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Last Updated May 04, 2022, 06:27 AM

UFC Vegas 53 Picks, Predictions, Odds

UFC Fight Night: Font vs. Vera (also known as UFC Vegas 53) is next up on the UFC event schedule, and it’s a good one. 

The main event pits bantamweight contenders Marlon Vera and Rob Font against one another in what promises to be an action-packed five-round affair at 135 lbs. Font is coming off a tough time out against all-time great Jose Aldo and is looking to get back in the win column against a big name. That big name will be streaking Marlon Vera (two straight) who just faced an all-time great too in Frankie Edgar, and won the fight with a vicious front-kick KO.

Just before that heavyweights collide in the co-main event slot as former champion Andrei Arlovski takes on Jake Collier in a bout scheduled for three rounds.

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Rob Font vs. Marlon Vera Prediction, Picks

Font (-138)vs.Vera (+110) 
34Age29
5’ 8”Height5’ 8”
71”Reach70”
135 lbs.Weight135 lbs.
OrthodoxStanceSwitch
19-5-0 (8 KOs, 4 SUBs)Record18-7-1 (7 KOs, 8 SUBs)
StrikerStyleStriker, grappler

Rob Font has some of the cleanest boxing in the UFC right now. Both him and his teammate Calvin Kattar are particularly good at using their jabs as a straight right. The way Font uses his range is also what makes him so dangerous. He darts in and out of range with his jab and rarely gets caught on the feet as a result of that.

Marlon Vera is not a rookie on the feet, but he has trouble getting his offense going against some of the high level strikers of the division. We saw this against Jose Aldo in particular, where Vera shelled up and stayed on the outside for the majority of the fight because Aldo was touching him up.

When it comes to striking, I don’t think many have the abilities that Font has. Leg kicks have to be the go-to weapon for Vera this weekend, as Font tends to be a bit boxing heavy and put a lot of weight on that lead leg. Aldo was able to mix things up with Font to a great effect and Vera’s kicks can be super effective, however, he still has that tendency to shell up when things get dicey, and things usually go get dicey with Font in the octagon.

On the ground Vera is the better grappler for sure, but in wrestling I actually give the edge to Font who has developed a pretty solid takedown defense over the course of his career. Meanwhile I was surprised to see Vera come up short against Jose Aldo on the ground.

Vera needs to demolish Font’s legs right from the get-go and win this fight in the clinch. If this fight plays out in the middle of the octagon I believe Font will pull away with his superior boxing.

If Marlon had a better wrestling game he could do great things and make it to the top, but because of his inability to chain wrestle and get the fight into his realm I think Font will win this fight.

Prediction: Rob Font def. Marlon Vera

Picks: Rob Font By Decision or Technical Decision (+175), Fight to Go the Distance: 'Yes' (-150)

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Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake Collier Prediction, Picks

Arlovski (-150)vs.Collier (+125) 
43Age33
6’ 3”Height6’ 3”
77”Reach78”
240 lbs.Weight230 lbs.
OrthodoxStanceOrthodox
33-20-0 (17 KOs, 3 SUBs)Record13-6-0 (5 KOs, 4 SUBs)
StrikerStyleStriker

Arlovski’s career is on its second wind at the moment, with the 43-year old veteran winning four of his last five outings in the octagon.

Collier is more of an enigma, initially starting out his UFC tenure in the middleweight division before making the move up to light heavyweight in 2017. Collier had a long layoff of almost a thousand days between 2017 and 2020 and decided to make the move up to heavyweight upon his return.

Jake claims that his move up in weight was simply a case of him wanting to get back in there and weight was irrelevant, however given the fact that he has now had four fights as a heavyweight I think it's safe to say that he has become accustomed to the weight and doesn’t want to get in shape. That’s not me being rough, when you look at Collier it’s obvious that he’s not a heavyweight.

That being said, Arlovki’s age is starting to affect his performance and I think his last fight against Jared Vanderaa was very indicative of that. Andrei is a striker, but he fights differently today than he did when he was in his prime. Sort of like Overeem did, Arlovski has adopted a far less aggressive approach to fighting in the later stages of his career. Andrei relies far more on movement and winning minutes than ending fights with knockouts. Want proof? Arlovski hasn’t won via knockout since 2015.

I also think it’s important to point out that the guys Arlovski is being matched up with aren't exactly top-shelf guys. Felipe and Sherman are cut and Vanderaa probably will be soon. Arlovski did beat them all, but he didn’t do it that convincingly. 

Don’t get me wrong, Collier is not a top-shelf guy, the guy has differentiated wins and losses for his entire UFC tenure. However, I think the wear and tear on Arlovski’s body will render him unable to continue beating even the bottom-shelf guys of the heavyweight division. Collier has good power in his hands and Arlovski is really slow at 43.

I think the plus money on Collier is wrong - Arlovski’s last fight was really close and at this point it’s just a matter of time before he walks into another KO.

Prediction: Jake Collier def. Andrei Arlovski

Picks: Jake Collier by KO, TKO, DQ or Submission (+333), Fight to Go the Distance: 'No' (+125)

Andre Fili vs. Joanderson Brito Prediction, Picks

Fili (-250)vs.Brito (+200) 
31Age27
5’ 11”Height5’ 8”
74”Reach72”
145 lbs.Weight145 lbs.
OrthodoxStanceOrthodox
21-8-1 (9 KOs, 3 SUBs)Record12-3-1 (5 KOs, 5 SUBs)
Striker, wrestlerStyleStriker, grappler

UFC veteran Andre Fili returns to the octagon after his last fight ended in a no contest, rendering Fili winless in two straight bouts.

Fili is a good and well rounded fighter with solid fundamentals. His time at team alpha male has made him a solid wrestler both offensively and defensively. On the feet he does his best work with nine knockout wins, three inside the UFC.

Brito was signed last year but came up short in his debut against Bill Algeo. Brito is a grappler which means he looks for takedowns and submissions, however the ground game hasn’t borne fruit for him yet in the UFC.

Brito is one of those guys who is better offensively than he is defensively when it comes to wrestling. This is important because I do see takedowns being landed on both sides in this fight.

On the feet Brito is a bit sloppy and he was huffing and puffing after five minutes in his debut, because his opponent reversed him and forced him to work on the ground. Fili is going to do the exact same thing. The takedowns won’t come easy for Brito, and Andre will reverse positions at any given chance. Mind you, this is a guy who was able to reverse positions twice against Bryce Mitchell, one of the best grapplers currently on the roster.

I think the veteran experience will pay dividends to Fili in this outing as he takes on a younger and less experienced guy on Saturday.

There are more paths to victory for Fili, so he wins this fight.

Prediction: Andre Fili def. Joanderson Brito.

Picks: Andre Fili by Decision or Technical Decision (+175), Fight to Go the Distance: 'Yes' (-150)

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Jared Gordon vs. Grant Dawson Prediction, Picks

Gordon (+150)vs.Dawson (-175) 
33Age28
5’ 9”Height5’ 10”
68”Reach72”
155 lbs.Weight155 lbs.
OrthodoxStanceSwitch
18-4-0 (6 KOs, 2 SUBs)Record17-1-1 (4 KOs, 11 SUBs)
Striker, wrestlerStyleGrappler

Unbeaten UFC fighter Grant Dawson had a tough time out in his last fight against a hard-nosed veteran. Despite dominating the early action a tough third round saw the judges rule the bout a draw. He is looking to get back in the win column this Saturday.

Jared Gordon is an experienced guy with some good names on his record. His last loss was handed to him by current lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, so you can't fault the guy for not fighting good competition.

In the octagon Gordon does some of his best work on the mat. His wrestling is far greater than anyone Dawson has faced in his career, and I think the youngster will have some trouble controlling the fight on the ground.

Jared has faced some top notch grapplers before, such as Joe Solecki, and no one has really been able to keep him down for extended periods of time. If Grant is forced to fight on his feet this fight could get interesting for sure.

In a striking battle I actually see Gordon coming out on top. Dawson will try to grapple here, as always, and he will probably win round one too, seeing as Gordon is a notoriously slow starter. That said, Jared always comes on strong late and Dawson showed some cardio issues against Glenn in his most recent bout.

If Grant falls apart in that third round again, I think Gordon is game enough to get a 10-8, making this fight a draw. While I'm not keen on suggesting placing a bet on the draw I do think that the veteran has a good chance in this matchup. His wrestling should stifle the grappling and on the feet he does the better work.

Prediction: Jared Gordon def. Grant Dawson.

Picks: Jared Gordon by Decision or Technical Decision (+550), Fight to Go the Distance: 'Yes' (-188)

Darren Elkins vs. Tristan Connelly Prediction, Picks

Elkins (-175)vs.Connelly (+150) 
37Age36
5’ 10”Height5’ 10”
71”Reach68”
145 lbs.Weight145 lbs.
OrthodoxStanceOrthodox
26-10-0 (9 KOs, 5 SUBs)Record14-7-0 (4 KOs, 9 SUBs)
WrestlerStyleWrestler

Moving on down the card we have another veteran vs. newcomer matchup, this in the featherweight division.

Darren Elkins is another highly experienced fighter on the UFC roster with a solid wrestling base. He had a tough time out in his most recent bout, getting stopped in round one against fellow veteran Cub Swanson. His stock is low right now.

Connelly had his first fight at welterweight where he got an upset win over flashy striker Michel Pereira who seemingly gassed himself out by doing backflips for the entire fight. Still a good win for Tristan though. In his subsequent outing he was matched up against grappling wiz Pat Sabatini and completely dismantled. 

This is a wrestler versus wrestler matchup in which one has the far better stats and far better experience. Elkins didn’t look good in his last fight, but for a wrestler Connelly sure doesn’t get a lot of takedowns. He actually went zero for six on takedowns against Pereira, and managed to land one against Sabatini. How will he do against a superior wrestler?

Elkins never has fights that don’t hit the mat at some point. On the feet the vet is sort of a bulldozer with forward pressure and relentless clinching. He works for that takedown until he gets it. 

I think this is a bad matchup for Tristan who also relies on pressure and volume to win. Here he is just facing someone who is better at it than him. 

On the feet this could be anyone’s fight but I have to believe 25 UFC outings have taught Elkins a thing or two more than Connelly.

Prediction: Darren Elkins def. Tristan Connelly.

Picks: Elkins by Decision or Technical Decision (+130), Fight to Go the Distance: 'Yes' (-175)

Krzysztof Jotko vs. Gerald Meerschaert Prediction, Picks

Jotko (-175)vs.Meerschaert (+150) 
32Age34
6’ 1”Height6’ 1”
77”Reach77”
185 lbs.Weight185 lbs.
SouthpawStanceSouthpaw
23-5-0 (6 KOs, 1 SUBs)Record34-14-0 (6 KOs, 26 SUBs)
StrikerStyleGrappler

Two veterans face off at middleweight.

First thing jumping at me about this matchup is the clashing styles at play. Jotko is primarily a striker happy with going the distance and winning decisions. That's not a knock on the guy - his style involves a lot of movement and little volume and most of the time that means he does not see a lot of finishes. He does pick his spots well, although that style doesn't involve much volume.

Gerald is the grappler in this fight with 26 submission wins on his record. This is a guy you generally don't want to go to the ground with, however I actually don't think Jotko will be in a lot of danger on the mat if he plays his cards right.

Here's why I say that: Gerald is a great fighter but he's terribly inconsistent. His 14 pro losses speak to this, but just watching the guy fight is the biggest indicator of his inconsistent nature there is. First of all, he is way too content with pulling guard and spending a round on his back hunting for submissions. This has worked out well for him in recent fights, but the way he wins fights recently doesn't work out in the long run. You can't always be behind on the cards and pull a rabbit out of the hat late.

Jotko is just not going to play the grappling game with Gerald here. He is way too smart for that. His 83% takedown defense also speaks volumes to his defensive grappling capabilities.

Gerald is a phenomenal submission artist, but he never goes out there and wrestles his way to victory. In fact, he is actually often the one coming up short in wrestling exchanges. Most of the time he doesn't even get more control time than his opponents in the octagon, even when fighting strikers. He knows how to take guys down, but he doesn't know how to keep them down, and he is not a great minute winner.

On the feet Gerald has never been particularly dangerous. I can't remember the last time I saw him knock someone down. Actually I can't remember the last time Jotko got a knock down either, but the point is that his striking game is a technical and cautious one. He does exactly what he needs to do, never more.

The small cage will always favor the grappler, but I just don't think Gerald will be able to keep getting these comeback victories at this level. Jotko is high level enough to shut him down and turn this into a 15-minute striking battle.

Prediction: Krzysztof Jotko def. Gerald Meerschaert.

Picks: Krzysztof Jotko by Decision or Technical Decision (+187), Fight to Go the Distance: 'Yes' (+110)

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