This article is part of our MMA Best Bets series.
The UFC has a heavyweight title fight rematch headline UFC 260 on Saturday, March 27 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
In this series of articles, I'll share my favorite play, an underdog pick, a prop, and a two-fighter parlay I like. All lines are taken from William Hill online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.
Marc-Andre Barriault (11-4) vs. Abu Azaitar (14-2-1)
Weight Class: Middleweight
Although Marc-Andre Barriault hasn't been the most impressive in the UFC, just 0-3 with one no-contest (originally a TKO win for Barriault but overturned due to a USADA suspension), this is a good style matchup for him against Abu Azaitar.
The German-born Azaitar hasn't fought since July of 2018 when he beat Vitor Miranda by decision in his UFC debut. He did have success in World Series of Fighting (now PFL), but the layoff is one of many reasons why I like Barriault.
Barriault will have a sizeable four-inch height advantage, although the reach will be on Azaitar's side. But, in general size, Barriault will be much bigger and stronger. The German fought at 170lbs in WSOF, while Barriault was TKO's middleweight and light heavyweight champion.
Azaitar, meanwhile, has horrible takedown defense (just 25 percent), as Miranda – who is a Muay Thai fighter – got him down at will. I expect Barriault to have a wrestling-heavy game plan to either get a decision win or a TKO after Azaitar gasses out, as his cardio is a big concern.
The Play: Marc-Andre Barriault (-125)
Modestas Bukauskas (11-3) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (14-4)
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Both men are coming off stoppage losses to Jimmy Crute, which proved neither are top-10 light heavyweights at this time. I do think Bukauskas has the better skill set, however.
The first round will be a sweat for this bet, as the Pole has legit one-punch KO power, but has proven in his UFC career he gasses after one round. If Bukauskas can survive the first round, I expect him to start taking over and land the heavier shots.
Bukauskas has a four-inch reach advantage, and although he hasn't shot for a takedown in his UFC career, he did wrestle in Cage Warriors and grappling is a clear way to beat Olekisejczuk. I just don't think the Pole can close the distance to catch him, and I like Bukauskas to get a second or third round stoppage win to cash as the underdog.
The Play: Modestas Bukauskas (+130)
Sean O'Malley (12-1) vs. Thomas Almeida (22-4)
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Sean O'Malley is getting a favorable matchup to not only get back into the win column but get another knockout.
Almeida looked slow and off in his return fight against Jonathan Martinez on Fight Island. He also gets hit a lot and has a questionable chin, which is a problem against O'Malley. In his UFC career, the Brazilian absorbs 4.69 significant strikes per minute while O'Malley lands 6.35.
I expect O'Malley to land early and often against Almeida and eventually will find the home for a power shot that knocks Almeida out.
The Play: Sean O'Malley wins by KO/TKO (+140)
*Odds at FanDuel as WilliamHill doesn't have props available
Vicente Luque (19-7-1) vs. Tyron Woodley (19-6-1) &
Khama Worthy (16-7) vs. Jamie Mullarkey (12-4)
Weight Class: Welterweight & Lightweight
Although Woodley lost to the champion and the top two contenders, it's the way he fights which has me fading him. He has struggled to pull the trigger and is not the same aggressive self he once was. He lets his opponents just pick him apart and doesn't throw anything back. His corners have yelled at him about it, but he doesn't change.
Against Luque, that will be a problem. The Brazilian is a very aggressive fighter who likes to be in-your-face and land power shots. I expect Luque to just pick Woodley apart for three rounds and win a clear-cut decision.
For the other half of this parlay, I like Khama Worthy to get back into the win column. Worthy is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Ottman Azaitar in September but before that, he picked up stoppage wins over Luis Pena and Devonte Smith and showed he is well-rounded.
Jamie Mullarkey, meanwhile, is 0-2 in the UFC and after his war with Brad Riddell, was a bit tentative against Fares Ziam. He also gets hit a lot, as he absorbs 4.60 significant strikes per minute while only lands 1.87. Worthy, meanwhile, lands 4.12, and I expect one of those shots will eventually rock him and he'll finish him, or he will pick him apart for a clear-cut decision.