This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
The UFC heads to London on Saturday, March 18 for UFC 286. In the main event, Leon Edwards looks to defend his welterweight title for the first time in the trilogy match against Kamaru Usman.
Below, I'll share my favorite play, an underdog, a prop and a two-fighter parlay. All odds are via the DraftKings Sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.
Weight Class: Featherweight
Lerone Murphy (11-0-1) vs. Gabriel Santos (10-0)
Lerone Murphy was supposed to face Nathaniel Wood on this card, but Wood was forced out of the fight, and LFA champ Gabriel Santos stepped up on short notice. This is not a good matchup for him, however.
Murphy is coming off a KO win over Makwan Amirkhani back at UFC 267 in October of 2021, and since then, he has had two canceled fights. Santos, meanwhile, fought back in January and has looked impressive in LFA, but Murphy will be the toughest test of his career.
The Brit is a fantastic striker with legit one-punch KO power, while also having the cardio to push a hard pace for three rounds if needed. He is also very hard to hit. With Santos taking this fight on short notice, I do worry about his cardio. I expect Murphy to get a second or third-round TKO once Santos gasses.
I was surprised to see Murphy below -200, as I had him at -215, so it makes him a play for me.
UFC 286 Best Bet: Lerone Murphy (-175)
Weight Class: Lightweight
Chris Duncan (9-1) vs. Omar Morales (11-3)
Chris Duncan is making his UFC debut after his incredible KO win on the Contender Series, as he was rocked, but then -- seemingly out of nowhere -- knocked his opponent out. His chin is a bit of a concern, but I do like this matchup for him against Omar Morales.
Morales is on a two-fight losing skid, and his cardio is a bit of an issue. Even moving up to lightweight last time out, he struggled against Klein. Morales is there to be hit while Duncan throws a ton of volume while can also wrestle if needed.
This fight is basically a pick'em, with a slight lean towards Duncan, but getting -105 on the more powerful striker in a barn burner. I like my odds.
UFC 286 Best Bet: Chris Duncan (-105)
Weight Class: Welterweight
Gunnar Nelson (18-5-1) vs. Bryan Barberena (18-9)
Gunnar Nelson was supposed to face Daniel Rodriguez, but after D-Rod pulled out, Bryan Barberena stepped up on short notice. This isn't a good style matchup for him.
Throughout Barberena's career, the way to beat him has been exploiting his grappling defense. In his most recent fight, he was dominated by Rafael dos Anjos and ultimately submitted. That is Nelson's bread and butter.
Barberena has just a 54 percent takedown defense, and Nelson has proven to have a pretty good chin, so I don't think Barberena will be able to KO him. With that, I like Nelson to wrestle Barberena early and often, and to get a submission win.
UFC 286 Best Bet: Gunnar Nelson by submission (+100)
Weight Classes: Featherweight & Middleweight
Jack Shore (16-1) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (17-8)
Marvin Vettori (18-5-1) vs. Roman Dolidze (12-1)
For my parlay, I'm taking Jack Shore to beat Makwan Amirkhani and Marvin Vettori to derail the hype of Roman Dolidze.
Shore is moving up to 145lbs, which is a good move for him, as he was always a bigger bantamweight. He now gets a great matchup in Amirkhani. The way Amirkhani has won fights is through his wrestling and grappling, but I actually think Shore is the better grappler. The Welsh fighter has proven to have good cardio, while Amirkhani has about five minutes of cardio. I expect Shore to piece up Amirkhani on the feet and cruise to a win. He can also mix in his wrestling if need be.
The other leg is also the very next fight, which opens the pay-per-view. I like Vettori to get back into the win column. The Italian only gets beat by the very best at 185lbs, and I'm not sold Dolidze is that. The only way Dolidze wins this fight is if he can finish Vettori, but the Italian may be the most durable fighter in the UFC.
I expect Vettori to be the more active striker on the feet and just piece up Dolidze, while also stuffing his takedowns, to win a decision.
UFC 286 Best Bets: Jack Shore & Marvin Vettori parlat (-159)
UFC 286 Best Bets
Here is a recap of my best UFC picks for this weekend's UFC 286 event:
- Lerone Murphy (-175)
- Chris Duncan (-105)
- Gunnar Nelson by submission (+100)
- Jack Shore & Marvin Vettori parlay (-159)
For up-to-date information on the latest odds and props from multiple sportsbooks, check out the UFC odds page on RotoWire.
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