This article is part of our MMA Best Bets series.
The UFC returns to the world's most famous sports building in Madison Square Garden in New York City for a stacked UFC 268 card that sees two titles on the line.
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.
Rose Namajunas (10-4) vs. Weili Zhang (21-2)
Weight Class: Strawweight
Technically Rose Namajunas is a slight underdog, but I still like her as my favorite play on the card.
Back in April at UFC 261, we saw Namajunas score a 78-second head-kick KO win over Zhang Weili to reclaim her strawweight title. They will now rematch in the co-main event of UFC 268, where Zhang is the -115 favorite while Namajunas is a -105 underdog.
I don't understand the odds, as even though you can say Zhang got caught, Namajunas is just the better mixed martial artist. Zhang is now training at Fight Ready and working with Henry Cejudo, but I doubt she can improve her wrestling enough. On the feet, Namajunas is super technical and is there to hit but not to get hit, while Zhang gets into firefights. I think the champ will be able to piece up Zhang on the feet and get another stoppage win.
To me, this line should be -150 at worse for Namajunas, so at -105, I have to take the shot.
The Play: Rose Namajunas (-105)
Frankie Edgar (24-9-1) vs. Marlon Vera (19-7-1)
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Edgar is likely past his prime, as he's 40 years old and just 1-3 in his last four, but the losses came to Cory Sandhagen, Korean Zombie and Max Holloway (for the belt). He has only lost to the elite fighters, and I don't think Vera is that.
Where Edgar can have success is with his wrestling. In Vera's last loss against Jose Aldo, the Brazilian was able to backpack him and control him for the entire third round, and Edgar is a better grappler than Aldo. Vera also only has a 69 percent takedown defense, which is not good, and on the feet, he absorbs 4.08 significant strikes per minute compared to only landing 3.91. Edgar, on the other hand, lands 3.7 and absorbs 2.71.
I expect Edgar to be able to out-volume Vera, mix in his wrestling and avoid the power shots to win a decision.
The Play: Frankie Edgar (+150)
Justin Gaethje (22-3) vs. Michael Chandler (22-6)
Weight Class: Lightweight
Gaethje and Chandler are both heavy hitters, so it could come down to whoever lands the first clean shot. However, I'm backing Gaethje due to the fact we have seen Chandler get KO'd and rocked quite often. Throughout his career, he has also struggled against people who throw leg kicks, and no one does it better than Gaethje.
Gaethje is too powerful on the feet and will be able to keep it standing to find the KO punch. A small stab at Gaethje in Round 1 at +200 also isn't a bad look.
The Play: Justin Gaethje by KO/TKO/DQ (-110)
Dustin Jacoby (15-5-1) vs. John Allan (13-6) &
Ian Garry (7-0) vs. Jordan Williams (9-5)
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight and Welterweight
Jacoby took this fight on just five days' notice, which could be a concern. However, he is someone that is always training and gets a favorable matchup against John Allan. The Brazilian will try and take Jacoby down, but I don't think he will find success. On the feet, he absorbs 4.01 significant strikes per minute while only landing 2.95. Jacoby, on the other hand, lands 4.32 while only absorbing 3.36. The American should be able to piece up Allan on the feet and likely find the TKO win.
In the second leg, I like Garry to get make good on his UFC debut against Jordan Williams. Williams is 0-2 in the UFC and was dropped and rocked multiple times by Mickey Gall last time out. Garry is a much better striker, and the weight cut to 170lbs does seem to impact Williams. I don't think this fight lasts long, as Garry is too good on the feet and will get the first-round KO to cash the parlay.
The Play: Jacoby & Gary parlay (-164)