Sports leagues around the world have made adjustments in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, including the UFC. President Dana White is bringing a delegation of over 600 people to the island of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for four events unfolding over three weeks. The first UFC Fight Island card will be UFC 251, which unfolds on Saturday, July 11. The UFC 251 fight card features three title bouts, headlined by a welterweight battle between current champion Kamaru Usman and No. 3 contender Jorge Masvidal.
Masvidal stepped in late for No. 1 contender Gilbert Burns after the latter tested positive for COVID-19 before being cleared to travel. Now, Usman vs. Masvidal will headline a loaded UFC fight card. Usman is a -300 favorite at William Hill (risk $300 to win $100), while Masvidal is a +240 underdog (risk $100 to win $240). In the co-main event, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is a -220 favorite (risk $220 to win $100) against challenger Max Holloway (+180). Before locking in your UFC 251 picks, make sure to see the UFC predictions from SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley.
The accomplished MMA analyst has been on fire, as he has hit 12 consecutive main event winners. Last week, he told SportsLine members to expect Dustin Poirier (-200) to post a victory over Dan Hooker (+175) in their UFC Fight Night lightweight main event. Marley said Poirier would win at least a 48-47 decision if the fight went to the scorecards. That’s exactly what happened, as two judges had that exact score while the third gave Poirier a 48-46 advantage en route to a unanimous decision.
Marley also called a decisive victory two weeks ago for Curtis Blaydes (-400) against Alexander Volkov (+320) in their heavyweight main event. Anyone who has consistently followed Marley’s UFC picks is way up.
Now, with UFC 251 approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the card, identified the best value in the UFC 251 odds and released his picks for every fight. Those UFC 251 picks only are available here.
Usman vs. Masvidal preview
Usman enters this matchup with a 15-fight winning streak after successfully defending his title with a technical-knockout victory over Colby Covington at UFC 245 on Dec. 14. With that win, the 33-year-old Nigerian improved his UFC record to 11-0 and his overall career mark to 16-1.
The win over Covington marked the first time in five fights and second in 10 that Usman did not have to go the distance in order to get his hand raised. A former NCAA Division II national wrestling champion at 174 pounds, he averages 16 minutes, 40 seconds per fight, which ranks second in UFC welterweight history and seventh overall in the promotion’s existence.
The third-ranked Masvidal (35-13) reportedly was offered a shot at Usman’s belt when the UFC 251 card was being put together but was not pleased with the proposed payout and declined. The 35-year-old, who is a former Absolute Fighting Championships welterweight titleholder, posted a TKO victory over Nate Diaz at UFC 244 last November, four months after finishing Ben Askren with a flying knee five seconds into their fight at UFC 239 for the fastest knockout in UFC history. You can see Marley’s full Usman vs. Masvidal picks here.
Top UFC 251 predictions for July 11
We’ll share one of Marley’s UFC 251 predictions here: He is backing Amanda Ribas (-800) to defeat Paige VanZant (+550) via unanimous decision in a women’s flyweight bout.
Ribas is 9-1 in her MMA career and 3-0 since joining the UFC in 2019. She beat both Randa Markos and MacKenzie Dem by unanimous decision and took out Emily Whitmire via submission. VanZant, meanwhile, has been with the promotion since 2014, but has lost three of her last five UFC fights. Marley believes this a “terrible matchup” for VanZant and says Ribas will win this fight at least nine out of 10 times, still making her the value play despite the expensive price.
“Ribas will smoke her on the feet, although she can mop her on the floor as well,” Marley told SportsLine. “Ribas should control every minute of this fight and either get a finish or a clear decision at worst. I don’t see how VanZant even wins a round here.”
How to make UFC 251 picks
Marley also has strong picks for Usman vs. Masvidal and every other bout on the UFC 251 card. He’s also backing one combatant who is “the more powerful guy.” You can see those UFC 251 picks only at SportsLine.
Who wins Masvidal vs. Usman at UFC 251? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight on Saturday’s UFC 251 card, all from the accomplished expert who’s up nearly $21,000 and has nailed 12 straight main events, and find out.
UFC 251 odds (via William Hill US)
Kamaru Usman (-300) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+240)
Alexander Volkanovski (-220) vs. Max Holloway (+180)
Petr Yan (-230) vs. Jose Aldo (+190)
Jessica Andrade (+165) vs. Rose Namajunas (-195)
Amanda Ribas (-800) vs. Paige VanZant (+550)
Volkan Oezdemir (-165) vs. Jiri Prochazka (+140)
Elizeu Dos Santos (-105) vs. Muslim Salikhov (-115)
Makwan Amirkhani (-195) vs. Danny Henry (+165)
Leonardo Santos (-190) vs. Roman Bogatov (+160)
Marcin Tybura (-110) vs. Alexandr Romanov (-110)
Raulian Paiva (-195) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (+165)
Karol Rosa (-220) vs. Vanessa Melo (+180)
Martin Day (-190) vs. Davey Grant (+160)
CBS Sports Staff
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