This article is part of our MMA Best Bets series.
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.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2) vs. Augusto Sakai (15-2-1)
Weight Class: Heavyweight
In the main event of the card, I really like Jair Rozenstruik, and I'm surprised he's only a -125 favorite.
Rozenstruik is coming off a lackluster decision loss to Ciryl Gane in February, and it seems like people are jumping off his bandwagon. However, this is a very good style matchup for the KO artist.
It's well-documented Rozenstruik is a great kickboxer with one-punch KO power. Sakai, meanwhile, is more volume at heavyweight, but his last fight against Alistair Overeem is worrying. It was his first five-round fight, and he gassed out before Overeem started to take over. In his UFC tenure, the Brazilian lands 5.32 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 4.02. Rozenstruik, meanwhile, lands 3.14 and absorbs 3.48.
Additionally, Rozenstruik has 80 percent takedown defense, while Sakai only lands 50 percent of his takedowns. I expect this fight to remain standing, and because Sakai gets his hit too much for liking, I expect Rozenstruik to KO him.
The Play: Jair Rozenstruik (-125)
Youssef Zalal (10-4) vs. Sean Woodson (7-1)
Weight Class: Featherweight
After starting out his UFC tenure 3-0, Zalal has lost two fights in a row while Woodson lost his last fight by submission to Julian Erosa in a big upset. In the fight, Woodson will have a six-inch reach advantage (which he will have over most featherweights), but he doesn't use it the best.
I do worry about Woodson's overall skill set, as he was losing on the Contender Series before landing a perfectly-timed flying knee. He does throw a lot of volume, landing 6.40 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 4.43. Zalal, meanwhile, lands 2.45 and absorbs 1.56.
I do worry about Woodson's grappling, and I think Zalal can get some takedowns and use his footwork to get inside and piece up Woodson. It's a close fight – I just think the odds are way too far apart.
The Play: Youssef Zalal (+160)
Marcin Tybura (21-6) vs. Walt Harris (13-9)
Weight Class: Heavyweight
Marcin Tybura is the rightful favorite, but to get +210 on him to win by decision is a must-bet.
Harris is coming off back-to-back losses to Alexander Volkov and Alistair Overeem, which were both by finish. Those two heavyweights are proven finishers however, while Tybura is not. The first round will be sketchy, as I even talked to Tybura, and he said he knows Harris is the most dangerous in the first round. After that, he gasses out.
I do expect Tybura to use his wrestling and clinch work to drag the fight out and win a decision. This fight will likely be similar to the Ben Rothwell and Maxim Grishin – one where Tybura just leans on Harris and grinds out a lackluster decision win.
The Play: Marcin Tybura by decision (+210)
Tanner Boser (19-7-1) vs. Ilir Latifi (14-8) &
Makwan Amirkhani (16-5) vs. Kamuela Kirk (11-4)
Weight Class: Heavyweight and Featherweight
Boser's last fight was a bad one, as he didn't throw enough volume and lost a close decision to Andrei Arlovski. However, against Latifi, I think Boser will use his range to piece up Latifi, and Boser should be able to stuff the takedowns and likely win a decision.
On the other leg of the parlay, I like Makwan Amirkhani against short-notice replacement Kamuela Kirk. Amirkhani loses to top-15 featherweights, but steps up against non-ranked featherweights like Danny Henry and Chris Fishgold with ease. Kirk, meanwhile, is known for his grappling, but Amirkhani is the better grappler and has the better gas tank, and will likely win by submission or decision.