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UFC 251: Preview and Picks

The fabled Fight Island is real and the UFC is putting on a banger of a card for the first event. UFC 251 will take place at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and has three championship bouts at the top of the card. We have the betting odds and a pick for each fight on the main card, including the main event that has Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman colliding with 2019 fighter of the year Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal.

The headliner was originally supposed to be Usman vs Gilbert Burns but the challenger tested positive for COVID-19 and Masvidal has stepped in on late notice. 

Max “Blessed” Holloway will look to recapture his featherweight belt from Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski in the co-main.

Lastly, Petr “No Mercy” Yan and former featherweight king Jose Aldo will duke it out for the vacant bantamweight strap. I have the betting odds, a preview and a pick for each fight on the UFC 251 main card.

Online sportsbook Bovada has released odds for this card and, for the title fights, Usman is a -235 favorite with Masvidal coming back at +185, Volkanovski gets -225 odds over Holloway’s +175 underdog line and Yan is a -210 favorite with Aldo the +170 underdog.

Usman vs Masvidal | Volkanovski vs Holloway | Yan vs Aldo | Namajunas vs Andrade | VanZant vs Ribas | Prelims

New to betting on the fights? Check out our UFC betting guide to get you in the action. Also, keep an eye on our UFC odds page for the latest up-to-date betting lines.


UFC 251: Usman vs Masvidal: Broadcast Information
  • Date/Time: July 11, 6 p.m. ET
  • Location: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
  • Arena: UFC Fight Island Facility
  • Where to Watch: ESPN+, PPV

Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal

Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Kamaru Usman-235
Jorge Masvidal+185

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

You have to go all the way back to 2013 – a span of 15 fights – to see the one and only loss on Usman’s (-235) record as he gets set to make his second title defense. Meanwhile, Masvidal (+185) put together an impressive 2019 with three knockout victories ending with him being crowned the BMF champion and fighter of the year.


Usman: Need to Knows
  • The No. 1 thing you get from the champion, Usman, is pace. He has outstanding conditioning that allows him to maintain an uptempo style for the duration of the bout whether it be on the feet or on the floor.
  • The Nigerian Nightmare has outstruck every single opponent he has faced in the Octagon, although most of those strikes came on the floor via ground and pound.
  • Usman averages 3.44 takedowns per 15 minutes and has landed multiple takedowns in seven of his 11 UFC fights.
  • Usman’s last three fights were Rafael dos Anjos (win - unanimous decision), Tyron Woodley (win - unanimous decision) and Colby Covington (win - knockout).


Masvidal: Need to Knows
  • After dropping consecutive bouts in 2017, Masvidal took a year and a half off and then rattled off three straight knockout wins last year, including the knockout of the year over Ben Askren.
  • Gamebred is an outstanding kickboxer, averaging 4.33 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.94, and he has outstruck eight of his last nine opponents.
  • He also stuffs 78 percent of takedown attempts, which could be important for this fight.
  • Masvidal’s last three fights were Darren Till (win - knockout), Ben Askren (win - knockout) and Nate Diaz (win - TKO via doctor stoppage).

Prediction: Kamaru Usman (-235) via decision

For more on this fight, check out my odds analysis page.

Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway

Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Alexander Volkanovski-225
Max Holloway+175

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

Similar to Usman, the one and only time that Volkanovski (-225) failed to have his hand raised was back in 2013, some 18 fights ago. Former champion Holloway (+175) also had a run of 14 straight wins in the featherweight division, including three title defenses before falling to Volkanovski in December of last year.


Volkanovski: Need to Knows
  • The Australian is a very well-rounded fighter but he loves a good old-fashioned brawl.
  • Volkanovski had a larger strike output in his victory over Holloway than in any other fight in the UFC, though it was also his only five-round bout.
  • He landed at least one takedown in each of his first five fights in the UFC but hasn’t landed one in his last three fights.
  • Volkanovski’s last three fights were Chad Mendes (win - knockout), Jose Aldo (win - unanimous decision) and Max Holloway (win - unanimous decision).


Holloway: Need to Knows
  • The Hawaiian is almost strictly a standup fighter, having landed just five takedowns over his 22 UFC fights.
  • On the feet, Holloway averages 6.66 significant strikes per minute and has landed over 100 strikes in each of his last six bouts.
  • Blessed had more success fighting southpaw than he did orthodox in his loss to Volkanovski and we may see more of that in the rematch.
  • A big issue in that first bout was that he wasn’t checking any leg kicks but rather was trying to jump back out of the way.
  • Max’s last three fights were Dustin Poirier at lightweight (loss - unanimous decision), Frankie Edgar (win - unanimous decision) and Alexander Volkanovski (loss - unanimous decision).

Prediction: Max Holloway (+175) via decision

For more on this fight, check out my odds analysis page.

Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo

Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Petr Yan-210
Jose Aldo+170

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

Despite losing his last two fights, including a controversial split decision in his bantamweight debut, Aldo (+170) slides into the bantamweight title fight. Aldo was the former king of the featherweight division, winning 18 straight fights and defending the belt six times. As for the other challenger, Yan (-210), he has a perfect 6-0 record in the UFC and is riding a nine-fight winning streak overall.


Aldo: Need to Knows
  • Aldo is a very aggressive fighter, chasing his opponents around the cage looking to corner them and let his strikes fly.
  • He doesn’t tend to be the first one to strike, usually baiting his counterparts to throw first and then powerfully countering them.
  • One thing that has been missing from Aldo’s game recently has been his outstanding leg kicks, which he used over and over again during his reign at featherweight.
  • Aldo’s last three fights were Renato Moicano at featherweight (win - knockout), Alexander Volkanovski at featherweight (loss - unanimous decision) and Marlon Moraes (loss - split decision).


Yan: Need to Knows
  • Yan has a Master of Sport in boxing and in mixed martial arts, which are just some of his accolades along with his fantastic striking skills.
  • He also averages 1.73 takedowns per 15 minutes and has landed at least one in each of his last four bouts.
  • No Mercy has really good head movement in the pocket, seldom getting hit hard, and his conditioning may be the difference-maker in this fight.
  • Yan’s last three fights were John Dodson (win - unanimous decision), Jimmie Rivera (win - unanimous decision) and Urijah Faber (win - knockout).

Prediction: Petr Yan (-210) via decision

For more on this fight, check out my odds analysis page.

Rose Namajunas vs Jessica Andrade

Rose Namajunas vs Jessica Andrade Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Rose Namajunas-205
Jessica Andrade+165

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

The last time we saw these fighters, they were losing the strawweight title. “Thug” Rose Namajunas (-205) won the title in November 2017 and defended it once but lost in her second defense via second-round slam knockout loss to Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (+165). That said, Andrade failed to make a successful title defense as she ran into the current champ, Zhang Weili, shortly after winning the title and lost via first-round knockout.


Namajunas: Need to Knows
  • Thug Rose began as a grappling and submission specialist, with five of her eight pro wins ending in submission, and she averages 2.17 takedowns per 15 minutes.
  • Her striking continued to improve while the grappling was in her back pocket and then she went five hard rounds with former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk and won a unanimous decision while landing only one takedown.
  • Namajunas was outstriking Andrade in her loss but held on to the kimura too long and was slammed on her head.
  • Namajunas’ last three fights were Joanna Jedrzejczyk (win - knockout), Joanna Jedrzejczyk (win - unanimous decision) and Jessica Andrade (loss - knockout).


Andrade: Need to Knows
  • Bate Estaca has really good power for the strawweight division, with seven of her 20 pro wins coming by knockout and seven others by submission.
  • Andrade is very aggressive, always looking to close the distance and find areas to let her hands fly.
  • In striking exchanges, she doesn’t have a ton of head movement and her punches tend to be hooks that land second to a straighter punch.
  • She doesn’t mind being a little wild, though, because if she can get in tight, she can drag the fight to the floor as she averages 3.21 takedowns per 15 minutes.
  • Andrade’s last three fights were Karolina Kowalkiewicz (win - knockout), Rose Namajunas (win - knockout) and Zhang Weili (loss - knockout).

Prediction: Rose Namajunas (-205) via knockout

Paige VanZant vs Amanda Ribas

Paige VanZant vs Amanda Ribas Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Paige VanZant+525
Amanda Ribas-850

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

Looking to remain undefeated in the UFC, Amanda Ribas (-850) has rattled off three straight wins in the Octagon and is 9-1 overall in her pro career. Ribas already scored a win in 2020, earning a unanimous decision win over Randa Markos in March. Meanwhile, Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant (+525) aims to pick up consecutive wins for the first time since she won four straight from 2013 to 2015. She most recently scored a second-round submission win in January 2019.


VanZant: Need to Knows
  • VanZant is a strong striker who does great work at kicking range as she fires long combinations typically finishing with a kick.
  • At times, she will move forward standing straight up and keeping her lead hand low, which leaves her vulnerable to being taken down or caught with a quick punch over the top.
  • She doesn’t necessarily mind being taken down as she has good submission skills, with three of her eight pro wins ending in that manner.
  • VanZant’s last three fights were Michelle Waterson (loss - submission), Jessica-Rose Clark (loss - unanimous decision) and Rachael Ostovich (win - submission).


Ribas: Need to Knows
  • Ribas also enjoys fighting at a longer range as she picks her opponents apart with long accurate punches and kicks.
  • She has outstruck her three counterparts in the UFC 180-63, making her foes miss 74 percent of their strike attempts, and she only absorbs 1.70 significant strikes per minute.
  • She has landed at least one takedown in each of those fights, averaging 2.02 takedowns per 15 minutes.
  • Ribas’ last three fights were Emily Whitmire (win - submission), Mackenzie Dern (win - unanimous decision) and Randa Markos (win - unanimous decision).

Prediction: Amanda Ribas (-850) via submission

UFC 251: Usman vs Masvidal: Prelim Odds

Volkan Oezdemir vs Jiri Prochazka Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Volkan Oezdemir-155
Jiri Prochazka+125

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

Leonardo Santos vs Roman Bogatov Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Leonardo Santos-175
Roman Bogatov+145

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

Muslim Salikhov vs Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Muslim Salikhov-145
Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos+115

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

Makwan Amirkhani vs Danny Henry Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Makwan Amirkhani-205
Danny Henry+165

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

Karol Rosa vs Vanessa Melo Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Karol Rosa-260
Vanessa Melo+200

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

Zhalgas Zhumagulov vs Raulian Paiva Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Zhalgas Zhumagulov+145
Raulian Paiva-175

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

Martin Day vs Davey Grant Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Martin Day-170
Davey Grant+140

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada

Maxim Grishin vs Marcin Tybura Betting Odds
FighterOdds
Maxim Grishin-120
Marcin Tybura-110

Odds as of July 10 at Bovada