This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
Below I'll share my favorite play, an underdog pick, a prop, and a two-fighter parlay on. All odds are via the DraftKings Sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.
Weight Class: Welterweight
Michel Pereira appears to be past his days of doing front flips and other crazy tactics in the cage, and is instead starting to show he is actually a very good technical striker. That's primarily why I like him to beat Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Since returning from his health scare, Ponzinibbio hasn't looked like himself. He doesn't throw enough volume as of late, which is why Geoff Neal was able to edge out a win over him. Pereira, meanwhile, lands 4.71 significant strikes per minute, while Ponzinbbio absorbs 4.51. Ponzinibbio is there to be hit, and at age 35, I don't think his chin is as good as it once was.
Pereira should be able to land the better shots and be more active on the feet. This will likely lead to a decision victory, as he has a great chin and proved he can handle 15 hard minutes in each of his last two fights against game opponents in Niko Price and Andre Fialho.
UFC Vegas 55 Bet: Michel Pereira (-120)
Weight Class: Featherweight
For my underdog play, I'm going with Chase Hooper, who I expect to have a great rebound performance here.
Hooper is a phenomenal grappler, but his striking has left a lot to be desired. He has not fought since last June, but told me before this fight he went out to South Carolina for several weeks to work with Stephen Thompson on his striking, which will benefit him.
Colares, meanwhile, is a bantamweight moving up and is also a grappler. Still, I lean towards Hooper being better on the mat. Colares' striking defense is also not good, as he absorbs 4.65 significant strikes per minute, so Hooper can also use his five-inch reach advantage to just jab Colares up and score points that way. Even if he doesn't get the finish, Hooper will be more active on the feet and on the ground to get the win as an underdog.
UFC Vegas 55 Bet: Chase Hooper (+150)
Weight Class: Middleweight
On the feet, Njokuani has been a problem his entire career, as he even had a ton of success in Bellator. The problem for him was wrestlers and grapplers, which Todorovic is not. Todorovic will want to keep it standing and strike with Njokuani, but his chin is a worry as he leaves it up to get clipped.
I expect Njokuani to be able to land something big early, similar to what Puna Soriano did to Todorovic, and get the KO. At plus-money, it's a solid bet given he is now -220.
UFC Vegas 55 Bet: Chidi Njokuani by KO/TKO/DQ (+110)
Weight Class: Men & Women's Bantamweight
Holm is returning after nearly two years off, which is a concern, but she is a terrible matchup for Vieira. The Brazilian beat Miesha Tate last time out, but she didn't look particularly good doing so. Prior to that, she lost to Yana Kunitskaya in a fight she gassed in, plus got knocked out by Irene Aldana. Holm will be able to keep this standing and just piece up Vieira on the feet on her way to finding the KO shot or getting a decision win.
For my other leg, I'm taking Jonathan Martinez to beat Vince Morales. Morales is coming off an impressive KO win over Louis Smolka, but Martinez is a much better fighter. He is a good striker who can also mix in his wrestling, but a key here will be his leg kicks and knees, as we have seen Morales struggle with them.
Martinez will be the more active fighter and land the better shots to win a decision.
UFC Vegas 55 Bet: Holm & Martinez parlay (+106)
UFC Best Bets
Here is a recap of Cole's best UFC picks for this weekend's UFC Vegas 55 card.
- Michel Pereira (-120)
- Chase Hooper (+150)
- Chidi Njokuani by KO/TKO/DQ (+110)
- Holm & Martinez parlay (+106)