This article is part of our MMA Best Bets series.
The first pay-per-view of 2022 goes down on Saturday, January 22 in Anaheim, California as two titles are on the line. Francis Ngannou looks to defend his heavyweight strap against the interim champ, Ciryl Gane in the main event. The co-main event sees the flyweight trilogy come to a conclusion, as Brandon Moreno looks to defend his belt against Deiveson Figueiredo.
In this series of articles, I'll share my favorite play, an underdog pick, a prop and a three-fighter parlay I like. All lines are taken from DraftKings online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.
Trevin Giles (14-3) vs. Michael Morales (12-0)
Weight Class: Welterweight
Normally my favorite play isn't an underdog, but for this card, it's full of heavy chalk and a few underdogs I do like, and Trevin Giles is one of them.
Giles is dropping to welterweight for the first time and in the lead-up to the fight, I had the chance to speak to him, where he said his coaches have wanted him to go to 170 for years now. He barely cut any weight to make 185lbs in the past, so he expects to be faster and stronger at welterweight.
Although he gets a tough fight against the undefeated Michael Morales, given they are very similar, I actually think Giles is better nearly everywhere except for power. There is a chance Morales can catch Giles early, but if he doesn't, I like the American to be able to mix in his striking and wrestling and grind out a decision win.
Giles is hard to hit, as in his UFC tenure, he only absorbs 2.01 strikes per minute and lands 3.14. Morales, on the Contender Series, meanwhile, lands 3.53 but absorbs 3.47. He's there to be hit and can get clinched against the cage, so give me the dog in Giles.
The Play: Trevin Giles (+105)
Deiveson Figueiredo (20-2-1) vs. Brandon Moreno (19-5-2)
Weight Class: Flyweight
The first two times Deiveson Figueiredo fought Brandon Moreno, I picked the Brazilian, and had there not have been a point deduction, he would've won the first fight. In those fights, however, Figueiredo was a -335 favorite and a -235 favorite, so to get him at plus-money makes it a bet for me.
The Brazilian did his training camp in the United States at Fight Ready in Arizona with Henry Cejudo, which will be a big help for him. His weight cut will not be a factor while working with Cejudo, and I do think Figueiredo will be able to stuff the takedowns of Moreno.
On the feet, Figueiredo is the more powerful striker and throws a good amount of volume. He could finish Moreno, or he could just land the more powerful shots to win the rounds and win a decision in a very close fight.
To me, this is a pick'em fight, so to get +155 on Figueiredo makes it a play.
The Play: Deiveson Figueiredo (+155)
Rodolfo Vieira (8-1) vs. Wellington Turman (17-5)
Weight Class: Middleweight
Rodolfo Vieira gets another great matchup for him to go out there and get a stoppage win.
Turman is coming off a split-decision win over Sam Alvey but prior to that, he was knocked out by Bruno Silva and Andrew Sanchez, who is not known as a KO artist. Although Turman is considered to be a good grappler, he is not on the level of Vieira, who might be the best grappler in the UFC.
Vieira will be stronger than Turman and should be able to get the fellow Brazilian down and either land ground-and-pound to knock him out similar to what Silva did. Or, he shows off his jiu-jitsu and gets a sub. Regardless, taking the Vieira by KO/TKO/DQ/Sub at a pick'em price is solid value.
The Play: Rodolfo Vieira by KO/TKO/DQ/Sub (-110)
Raoni Barcelos (16-2) vs. Victor Henry (21-5),
Ilia Toupria (11-0) vs. Charles Jourdain (12-4-1) &
Jack Della Maddalena (10-2) vs. Pete Rodriguez (4-2)
Weight Classes: Bantamweight, Featherweight & Welterweight
I usually go only two-fighter parlays, but UFC 270 is full of heavy chalk, so I'm making it a three-fighter to get good value.
My first leg is Jack Della Maddalena to defeat short-notice replacement Pete Rodriguez. Rodriguez is just 4-0 and hasn't gone past 2:21 of the first round in his career, while Maddalena is a legit striker. Maddalena should be able to piece up Rodriguez, and then in the second round, as Rodriguez begins to fade, he will get the TKO win.
In the second leg, I like Raoni Barcelos to defeat Victor Henry. Barcelos is a much better fighter than Henry, as he is super well-rounded and will be able to piece up Henry on the feet and mix in the wrestling. Henry does have some finishing ability, but Barcelos is as durable as they come. Over 15 minutes, I expect Barcelos to out-volume Henry to win a decision.
To close out the parlay, I like Ilia Topuria to defeat short-notice opponent Charles Jourdain. Topuria has all the tools to be a top-five fighter at featherweight, and in this fight, I expect him to strike with the Canadian early and then mix in the wrestling to possibly even get the sub. If he can't get the sub, the control and ground-and-pound will be enough to win a decision.
The Play: Toupria, Barcelos, and Maddalena parlay (-118)