The UFC heads to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi for a massive UFC 251 show on July 11th that includes three title fights! Kamaru Usman will defend his welterweight belt against Jorge Masvidal, who is stepping in on one week notice after Gilbert Burns was removed from the fight for testing positive for COVID-19. Volkanovski will run it back against Max Holloway for his first defense of the featherweight belt, and Jose Aldo will take on Petr Yan for the vacant bantamweight belt. The main card also includes two high profile women’s fights with Namajunas vs Andrade running it back and Paige VanZant returning to face top prospect Amanda Ribas.
I have four plays below from the four highest profile fights on the card. I will be using the best odds available at any of our top rated betting sites.
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Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal
Masvidal has had a huge 16 months with three high profile wins including highlight reel knockouts of Darren Till and Ben Askren, followed by a decisive TKO stoppage of Nate Diaz for the BMF Title. He’s now stepping in on one week’s notice to fight Kamaru Usman, but if we’re being honest, Jorge would have been training to fight Usman for the past 6 months because he had his sights set on a title shot.
I’ve been impressed with how Masvidal has made the most of his opportunities over his last three fights and really built himself into a big name in the UFC, but I’m not overly impressed with his wins. I do not consider Darren Till a top welterweight fighter and that was without a doubt his most impressive win over the past three fights. He didn’t even really fight Ben Askren, instead running across the cage and landing a brilliant, but somewhat lucky flying knee to avoid the actual fight. And then he beat Nate Diaz, who is a tough out for anyone, but who is by no means elite. To me, Masvidal is simply a top 10 fighter who is one a nice streak and took advantage of his opportunities over the past year.
Do I think Masvidal can beat Usman? There is definitely a chance if he catches him with the right punch, but I think the chances are very low. Usman should be able to keep the pressure on Jorge and use his wrestling and pace to overwhelm Masvidal and dominate this fight.
I will happily lay the odds and take Usman to retain his title in this fight.
Play: Usman 1.39 @ SportsInteraction.com
Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway
I expect Volkanovski to use the same game plan to get another win against Max Holloway in this rematch. He threw everything at Max last time and I expect more of the same. Volkanovski has the pace, strength, power and technique to win this fight wherever it goes.
Play: Volkanovski 1.49 @ SportsInteraction.com
Jose Aldo vs Petr Yan
Aldo is getting this title shot against Petr Yan even though he lost his last two fights (Volkanovski at featherweight and Moraeas at bantamweight – both by decision). That said, he’s a big name and a lot of people thought he defeated Moraes, so I don’t really hate him getting this title shot after Cejudo vacated the title.
That said, I do think Aldo will be winless in his last three fights after this fight with Petr Yan. I expect Yan will be able to keep Aldo on his backfoot and apply a similar pressure to what Volkanovski applied to defeat Aldo in their fight a year ago.
Aldo isn’t getting any younger and I can’t see how the added weight cut won’t affect him in a five round fight.
Play: Yan 1.40 @ Bodog.eu
Jessica Andrade vs Rose Namajunas
I do think Namajunas is the better fighter in this matchup, but there is no way she should be nearly a 2-1 favorite. Yes, she got the better of Andrade for one round in their last fight, but she did still get knocked out by a slam after making the poor decision to go for a submission attempt rather than maintaining distance and using her striking.
I still think Namajunas could implement a winning formula if she sticks and moves with her striking for 25 minutes, but that is still a long time for Andrade to land a knockout blow because I don’t see Rose getting a knockout of Andrade.
I’ll take the big plus money on Andrade in this fight and expect her to be able to close the distance and land some big shots.
Play: Andrade 2.70 @ SportsInteraction.com