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.
Ryan Benoit (10-7) vs. Zarrukh Adashev (3-3)
Weight Class: Flyweight
Both Benoit and Adashev are on two-fight losing streaks, and the loser likely gets cut here. Entering the UFC at 3-1, Adashev was hyped up as a striker, but he has struggled at the highest level, getting quickly knocked out by Tyson Nam in his debut. Benoit, meanwhile, is an all-around mixed martial artist, and he will prove that here.
Benoit loses his fight by getting held down by stronger opponents on the ground. Yet, in this fight, I expect him to do exactly that to Adashev. I think he will likely take the fight to the ground and have success there.
On the feet, Benoit has legit power, and I think he could even hurt Adashaev. Regardless of where this fight takes place, I expect Benoit to be the better fighter and win by decision.
The Play: Ryan Benoit (-130)
Danny Chavez (11-4) vs. Kai Kamaka III (8-4)
Weight Class: Featherweight
When fighters step up on short notice, they are usually the underdogs. That's not the case here, however, and I don't understand why. When Kamaka last took a UFC fight on short notice, he completely gassed against Jonathan Pearce, which resulted in him losing by TKO. I still have those same worries in this fight.
Both Kamaka and Chavez leave a lot to be desired with their striking defense, but Chavez's grappling is the difference-maker. Through two fights and 30 minutes of cage time, he has a 100 percent takedown success rate and averages 2.5 per 15 minutes. Kamaka, meanwhile, only has a takedown defense of 41 percent. I expect Chavez to chain wrestle to gas the Hawaiian out and get a late stoppage or clear decision.
The Play: Danny Chavez (+100)
Bryan Barberena (15-7) vs. Jason Witt (18-7)
Weight Class: Welterweight
Bryan Barberena is an all-action fighter that is returning to the Octagon after a near-death experience, and he draws a game opponent in Jason Witt. Simply put, this screams a fight that ends inside the distance.
Witt has had mixed results in the UFC, as he's 1-2 with two first-round knockout losses. He's coming off a 16-second KO loss to Matthew Semelsberger in March, which was just 4.5 months ago. Barberena, meanwhile, has heavy hands and is a dynamic striker that only gets better as the fight goes on.
I expect Witt to try and take Barberena down early and often, but "Bam Bam" has underrated takedown defense and will keep it standing. On the feet, I think he will eventually find the chin and KO Witt. Although I expect Barberena to get the KO, there is a chance he drops Witt and submits him, so inside the distance prop is the best bet.
The Play: Bryan Barberena wins inside the distance (+100)
Rafa Garcia (12-1) vs. Chris Gruetzemacher (14-4) &
Nicco Montano (4-3) vs. Wu Yanan (11-4)
Weight Class: Lightweight & Women's Bantamweight
Garcia is coming off a UFC debut loss to Nasrat Haqparast on short notice in a fight he nearly won. Against Chris Gruetzemacher I expect Garcia to land the heavy shots and blitz him – similar to what Alexander Hernandez did in October to get the stoppage win. Garcia is also teammates with Hernandez, so they no doubt know the way to approach this fight.
On the other leg of the parlay, Montano is back and gets a favorable matchup against Wu Yanan in her return. Although Montano has struggled to remain active, this fight shouldn't be competitive at all, as I expect the inaugural flyweight champ to pick apart Wu on the feet and then get her down to the ground, eventuallying get a stoppage win on the mat.
The Play: Garcia and Montano parlay (-115)