This article is part of our MMA Best Bets series.
The UFC has a very intriguing heavyweight bout headline UFC Vegas 20 on Saturday, February 27 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
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.
Alexander Hernandez (12-3) vs. Thiago Moises (14-4)
Weight class: Lightweight
I love this matchup for Alexander Hernandez.
In Moises' last fight, he was picked apart by Michael Johnson in the first round. Although he ended up heel-hooking him just seconds into the second round, that move won't work on Hernandez. The Texan grew up grappling, and I actually think their grappling is a wash, which, in turn, will make this a standup fight.
On the feet, there is no question Alexander Hernandez is the better striker, and I fully expect him to pick apart the Brazilian as Johnson did. I think -200 is a very fair price to play, and he is also -188 on FanDuel. To me, Hernandez should be at least -270, as I think he wins this fight 75 percent of the time.
The Play: Alexander Hernandez (-200)
Alex Caceres (17-12) vs. Kevin Croom (21-12)
Weight class: Featherweight
The problem with Caceres in his career has been grapplers who can also strike. He had success against Hooper because the prospect couldn't strike with him, nor were his takedowns good enough to get the fight to the mat. Kevin Croom, meanwhile, is a different story. In his UFC debut, he submitted Roosevelt Roberts, and in his career has proven to be a solid grappler who also cracks hard.
There is a chance Caceres just keeps this fight on the outside and jabs his way to a win. However, I trust James Krause to come up with the right game plan for Croom to land the big shots and eventually submit Caceres. This is closer to a pick'em fight, so to get +175 on Croom is why I'm taking this shot.
The Play: Kevin Croom (+175)
Sabina Mazo (9-1) vs. Alexis Davis (19-10)
Weight class: Women's Bantamweight
There is no question who the UFC wants to win this fight. Mazo is one of the top women's prospects, while Davis is on a three-fight losing streak, and at 36 years old, is on the last leg of her career.
In the fight, I expect Mazo to be able to keep this standing and just pick apart Davis for three rounds. I don't think the 23-year-old will be able to get a stoppage, as six of her 10 fights have gone the distance. For Davis, she has not been finished since Sara McMann submitted her in 2016.
To me, Mazo is the better fighter, and in the standup fight I expect this to be, she will use her reach to land the better shots and win a decision.
The Play: Sabina Mazo wins by decison (+100)
Dustin Jacoby (13-5) vs. Maxim Grishin (31-8-2) &
Magomed Ankalaev (14-1) vs. Nikita Krylov (27-7)
Weight class: Light Heavyweight
In the first fight of the night, Jacoby – who used to be a professional kickboxer – is on his second stint in the UFC but is a completely different fighter. First off, under Marc Montoya, he is fighting much smarter and has proven he can go five hard rounds. His takedown defense has also gotten better, which is why I like him in this fight. Grishin is a slower fighter and doesn't have the power to KO Jacoby. I expect Jacoby to pick Grishin apart for however long the fight lasts.
If Jacoby wins, it also sets up an option for you to hedge with Nikita Krylov, who is a +260 underdog. However, Ankalaev is the better fighter everywhere, but I do expect the fight to remain standing and for the Russian to land the power shots. Although Krylov hasn't been knocked out since 2013, Ankalaev has a different type of power. If he can't get the finish, I do think he'll do enough to win the first two rounds and get the decision.
The Play: Jacoby & Ankalaev parlay (-103)