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.
Sodiq Yusuff (11-1) vs. Arnold Allen (16-1)
Weight Class: Featherweight
It should be noted that both Yusuff and Allen haven't fought since January of 2020. Yusuff became an American citizen in 2020 and couldn't get a passport and visa in time which canceled his Fight Island fight against Edson Barboza. Allen, meanwhile, was booked against Jeremy Stephens in November but Stephens pulled out, so despite neither of them fighting for over a year, they both have been training and in fight camp.
Why I like Yusuff in this fight is due to his volume, and he also holds a one-inch reach advantage. In his UFC career, the Nigerian lands an impressive 6.1 significant strikes a minute, while Allen only lands 3.19. Yusuff has also proven he has legit one-punch KO power.
In this matchup, I expect it to be a striking fight with Yusuff using his leg kicks and jab to just outwork Allen. If it goes the distance, I do favor Yusuff to win the rounds with his volume, but I actually think Yusuff gets a TKO win in the second or third.
The Play: Sodiq Yusuff (-137)
Erin Blanchfield (6-1) vs. Norma Dumont (5-1)
Weight Class: Women's Bantamweight
I think the odds are way off on this one, so I have to take a shot on Erin Blanchfield.
The 21-year-old Blanchfield is taking the fight on short notice and moving up a weight class to fight Dumont, but the size shouldn't be a factor. Although Blanchfield is three inches shorter, she actually has a one-inch reach advantage.
In the fight, I expect Blanchfield to be the more aggressive fighter and use her wrestling to control the fight. Although Dumont is a good grappler, I favor Blanchfield's wrestling and striking to be able to dictate where the fight takes place and effectively win a decision.
I lined this fight as a pick'em, so I have to play Blanchfield at +190.
The Play: Erin Blanchfield (+190)
Jack Shore (13-0) vs. Hunter Azure (9-1)
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Jack Shore should remain undefeated after Saturday and could do so by submission once again.
Shore is currently 2-0 with two rear-naked chokes, and in Cage Warriors, where he was the bantamweight champ, he finished all his fights but one. He also has nine career submissions, while Azure throughout his UFC career has gassed out.
Although Azure beat both Cole Smith and Brad Katona, in the third round, he tired out and gave up his back to both of them. Against Shore, who has trained for five rounds and has quite a few third-round submissions, I think he will get ahold of Azure's back eventually and get his patented rear-naked choke. At +300, it is also worth a stab as more times than not, Shore wins his fights by sub, and Azure's grappling defense leaves a lot to be desired.
The Play: Jack Shore by submission (+300)
Ignacio Bahamondes (11-3) vs. John Makdessi (17-7) &
Mateusz Gamrot (17-1) vs. Scott Holtzman (14-4)
Weight Class: Lightweight
Bahamondes is a terrific striker. Against Makdessi, he gets a great stylistic matchup. Makdessi is someone that likes to stand and trade, but with Bahamondes having a sizeable 7.5-inch reach advantage, I expect the UFC debutant to just use his jab and kicks to piece Makdessi up. The Canadian is fairly durable, so I'm not certain a finish will happen, but I like Bahamondes to win a clear-cut decision.
On the other leg of the parlay, I like Mateusz Gamrot to get his first UFC win against Scott Holtzman. Gamrot arguably won his debut and has a wealth of experience being the former KSW lightweight champion.
Against Holtzman, I expect the fight to remain standing, as Gamrot showed off his solid takedown defense in his debut, stuffing Guram Kutateladze's only attempt. Holtzman is also there to be hit, as he absorbs 3.47 significant strikes per minute compared to just 2.47 for Gamrot.
Similar to Bahamondes, if Gamrot doesn't get the finish, he should be able to win a decision with ease.
The Play: Bahamondes & Gamrot parlay (+110)