MMA Best Bets: UFC London

MMA Best Bets: UFC London

This article is part of our UFC Picks series.

The UFC heads to London on Saturday, March 19 for the first time since March of 2019. In the main event, Alexander Volkov faces rising heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall.

In this series of articles, I'll share my favorite play, an underdog pick, a prop and a three-fighter parlay for this card as it's full of heavy favorites, I like. All lines are taken from DraftKings online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.

Arnold Allen (17-1) vs. Dan Hooker (21-11)
Weight Class: Featherweight

In the co-main event of UFC London, Dan Hooker drops back down to featherweight to face Arnold Allen, which is a move I don't like.

Hooker fought at 145lbs from 2014 to 2016 and went 3-3. He moved up because the weight cut was so bad he said he would never make the move back down again. Yet, as he's 1-3 in his last four, he's dropping back down to 145lbs. On Tuesday at check-in day he was 161lbs, which to me means he still has a tough weight cut ahead.

As for Allen, he is super well-rounded, and although he will be smaller than Hooker, he can mix in the takedowns to help win the round. I'm not sure how Hooker's cardio will fare at featherweight, but Allen will be able to land the better shots and use his wrestling to win a decision. To me, he should be around -170, so to get a near pick'em price makes it a play.

The Play: Arnold Allen (-125)

Paul Craig (15-4-1) vs. Nikita Krylov (27-8)
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight

This card is full of heavy chalk so there aren't many underdogs I like. Effectively, the play will be on a fight I think the line is off. When Craig was booked to fight Krylov, I figured it would be a pick'em to a slight lean for Krylov, but to see +160 on Craig makes it a play.

Craig continues to impress as an underdog, as he's coming off a super impressive win over Jamahal Hill, and during this run, he also beat Shogun Rua, in addition to wins over Magomed Ankalaev and Jimmy Crute. If he can get the fight to the ground, he can submit Krylov, and wrestling is what Krylov likes to do. Craig has improved on the feet but wrestling and jiu-jitsu are his path to victory.

This is a close fight, but I think the odds are off, so it's worth a stab on Craig.

The Play: Paul Craig (+160)

Molly McCann (11-4) vs. Luana Carolina (8-2)
Weight Class: Women's Flyweight

For my prop, I'm taking Molly McCann to beat Luana Carolina by decision. 

McCann is getting a hometown fight and a winnable one in that as she lands an incredible 5.67 significant strikes per minute. She also presses forward, which is good in the judge's eye, as well as the fact she does have the ability to wrestle if need be.

McCann has earned all of her UFC wins by decision. Even before getting to the UFC, in her past 10 fights (wins and losses), eight have gone the distance. She doesn't have the KO power to finish the fight, while Carolina has only been finished by a submission, which I don't see McCann being able to do. With that, take McCann by decision at plus-money.

The Play: Molly McCann wins by decision (+110)

Nathaniel Wood (17-5) vs. Vince Morales (11-5), 
Gunnar Nelson (17-5-1) vs. Takashi Sato (16-4) & 
Paddy Pimblett (17-3) vs. Rodrigo Vargas (12-4)
Weight Classes: Bantamweight, Welterweight & Lightweight

 With this card being full of chalk, parlaying three fighters -- and if you really want to risk it, throw in Ilia Topuria to make it +122 -- is the way to get value.

For my first leg, I'm taking Nathaniel Wood, who gets a favorable matchup against Vince Morales. Wood hasn't fought since October of 2020, which is a concern, but he is a great striker while Morales is taking this fight on short notice. Wood lands 6.28 significant strikes per minute while Morales absorbs 4.25, I expect Wood to just out-volume Morales to win a decision.

The second leg sees the return of Gunnar Nelson, who gets a very favorable matchup over Takashi Sato. Sato is taking this one on short notice, and the way he has lost both of his UFC fights and the past three losses were by submission. Nelson will be able to get him down with ease and sink in the choke to return to the UFC with a massive win in Europe.

In the final leg, I'm taking Paddy Pimblett to beat Rodrigo Vargas. Pimblett is a massive star for the UFC, and the company is giving him the right opponents to not only get a win, but do so impressively. Vargas is just 1-2 in the UFC and doesn't do anything that well. He doesn't have a ton of power, while his takedown defense is just 25 percent. Pimblett will land some strikes before taking him down and sinking in a choke to get the submission win.

The Play: Wood, Nelson, and Pimblett parlay (-114)

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Cole Shelton
Cole Shelton is a full-time sports writer focusing on MMA.
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