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.
Joe Solecki (11-2) vs. Jared Gordon (17-4)
Weight Class: Lightweight
Solecki has been dominant in the UFC with his grappling, as he lands 2.39 takedowns per 15 minutes and averages 0.8 submission attempts per 15 minutes. When he does get his opponent on the ground, he controls them and lands good shots, as he connects with 2.68 significant strikes per minute and only absorbs 0.85. Gordon, meanwhile, only has a 55 percent takedown defense, which should mean Solecki will be able to get him to the ground.
Solecki will be able to use his wrestling and grappling to control the fight and win a decision. I also capped him around a -175 favorite, so to get him at -135 is very good value.
The Play: Joe Solecki (-135)
Kyle Daukaus (10-2) vs. Kevin Holland (21-7)
Weight Class: Middleweight
Kevin Holland had a phenomenal 2020 as he went 5-0, but in 2021 he got exposed, as Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori outwrestled him for 25 minutes each to win dominant decisions. I actually picked against Holland in both those fights, as ever since he fought Brendan Allen, I thought his wrestling was his weakness. Kyle Daukaus has all the skills to further prove that.
Daukaus averages 1.75 takedowns per 15 minutes, which will likely be less than what he does in this fight, while Holland has a takedown defense of 47 percent. I don't think Holland has improved it at all since April, as he went to American Kickboxing Academy for just a week before leaving and working with Johny Hendricks.
I expect Daukaus to take Holland down and control him on the ground to win a clear-cut decision. Even on the feet, Daukaus has a good chin, and I don't think Holland will be able to KO him.
The Play: Kyle Daukaus (+125)
Casey O'Neill (7-0) vs. Antonina Shevchenko (9-3)
Weight Class: Women's Flyweight
O'Neill has looked great in the UFC and is very well-rounded, while Shevchenko has shown she has a major weakness on the ground. She has a takedown defense of 57 percent, while O'Neill lands 3.47 takedowns per 15 minutes. Even on the feet, O'Neill is a good striker, but I doubt she will want to stand with Shevchenko.
Instead, I expect O'Neill to take this fight to the mat early. In the first round, she'll either ground-and-pound TKO Shevchenko or get a submission win.
The Play: Casey O'Neill by KO/TKO/DQ/Submission (+125)
Aspen Ladd (9-1) vs. Macy Chiasson (7-1) &
Karol Rosa (14-3) vs. Bethe Correia (11-5-1)
Weight Class: Women's Bantamweight
For my parlay, I like Aspen Ladd and Karola Rosa to get their hands raised.
Rosa is fighting Bethe Correia, who has said this is her retirement fight. When fighters have one foot out the door, they usually don't perform well. This is also a tough fight for the Brazilian, as Rosa lands 7.73 significant strikes per minute and two takedowns per 15 minutes. She should be able to mix in her striking and wrestling to win a clear-cut decision.
For my second leg, I expect the returning Ladd to defeat Macy Chiasson. Ladd is a great wrestler and even on the feet, she throws on a ton of volume and has KO power. Against Chiasson, Ladd should be to control this fight on the ground and win a decision.
The Play: Ladd & Rosa parlay (-147)