Apr. 16, 2021
The UFC returns with a bang on April 24th with a stacked card filled with fan-friendly bouts. With a total of three title bouts scheduled, UFC 261 promises to deliver great action. The event also marks the return of a full capacity crowd, and the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena of Jacksonville, Florida, will serve as the venue for the night.
The highly anticipated rematch between UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman and ranked contender Jorge Masvidal is slated to serve as the main event, and in the co-main, Chinese UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion, Zhang Weili, takes on Rose Namajunas in a five round title fight. Just before that, UFC 261 will feature Valentina Shevchenko taking on Jessica Andrade for the UFC Women’s Flyweight title.
Let’s break down the odds and identify some betting opportunities for UFC 261.
UFC 261: USMAN VS MASVIDAL ODDS COMPARISON
Usman was brought out as the favorite at -400 (bet $400 to win $100), while Masvidal was a +300 underdog(bet $100 to win $300).
Since then, bookies seem to have been reprimanded for increasing the value on Usman’s side. They quickly shifted odds back to -400 after briefly holding the champion at -357.
UFC 261: USMAN VS MASVIDAL ODDS ANALYSIS
Usman is entering his Jon Jones days of betting value, and the bookmakers seem to agree with me on that. This being a rematch against a guy Usman beat handily also adds some value to his side, but overall I believe this is the betting line we are going to get with Usman from here on out. However, that does not mean that he is not the side to bet in this spot.
There have only been few fighters in MMA that have been able to compete and win consistently at the highest level, in their own weight class. In this category we’ve got fighters such as Jon Jones, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Israel Adesanya, and GSP. Usman is a part of that crew.
Usman is 13-0 in the UFC and already has 3 title defenses against the division’s top. 3 dominant title defenses. What I like most about Usman is that he’s faced adversity and fought through it. We saw in his last outing that his hands have never looked better, meaning that the one chink in his armor is starting to fade. This guy can do it all.
I won’t go too much into Masvidal here, because I simply think that Usman being in that Jon Jones category is the side to bet in his own weight class. Once fighters start looking towards the divisional ladder that’s another story, as we saw with Adesanya at 205 lbs, but in his own division, Usman stays undefeated for a long time.
At the current price of -400, Usman holds value. He gets it done consistently.
If -400 is a bit too juicy for you, look for the Usman by decision prop. Masvidal is very hard to finish, and Usman is not a big finisher himself.
Kamaru Usman hasn't lost a UFC since his debut in 2015 and he's defended his UFC Welterweight title three times so far. (Getty)
UFC 261: USMAN VS. MASVIDAL 2 BETTING INSIGHTS
Rematch: Historically the winner of the first fight wins the rematch about 7/10 times.
Champion: UFC champions have had a historically dominant run as of late, going unbeaten in 2020.
Consistency: At 13-0, Kamaru Usman has never lost a fight in the UFC.
UFC 261: USMAN VS MASVIDAL 2 FIGHT BREAKDOWN
This is the grappler versus the striker. Usman wants to drag this fight to the mat while Masvidal wants to knock the champion out.
However, given that Usman’s striking has gotten as good as it has, it would not surprise me if he takes a round or two off and just strikes with Masvidal, to conserve energy.
Masvidal’s entrances can be very dangerous on the feet because he manipulates rhythm extremely well. Against Darren Till, Jorge was exploding forward and hitting Till when Darren thought he was at a safe distance.
Usman might have gotten a bit of Masvidal’s rhythm down from the first fight, but he needs to be on his toes in the early rounds when fighting a creative striker like ‘Gamebred’.
One of the reasons why Masvidal is a good matchup for Usman is that he isn’t dangerous on his back, meaning that Usman can impose his wrestling to full effect on the challenger. At the same time, Usman’s clinching game is really strong, and he is able to steal rounds that way even without getting a takedown.
This is a knockout or bust for Masvidal, and he needs an early blitz to win this fight. Usman can take his time and win the decision, but Jorge’s lack of grappling probably won't allow him to win the decision if the fight goes that far.
UFC 261 Main Card Bouts & Odds
Along with the main event between Masvidal and Usman, we've got four other fights scheduled on the main card and that includes a pair of championship fights.