UFC Vegas 50 Betting Breakdown


Welcome to my betting breakdown for UFC Vegas 50: Ankalaev vs. Santosl. After a fun PPV event last weekend at T-Mobile arena headlined by Colby Covington besting Jorge Masvidal in their grudge match, the UFC will head back down the street to their Apex Facility for a fun fight night event.

We have a 14-fight card on tap for Saturday night, and although I’ve been critical about the quality of fight night events at the beginning of 2022, this is a really fun slate of matchups that I’m looking forward to a lot. In the main event, Magomed Ankalaev is a massive betting favorite as he continues to try and earn a title shot at light-heavyweight. To achieve his goal, he’ll have to get through former title challenger Thiago Santos, who is coming off a main event victory against Johnny Walker. There are a ton of fun action-packed fights on this card, and I’ve found a bunch of great betting opportunities as well. I currently have seven bets for this card and may add a few more prior to Saturday night. 


I’ll be writing this column weekly, with extended breakdowns for up to three of my best bets. I will be in the FTNBets Discord for about two hours before the early preliminaries this weekend to answer any questions that readers might have. We’d love to continue building the community through Discord. 

If you’re interested in DFS and betting takes for every fight on this card, you can check out The Undisputed MMA Show with Jon Kelly and me.

Matthew Semelsberger vs. AJ Fletcher Odds

Semelsberger -195, Fletcher +165 , DraftKings Sportsbook

Semelsberger has gotten off to an awesome start to his UFC career, going 3-1 with two knockouts that have come in under 20 seconds. His sole loss is to Chaos Williams in a competitive fight, and he has blown out his other three opponents. Stylistically, Semelsberger is primarily a boxer but relies a lot on his athleticism and explosiveness as a former football player turned MMA fighter. While I rate Semelsberger’s volume and striking power pretty well, I do have two concerns about him as a fighter. The first concern is that he hasn’t beat anybody who I consider to be a legitimate UFC-level opponent. His three wins are Carlton Minus, Jason Witt on the first punch of their fight, and Martin Sano. Additionally, there is some tape of Semelsberger in his pre-UFC days where he really struggled to defend takedowns and get up off his back. The most prominent example of this came against Kristopher Gratalo in November of 2019. 

Fletcher makes his UFC debut this weekend following a highlight-reel flying knee knockout on this past season of the Contender Series. Fletcher, like Semelsberger, thrives based off his athleticism and explosiveness that comes from being a multi-sport athlete and then turning towards MMA. Fletcher also has some decent wrestling, and I’ve seen him utilize his power-double leg takedown in multiple regional-scene fights previously. His standup is certainly a work in progress, especially defensively, but Fletcher does carry power in all four limbs. I’m not sure there are any glaring red flags I see when looking at Fletcher, but it’s worth noting that he’s been relatively untested throughout his career, going 9-0 with eight finishes, and hasn’t been in a fight that has left Round 1 since 2019. 

This is a highly volatile spot with the unknowns surrounding Fletcher and the flaws that Semelsberger possesses, so I think it makes sense to take a shot on the underdog. We know for a fact that Fletcher has a solid wrestling background and Semelsberger has a history of struggling to defend takedowns, which is enough for me at nearly +200. On the feet, I have to favor Semelsberger just because he’s proven more, and I don’t like Fletcher’s lack of head movement. I wouldn’t be surprised with either man dominating this matchup just due to a lack of data, but I’m happy taking +200 in situations like this one. 

Bet: AJ Fletcher +195 1x until +185 (Placed March 9, Unibet)


Alex Pereira vs. Bruno Silva Odds

Pereira -200, Silva +170, DraftKings Sportsbook

Pereira made his long-awaited UFC debut last November at UFC 268, knocking out Andreas Michailidis with a flying knee at the start of round two after a rocky first round. As most people know, Pereira has an extensive kickboxing history which includes a knockout win over current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Pereira carries a massive frame for 185 pounds and has a diverse array of kicks to go along with his dynamic check-left hook which has become his signature strike. I do have some serious worries about Pereira as a contender in the long-term, as his grappling is improving but still is well below-average and can be exploited, as it was in round one against Michailidis. However, it’s hard to argue against him being one of the best strikers in this division despite having just five pro MMA bouts. 

Silva has gotten off to a scorching hot start in the UFC, going 3-0 with three finishes over Wellington Turman, Andrew Sanchez, and Jordan Wright. Silva is an extremely hard hitter with great finishing instincts and strength. Stylistically, we’ve seen Silva hold his own in grappling exchanges throughout his professional career, but he isn’t much of an offensive wrestler and usually chooses to stand and bang with his opponents. My biggest concern with Silva is his striking defense, and although he hasn’t faced any above-average strikers in the UFC, Silva does tend to get hit cleanly by opponents and prioritizes landing his own punches as opposed to blocking his counterpart’s strikes.

If I had any faith in Bruno Silva wrestling in this matchup, I would consider him to be a live underdog. Although Silva hasn’t wrestled offensively much in the past, he is a lifetime martial artist and leaps ahead of Pereira in terms of grappling. However, the fact that Silva never chooses to wrestle offensively and that he prefers to stand and trade with opponents can’t be ignored. Pereira is the much better technical striker in this matchup and if you couple that with the fact that Silva doesn’t prioritize defense, I think this may be a quick night at the office for Pereira. I’m picking the man they call “Poatan” or “Hands of Stone” by round one knockout. 

Bet: Alex Pereira -170 1x until -175 (Placed March 12, DraftKings Sportsbook)


Drew Dober vs. Terrance McKinney Odds

Dober -160, McKinney +140, DraftKings Sportsbook

Dober has been a staple in the top 15-25 of the UFC lightweight division for a few years now but finds himself on a two-fight skid heading into this weekend. Stylistically, Dober is a tremendous pressure-boxer who fights with great pace and aggression while carrying one-punch knockout power. Dober has solid cardio that allows him to push opponents back and tee off with strikes when things are going well for the Nebraska native. However, Dober has had massive issues with his takedown defense that has plagued him throughout his career. Statistically speaking, Dober has just a 55% takedown defense and has been taken down 22 times in 17 UFC bouts, including the concession of 11 takedowns in his last three fights. Dober has a decent getup game once he is taken down and has faced some great grapplers (Makhachev, Dariush) at lightweight, but he was also taken down five times by kickboxer Brad Riddell his last time out. When striking, Dober can hang with anybody in this division, but he struggles to keep the fight in that realm far more than he should at this point in his career. 

McKinney is 2-0 in the UFC with only 2:18 of cage time after finishing Matt Frevola and Fares Ziam in his first two bouts after getting to the big show. Stylistically, McKinney is a kill-or-be-killed fighter who is always hunting a finish from the opening bell but leaves himself vulnerable to strikes from his opponents. McKinney has a wrestling background that was on display in his fight against Ziam just two weeks ago, but “T-Wrecks” isn’t reliable to wrestle each time out. My major concern with McKinney is that he has pretty solid skills, but he pushes on the gas very hard early in fights and I don’t think he’ll be able to hang with solid UFC-level opponents if he’s unable to get early finishes and expends a ton of energy early in fights. 

We definitely have to favor Drew Dober in this matchup due to his UFC experience and strength of schedule, along with the idea that he figures to have a not-insignificant striking edge when these two battle it out on the feet. However, this is a more difficult matchup for Dober than I think most are realizing. McKinney has well-above-average offensive wrestling and his BJJ is also a weapon that I expect him to try and utilize against Dober. While every round starts on the feet, we can’t ignore the struggles that Dober has had when opponents try to string takedowns together against him. My biggest concern with betting McKinney here is that if he can’t finish in round one, I’m not sure he’ll be able to wrestle hard for 15 minutes, but those are the risks we have to take sometimes on sizeable underdogs. 

Bet: Terrance McKinney +170 1x until +165 (Placed March 8)

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