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.
Matheus Nicolau (16-2-1) vs. Tim Elliott (17-11-1)
Weight Class: Flyweight
Both Nicolau and Elliott are active on the feet and have good striking defense, but I expect this fight to take place on the mat, where Nicolau is the better grappler. Elliott is known for his scrambles, but he often leaves his neck out there to be choked (as we saw against the likes of Brandon Royval, Ben Nguyen and Deiveson Figueiredo, among others).
It should be a competitive fight, but during the scrambles, I expect Nicolau – who is a good grappler – to get ahold of the American's neck and eventually get the submission.
The Play: Matheus Nicolau (-190)
Charles Rosa (14-5) vs. Damon Jackson (18-4-1)
Weight Class: Featherweight
When this fight was announced, I thought it would be a pick'em or a slight lean towards Rosa, perhaps in the range of -120. To get plus-money on him is a must-bet, as Rosa has all the tools to make this is a difficult fight for Jackson.
On the feet, Rosa doesn't step back and is always in your face, landing 3.14 significant strikes per minute (while Jackson only lands 2.46). He also averages 1.78 takedowns per 15 minutes, while Jackson posts 1.14. Neither man may have elite wrestling, but I do think we will see a lot of scrambles. In the end, it will be Rosa's activity that will lead him to get the decision.
The Play: Charles Rosa (+150)
Phil Hawes (11-2) vs. Deron Winn (7-2)
Weight Class: Middleweight
Although Hawes' last two fights have gone the distance, his first two ended quickly by KO. Against Winn, this is a good style matchup for him to find the finish. Hawes has legitimate one-punch KO power, and Winn gets hit a lot, absorbing 5.17 significant strikes per minute. While Winn is a good wrestler capable of getting this fight to the mat, he leaves his neck out to be choked when in that position, which we saw in the Gerald Meerschaert fight.
Winn's tendency to absorb strikes also leaves open the possibility for Hawes to hurt him and finish him via ground-and-pound. With multiple finishing outcomes possible, inside the distance is the best way to get plus-money on someone who is otherwise a -330 favorite.
The Play: Phil Hawes by KO/TKO/Submission/DQ (+120)
Steve Garcia (11-4) vs. Charlie Ontiveros (11-7) &
Chris Gutierrez (16-3-2) vs. Felipe Corales (10-2)
Weight Class: Lightweight and bantamweight
In the first fight of the evening, Garcia welcomes Ontiveros to lightweight after he made his UFC debut at middleweight, where he lost to Kevin Holland. He is a natural welterweight, but even at 170lbs, he was getting knocked out. I don't particularly like him cutting down an extra 15 pounds and depleting the chin even more. Garcia will come out aggressive and will hurt Ontiveros, ultimately earning the early finish.
In the second leg of my parlay, I'm backing Chris Gutierrez. Gutierrez is known for his leg kicks and power. Colares absorbs 4.22 significant strikes per minute, while Gutierrez lands 4.3. I expect Gutierrez to piece up Colares on the feet and win a clear-cut decision to cash the parlay.
The Play: Garcia & Gutierrez parlay (-122)