UFC Vegas 84 Props: 5 MMA Prop Squad Picks for Jim Miller vs Gabriel Benitez & More (Saturday, January 13)

UFC Vegas 84 Props: 5 MMA Prop Squad Picks for Jim Miller vs Gabriel Benitez & More (Saturday, January 13) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: UFC lightweight Jim Miller

Welcome to the latest edition of MMA Prop Squad, in which we offer an array of UFC Vegas 84 prop bets with oversized odds for Saturday's ESPN+ event.

Each Prop Squad installment features a handful of picks from our squad of prop-betting enthusiasts, who have tallied +8.1 units and a +2.7% ROI per bet to date. That includes +16.5 units in 2022 and -8.4 units in 2023.

This week, we're hoping to kick off 2024 by finding value and picking some winners with the return of squad members Clint MacLean, Tony Sartori, Dan Tom, Billy Ward and Bryan Fonseca.

Below, check out their picks for Saturday's event, which streams entirely on ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET) from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas.

As with all betting endeavors, always wager within your means. That guidance is especially important when dealing with prop bets. Although the props often offer tantalizing odds, they also cash far less frequently than standard bet types. And be sure to shop around for the best price since prop odds can vary substantially depending on the sportsbook.

*Moneyline odds as Saturday and via FanDuel. Maximize your UFC betting action with our FanDuel promo code

Clint MacLean: Joshua Van in Round 3 (+900)

Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Die Hard MMA Podcast

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 4:05 p.m. ET

Joshua Van is the UFC's newest stud. This kid came out of nowhere, and he has just two years of MMA experience. However, the kid is a junkyard dog.

Even early on, we can tell we're not even close to seeing the ceiling for Van.

Now, in the UFC Vegas 84 opening bout on Saturday night, UFC officials are giving Van (-245) an appropriate test this week in a dangerous grappler: fellow flyweight Felipe Bunes (+200).

We haven't seen Bunes fight at the UFC level, but even on the regional scene, we have seen him slow down. Van, meanwhile, simply never stops.

I believe Van will avoid the submissions, and as this fight gets deeper, he'll pour on the aggression for a late finish. Let's trust in that cardio and pressure!

The Pick: Joshua Van in Round 3 (+900 at FanDuel)

Tony Sartori: Gaston Bolanos by KO (+460)

Contributor at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 5:55 p.m. ET

On Saturday's UFC Vegas 84 prelims, two bantamweights actually profile very similarly with Marcus McGhee (-230) vs. Gaston Bolanos (+190). They both are basically the same size, same reach, fight in orthodox stance, and are just two years apart in age.

Their preferred fighting style is also the same: Both guys prefer to stand and bang. With that in mind, oddsmakers are expecting this bout to turn into a boxing affair that leads to a finish, given that the "fight goes to decision" prop is currently -250 to "No."

Someone is probably getting knocked out in this fight, and if the old adage of an underdog having a "puncher's chance" reigns true, then why can't Bolanos pull off the upset on Saturday? Yes, McGhee has blown through his first two opponents in the UFC, but look at the fighters he's beaten.

The first is JP Buys, who is 0-4 in the promotion since earning a contract through Dana White's Contender Series. The other is Journey Newson, who is 1-4.

That is about as low-quality of competition as one can face in this promotion, and I don't buy that McGhee should be laying -240 against anyone. I would agree that Bolanos has not done anything remotely impressive either, but if you're offering a knockout prop north of four dollars in a fight between two strikers who are both unimpressive, then I'm going to take the bait every time.

Bolanos certainly carries the power to get it done, with six of his seven professional wins coming via knockout. Additionally, Bolanos' pre-UFC resume is more impressive given his quick rise through Bellator compared to McGhee's time in LFA.

I don't think there is much that separates these two guys, so at +460 via Circa (or +420 via FanDuel for those in states where Circa does not operate), it is worth taking a shot on the underdog's puncher's chance to come through.

The Pick: Gaston Bolanos by KO (+460 at Circa)

Dan Tom: Preston Parsons by Submission (+340)

Contributor at The Action Network and host of the Protect Ya' Neck podcast

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 6:25 p.m. ET

For this week's MMA Prop Squad submission, I decided to target a preliminary-card matchup between Matthew Semelsberger (-116) and Preston Parsons (-102).

Despite not disagreeing with Semelsberger opening as the favorite, I can also understand why money has been trickling in on Parsons.

Aside from the fact that Semelberger is stepping in on fairly short notice, the smaller octagon of the UFC Apex strongly favors Parsons from a stylistic perspective.

Not only does Parsons have a clear on-paper edge in the submission grappling department, but the 28-year-old is also the better wrestler between the two.

Although Semelsberger will be both dangerous and difficult to take down early, Parsons is a relentless pressure fighter who will put in on the line in order to get the fight to where he needs to.

For that reason, I'll be backing Parsons to do what he does best — and that's score submissions.

Parsons' moneyline has been bet to near-even odds at most houses, but you can still find his submission prop north of 3-1 odds, which, to me, still holds solid value.

The Pick: Preston Parsons by Submission (+340 at FanDuel)

Billy Ward: Phil Hawes vs. Brunno Ferreira Goes to Decision (+550)

Staff Writer at The Action Network

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 7:25 p.m. ET

Phil Hawes has lost three of his past four fights by knockout – while scoring a knockout victory of his own in the fourth. Hawes (+108) is taking on up-and-coming Brazilian Brunno Ferreira (-130), who’s never had a professional fight last longer than 68 seconds into the second round.

Those two statements together explain why oddsmakers have this fight as the likeliest on the UFC Vegas 84 fight card to end inside the distance. Hawes is arguably the more technically sound fighter with plenty of power of how own, but also a rapidly weakening chin that continues to be exposed.

It went off the rails for Hawes when the former Division I wrestler decided he was a striker, moving to Thailand to train and falling in love with stand-up fighting. Don’t get me wrong: Hawes looks great in standup exchanges – until he doesn’t.

Of course, Hawes has to know this by now. He could be fighting for his UFC job with two straight losses – so what if he goes back to his roots?

The easiest path to victory for Hawes would be a boring wrestle fest, in which he sticks his dangerous opponent in a corner and controls him from the top for 15 minutes. Ferreira has the grappling chops – black belts in BJJ and judo – to stay safe on the ground, but is nowhere near the wrestler Hawes is.

Enough could go wrong with that angle that it’s not the likeliest outcome – either fighter could catch the other standing, Ferreira finds a submission somewhere, etc. But that’s why we’re getting better than five-to-one odds.

The Pick: Phil Hawes vs. Brunno Ferreira Goes to Decision (+550 at DraftKings)

Bryan Fonseca: Jim Miller by Round 1 KO (+600)

Contributor at The Action Network and combat sports host and on-air talent

Fighter walkouts: Approx. 8:25 p.m. ET

I'm mildly surprised that this prop bet is at +600 given how likely it feels relative to a true long-shot bet.

Jim Miller's last appearance was a first-round KO in June, when he dispatched Jesse Butler with a punch just 23 seconds into their bout. It was his first opening-round stoppage in several years, but it's his most recent outing.

In the UFC Vegas 84 co-headliner, Miller (-148) now meets Gabriel Benitez (+126) has 10 losses, three by knockout. Last we saw him, he beat Charlie Ontiveros in August of 2022 – almost a year and a half ago.

Of Benitez's four KO losses, three came in Round 1, two since 2019. Most recently, David Onama knocked him out in February 2022.

We have recent precedent in both directions, so it's worth a sprinkle for me at +600 to start the UFC year.

The Pick: Jim Miller by Round 1 KO (+600 at FanDuel)

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Nick Sterling
May 17, 2024 UTC