This article is part of our MMA Best Bets series.
The UFC returns to a sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada for the second time this year for UFC 266 on Saturday, September 25. In the main event, Alexander Volkanovski looks to defend his featherweight strap for the second time against Brian Ortega.
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.
Nick Maximov (6-0) vs. Karl Roberson (9-4)
Weight Class: Middleweight
Maximov competed on the Contender Series last year up two weight classes at heavyweight and pulled out a decision win. Since then, he has been doing grappling tournaments and will now get to make his debut back at his natural weight class of middleweight.
Although Roberson has been in the UFC since 2017 and has gone 4-4, his Achilles heel is his grappling and submission defense, and Maximov is a wizard on the ground. In all four of his losses, he has been submitted. I like Maximov to get this fight to the ground, get ahold of his back and sink in a choke and get the win.
The Play: Nick Maximov (-110)
Jalin Turner (10-5) vs. Uros Medic (7-0)
Weight Class: Lightweight
Turner has only been finished once in the UFC, and that was in his debut which he took on short notice up a weight class against Vicente Luque. Since then, he has shown improvement both on the feet and with his grappling. Medic, meanwhile, has only gone 51 seconds into the second round, so how he will do late into the fight is still a concern I have.
There is a possibility Medic can KO Turner in the first. However, I expect Turner to be able to use his 4.5-inch reach edge to his advantage and keep Medic at bay. He'll then mix in some wrestling and tire Medic out to win the final two rounds and get a decision.
The Play: Jalin Turner (+105)
Curtis Blaydes (14-3) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-2)
Weight Class: Heavyweight
I expect Blaydes to come out and shoot for takedowns early and start to wear on Rozenstruik, as he won't want to stand with the kickboxer considering he just got brutally KO'd in February. Blaydes does shoot for 6.64 takedowns per 15 minutes, and while Rozenstruik has an 80 percent takedown defense, I do think Blaydes will get to Rozenstruik.
Once Blaydes gets Rozensturik to the ground, "Razor" has vicious ground-and-pound and will land heavy shots that will either TKO Rozenstruik, or he'll sink in a choke to get a submission win.
The Play: Blaydes wins by KO/TKO/Submission/DQ (+105)
Manon Fiorot (7-1) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1-1) &
Merab Dvalishvili (13-4) vs. Marlon Moraes (23-8-1)
Weight Class: Women's Flyweight and Bantamweight
On the first leg, Fiorot has looked amazing in the UFC with two TKO finishes. In her career, she lands eight significant strikes per minute and only absorbs 1.98. Silva, meanwhile, is there to get hit – she lands 4.06 but absorbs 4.89 per minute. Silva is known for her striking and won't take Fiorot down. On the feet, Fiorot is the much better striker and will either get a TKO win or a clear-cut decision.
To round out the parlay, I like Dvalishvili to continue his winning ways. Moraes hasn't looked like himself in his past two fights, and he has cardio concerns, which is a major worry against Merab. Dvalishvili attempts 7.38 takedowns per 15 minutes and also throws 4.02 significant strikes per minute. He'll be able to take Moraes down over and over again and tire him out and either get a decision or possibly a late TKO when the Brazilian gasses out.
The Play: Fiorot and Dvalishvili parlay (-116)