariest puncher in UFC history, with the record for the most knockout wins in the organisation’s history. He has also got much improved takedown defence in recent years, although his chin isn’t great and his cardio still lets him down at times. Spivac is a grappler who looks to wrestle and use his size to wear on his opponents although his striking has been improving in recent bouts, but he will almost certainly reset to default here.

The blueprint to beat Lewis has been there for years – take him down or overwhelm him with volume. Spivac is capable of doing both of those things, but he’s never fought someone who can put his lights out with one punch like Lewis can. He will know that Spivac wants to take him down and much like when he fought Curtis Blaydes, he will be loading up that uppercut. He’s never fought a five-round bout before and while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spivac just wrestle and grapple for 25 minutes, I think Lewis gets back in the win column with a nasty knockout early on.
PICK – Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 65: Lewis vs Spivac – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas after a stunning pay-per-view card last weekend for two heavyweight scrappers as Derrick Lewis takes on Serghei Spivac in the main event.

The number seven and number 12 ranked big men in the UFC go head-to-head in this headline clash, with both guys knowing a win puts them on track to get into title contention during 2023.

It’s a fun card with a few debuts and some sleeper fights, so be sure not to miss it.

Last weekend at UFC 281 we went 10/14 with one perfect pick to move to 776/1202 (64.56%) with 320 perfect picks (41.24%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, and after starting with the early prelims section of the card we move on to the rest of our prelims picks.


Vince Morales (11-6) vs Miles Johns (12-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Bantamweight banger up next in this section of the card. Morales saw a two-fight win streak over Drako Rodriguez (UFC 265) and Louis Smolka (UFC Vegas 44) snapped last time out when Jonathan Martinez claimed a decision win. Johns on the other hand was in the same boat, KO’ing Kevin Natividad (UFC Vegas 12) and Anderson Dos Santos (UFC 265) before being submitted by Jonathan Castaneda last time out. Johns steps in on just two weeks’ notice for this bout.

Morales is a boxing-heavy fighter with a demonic right hand that can turn the lights out with ease, but his grappling game needs work and that could be a problem here. That’s because while Johns is a decent striker, he’s at his best when mixing in takedowns and wrestling to grind his opponents out and make them work.

If Johns turns up fully focused and in good condition then his ability to mix things up and make Morales think should win him the bout. There is every chance that Morales catches him and claims a big win too, but with only one knockout win since February 2018 I’ll go with Johns to outwork him and claim the win.
PICK – Miles Johns via Decision

Jennifer Maia (19-9-1) vs Maryna Moroz (11-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fight between the only other ranked fighter on the card outside the main event and a woman on a great winning streak. Maia has lost three of her last four, with a win over Jessica Eye (UFC 264) followed up with back-to-back defeats against Katlyn Chookagian (UFC Vegas 46) and Manon Fiorot most recently. Moroz has won three-in-a-row, with a second-round submission over Mariya Agapova most recently at UFC 272.

Maia, like her male namesake, is a fighter who excels in the world of jiu-jitsu but has limited striking and her takedown game needs improvement. Just like each of her most recent opponents, Moroz is a volume striker who has good distance management, decent power and a solid gas tank. Maia’s wrestling is better than anything Moroz has faced previously, but she is still physically bigger and more active.

Her movement should see her avoid being back up against the cage where the takedowns will be most effective, and if she can strike consistently and stay out of danger like Chookagian and Fiorot before her then this should be a pretty comfortable win in a rather uneventful bout.
PICK – Maryna Moroz via Decision



Charles Johnson (11-3) vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov (14-7) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Featured prelim bout up next in the flyweight division. Johnson made his UFC debut last time out in London and suffered a dominant and demoralising defeat via decision to star prospect Muhammad Mokaev. Zhumagulov has lost four of his last five, including each of his last two against Manel Kape (UFC Vegas 44) and most recently Jeff Molina back in June.

Johnson is a solid wrestler who is always at his best when he can get top control and grind his opponents out with some ground and pound and submission threats, earning four finishes via each method in the past. Zhumagulov is also someone who looks to wrestle, but his takedowns tend to come against the cage while his kickboxing is wild and reckless. Bad judging has cost him in recent fights, but this bout isn’t in his favour at all.

“InnerG” has the gas tank for five rounds and is sometimes at his best in that environment, but that should allow him to really empty the tank here and push hard. He’s also bigger, stronger and the better wrestler so he should be able to claim a pretty dominant win and send Zhumagulov out of the UFC.
PICK – Charles Johnson via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 65: Lewis vs Spivac – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas after a stunning pay-per-view card last weekend for two heavyweight scrappers as Derrick Lewis takes on Serghei Spivac in the main event.

The number seven and number 12 ranked big men in the UFC go head-to-head in this headline clash, with both guys knowing a win puts them on track to get into title contention during 2023.

It’s a fun card with a few debuts and some sleeper fights, so be sure not to miss it.

Last weekend at UFC 281 we went 10/14 with one perfect pick to move to 776/1202 (64.56%) with 320 perfect picks (41.24%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims section of the card.


Natalia Silva (13-5-1) vs Tereza Bleda (6-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Women’s flyweights open up the card here in an interesting bout. Silva made a winning debut in the UFC in her last bout, claiming a unanimous decision win over Jasmine Jasudavicius back in June, while Bleda makes her debut in the organisation after winning a contract on the Contender Series in September.

Silva is a rapid striker, with decent power and snap to her kicks and punches in bunches, and excellent volume to boot. Bleda is a suffocating grappler who is able to chain takedowns together and control opponents, and at only 20 years old the world is truly her oyster. This is a tough bout for her though, because all her weaknesses seem to lie where Silva’s strengths are.

Bleda is quite flat-footed on the feet and she tends to be quite open to kicks, which is Silva’s wheelhouse. With her last fight being against a more experienced version of Bleda (albeit a talent with a lower ceiling), she should be able to land flurries from range and push the pace enough to claim a decision win.
PICK – Natalia Silva via Decision

Brady Hiestand (6-2) vs Fernie Garcia (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Bantamweights up next in fun fight. Hiestand’s UFC debut ended in defeat when he dropped a split decision to TUF champion Ricky Turcios back in August 2021, while Garcia earned a UFC contract with a KO win on the Contender Series before losing his debut in a decision loss to Journey Newson at UFC 274.

Hiestand is a decent striker with good power, but it’s his wrestling and takedown game that have stood him out throughout his career thus far. Garcia is a power puncher with good combinations on the feet, but he has struggled with pressure coming back his way and with keeping his fights standing against better opposition. That all adds up to a tough night at the office.

“Bam Bam” must ensure that he doesn’t have the same cardio issues in this fight as he has done in the past, but with Garcia lacking genuine one-punch KO power he should be able to close the distance quickly and secure takedowns for top control and a relatively comfortable win.
PICK – Brady Hiestand via Decision



Vanessa Demopolous (8-4) vs Maria Oliveira (13-5) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Strawweights up next in another interesting bout. Demopolous has won her last two in the UFC, submitting Silvana Gomez Juarez at UFC 270 before earning a decision win over Jinh Yu Frey most recently. Oliveira has gone 1-1 in the UFC to date, losing her debut via decision against Tabatha Ricci before earning a win last time out against Gloria De Paula via split decision.

Demopolous is at her best when he’s grappling with an opponent, but getting it to the ground has been an issue in the past with bang average wrestling and even worse striking, which can be described as basic at best. Oliveira is a powerhouse who looks to push forward and cause chaos to then catch her opponent out, earning seven KO career wins so far. But she has a reckless abandon for defence, especially to takedowns, and eventually she’s going to end up on her back here.

With that said, Demopolous has to stay out of danger while the fight is on the feet or she could get clipped big. “Lil Monster” should have enough about her with her height and reach advantage and a gas tank that has never let her down to be able to get Oliveira on her back, and then it’s just a matter of time.
PICK – Vanessa Demopolous via Submission, Round 2

Ricky Turcios (12-3) vs Kevin Natividad (9-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

TUF champion back in the octagon in this one. Turcios won the show with a split decision win over Brady Hiestand, but then lost his last bout via decision against Aiemann Zahabi back in July. Natividad on the other hand is 0-2 in the UFC so far, getting KO’d in his debut by Miles Johns at UFC Vegas 12 before getting KO’d by Batgerel Danaa at UFC 261 most recently in the first round. This is first fight in 18 months.

Turcios is a fighter whose greatest attribute is his heart, with a love for chaos and a phenomenal gas tank to go with a remarkable ability to scramble to his feet whenever he needs to. Natividad has made his name as a power puncher who doesn’t like to take a step back, with five KO’s in his career so far. There is a clear blueprint to beating Turcios, as shown in his last fight, but Natividad is just not that guy.

“Quicksand” is going to do what he always does, come forward looking for that one big strike and mix his wrestling in to open up the striking. Turcios will love that as he will look to pick Natividad off from range with kicks and flurries, and avoiding being controlled on the mat. it will be chaotic and wild, but expect Turcios’ volume to be enough to get the job done.
PICK – Ricky Turcios via Decision