Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, has become “Fight Island,” and its inaugural event is chock-full of quality action. In UFC 251’s ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Kamaru Usman faces last-minute replacement Jorge Masvidal in the second defense of his Welterweight championship. One fight prior, Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski looks to make it 2-0 against former 145-pound roost ruler, Max Holloway. UFC 251 will also see Russian mauler Petr Yan look for both the Bantamweight title and his seventh consecutive Octagon victory against former Featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo.
It’s been a minute since UFC’s last PPV event, so here’s how to make sure you can still afford it.
What Went Wrong at UFC on ESPN 12?
Luis Pena quite literally choked. Tied 1-1 and in the midst of a neck-and-neck third round, he stuck his neck in Khama Worthy’s guillotine and sank the night’s biggest parlay. Jordan Griffin and Philipe Lins both underperformed as well, and the event would have been a total loss if Gian Villante weren’t so abysmal that he tapped to a choke from the bottom (watch it).
UFC 251 Odds For The Undercard:
Volkan Oezdemir (-160) vs. Jiri Prochazka (+140)
Muslim Salikhov (-135) vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (+115)
Makwan Amirkhani (-200) vs. Danny Henry (+170)
Leonardo Santos (-175) vs. Roman Bogatov (+155)
Marcin Tybura (-115) vs. Maxim Grishin (-105)
Raulian Paiva (-175) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (+155)
Karol Rosa (-240) vs. Vanessa Melo (+200)
Martin Day (170) vs. Davey Grant (+150)
Thoughts: There’s a nice mix of appealing favorites and underdogs here. Muslim Salikhov and Karol Rosa comprise the latter category, while Jiri Prochazka and Davey Grant fill the latter.
As fond as I am of watching Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos brawl to his violent little heart’s content, the fact remains that he’s been out-struck two fights in a row by lesser stand up technicians than Muslim Salikhov. “The King of Kung Fu” has him out-classed in speed, in stopping power, and especially in overall technique. Plus, based on his recent record, Salikhov’s wrestling has developed enough to take Zaleski’s mediocre takedowns out of the equation.
In short, Sanda beats capoeira this time around.
Vanessa Melo’s last two opponents have nearly doubled her in significant strikes landed, and that’s more than a little concerning for her against someone who landed more than 170 strikes in the span of 15 minutes in her Octagon debut. Rosa hits a fair bit harder and much, much more often — Melo’s inaccurate counters aren’t going to be enough to compensate. The women have been reliably kicking ass lately, so bank on Rosa.
I won’t lie and say that picking Prochazka is based on purely objective analysis, but I do have my reasons. Namely, the fact that “Denisa” has an inhumanly deep gas tank and Volkan Oezdemir has been known to slow down later in fights. Unless “No Time” can buckle the Czech’s lead leg early — which is admittedly very possible — Prochazka should be able to take over down the stretch.
Martin Day vs. Davey Grant is a 50/50 fight, hence why a moderate underdog is a good investment. Day’s ground game has consistently proven his undoing, most notably against Jaime Alvarez on the Contender Series, and Grant is relentless with his takedowns. Day is also coming off a nearly two-year layoff, making “Dangerous” worth a look.
UFC 251 Odds For The Main Card:
Kamaru Usman (-275) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+235)
Alexander Volkanovski (-230) vs. Max Holloway (+190)
Petr Yan (-225) vs. Jose Aldo (+185)
Rose Namajunas (-210) vs. Jessica Andrade (+175)
Amanda Ribas (-900) vs. Paige VanZant (+600)
Thoughts: I’ve been on the Petr Yan train since before his UFC debut and it would be horribly hypocritical of me not to put my faith in him in his first Octagon title shot. He’s younger than Jose Aldo, far less weathered, and offers the sort of high-volume offense that bedeviled “Junior” against Max Holloway. “No Mercy” is just too active and too powerful for the current incarnation of Aldo, whose ability to go five hard rounds at Bantamweight remains in question. UFC will get its second Russian champion on Saturday night, so be in position to benefit.
UFC 251 Best Bets:
- Parlay — Muslim Salikhov and Karol Rosa: Bet $60 to make $88.20
- Single bet — Jiri Prochazka: Bet $30 to make $42
- Single bet — Davey Grant: Bet $30 to make $45
- Parlay — Karol Rosa and Petr Yan: Bet $50 to make $52.50
UFC 251 is a helluva of a card as it stands — fingers crossed it stays that way. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 251 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+/Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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