This article is part of our MMA Best Bets series.
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.
Kennedy Nzechukwu (8-1) vs. Danilo Marques (11-2)
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Since losing his UFC debut, Nzechukwu has looked very good, taking a decision win over Darko Stosic and TKO'ing Carlos Ulberg as a big underdog his last time out. Although Marques is 2-0 in the UFC, I'm still not impressed by him, as he fought two low-level light heavyweights and only won because his opponents had weak takedown defense.
Marques only has 34 percent takedown accuracy while Nzechukwu has a solid 78 percent takedown defense. On the feet, Nzechukwu lands 5.38 significant strikes per minute while Marques only lands 1.81.
I expect Nzechukwu to be able to stuff the takedowns and just land the harder shots against Marques and potentially get the finish. He has KO power and Marques' striking defense leaves a lot to be desired. He also doesn't throw enough volume to win the fight on the feet if he can't get Nzechukwu down.
The Play: Kennedy Nzechukwu (-130)
Ike Villanueva (18-11) vs. Marcin Prachnio (14-5)
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
I don't understand the odds at all for this fight.
Neither Villanueva nor Prachnio have shown the best in the UFC, as the two are a combined 2-5 with the company. Prachnio won a close decision to Khalil Rountree last time out, but prior to that was knocked out by Mike Rodriguez, Magomed Ankalaev and Sam Alvey (all in the first round), so I have concerns about his chin.
Villanueva, meanwhile, has legit one-punch KO power, as evident by his last fight against Vinicius Alves Moreira. This fight is very similar to that one, as he just needs to land one big punch. Prachnio gets hit a lot, and I think Villanueva lands something big to get a KO win.
The Play: Ike Villanueva (+165)
Charles Rosa (13-5) vs. Justin Jaynes (16-7)
Weight Class: Featherweight
Rosa has had mixed results in the UFC and is coming off a disappointing loss to Darrick Minner last time out. Jaynes, meanwhile, made good of a short-notice UFC debut, as he knocked out Frank Camacho in 41 seconds. After that, he suffered stoppage losses to Gavin Tucker, Gabriel Benitez, and Devonte Smith.
In this fight, if Rosa survives the first round, it's his fight to lose, as Jaynes often gasses out after the first round. Rosa also has a good chin, so I think he will be able to mix in his wrestling and striking to survive the first. Once that happens, I expect Rosa to take the fight to the ground and win by submission.
The Play: Charles Rosa by KO/TKO/DQ/Submission (+190)
Andre Fili (21-8) vs. Daniel Pineda (27-14) &
Shavkat Rakhmonov (13-0) vs. Michel Prazeres (26-3)
Weight Class: Featherweight & Welterweight
Fili is an all-action fighter who is a great striker and has solid takedown defense. Pineda, meanwhile, is a kill-or-be-killed fighter, as he has only ever won by stoppage. When he loses, more times than not it's by stoppage.
I expect Fili to be able to keep this fight standing – similar to what Cub Swanson did – and hurt Pineda on the feet, eventually getting the TKO win.
In the other leg of the parlay, I like Shavkat Rakhmonov to remain undefeated and beat Michel Prazeres. Rakhmonov has a massive 10-inch reach advantage, which will allow him to not let the Brazilian get inside and try and take him down.
If Prazeres can't get Rakhmonov down, I expect the undefeated fighter to piece him up on the feet and win a decision.
The Play: Fili and Rakhmonov parlay (-103)