This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
The UFC remains at the Apex in Las Vegas for UFC Vegas 53 on Saturday, April 30. In the main event, fifth-ranked bantamweight Rob Font takes on surging contender Marlon Vera.
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 5:00 PM ET Wednesday.
Rob Font (19-5) vs. Marlon Vera (20-7-1)
Weight Class: Bantamweight
The main event is such a good fight, and I'm going with the favorite, Rob Font, to get the win over Marlon Vera.
Vera had a chance to be a top-5 bantamweight before and lost to Jose Aldo by decision back in December 2020. Since then, he won a close fight over Davey Grant and knocked out Frankie Edgar in a fight he trailed while Edgar was outwrestling him.
Although Font is known as a boxer, he does mix in his wrestling abilities and shoot for 1.1 takedowns per 15 minutes. On his feet, he lands 5.64 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 3.55. On the opposite side, Vera lands 4.08 heavy shots and absorbs 4.27. Vera likes to take one to give one, while Font can land his jab and use his footwork to avoid the big blows.
This is also the first time Vera will headline a card, so he has never faced five rounds before. Given the striking numbers and his wrestling capabilities, I'm taking Font to get the win.
The Play: Rob Font (-135)
Yohan Lainesse (8-0) vs. Gabriel Green (10-3)
Weight Class: Welterweight
For my underdog play, I'm picking Yohan Lainesse to get the win.
Lainesse is making his UFC debut against Gabriel Green, who is 1-1 but is coming off a concerning injury-related layoff. The Canadian is coming off a knockout win as an underdog on the Contender Series.
In this fight, Green is as durable as they come, so I don't think Lainesse will be able to get the stoppage. However, Lainesse is the much better striker and can also wrestle, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get some takedowns and win the fight this way. The Canadian opened as the favorite and the public went against it, which I don't understand. As such, I will take Lainesse to get the win.
The Play: Yohan Lainesse (+115)
Krzysztof Jotko (23-5) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (34-14)
Weight Class: Middleweight
For my prop, I'm taking Krzysztof Jotko to beat Gerald Meerschaert by decision.
Jotko is very underrated, as he has only fallen to ranked fighters Sean Strickland, Uriah Hall, Brad Tavares, and David Branch in the UFC since 2015. I don't consider Gerald Meerschaert on that level. Although Meerschaert has pulled off some upsets, those were primarily against strikers who didn't have the ground game Jotko possesses.
The Pole is very well-rounded, and I expect him to use his 83 percent takedown defense to keep the fight standing and piece up Meerschaert on the feet. He will do enough standing to win the necessary rounds and sure the decision. Jotko has not gotten a finish since 2016, so I'll take Jokto by decision at plus money.
The Play: Krzysztof Jotko by decision (+180)
Andre Fili (21-8) vs. Joanderson Brito (12-3-1) & Natan Levy (6-1) vs. Mike Breeden (10-4)
Weight Class: Featherweight & Lightweight
For my parlay, I expect both Andre Fili and Natan Levy to have their hand raised Saturday night.
Fili gets a very favorable matchup against Joanderson Brito, who is a striker and slows down as the fight wears on. Fili, meanwhile, has great cardio and lands 3.8 significant strikes per minute. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him wrestle, as he does average 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. Fili is just a better fighter than Brito and it will show in the octagon.
For my other leg, I'm backing Natan Levy to get the win over Mike Breeden. The latter suffered a first-round TKO loss to Alexander Hernandez in his debut. He got into the promotion by taking the fight on short notice and I don't think he is UFC-caliber.
Levy is an ace on the mat, and he should be able to control Breeden on the surface. I expect him to secure either a ground-and-pound TKO or submission win. This is a great style matchup, as Breeden won't be able to stuff Levy's takedowns.
The Play: Fili & Levy parlay (+109)