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UFC 261 Odds Analysis, April 23

Just nine months after meeting at UFC 251 on short notice, Jorge Masvidal (35-14) and Kamaru Usman (18-1) will square off in a welterweight title fight rematch to headline UFC 261 in front of a full crowd for the first time in over a year. This bout will be one of three title fights on the card. The strawweight belt will be on the line as well as Zhang Weili (21-1) will defend her title against Rose Namajunas (10-4). In the third title fight of the night, we will see Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) defend her belt against challenger, Jessica Andrade (21-8) in the flyweight championship. 

Usman vs Masvidal will be another fun rematch to bet on and may depend on how much you believe Jorge Masvidal’s comments where he stated that with a full camp the result will be a lot different than the defeat he suffered 9 months ago. In their fight at UFC 251, Usman closed as a -260 favorite and Masvidal as a +200 underdog. After a somewhat close first round where Masvidal seemed ready for the task at hand, Usman showed his high fight IQ and continued to clinch Masvidal and take him to the ground allowing him to control each round. In what was hyped up to be an unforgettable fight in the six days leading up, this one did not meet expectations as Usman did what he had to do to win via unanimous decision. In the rematch, Usman is a -400 favorite with Masvidal as a +300 underdog. I found this interesting as Usman has become an even bigger favorite when Masvidal has a full camp to prepare this time around. These lines tell you that oddsmakers feel there is no real chance that Masvidal will come away with the victory. 

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Analysis & Picks

Kamaru Usman is getting close to GOAT territory in the welterweight division as he has dominated every fighter that has entered the octagon with him. I think he is the better fighter than Masvidal, but I do see this fight being a lot closer than the first one. Usman’s game plan in the first fight was to control the center and then shoot for the takedown as he knew Masvidal would not be conditionally prepared to wrestle for five rounds. This time around will be interesting because Masvidal has had the time to prepare for the fight. I think Usman will ultimately come away with the victory as long as he defends from the explosive shots that Masvidal can land. 

Kamaru Usman -435
O/U 4.5 rds – Over (-190)
In the co-main event, Zhang Weili will fight Rose Namajunas for the strawweight championship. Weili has shown dominance in this division as she will bring her 21 fight win streak to the test on saturday night. Rose Namajunas is coming off a victory against Jessica Andrade and has shown she is the clear #1 contender in the division. In what should be an entertaining fight, I have Rose Namajunas winning and being the fighter to put an end to Weili’s 21 fight win streak. 

Rose Namajunas +165
O/U – 4.5 rds Under (+110)
In the first title fight of the night, Valentina Shevchenko will defend her title against Jessica Andrade. Shevchenko is another female fighter who has shown her dominance in her division. After suffering a knee injury, she returned and defeated Katlyn Chookagian and silenced doubters that thought her time at the top was over. This should be another good fight but I believe Shevchenko will be too much for Andrade as her overall game is at a higher level then Andrade. 

Valentina Shevchenko -455
O/U 4.5 rds – Under (-121)
In the second fight of the main card, Chris Weidman (15-5) will face off against Uriah Hall (17-9) in a middleweight bout. Weidman comes in as a -125 favorite and Uriah Hall a +100 underdog. Weidman seems to still have something left in the tank after defeating Akhmedov in August of last year. Meanwhile, Uriah Hall is coming off his win against UFC legend Anderson Silva which proceeded to lead to Silva’s retirement. This should be an entertaining fight, but I am going with Chris Weidman (-125) and Under 2.5 rounds (-115). 

The fight that will open the card is Anthony Smith (34-16) vs Jim Crute (12-1). Anthony Smith had a busy 2020 with two losses and one win. He has shown sparks where he can take the best fighters like Jon Jones, to the judges’ scorecards. We have also recently seen the bad losses from Smith where his conditioning doesn’t meet expectations. Jim Crute is a young fighter with a lot of potential. At just 24 years old, Smith will be Crute’s biggest test. I like Jim Crute (-200) and Over 1.5 rounds (-182) as I see the youth helping Crute especially when it comes to stamina.  

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