This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
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: 140lbs Catchweight
John Castaneda has been impressive in the UFC and is coming off back-to-back stoppage wins over Miles Johns and Eddie Wineland. He will now face Daniel Santos, who is 0-1 in the UFC, in what appears to be a strange booking on the surface. After talking to Castaneda, however, he thinks this is a good fight for him to get another stoppage win and build up his profile.
Both Santos and Castaneda like to be aggressive and be the one pushing the pace, yet as we saw in Santos' debut, he slowed down and is there to be hit. In his debut, he absorbed 8.47 significant strikes per minute, which is not a good sign given that Castaneda lands 4.38 significant strikes per minute.
Along with that, it's likely neither will grapple, as Santos has good takedown defense while Castaneda doesn't shoot often. It will be a standup fight, and Castaneda's volume and striking defense will be the difference here.
UFC Vegas 61 Best Bet: John Castaneda (-190)
Weight Class: Lightweight
Although both Ronson and Silva have been inconsistent at times, Silva is coming off back-to-back knockout losses, which is a concern. In his last fight, he was knocked out by Ricky Glenn in 37 seconds -- representing Glenn's only UFC KO win. He was also knocked out by Nasrat Haqparast -- the only UFC KO win for Haqparast as well.
Ronson does have power and should be able to keep this fight standing. On the feet, he lands 3.37 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 3.09. Silva, meanwhile, lands 3.90 but absorbs 4.55, which is a major concern given the way his chin has looked.
To me, this is a pure pick'em fight, so to get plus-money on Ronson's power is a solid bet considering how hard it has been to trust Silva's chin.
UFC Vegas 61 Best Bet: Jesse Ronson (+125)
Weight Class: Welterweight
Brown is coming off three straight wins, with the last two coming by decision, and Trinaldo is as durable as they come. The Brazilian has not been finished since 2017, and in his last 10 fights, eight have gone the distance. Mix his durability with the fact that he doesn't have much finishing ability, and you get a recipe for a decision.
This will likely be a kickboxing fight in which Brown is the more active striker, as he lands 4.42 significant strikes per minute while Trinaldo lands just 3.15. Brown also has an eight-inch reach advantage, which he can use to jab his way to a win.
UFC Vegas 61 Best Bet: Randy Brown by decision (+120)
Weight Class: Strawweight & Bantamweight
Costa is coming off back-to-back losses, and he recently told me he switched camps to be more focused on him, in addition to taking some time off to improve his skills. He now gets a very winnable fight in Guido Cannetti, who is 42 years old. Although Cannetti won his last fight, his chin is still a concern. Costa has a ton of power and will be too fast for Cannetti, and I expect him to catch him early and get a first-round KO win to start the parlay off with a win.
The other leg is the main event, as I expect Dern to get the fight to the mat and have a ton of success against Xiaonan. The last time Xiaonan fought a grappler was Carla Esparza, who got her down three times and eventually got the finish, as Xiaonan didn't know what to do on the mat.
Although Dern struggles with takedowns, it wouldn't be a surprise to see her pull guard. Even in her loss to Marina Rodriguez, when Dern got it down to the mat, she nearly finished her. I think Dern only needs to get this fight to the ground once to win, which I like her to anchor the parlay.
UFC Vegas 61 Best Bets:
Here is a recap of my best UFC picks for this weekend's UFC Vegas 61 event:
- John Castaneda (-190)
- Jesse Ronson (+125)
- Randy Brown by decision (+120)
- Mackenzie Dern & Randy Costa parlay (-105)
For up-to-date information on the latest odds and props from multiple sportsbooks, check out the UFC odds page on RotoWire.