MMA Best Bets: UFC Vegas 45

MMA Best Bets: UFC Vegas 45

This article is part of our UFC Picks series.

The final UFC event of 2021 goes down on Saturday, December 18 from the UFC Apex, and in the main event, Derrick Lewis looks to get back into the win column against Chris Daukaus

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 DraftKings online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.

Chris Daukaus (12-3) vs. Derrick Lewis (25-8)
Weight Class: Heavyweight

Not often do I like picking against Derrick Lewis due to his one-punch KO power, but for the second-straight fight, I'm going against The Black Beast.

Although this is a big step up in competition for Daukaus, he has shown he will have a massive advantage over Lewis with both his speed and technical striking. As we saw when Lewis faced Ciryl Gane for the interim belt, Lewis struggled when Gane was able to get in, land a punch against Lewis and get out of dodge before Lewis could land anything back. I think we see something similar here.

Daukaus has been knocked out before on the regional scene, but I'm backing the Philadelphia native to fight a smart fight. I think he can avoid the power shot of Lewis and just pick him apart, eventually getting the stoppage win in the middle rounds as Lewis begins to slow down.

The Play: Chris Daukaus (-135)

Macy Chiasson (7-1) vs. Raquel Pennington (12-8)
Weight Class: Women's Featherweight

Even though Macy Chiasson is taking this fight on short notice, I like her as an underdog due to the fact the fight will now be at women's featherweight and not bantamweight, which is an advantage for Chiasson.

The way Pennington wins her fights is by being the stronger fighter and using a lot of clinches against the fence to control the action. However, with it being at 145lbs and against Chiasson, I expect the Fortis MMA product to be stronger and be able to keep Pennington off of her. 

On the feet, Chiasson has more power and averages 4.16 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 2.17. Pennington, meanwhile, lands 3.59 but absorbs 3.21. The power and volume of Chiasson will be the difference here.

The Play: Macy Chiasson (+160)

Stephen Thompson (16-5-1) vs. Belal Muhammad (19-3)
Weight Class: Welterweight

In the co-main event of UFC Vegas 45, I'm backing Stephen Thompson to win by decision.

In his last fight, Thompson struggled against Gilbert Burns, as he was taken down and held there, and many expect Belal Muhammad to do the same. However, Muhammad is not as good of a wrestler as Burns, and Thompson will now be prepared for that, as he told me before this fight he didn't expect Burns to wrestle him.

On the feet, Thompson is the much better striker and is so good at landing shots and not getting hit. I expect him to keep the fight standing and piece up Muhammad on the feet to win a decision. I doubt Thompson will be able to get the finish, as Muhammad is as durable as they come, so Thompson by decision is a solid bet.

The Play: Stephen Thompson by decision (-105)

Justin Tafa (4-3) vs. Harry Hunsucker (7-4) & 
Amanda Lemos (10-1-1) vs. Angela Hill (13-10)
Weight Class: Heavyweight and Strawweight

For my parlay, I like Justin Tafa and Amanda Lemos to pick up wins on Saturday night.

Tafa is getting a very favorable matchup against Harry Hunsucker, who is not UFC-level but got a deal last year as a last-minute replacement and proceeded to get knocked out by Tai Tuivasa. On the feet, Tafa is the better striker and has legit one-punch KO power and will land a bit shot on Hunsucker to knock him out early.

On the other leg, I like Lemos to beat Angela Hill. Hill is always in close fights, but against Lemos, I expect this to be a one-sided fight. Lemos has KO power at strawweight and is vicious with her striking and hunts for the finishes. Hill is also there to get hit, and even if Lemos can't put her away, I expect the Brazilian to be able to at least win the first two and earn a decision.

The Play: Tafa and Lemos parlay (-153)

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