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UFC 261 betting odds and picks

Source: UFC

UFC Pay-Per-View action is BACK! Saturday is playing host to three title fights with the main event being between Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Jorge Masvidal. The women’s Strawweight and Flyweight division will be on full display as the other two title fights. Overall, UFC 261 is full of incredible matchups and some early Fight of the Year contenders. Let’s get into the odds.

All odds are via Fanduel Sportsbook.

NOTE: All picks and predictions are for entertainment purposes only. Fightlete does not facilitate gambling activities. Please gamble responsibly if you so choose.

Results from the last event:

Kirien, 2-2, -0.5 units

Abraham: 2-2, -0.73 units

Drew: 2-2, -0.92 units

Mike: 2-2, -1.26 units

Sean: 2-2, -1.26 units

Results for 2021:

Abraham: 6-3, +0.78 units

Drew: 33-29, -0.28 units

Mike: 31-26, -8.88 units

Kirien: 28-32, -14.39 units

Sean: 25-32, -14.28 units

Kamaru Usman (-400) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+300)

To go the distance: Yes/No (-196/+150)

Kirien’s Pick: Yes

Usman’s size advantage makes him the clear favorite in this one, but Masvidal is nonetheless still one bad-ass dude. I don’t want to disrespect either fighter by just picking one, so I’ll put my money on this one going the distance. Aside from it being a hard fight to pick for, I’m admittedly a bit selfish and want to see these fighters go at it for as long as possible. That being said, I don’t think either fighter is going to get over-aggressive in this one and both will gladly take a decision.

Abraham’s Pick: Yes

The rematch the fans didn’t want. A part of me was surprised that Colby Covington didn’t receive the rematch, as he has been the closest person to beating Usman in the UFC. Masvidal, not so much. Still, I understand “Gamebread” puts butts on seats, especially for the first UFC event to have fans inside the US. Usman is going to put Masvidal on his butt. Usman will establish the same game plan he used in their last meeting; he’s going to wrestle until the final bell sounds for another clean sweep in rounds. Masvidal does possess power in his hands but what good is that when you’re being smothered by your opponent?

Drew’s Pick: Yes

On my board, this is the least interesting title fight of the night. This is a fight catered to selling tickets and that is about it. I think Usman will get the win, but it is not worth the insanely high odds. I’ll take the fight going to decision because I expect a lot of clinching and even more foot stomps this time around.

Mike’s Pick: No

History would tell us that Kamaru Usman fights going to decision is typically a pretty safe bet, however, I don’t see that happening this time around. Usman seems to have fallen in love with his hands recently and swears that he will finish Masvidal inside the distance this time. Based on how Usman’s jabs and strikes have looked recently, it isn’t that far-fetched of a claim. Masvidal’s best chance at victory is a finish. If Usman is looking to strike more this time around, the chances of him getting caught and rocked go up exponentially.

Sean’s Pick: Yes

This fight will be almost entirely determined by Jorge Masvidal’s takedown defense. Kamaru Usman has many options to dictate where this fight goes. Still, Masvidal has hung in with the best of them at this point and if Damian Maia couldn’t submit Jorge I doubt Usman will.

Zhang Weili (-192) vs. Rose Namajunas (+154)

To go the distance: Yes/No (-122/-104)

Kirien’s Pick: Yes

Zhang Weili has been a dominant force in MMA after losing her first fight. Her success has transitioned to the UFC and she is the clear favorite in this one. I don’t know why, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Rose Namajunas is going to give Weili her toughest competition yet. I suspect this one will go to asplit decision. Plus, the odds are better than taking Weili outright.

Abraham’s Pick: Weili

Expect this matchup to steal the show. Zhang Weili and Joanna Jędrzejczyk put on some incredible performances just over a year ago, and with “Thug” Rose’s style being so similar to Weili’s previous opponent, it’s almost a guarantee that this will land in the fight of the year conversation. Expect the result to stay the same with the final announcement being “and still”. There is no question that Namajunas is an amazing striker but Zhang is equally as good and brings some serious power to the strawweight division. She will be holding onto that title for a long time.

Drew’s Pick: Yes

For me, this is the best matchup of the night and is already a fight of the year contender before it has even happened. This bout has the potential to be a banger, and there are a number of ways this fight can go. Weili’s toughness alone should be enough to outlast Namajunas, but there is a part of me that thinks Thug Rose can pull it off. That is why I am staying away and taking the fight to go to a decision.

Mike’s Pick: Namajunas

This is going to be a tough fight for both competitors, as they are both such high-level fighters who could easily win. I think Rose’s strong team and her work with coach Trevor Wittman is what will give her the edge. Rose needs to focus on swift lateral movements and avoid the powerful shots coming her way from Weili to stay in the game. If she wants to win (and you know she does) then she’ll need to set everything up behind that elite jab of hers. If she can do those things I see her getting it done in a good scrap.

Sean’s Pick: Namajunas Women’s Flyweight Champion Zhang Weili has her hands full with this fight, coming off the win. Zhang has more wins under her belt than Rose while also having fought more fights. Rose’s last fight against Andrade showed she wasn’t afraid to stay in the pocket. Her footwork and maneuvering will be key when landing the shot that will send Weili crashing to the canvas only to be caught via submission.

Valentina Shevchenko (-400) vs. Jessica Andrade (+300)

To go the distance: Yes/No (+106/-150)

Kirien’s Pick: No

Shevchenko has a multitude of ways to ensure her victory, which makes her nearly impossible to bet against. I have Shevchenko ending this one early and with conviction. She has only lost two fights in the last decade -- I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Abraham’s Pick: Yes

Shevchenko is just so good! She is arguably the best female fighter on the planet (depending on who you believe won in the rematch between her and Nunes, that is). She has shown no weaknesses and will continue to dominate this matchup. “Bullet” will likely implement a similar game plan utilized by Joanna Jędrzejczyk when she fought Andrade, which is to stick and move. Shevkenko will pick her spots and move out of the way so Andrade never lands anything clean in her route to a unanimous decision victory.

Drew’s Pick: No

Again, this is another fight where I have to stay away from the moneyline because it is not worth it. Although Andrade is a fantastic competitor, Shevchenko is probably the second-best female fighter in the world, and it is going to take a lot to dethrone here. That being said, I see Andrade coming out firing, getting tired, and getting finished in the second or third round.

Mike’s Pick: Yes

Shevchenko is as good as they get and the betting line displays that. Andrade is still incredibly tough and physically strong however. Especially competing at Flyweight now, I think she is going to be durable enough to stand her ground and make it to the final bell.

Sean’s Pick: Yes

Shevchenko has dominated at Flyweight and until she moves up to fight Nunes there probably won’t be anyone who’ll dethrone her. Andrade’s only method to victory is catching Shevchenko with her hands and putting her out. Although I don’t see Valentina completely grappling in this fight, it will be a less risky method to not stand with Andrade.

Uriah Hall (-110) vs. Chris Weidman (-110)

To go the distance: Yes/No (+106/-134)

Kirien’s Pick: Weidman

Uriah Hall’s lack of wrestling experience has me concerned in this one. Hall is a one-trick pony and in a coin-flip type fight like this, that makes him extremely susceptible. Either way, this should be an extremely competitive fight to the wire. I have Weidman getting Hall to the ground and controlling the fight.

Abraham’s Pick: Yes

This will be a close fight if Weidman is able to take it to the ground. Even so, Weidman has not been the same since losing his middleweight title to Luke Rockhold. He has struggled in virtually every contest since then and age isn’t doing him any favors. On the other side of the octagon, you have a very skilled striker in Uriah Hall. If Hall keeps the fight standing it’ll be a long and painful night for Weidman. This contest will truly depend on Weidman’s wrestling and Hall’s takedown defense, which is almost non-existent, but exists just enough to create space for him to land his creative kicks. The classic striker vs grappler.

Drew’s Pick: Yes

I don’t love this fight enough to pick one fighter over the other. In the case where two veterans are fighting against each other for the second time, I see this being fairly slow, especially if or when it hits the ground. I will take the fight to go the distance with the edge to Hall, but not confidently enough to pull the trigger.

Mike’s Pick: Hall

Both of these men are just 36 years old, but in my opinion father time has struck Chris Weidman a lot harder than Uriah Hall. At his peak Weidman was the best Middleweight in the world, but these days he looks much slower and his chin has been suspicious at best. If Hall can stay on his feet, I think he’ll get the win and have a good chance at stopping Weidman. Sean’s Pick: Hall

This isn‘t the first time they’ve fought; Weidman actually finished Uriah Hall on the Regional Circuit back in 2010. Hall has had some successful knockouts leading up this fight, while all of Weidman’s losses have come via knockout or technical knockout. If Hall can timeout Weidman’s takedown, look for a knee or uppercut to send him to the canvas early.

Anthony Smith (+168) vs. Jimmy Crute (-210)

To go the distance: Yes/No (+186/-280)

Kirien’s Pick: Crute

This is a classic young-gun prospect versus grizzled veteran. I like Crute to harness the biggest stage he has fought on and to come away with a competitive victory. Smith is no slouch, but as long as Crute brings his A-game he should have no difficulties.

Abraham’s Pick: Crute

It’s hard not to love Anthony Smith. He is one of the most honest MMA fighters in the sport. Still, it does not excuse his recent performances inside the octagon with him going 1-2 in his last 3. To be fair, all of his losses have been against the top of the heap at 205 but Jimmy Crute is a young and hungry fighter who is looking to make a name for himself–at the expense of Anthony Smith. From Smith’s recent octagon appearances, it’s clear that he’s missing his confidence and until he regains his “Lionheart” nature I will have to side with “the Brute” Crute.

Drew’s Pick: Yes

As my biggest underdog pick of the card, I am calling this fight to go to decision. There is a reason the odds are so skewed with the rounds, but let me make up some value with this pick. Crute has not gone to decision in three years, but I think it is due. Smith has been through the ringer and can hang in there despite heavy adversity. With both fighters being skilled on the ground, I am looking to take the sportsbook to value town at +186.

Mike’s Pick: Crute

The odds on this one are arguably wider than they ought to be, but I think it’s only because Jimmy Crute has looked so impressive. Crute is fast, hungry, and has absolute bricks for hands. Smith is as experienced as anyone in the UFC and, as his nicknames suggests, he has the heart of a lion. Even so, I don’t think that will be enough to get him the win against Crute.

Sean’s Pick: No

Jimmy Crute and Anthony Smith will start up fast and although a first round KO isn’t out of the question, a finish is likely to happen in 2nd or 3rd round. Crute hasn’t been to decision in a long time and is the likely the favorite, but Lionheart hasn’t had a decision victory since 2016 either.

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