On Saturday, July 11th, the UFC will kick off a series of events from “Fight Island” with a massive PPV show – UFC 251: Usman vs Masvidal. This card features three world title fights and numerous exciting matchups throughout the lineup.
Additionally, UFC 251 boasts of a solid Preliminary Card that features eight fights beginning at 6 PM ET on ESPN and ESPN+. With such a stacked event lineup, it’s only fitting that we breakdown the betting options with a UFC 251 prelims betting preview and then a main card preview.
Without any further delay, let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine the latest UFC 251 prelim card odds courtesy of the best UFC betting sites, identify any potential value, and TKO these predictions.
David Grant comes into this contest as the betting underdog. However, he has more octagon experience than Day as Grant already has five UFC fights under his belt with a record of 2-3.
Grant last fought in November 2019 and defeated Grigory Popov via split decision, which snapped a two fight losing streak. Eight of his 11 pro wins have come via submission. He has solid takedown and grappling skills that could give Day some trouble.
Martin Day made his UFC debut in November 2018, but lost via split decision to Pingyuan Liu. He hasn’t fought since then due to injuries and the UFC being shut down like most pro sports. Day has won three of his last four fights. Five of his eight pro wins have come via stoppage.
Despite the odds, this fight is a lot closer than sites where you can bet on the UFC think. This bout is pegged to go the distance (-195) and Over 2.5 rounds (-220). Although Grant has only gone the distance in two of his 15 pro fights, I believe this fight will go the full three rounds due to each fighter’s strengths and weaknesses.
Day’s shown that he’s susceptible to the takedown and Grant has shown a pension for scoring takedowns. I think this will be the deciding factor in this fight. I expect Grant to have some success with takedowns and controlling the pace from the mat.
Look for Grant to grind out a decision win in an upset over Day in the opening bout of the UFC 251 prelims.
Martin Day vs David Grant –Grant (+145)
Over 2.5 rounds (-220)
Fight to go the distance (-195)
Grant to win via decision (+240)
Karol Rosa vs Vanessa Melo
Karol Rosa (-240)
Vanessa Melo (+200)
Over (-320)/Under (+260) 2.5 rounds
In the first of three women’s fights, Vanessa Melo enters this bout as a large underdog. She’s dropped two fights in a row, albeit, both were on short notice. She’s 0-2 inside the octagon and hasn’t fought since last November. Eight of 10 pro wins have come via decision.
Karol Rosa is on a three fight win streak, which includes a victory in her UFC debut 11 months ago. This will be her first UFC fight since then. Six of her 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with four victories by way of TKO/KO. Rosa will have the advantage in striking power, volume and reach for this fight.
This fight is going to be a striking battle as neither are known for their takedowns and grappling success. With that said, this fight will go Over 2.5 rounds (-320). In fact, it will go the distance (-285).
For Melo, 14 of her 17 pro fights have gone the distance including nine in a row. She’s 8-6 in those bouts. Seven of Rosa’s 15 pro fights have gone the distance. She’s 6-1 in those contests.
Rosa has never been knocked out and Melo has never stopped an opponent via TKO/KO. Rosa has an outside chance of scoring her 5th TKO/KO, but the odds are in favor of Melo surviving all three rounds and Rosa wining via unanimous decision.
Karol Rosa vs Vanessa Melo –Rosa (-240)
Over 2.5 rounds (-320)
Fight goes the distance (-285)
Rosa wins via decision (-125)
Zhalgas Zhumagulov vs Raulian Paiva
Zhalgas Zhumagulov (+155)
Raulian Paiva (-175)
Over (-275)/Under (+235) 2.5 rounds
Zhalgas Zhumagulov is making his UFC debut this weekend ad has won four straight fights. However, he hasn’t competed since last October. Seven of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with six by way of TKO/KO.
Raulian Paiva steps inside the octagon for the 4th time. He’s currently 1-2 in the UFC with one loss coming via TKO due to a cut. 12 of his 19 pro wins have come via decision.
For the third straight prelim bout, oddsmakers favor Over 2.5 rounds (-275) and the fight to go the distance (-260). After looking at their records, it’s easy to see why.
For Paiva, 13 of his 22 pro fights have gone the distance. Zhumagulov has seen eight of his 16 pro fights go the distance including five in a row.
Zhumagulov will score points via leg kicks and some wild haymakers, but Paiva is the cleaner striker and should land a higher volume of strikes.
I’m taking Paiva to win via split decision in a competitive matchup. I wouldn’t be surprised if he lost a close fight as well.
Zhalgas Zhumagulov vs Raulian Paiva –Paiva (-175)
Over 2.5 rounds (-275)
Fight does the distance (-260)
Paia wins via decision (+120)
Marcin Tybura vs Maxim Grishin
Marcin Tybura (-115)
Maxim Grishin (-105)
No O/U as of this writing
Maxim Grishin stepped in on a week’s notice for Alexander Romanov. He’s a stark contrast to Romanov who is a grappler and does most of his work from top position. Grishin is a striker with 15 of his 30 wins coming via TKO/KO. He will be making his UFC debut this weekend. He’s 17-1-2 in his last 20 fights.
Marcin Tybura is 5-5 in the UFC and last fought in February. He defeated Sergey Spivak via decision. It snapped a streak where he lost four of five fights. 13 of his 18 pro wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO.
Grishin has talent, but he’s going up against a bigger fighter in a heavier division. I see Grishin landing a solid volume of strikes from punches to kicks. However, Tybura will have the power advantage.
This should be a competitive matchup, but Grishin has a lot of factors to overcome: debut, weight class, size, and short notice. I expect a solid performance from Grishin, but I think Tybura will edge him out via decision.
Marcin Tybura vs Maxim Grishin –Tybura (-115)
Fight goes the distance (-110)
Leonardo Santos vs Roman Bogatov
Leonardo Santos (-175)
Roman Bogatov (+155)
Over (-155)/Under (+135) 2.5 rounds
The unbeaten Roman Bogatov will make his octagon debut this weekend. The former M1 lightweight champion hasn’t fought since last August when he won via TKO. Six of his 10 pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of submission.
Leonard Santos is 40 years old and fighting for the first time in 13 months. He’s unbeaten in the UFC having gone 6-0-1, but he’s only fought one time since October 2016. It’s hard to imagine just how sharp he will be. Nine of his 17 pro wins have come via submission.
Santos has shown some power in two of his last three fights, but it’s his BJJ that’s his bread and butter. For Bogatov, he likes to grapple and has a strong wrestling game. Yet, that’s dangerous considering he’s playing right into Santo’s strengths.
Bogatov is 11 years younger than Santos, so he should have the edge in stamina and athleticism. But, will that be enough?
This fight is a tough call because we’re talking about an older, inactive fighter who has the skills to win, but is going up against a younger, more athletic opponent with grappling prowess.
I’m going with the Under 2.5 rounds (+135) in this contest as I feel this fight will end earlier due to someone catching a submission or TKO. Bogatov has gone the distance just three times in his 10 pro fights. Santos has gone the distance in seven of his 21 pro fights.
I’m leaning towards Santos for this fight, but I’m not confident in either. Santos’ age and Bogatov’s lack of striking are major concerns for me. With that said, Santos has more paths to victory and I’m taking him to win.
Leonardo Santos vs Roman Bogatov –Santos (-175)
Under 2.5 rounds (+135)
Fight ends inside the distance (+100)
Santos wins inside the distance (+150)
Makwan Amirkhani vs Danny Henry
Makwan Amirkhani (-200)
Danny Henry (+170)
Over (+115)/Under (-135) 2.5 rounds
Danny Henry is a sizable underdog, but has looked good in his UFC tenure. He’s gone 2-1 in his three octagon trips. However, he hasn’t fought in nearly 16 months. 10 of his 12 pro wins have come via stoppage with five wins apiece for submission and TKO/KO.
Makwan Amirkhani has gone 5-2 in the UFC, but dropped his last bout to Shane Burgos via TKO in the 3rd round. That loss snapped a two fight winning streak. 10 of his 15 pro wins have come via submission.
Henry is not someone to overlook. He has the skills to pull off the upset this weekend just like he did against Daniel Teymur and Hakeem Dawodu. Those were two big upsets in those fights as Henry was a +250 underdog against Dawodu and +175 underdog against Teymur.
For Henry to win this fight, he will have to survive the early attacks from his opponent who will look to get this fight to the mat as quickly as possible. Once that happens, it’s over for Henry.
And, that’s how I see this fight playing out. Amirkhani will get the fight to the mat and apply one of his many submission holds to score the victory. I’m taking the Under 2.5 rounds (-135) and for this fight to finish inside the distance (-175).
Combined, these two men have gone the distance in 10 of 34 professional fights.
Makwan Amirkhani vs Danny Henry –Amirkhani (-200)
Under 2.5 rounds (-135)
Fight doesn’t go the distance (-175)
Amirkhani wins inside the distance (+130)
Amirkhani wins via submission (+160)
Eliseu Zaleski vs Muslim Salikhov
Eliseu Zaleski (+115)
Muslim Salikhov (-135)
Over (-115)/Under (-105) 2.5 rounds
Eliseu Zaleski enters this contest as the slight underdog. He’s 8-2 inside the octagon and last fought in March where he defeated Kunchenko via unanimous decision. Zaleski has some solid wins under his belt, but still sits outside of the Top 15. 14 of 22 pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
Muslim Salikhov entered the UFC three years ago under a lot of hype, but ended up losing his debut. Since then, he’s won three straight fights with solid KO finishes in that span. 12 of his 16 pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
Online betting sites aren’t too confident in how long this bout will last. The Over/Under of 2.5 rounds is close to even. I like the Under 2.5 rounds (-105) for this contest. These two men have a combined 31 finishes in their 38 total victories. Each man also has double digit TKO/KO wins.
Zaleski’s best chance is to score takedowns and then try to ground and pound or look for a submission. Salikhov’s best chance for victory is to keep the fight upright and score a TKO/KO.
Salikhov has showed a solid takedown defense along with decent grappling in his last few fights and that should be able to stuff Zaleski’s attempts. The longer this fight stays upright, the more likely Salikhov will finish it off with a TKO/KO.
I’m going with Salikhov to win this fight. His striking is superior to Zaleski’s and that will be the difference in this intriguing matchup.
Eliseu Zaleski vs Muslim Salikhov –Salikhov (-135)
Under 2.5 rounds (-105)
Fight ends inside the distance (-135)
Salikhov wins inside the distance (+170)
Salikhov wins via TKO/KO (+210)
Volkan Oezdemir vs Jiri Prochazka
Volkan Oezdemir (-155)
Jiri Prochazka (+135)
Over (-145)/Under (+125) 1.5 rounds
Jiri Prochazka will make his UFC debut this weekend in the main event of the prelim card. He’s won 10 straight fights and comes over from Rizin FF where he’s had a tremendous run and was also the promotion’s light heavyweight champion.
23 of Prochazka’s 26 pro wins have come via TKO/KO including eight fights in a row. In fact, only three of his fights in the last six years didn’t end with Prochazka winning via TKO/KO. He will have at least a two inch height advantage and almost the same in reach.
Volkan Oezdemir is the 7th ranked light heavyweight and on a two fight win streak. He had lost three in a row in 2018 and 2019 before getting back on the winning track. Oezdemir’s losses were to the division’s elite in Daniel Cormier, Anthony Smith, and Dominic Reyes. 12 of 17 pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
This is going to be an exciting matchup and a big litmus test for Prochazka. Volkan Oezdemir is a solid fighter, but I just have this feeling that Prochazka’s striking arsenal and cardio will be too much for Oezdemir to handle.
I’m going with the betting upset for this fight. I’m taking Prochazka to win his UFC debut. I’m also going with the Over 1.5 rounds (-145) as I believe that Volkan Oezdemir won’t fade until the late second or early part of the third round. That means you can also take this fight to finish inside the distance (-210).
Don’t be surprised if we see this contest earn one of the fight night bonuses.
Volkan Oezdemir vs Jiri Prochazka –Prochazka (+135)
Over 1.5 rounds (-145)
Fight ends inside the distance (-210)
Prochazka wins inside the distance (+280)
UFC 251 Prelim Favorites
If you are having a tough time deciding which UFC 251 wagers to bet on, check out my list of favorites for the UFC 251 preliminary card:
Favorite Fight: Volkan Oezdemir (17-4) vs Jiri Prochazka (26-3-1) is going to be exciting as two light heavyweight strikers look to make a name for themselves on Fight Island.
Favorite Over/Under: Volkan Oezdemir vs Jiri Prochazka is listed with an O/U of 1.5 rounds. I see this fight going Over 1.5 rounds (-145). Oezdemir has only lost one time Under 1.5 rounds and Prochazka hasn’t lost in five years.
Favorite Prelim Prop Bet: Makwan Amirkhani beating Danny Henry via submission (+160) is my favorite prop bet for the prelims. Henry recently lost to Dan Ige via submission, the first of his career, and Amirkhani is an even better submission artist than Ige. 10 of his 15 pro wins have come via submission.
Favorite Fight to Go the Distance: Rosa vs Melo is the fight I’m the most confident in going the distance. 14 of Melo’s 17 pro fights including eight in a row have gone the distance. Seven of Rosa’s 15 fights have gone the distance. Melo hasn’t been stopped in eight years.
Favorite Upset Pick: Jiri Prochazka (+135) over Volkan Oezdemir is my favorite upset of the night. I really like what I’ve seen from Prochazka and I believe he will make a statement in his UFC debut.
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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