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UFC FN 129 Best Bets
With Game 3 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals, Game 5 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals and a 13-fight UFC card on tap for Saturday night, sports bettors have plenty of opportunities to make some cash. UFC Fight Night 129 will go down at Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile.

The first three fights start at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on UFC Fight Pass. The Prelims are free on Fox Sports 1 starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. The main card starts at 10:00 p.m. Eastern with the main event featuring a pair of welterweights in fifth-ranked Demian Maia and seventh-ranked Kamaru Usman.

As of early this morning, most betting shops had Usman (12-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) installed as a -715 favorite, leaving Maia at +515 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $515). The total was 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -130, ‘under’ +110).

Usman earned NCAA Division II All-American honors three times as a wrestler at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He won the 2010 NCAA Division II national title at 174 pounds.

Five of the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’s seven wins have come by decision. Usman has one submission over Hayder Hassan and a first-round KO of Sergio Moraes.

Maia (25-8 MMA, 19-8 UFC) just signed a new four-fight contract with the UFC at the age of 40. The Brazilia Jiu-Jitsu 4th-degree black belt accepted this fight on less than four weeks of notice when Santiago Ponzinibbio was forced to withdraw due to an injury on April 21.

Maia is tied for fourth in UFC history with his 19 career wins in the Octagon. He ripped off seven straight victories to earn a title shot against Tyron Woodley at UFC 214. However, Woodley dominated in a unanimous-decision win. Less than three months later, Maia faced Colby Covington and lost a lopsided UD.

Pick: I can’t turn down Maia, who has nine wins by submission in the UFC, in the second-richest underdog spot of his career. Not since he was a +550 ‘dog to Anderson Silva in the UFC 112 headliner for the middleweight title has Maia been a ‘dog richer than +250 (vs. Rory MacDonald at UFC 170. Give me Maia for one unit for a +540 return (at 5Dimes.eu early Saturday morning).

In the co-main event, Tatiana Suarez is a -750 ‘chalk’ versus Alexa Grasso in a woment’s strawweight scrap. Grasso is a +475 underdog, while the total is 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -280, ‘under’ +240).

In a light-heavyweight showdown, unbeaten Dominick Reyes (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) takes on Jared Cannonier. As of early this morning, most spots had Reyes installed as a -240 favorite. Cannonier (10-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) is the +190 underdog, while the total is 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -115, ‘under’ -105).

Pick: Reyes has seven first-round finishes in his eight-fight career. I don’t know that he gets the first-round finish over Cannonier, who has gone the distance with Glover Texeira and been KO’d just once in his 13-fight career. But somebody is going to get finished before the midway mark of Round 3. Let’s go with five units on ‘under’ 2.5 rounds at a -105 price.

The main-card opener is a welterweight clash between Vicente Luque and Chad Laprise, who won TUF Nations Welterweight Tournament back in 2014. The Canadian from Tristar Gym is seeking a fourth consecutive victory.

After missing weight before knocking out Thibault Gouti at UFC on Fox 21 in Vancouver, the 31-year-old Laprise (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) decided to move back up to the welterweight loop. He promptly scored a third-round KO win over Brian Camozzi at UFC 213 to earn a Performance of the Night bonus. Laprise won for a third straight time last December when he defeated Galore Bofando by first-round KO.

Vicente Luque (12-6-1 MMA, 5-2 UFC) owns 11 finishes in his 12 career wins, including six submissions and five KOs. The 26-year-old Brazilian has won five of his past six fights, including scalps of Hector Urbina, Belal Muhammad and Niko Price.

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As of early this morning, most books had Luque as a -200 ‘chalk.’ Laprise was a +170 underdog, while the total was 2.5 rounds (‘under’ -130, ‘over’ +110).

Pick: I’ll go with one-half unit on Laprise at +180 (5Dimes) and 2 units on ‘under’ 2.5 rounds at the -130 price.

**Other Picks**

--I’ll take Michel Prazeres, who has won five fights in a row, for one-half unit as a +160 (Bovada) underdog vs. Zak Cummings. Both fighters are submission specialists and the ‘under’ is offering nice plus money. Therefore, let’s wager one unit on ‘under’ 2.5 rounds for a +165 payout in the Cummings-Prazeres bout.

**B.E.’s Octagon Nuggets**

-- All 26 fighters made weight Friday morning for tonight’s fights.

-- Ariel Helwani is leaving MMAFighting.com to join ESPN. Helwani will team will Chael Sonnen on a Wednesday podcast that’s been dubbed, “Ariel and The Bad Guy.”

-- Two UFC Hall of Famers and former 205-pound kingpins might be squaring off for a third time later this year. Bovada has made Tito ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ a -200 favorite for a potential fight against his nemesis, Chuck Liddell. ‘The Iceman’ announced he’s returning to fighting earlier this week on Helwani’s show. The 48-year-old Liddell hasn’t fought since losing by late first-round KO to Rich Franklin at UFC 115 in 2010. Liddell famously knocked out Ortiz twice at both UFC 47 and UFC 66. They were set to meet at UFC 115 after serving as coaches on TUF, but Ortiz withdrew due to a neck injury. Ortiz, who is 43, went 3-1 in four fights under the Bellator banner, including a submission win over Chael Sonnen in January of 2017. Bovada has Liddell as a +160 underdog to Ortiz. The fight is expected to take place under the Golden Boy Promotions banner, as Oscar de la Hoya Jr. is poised to dip his toes in the MMA waters.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards

  
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