This article is part of our MMA Best Bets series.
The UFC is back at the UFC Apex on Saturday, August 28 for UFC Vegas 35, which also has The Ultimate Fighter 29 finals on the card. In the main event, Edson Barboza takes on Giga Chikadze in what should be a phenomenal striking battle at featherweight.
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.
Kevin Lee (18-6) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (15-2)
Weight Class: Welterweight
Lee was supposed to fight at UFC 264, but a rib injury postponed his fight against Sean Brady. They were then rebooked for this card, but Brady was forced to withdraw and subsequently replaced by Rodriguez roughly 2.5 weeks out.
Although Lee will be the smaller fighter, as he is moving up in weight, his wrestling will be the difference. "The Motown Phenom" averages 3.21 takedowns per 15 minutes, while Rodriguez has a takedown defense of 83 percent. However, what makes me like Lee is the fact Mike Perry, who is a worse wrestler than Lee, was able to go 2-for-4 on his takedowns against Rodriguez.
I expect Lee to just wrestle Rodriguez, control him on the ground and be able to grind out a decision win.
The Play: Kevin Lee (-155)
Sam Alvey (33-15-1) vs. Wellington Turman (16-5)
Weight Class: Middleweight
In Turman's last two fights, he was brutally knocked out, including being KO'd just over two months ago on June 19, so I do have a ton of concern about how his chin will hold up here. Alvey, meanwhile, has some legit KO power.
Alvey lands 3.2 significant strikes per minute, while Turman absorbs 3.75 per minute. Alvey also has a good ground game, and I don't expect the Brazilian to be able to take him down. On the feet, I like Alvey to connect on the chin and get the KO.
The Play: Sam Alvey (+110)
Mana Martinez (8-2) vs. Guido Cannetti (8-5)
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Martinez has a ton of power, and when fighting at bantamweight, he can end the fight with one punch. Cannetti, meanwhile, has been finished in his last two fights. In fact, his last four losses have all been via stoppage (five if you include TUF).
Cannetti doesn't throw enough for my liking, and he also doesn't have the grappling to get Martinez down. On the feet, Martinez will be faster and eventually get the stoppage win here.
The Play: Mana Martinez by KO/TKO/Submission/DQ (-188)
Andre Petroski (5-1) vs. Michael Gillmore (6-3) &
JJ Aldrich (9-4) vs. Vanessa Demopoulos (6-3)
Weight Class: Middleweight & Women's Flyweight
Petroski was on TUF 29, and he faces a fellow TUF castmate in Michael Gillmore. Gilmore originally didn't make TUF, but after Miles Hunsinger got injured, Gillmore was put into the show. He told Dana White he stayed in Vegas as the alternate and quit his job. Despite losing by first-round submission, he got a shot in the UFC.
Against Petroski, it's a terrible style matchup, as Petroski is a very high-caliber grappler. He should get Gilmore down early and submit him in the first.
On the other leg, I like JJ Aldrich to defeat short-notice replacement, Vanessa Demopoulos. Demopoulos is a small strawweight, so I don't expect her to have much success at flyweight. Aldrich will likely use her grappling to get the former LFA champ down and either control her for a decision or get a stoppage win in the second or third.
The Play: Petroski & Aldrich parlay (-184)