On Saturday, July 11th, the UFC will be live from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates for UFC 251: Usman vs Masvidal. This PPV show features three world title fights with a main event for the welterweight title as Kamaru Usman defends his belt against Jorge Masvidal.
The co-main event of the night is a rematch for the featherweight title as Alexander Volkanovski defends his belt against the man he took it from – Max Holloway. The third title fight will see Petr Yan and Jose Aldo battle it out for the vacant bantamweight championship.
Also on the card are two women’s fights with Paige VanZant vs Amanda Ribas and the return of Rose Namajunas in a rematch against Jessica Andrade, which should determine the #1 contender for the women’s strawweight title. In total, there are 13 fights, which also includes an eight bout Prelim Card.
UFC betting sites have released odds and numerous prop bets for this PPV main card. Let’s step inside the betting octagon to examine all of the UFC 251 wagers, identify betting value, and KO these predictions.
Paige VanZant enters this contest as the biggest underdog for the entire event. She can be found with odds listed anywhere from -600 to -1000 depending on the sports betting website. VanZant hasn’t fought since January 2019 after suffering injuries that have delayed her healing and her return.
Since joining the UFC in 2014, VanZant has gone 5-3 and is on the last fight of her contract. This bout on Saturday is a battle on two fronts for Paige as she’s not only fighting to beat Ribas, but to also earn a bigger contract with the UFC or possibly Bellator:
“This is the last fight on my UFC contract and I want to be able to go to the UFC and be like ‘listen, this is how good I am. Yeah you haven’t seen me fight in a while and I break my arm a lot and I’ve always done always done other things but ultimately I’m a good fighter.’ I think this is a fight if I beat Amanda, it will prove that.”
Amanda Ribas is on a four fight win streak that includes going 3-0 inside the octagon. Her last bout was in March when she defeated Randa Markos via unanimous decision. She’s also defeated Mackenzie Dern and Emily Whitmire in her UFC tenure. That’s three solid wins for the rising Brazilian.
Ribas’ long term goal is to replicate the success of fellow countrywoman Amanda Nunes by winning gold. However, her short term goal is to win this weekend, improve to 4-0 and bet on herself if possible:
“So when I saw the betting odds, it was amazing for me. I’m looking for how to put money down because that’s good. I’m really happy with that. And pressure? I don’t put pressure on myself, because I’ve fought since I was a baby. This world, this competition, this vibe is my home. For me, it’s big, and I really love it.”
Can Ribas Continue Her Ascension?
For VanZant, her best option in this fight is to keep it upright and exchange strikes. Paige can take a punch, but she’s susceptible to superior grapplers, which her opponent is. For Ribas, her path to victory is taking the fight to the mat and scoring a submission or grinding out a decision win.
Ribas has the chops to stand and strike, but her grappling is better than VanZant’s which means she will most likely look for the takedown and control the fight from the ground. When this happens, I expect Ribas to eventually get the submission win.
VanZant has lost two fights via submission and Ribas has three submission wins. We’ll most likely see both of those numbers increase after this fight.
With that said, I don’t see the fight going the distance (-115), as Ribas has only done this three times in 10 fights. Five of Paige’s 12 fights have gone the distance. That’s a combined eight of 22 total fights going the full three rounds.
I’m also going with the Under 2.5 rounds (+110) as we should see an ending before the halfway mark of the 3rd round. I’m taking Ribas to win via submission and send VanZant off into free agency with a loss.
Paige VanZant vs Amanda Ribas –Ribas (-750)
Under 2.5 rounds (+110)
Over 2.5 rounds (-160)
Fight ends inside the distance (-115)
Ribas wins inside the distance (+110)
Ribas wins via submission (+225)
Jessica Andrade vs Rose Namajunas
Jessica Andrade (+180)
Rose Namajunas (-220)
Over (-150)/Under (+130) 2.5 rounds
This will be the first of two rematches on the main card and it will certainly be entertaining. This is also a battle of two former champs who remain top ranked strawweights as the #1 ranked Jessica Andrade takes on the #2 ranked Rose Namajunas.
Jessica Andrade defeated Rose Namajunas in May 2019 via 2nd round KO with a vicious slam to win the strawweight title. However, she would drop it four months later to the current champ Weili Zhang. Andrade is 11-5 in the UFC and has gone 4-1 in her last five fights.
14 of her 20 pro victories have come via stoppage with seven wins apiece. Andrade wants to prove that her win over Namajunas last year wasn’t a fluke. However, the biggest goal is to get a win this weekend so she can rematch Zhang for the title:
“I changed my entire strategy, changed the way I fight. I’m still aggressive and strong, but I changed the way I walk, the way I move. This will be my way of proving I’ve gotten better and I can fight Zhang Weili again.”
From injuries to personal issues, Namajunas hasn’t fought in 14 months. There’s an excitement over Rose stepping back inside the octagon to seek revenge. Fans and pundits are looking to see how she’s evolved since the loss.
Namajunas is 6-3 in the UFC and 3-1 over her last four fights. Six of her eight pro wins have come via stoppage with five by way of submission. In addition to wanting revenge, Namajunas would also like to face Zhang who will most likely take on the winner of this contest:
“I don’t see for her to fight anybody else until then. Anything can happen but that’s what I see happening. I think she’s proven herself as a champion. I always said anybody who can beat Joanna is worthy of the belt and is somebody I want to fight.”
Can Rose Get Revenge?
Namajunas was on top of the sport until the slam heard around the world ended her title reign. With that said, I had Rose winning the first fight and I am taking her to win the rematch. I really like her overall game and feel that she’s going to be highly motivated to get this victory.
This fight could steal the show if these two women strike it out for three full rounds. I don’t believe we will get a stoppage in this bout. I see it going over 2.5 rounds (-150) and going the distance (-130).
I believe Namajunas will have a better plan for this fight and I don’t see her fading like she did in the first bout. I believe she will land more punches and do a good job stuffing takedowns to edge out a split decision win.
Jessica Andrade vs Rose Namajunas –Namajunas (-220)
Under 2.5 rounds (+110)
Over 2.5 rounds (-150)
Fight goes the distance (-130)
Namajunas wins via decision (+180)
Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo
Petr Yan (-210)
Jose Aldo (+175)
Over (-165)/Under (+145) 2.5 rounds
This Top 6 bantamweight battle is for the vacant bantamweight title that was forfeited when Cejudo retired. Count me on the side of the fence that believed the UFC should not have put Aldo in this matchup as there are higher ranked fighters more worthy of a title shot.
The #6 ranked Jose Aldo is a legend, but his best days appear to be behind him. This will be his second fight as a bantamweight as he lost in his divisional debut last December against the #1 ranked bantamweight Marlon Moraes. Moraes versus Yan would’ve made more sense, but I digress.
Since fighting Conor McGregor in 2015, Aldo has lost five of his last eight fights including the McGregor contest. He’s failed to beat the top fighters in the featherweight and bantamweight divisions. If he loses this weekend then there’s a good chance that this will be the last title shot of Aldo’s UFC career.
Petr Yan and Aldo have trained together in the past. This training took place about four years ago, which Yan believes that Aldo hasn’t improved since then:
“It’s been a great experience training with him before. We sparred, we grappled. It was more than four years ago. I think I’m a better fighter since that time, but I don’t think he’s become a better fighter since that time. I think at best, he’s stayed the same.”
It’s hard to argue against Yan’s assessment of Aldo. Yet, Yan has definitely improved as he’s gone 9-0 since their training session and 6-0 in the UFC. He’s a hard charging striker with knockout power and crisp punches. Six of his 14 pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
Who Wins the Bantamweight Title?
It’s hard to imagine that Jose Aldo is going to be able to outstrike Yan in this contest. Even if he found his leg kick game again, I still believe that Yan has the advantages in striking and power. I don’t really see any scenario where this fight goes to the mat either.
The only way Aldo can win this fight is if Yan makes a huge mistake charging forward and eats a nasty counterpunch. With that said, he fought a brilliant fight against another legend in Urijah Faber and didn’t show any flaws.
If this was a three round fight then I would say that Aldo can survive and go the full distance. Since this is a five round fight, I don’t see it going the full distance (-180). However, I do believe it will go over 2.5 rounds (-165).
For me, I believe Yan wins inside the distance (+110), most likely due to a TKO/KO (+105). If I had to guess, I would say this fight goes at least to the 3rd round (-205) and possibly the 4th (-125), but I don’t see it making it to the 5th round (-145).
The biggest excitement is who Yan fights after winning the title. A bout against Moraes was supposed to take place last month, but recent restrictions cancelled that.
Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo –Yan (-210)
Over 2.5 rounds (-165)
Fight won’t go the distance (-180)
Yan wins inside the distance (+110)
Yan wins via TKO/KO (+105)
Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway
Alexander Volkanovski (-210)
Max Holloway (+175)
Over (-245)/Under (+205) 4.5 rounds
The co-main event is a rematch for the featherweight title as Max Holloway tries to reclaim the belt he lost to Alexander Volkanovski last December.
Holloway has lost two of his last three fights. However, he did go up in weight to take on Dustin Poirier in April 2019 for the interim lightweight title. Prior to that fight, Holloway had won 13 straight fights to become arguably the best featherweight of all-time. 10 of his 21 wins have come via TKO.
In their first fight, Holloway felt that he did enough to win, but that the judges decided to go in the other direction. This time, he plans to go out there and prove he’s still the man in this division and not rely on the judges:
“When (Saturday) comes, I get to prove that I’m one of the best guys in the world still, and I just can’t wait. This time, I’m going in there and do my thing, and hopefully we won’t need the judges. I’ve been in the cage with this guy before; I know what he brings to the table. I know a lot of his game. I can’t wait.
In a recent interview, Holloway referred to the fact that Volkanovski still has a chip on his shoulder. Holloway thinks it’s because people still treat him like he’s the champ although he lost to Volkanovski. Yet, the current champ sees things differently as he feel’s Holloway is being a sore loser:
“I’m not letting it get to me. It seems like it’s getting to him. It seems like he’s salty and he’s being a bit of a sore loser, but I guess losing is tough and maybe that’s why he’s acting like that. He’s saying some crazy things.”
Volkanovski has won 18 straight fights including going 8-0 in the UFC. His only career loss came in 2013. 14 of his 21 pro wins have come via stoppage with 11 victories by way of TKO/KO.
Can Volkanovski Go 2-0 Against Holloway?
For Holloway to win this fight, he’s going to have to deal with the leg kicks from Volkanovski who landed 75 of them in the first fight. He also landed at least 25 more strikes than Holloway in the first bout.
Holloway will also have to figure out a way to deal with Volkanovski’s pressure, aggressiveness, and technical striking. Most fighters haven’t figured that out yet. But, Holloway has GOAT potential and he should be able to crack this code.
Last December, these two went the full five rounds. This time, I believe they will as well. Take the Over 4.5 rounds (-245) and for the fight to go to a decision (-240) at your preferred UFC betting site.
Now, for the winner. I’m a fan of Holloway and was surprised when he lost last December. Max was soundly beaten by Volkanovski despite what he says in interviews. With that said, I believe Holloway will come back and win this fight. I’m taking Holloway to win via decision in another classic from these two.
Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway –Holloway (+175)
Over 4.5 rounds (-245)
Fight goes the distance (-240)
Holloway wins via decision (+265)
Holloway wins via unanimous decision (+405)
Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal
Kamaru Usman (-250)
Jorge Masvidal (+210)
Over (-100)/Under (+100) 1.5 rounds
The main event of the night is an exciting welterweight title fight between two athletes that don’t like each other. And, there’s nothing better than a grudge title fight in the UFC.
This title bout was originally supposed to be between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. Unfortunately, Burns tested positive for Covid and was replaced by Jorge Masvidal.
Ironically, a matchup between Masvidal and Usman fell through a few months ago because both sides couldn’t agree to a deal. Now, it appears the UFC was more complying to Masvidal’s demands.
Masvidal resurrected his career in 2019 going 3-0 and winning all three fights via TKO/KO. He also claimed the BMF title last November when he defeated Nate Diaz. Masvidal is 6-2 over his last eight fights which spans four years. He’s 10-6 in the UFC. 16 of 35 pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
In the spring, when these two men looked like they were destined for a fight, Masvidal made the following comments about Usman which he still believes are true heading into fight night:
“We all know he’s not gonna throw fists when it comes to me. He’s gonna to try to act like he’s gonna to throw fists and then he’s gonna go for the takedown, and he’s gonna quickly find out I don’t ever get held down by that guy. I won’t get out-grappled by that guy. I’ll put my life on that. I’ll put my money on it.”
Usman has won 15 straight fights including going 11-0 inside the octagon. He last competed in December and beat Colby Covington via TKO in the 4th round. Eight of his 11 UFC fights have gone the distance. His lone loss came via submission in 2013.
This feud began with a confrontation between the two fighters during Super Bowl week in January. Since then, both men have grown to despise each other. The champ is very confident heading into this matchup as he made the following comments about the fight:
“All I’m going to say is I’m going to bless him with these hands in any way possible. Whether he’s on his back, I’ll bless him with these fists. Whether he’s standing up, I’ll bless him with these fists. It’s up to him how he’s able to handle that. Whether he lets me bless him in the first round where there’s no more suffering, or he can take it like Covington and I’ll bless him for 24 minutes until I get him out of there.”
Will Masvidal Win the Welterweight Title?
I don’t like this short notice for either fighter. It’s a built-in excuse if one of them goes out there on Saturday and falls flat on his face. The short notice, lack of preparation, and last minute travel along with testing is a lot for both fighters to endure. As of now, neither has complained about it.
Masvidal’s chance at winning comes in the open space where he has range for his jabs and kicks. Distance will also help him put together some striking combinations that could hurt Usman who is hittable.
For Usman, it’s going to be all about closing the distance, getting a clinch and getting the fight to the mat. If he tries to hang with Masvidal for five rounds in a striking battle, he will lose. He needs to control the fight on the mat where he’s more dominant that Masvidal.
This is going to be an epic battle between two savvy fighters. The smart money is on Usman due to his physical size, strength and wrestling advantages. But, I just can’t rule out Masvidal. For me, I’m taking the risky wager and going with Masvidal to win via decision.
Jorge will land a higher volume of strikes, which will score more points with the judges than Usman’s top control will. 27 of Masvidal’s 48 fights have gone the distance. Eight of Usman’s last 10 bouts have gone the distance.
Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal –Masvidal (+210)
Over 4.5 rounds (+120)
Fight goes the distance (+105)
Masvidal wins via decision (+985)
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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