This article is part of our MMA Best Bets series.
The UFC is back at the UFC Apex on Saturday, September 4 for UFC Vegas 36 ,which sees a phenomenal middleweight main event between Derek Brunson and Darren Till. The event was supposed to happen in London, but due to COVID, the card was moved to Las Vegas (which is why there are so many Europeans on the card).
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.
Alex Morono (19-7) vs. David Zawada (17-6)
Weight Class: Welterweight
I actually spoke to Morono before this fight, and he said he has actually been training for a fight, as he saw a bunch of welterweight matchups coming up. He also was the main training partner of Ramiz Brahimaj, so he spent weeks with him training and getting in shape.
Against Zawada, I expect Morono to keep the fight standing. On the feet, he's a much better striker than the German. In his UFC career, he lands 5.05 significant strikes per minute and only absorbs 3.69, while Zawada lands 3.24 and absorbs 4.07. Zawada also only has a 30 percent takedown defense, while Morono has a 52 percent takedown defense.
Morono should be able to just out-volume Zawada and win a decision. At only -150, I think there is value, as I capped him around the -200 mark.
The Play: Alex Morono (-150)
Molly McCann (10-4) vs. Ji Yeon Kim (9-3-2)
Weight Class: Women's Flyweight
There aren't too many underdogs on the card I like, but McCann as a slight dog is one.
Although McCann is on a two-fight losing streak, she has been losing by getting taken down and controlled on the ground. Kim, meanwhile, is not that fighter, as she has yet to shoot for a takedown in her UFC career, which stretches six fights. Rather, she likes to stand and bang, which plays into McCann.
On the feet, McCann lands 5.15 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 4.28. Kim, meanwhile, lands 4.5 while absorbing 4.94. I like McCann to just out-volume Kim, and she can be the one to mix in the grappling – as she will be the better wrestler here – to secure a decision win.
The Play: Molly McCann (+105)
Darren Till (18-3-1) vs. Derek Brunson (22-7)
Weight Class: Middleweight
In the main event of UFC Vegas 36, I like Darren Till to not only win the fight but win by KO/TKO.
Till has a solid 84 percent takedown defense, and I don't expect Brunson to be able to get him down with ease. Even if he does, Till is hard to hold down. On the feet, there is a massive gap in striking, as Till is a more than respectable striker. One complaint is that he doesn't throw enough, but that also means he also doesn't get hit a lot.
With Till keeping the fight standing, he should be able to connect with that big left hand and KO Brunson. In Brunson's last six losses, he has been knocked out in five of them, and Till has KO power to make it six for seven.
The Play: Darren Till by KO/TKO/DQ (+138)
Jack Shore (14-0) vs. Liudvik Sholinian (9-1-1) &
Marc-Andre Barriault (12-4) vs. Dalcha Lungiambula (11-2)
Weight Class: Bantamweight & Middleweight
Shore is facing short-notice replacement Liudvik Sholinian, who competed on TUF 29. It's a very winnable matchup for Shore. The Welsh native is coming off a split decision win over Hunter Azure, but prior to that, he submitted Aaron Phillips and Nohelin Hernandez. He hasn't fought the highest level of competition, but Shore should be able to get Sholinian down and control him on the ground to win a decision or find the submission.
On the other leg, I like Marc-Andre Barriault to defeat Dalcha Lungiambula. Barriault is coming off a big TKO win over Abu Azaitar, where he showed off his improved cardio and KO power. He's also working at Sanford MMA under Henri Hooft and Greg Jones, which is a benefit. However, the main reason why I like Barriault is due to Lungiambula's lack of volume. He only lands 1.85 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 2.27. Barriault, meanwhile, lands 5.36 and absorbs 4.79.
Barriault should be able to out-strike Lungiambula, who does fade as the fight goes on. He'll either win a clear-cut decision using his volume and wrestling or get a late TKO, as he did to Azaitar.
The Play: Shore & Barriault parlay (-119)