This article is part of our MMA Best Bets series.
The UFC returns to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, October 30 for a stacked UFC 267 card that goes down in the early-afternoon in North America. In the main event, Jan Blachowicz looks to defend his light heavyweight title against Glover Teixeira.
In this series of articles, I'll share my favorite play, an underdog pick, a prop, and this week will be doing a three-fighter parlay I like. All lines are taken from William Hill online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.
Shamil Gamzatov (14-0) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (15-4)
Weight Class; Light heavyweight
In a card that sees most of the favorites in the -300 or higher range, Shamil Gamzatov has my eye as only a -150 favorite.
Gamzatov hasn't fought since 2019, which is a concern, but he has been pretty dominant in the UFC and his two-fight stint in the PFL. The Russian lands 4.27 significant strikes per minute while absorbing only 2.13. Oleksiejczuk, meanwhile, lands 4.45 whole absorbing 3.24.
The knock on Oleksiejczuk has been his cardio, as after the first round he slows down a ton, and his ground game has been his Achilles heel. I do expect Gamzatov to go back to his roots, take the fight to the ground and find success there. The first round will be sketchy, but after that, it should be smooth sailing for Gamzatov who will do enough to win a decision.
The Play: Shamil Gamzatov (-150)
Ricardo Ramos (15-3) vs. Zubaira Tukhugov (19-5-1)
Weight Class: Featherweight
As mentioned, this card has massive favorites, so it's hard to find many underdogs, but Ricardo Ramos is one I like.
Ramos is active on the feet, as he lands 3.1 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 3.6, but his grappling is where he shines. He averages 3.08 takedowns per 15 minutes and lands 58 percent of them, which is a very high rate. The Brazilian also attempts 0.7 submissions per 15 minutes.
Tukhugov, meanwhile, does have cardio problems, as in most of his fights he clearly drops the third round. He does have a 100 percent takedown defense, which will be tested here. On the feet, however, he only lands 2.54 and absorbs 2.53 strikes per 15 minutes.
This will be a very close back-and-forth fight that I think goes the distance. Ramos' volume and pace might just be enough to win, so I'll take a shot on the dog.
The Play: Ricardo Ramos (+145)
Magomed Ankalaev (15-1) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (17-5)
Weight Class: Light heavyweight
Ankalaev is a force on the feet, as he averages 3.41 strikes per minute and only absorbs 1.78. Oezdemir does come out aggressive with a ton of KO power, and he lands 5.03 and absorbs 4.24 strikes.
In the fight, I expect Oezdemir to come out aggressive, as he does, and look for the first-round KO. However, Ankalaev has good striking defense, so he won't be there to get hit and in the second round as Oezdemir begins to gas himself out. As has been the case in his recent fights, the Russian will be able to score a KO or TKO win.
The Play: Magomed Ankalaev by KO/TKO/DQ (+100)
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Li Jingliang, Alexander Volkov vs. Marcin Tybura & Islam Makhachev vs. Dan Hooker
Weight Class: Welterweight, Heavyweight & Lightweight
We usually only do two-fighter parlays, but with the card being so chalky, I'll have to do three fighters this time to get a bit better odds.
On the first leg, I like Khamzat Chimaev to return with a bang and defeat Li Jingliang. Jingliang gets hit a lot and his takedown defense is a concern, so Chimaev will be able to take him down and ground-and-pound him out to get the win.
The second leg is Alexander Volkov to beat Marcin Tybura. Although Tybura is on a winning streak, his chin still is a concern, as he got rocked by his last fight. I also don't think he'll be able to get Volkov down, as the Russian will just piece him up on the feet to win a decision.
The final leg is Islam Makhachev to beat Dan Hooker. Makhachev looks as legit as they come, and his wrestling and pressure will be too much for Hooker, who is taking this fight on short notice. Hooker does have an 80 percent takedown defense, but he hasn't faced a wrestler like Makhachev, who will continue to take him down and control him to win a decision.
The Play: Chimaev, Volkov, Makhachev parlay (-128)