On Saturday, May 1st, the UFC returns to Las Vegas for UFC on ESPN 23: Reyes vs Prochazka also known as UFC Vegas 25.
The main event of the night is a Top 5 light heavyweight battle between #3 Dominick Reyes and #5 Jiri Prochazka. The co-featured bout is a Top 15 featherweight fight between #15 Cub Swanson and the surging 14th ranked Giga Chikadze.
Also on the show is a Top 13 bantamweight battled between #12 Merab Dvalishvili and #13 Cody Stamann. In total, the main card consists of six fights with a 10pm ET start time on ESPN+. This follows a six bout preliminary card which begins at 7pm ET.
UFC betting sites and mobile apps for UFC betting have released their odds for the main card of this event. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine these UFC on ESPN 23 odds, identify any value, and put these predictions in a rear naked choke.
It’s been difficult for the UFC to secure an opponent for Botelho. First, she was supposed to face Ji Yeon Kim, but that fight fell through because she was injured. Then Poliana was supposed to fight Mayra Bueno Silva, but she injured her back during training and was forced off the card.
Four weeks ago, the UFC was able to secure a bout between Botelho and Luana Carolina for this event.
Botelho commented on the change of opponents:
“I’ve had two opponent changes for this card. First, Ji Yeon Kim got hurt, and then so did Mayra Bueno Silva. Now, I get to face Luana Carolina. ‘ll be ready. But opponent changes are difficult – we plan for one specific opponent, and then everything changes. We have to create a new strategy from scratch after watching some video. I hope Luana stays on the card, so we can battle it out… We’ll step in the cage and show the work we’ve been putting in. That’s the main thing, regardless of who’s standing on the other side.”
Botelho debuted in the UFC 3 ½ years ago and won her first two fights. However, she’s gone 1-2 in her last three trips inside the octagon with losses to Calvillo and Robertson who she fought in October 2020.
Six of her eight pro wins have come via TKO/KO. She’s 2-2 when going the distance.
Carolina earned a shot with the UFC after winning on DWCS Brazil in August 2018. She debuted in May 2019 and beat Priscila Cachoeira via decision. Unfortunately, she dropped her next fight in July 2020 via 1st round submission to Ariane Lipski.
Three of her six pro wins have come via stoppage with two by way of TKO/KO. She’s 3-1 when going the distance.
Despite these two women combining to score eight TKO/KO wins, I believe this bout will go the distance. Carolina has gone the distance in three of her last four bouts. Botelho has gone to a decision in two straight fights and in three of her five UFC bouts.
As for the winner, I like Botelho’s overall striking game to be the difference in this contest. I expect her to pick up the unanimous decision win. The betting value is with Botelho winning via decision at -115 odds.
Poliana Botelho vs. Luana Carolina –Botelho (-240)
Over 2.5 rounds (-335)
Fight goes to decision (-305)
Botelho wins via decision (-115)
Cody Stamann vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Cody Stamann (+200)
Merab Dvalishvili (-240)
Over (-300)/Under (+240) 2.5 rounds
This matchup is a Top 13 bantamweight fight with the 12th ranked Merab Dvalishvili taking on the 13th ranked Cody Stamann.
Stamann is coming off a decision loss to Jimmie Rivera last July. In all fairness, Cody did take that fight on short notice and had to go over to Fight Island. He admits to being a shell of himself for this contest, but has used the loss to motivate him even more.
Prior to that, Stamann was unbeaten in three fights. He started off his UFC tenure going 3-0 before losing to Aljamain Sterling in September 2018 via 2nd round submission. Stamann is 5-2-1 inside the octagon.
Eight of his 19 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 11-2-1 when going the distance.
As for his bout against Dvalishvili, Stamann made the following comments:
“If there’s one aspect of my MMA game that I trust and rely on, it’s my takedown defense. It’s gotten me to the show. It’s gotten me to where I am today. For me stylistically, this fight is a great match-up. I couldn’t really figure out why Merab wanted to take it. I don’t know if he had something to prove or what the deal was, or maybe I was the only person who was offered to him. I don’t know. If I’m Merab, I would’ve fought anyone but me.”
Dvalishvili started off his UFC run going 0-2 with losses to Frankie Saenz and Ricky Simon. After that, he turned his UFC career around by winning five straight contests including going 3-0 last year.
Dvalishvili last fought in August 2020 and beat John Dodson via unanimous decision. 12 of his 16 pro wins have come via decision.
That makes it easy for us to pick the Over 2.5 rounds (-300) and for the fight to go the distance (-280). Once with the judges, I like Stamann to pick up the victory via decision (+350).
I think Stamann will defend the takedown well and then do a lot of damage on his feet. He’s the better striker between the two and I don’t see Dvalishvili wanting to get into a striking matchup with Stamann.
Furthermore, Stamann has faced a tougher list of fighters in the UFC than Dvalishvili has. That should prepare him for this tough battle. Cody should score more points with the judges due to landing a larger volume of strikes.
Cody Stamann vs. Merab Dvalishvili –Stamann (+200)
Over 2.5 rounds (-300)
Fight goes the distance (-280)
Stamann wins via decision (+350)
Ion Cutelaba vs. Dustin Jacoby
Ion Cutelaba (-130)
Dustin Jacoby (+110)
Over (+100)/Under (-130) 1.5 rounds
This bout was originally scheduled for Devin Clark to take on Ion Cutelaba. However, Clark was forced off the card due to an unspecified injury. Dustin Jacoby agreed to take this fight on one week’s notice.
Jacoby has won four straight fights dating back to June 2019. He earned a UFC contract with a win over Ty Flores on DWCS last August.
Jacoby then won his UFC debut by defeating Justin Ledet via 1st round TKO. He last fought in late February where he beat Maxim Grishin via unanimous decision.
10 of his 14 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine by way of TKO/KO. He’s 4-2 when going the distance.
Cutelaba is 4-4 in the UFC, but has dropped two straight fights. Both of those bouts were against rival Magomed Ankalaev and he lost both via TKO/KO. Although, the first loss was controversial as Cutelaba was playing “possum” to try and draw Ankalaev in, but the ref fell for it.
Prior to the fights with Anklaev, Cutelaba had gone 3-1 in a four bout stretch with the lone loss to Glover Teixeira who is currently the #1 contender for the light heavyweight title.
14 of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with 12 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-1 when going the distance.
I like this bout to go Over 1.5 rounds (+100), but to end inside the distance (-305). As for the winner, I am taking Cutelaba.
His two losses were against a ranked opponent in Ankalaev who is now 7th in the division. Jacoby isn’t on the same level as Magomed. Furthermore, Cutelaba isn’t going to have to worry about being taken down like in a fight against Teixeira.
Instead, we should have a good striking battle for however long these two power punchers last. Combined, the two men have 21 TKO/KO wins and only eight total bouts go the distance.
The best value for this fight is with each fighter’s moneyline.
Ion Cutelaba vs. Dustin Jacoby –Cutelaba (-130)
Over 1.5 rounds (+100)
Fight ends inside the distance (-305)
Cutelaba wins inside the distance (+100)
Cutelaba wins via TKO/KO (+175)
Sean Strickland vs. Krzysztof Jotko
Sean Strickland (-250)
Krzysztof Jotko (+210)
Over (-150)/Under (+120) 2.5 rounds
Jotko first joined the UFC in late 2013 and started off his tenure 6-1 inside the octagon. He then dropped three straight fights in 2017 and 2018 before bouncing back in 2019 by winning three in a row. He last fought in May 2020 and beat Eryk Anders via unanimous decision.
Seven of his 22 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO. He’s 15-1 when going the distance.
Strickland joined the UFC in early 2014 and started off his tenure going 5-1. He then dropped two of three bouts including a fight against Kamaru Usman in April 2017.
Like Jotko, Strickland has also won three straight fights with wins over Taleb, Marshman and Allen. His last bout was against Brendan Allen where he won via 2nd round TKO.
14 of his 22 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 8-2 when going the distance.
This bout is going Over 2.5 rounds (-150) and the full 15 minutes (-130). Combined, these two guys have gone the distance in 26 of their 51 total fights. Strickland has gone the distance in four of his last seven fights and Jotko has gone the distance in eight of his last 11 bouts.
As for the winner, you have to go with Strickland here. He’s the better overall fighter with a more complete striking arsenal.
The best value is for this fight to go the distance (-130).
Sean Strickland vs. Krzysztof Jotko –Strickland (-250)
Over 2.5 rounds (-150)
Fight goes the distance (-130)
Strickland wins via decision (+190)
Cub Swanson vs. Giga Chikadze
Cub Swanson (+160)
Giga Chikadze (-185)
Over (-215)/Under (+170) 2.5 rounds
In 2019, it looked like Cub Swanson’s career was coming to an end with the UFC. He had lost four fights in a row and fell far down the rankings.
Yet, the veteran didn’t quit on the sport or himself and ended up breaking the losing streak with a win over Kron Gracie via decision.
He then beat Daniel Pineda via 2nd round KO in a fight last December. That was Swanson’s first TKO/KO win since July 2013.
16 of his 27 pro wins have come via stoppage with 12 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 11-3 when going the distance.
Swanson made the following comments about his upcoming opponent:
“He’s on a win streak in UFC, which always makes a guy dangerous because confidence is everything. But I know his weaknesses and I know his strengths, and it’s just a matter of going out and performing and not letting him use his best weapons.”
Giga Chikadze joined the UFC in the fall of 2019 and won his debut via split decision over Brandon Davis. He followed that up with another split decision win in his second fight which was against Jammall Emmers in March 2020.
Chikadze would go on to win all four of his fights last year to extend his overall winning streak to seven in a row. He last competed in November 2020 and beat James Krause-Simmons via 1st round TKO. It was the first stoppage of his UFC tenure.
Eight of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 4-1 when going the distance.
Chikadze made the following predictions for his featherweight, co-main event bout against Swanson:
“I will knock Cub Swanson out cold, though, I see that happening. He will try and strike for a bit, go for a level change, I’ll stuff it and he’ll strike again. Cub will then try for the takedown again and I’ll counter with something big and put him out. I’m a much different fighter now than I was years ago as I’ve been training my ground game with Beneil Dariush and several others.
I can start calling out big names when I knockout Cub, I can call people out and they will have to accept. I will be in the top five at least by the end of this year. If I stay active, I know I can be the champion by the end of this year or early next.”
This is definitely the biggest fight of Chikadze’s career. He, Cub and all of the fans know it. Furthermore, he could end up in the Top 5 by the end of 2021 if he continues this trajectory and fights a few more times this year.
I’m torn on this contest because I will be rooting for Swanson to win, but I believe it’s Chikadze’s time to shine. As long as he continues to the stuff the Cub’s takedown attempts, then he will win the fight due to his striking.
Where I disagree with Chikadze is in his belief that he will knock out Swanson. Cub has only one TKO/KO loss in his long career and that came in 2009 to Jose Aldo.
Swanson has fought some dangerous strikers since that knockout loss like Holloway, Edgar, Ortega and Poirier and didn’t get knocked out. So, I don’t see Swanson losing via TKO/KO in this upcoming fight to Chikadze.
The most likely outcome is Chikadze winning via decision (+135) due to landing a larger percentage of strikes. I also think this wager offers the best value.
Take the Over 2.5 rounds (-215) at your favorite online sports betting site and for this fight to go the distance (-180). Chikadze has gone the distance in four of his five UFC fights. Swanson has gone to a decision in seven of his last 10 fights.
Cub Swanson vs. Giga Chikadze –Chikadze (-185)
Over 2.5 rounds (-215)
Fight goes the distance (-180)
Chikadze wins via decision (+135)
Dominick Reyes vs. Jiri Prochazka
Dominick Reyes (+110)
Jiri Prochazka (-130)
Over (-155)/Under (+125) 1.5 rounds
Dominick Reyes returns to action for the first time since losing in a light heavyweight title fight against Jan Blachowicz last September. He also lost to Jon Jones 14 months ago via unanimous decision despite some fans and pundits believing that Reyes won the fight.
Prior to those two losses, Reyes was undefeated at 12-0. He’s now 6-2 inside the octagon. Nine of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He’s 3-1 when going the distance.
Prochazka came from Rizin where he had one of the best runs in the promotion’s history. He’s won 11 fights in a row since his last loss which came in December 2015 against Muhammed Lawal. He got revenge on Lawal in April 2019 with a 3rd round TKO.
26 of his 27 pro wins have come via stoppage with 24 by way of TKO/KO. He’s 1-0-1 when going the distance.
This is going to be an exciting matchup between two Top 5 light heavyweights. Either Reyes will bounce back or Prochazka will take a huge step towards a title fight later this year.
Reyes is the more technical striker with crisp boxing skills. Prochazka has the advantage in power. Both men are willing participants in a firefight of punches and kicks. Neither are known for taking the fight to the mat.
With that said, I expect this bout to go Over 1.5 rounds (-155), but not the full distance (-380). I do see a stoppage in this one.
Combined, these two men have gone the distance in just six of 45 total fights. Prochazka hasn’t gone the distance since September 2016.
Prochazka will more than likely pick up the win in this bout. He will probably catch Reyes with something flush that will wobble him. That will leave a dazed Dominick open for a flurry of fists and a referee stoppage.
The best value for this fight is with each man’s moneyline. I also like the prop bet for this main event showdown to start round 3 at -115 odds. I don’t believe the bout will end before the third round.
Dominick Reyes vs. Jiri Prochazka –Prochazka (-130)
Over 1.5 rounds (-155)
Fight doesn’t go the distance (-380)
Prochazka wins inside the distance (+115)
Prochazka wins via TKO/KO (+100)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …