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Betting Picks For UFC 261 Fights
Before we jump into our betting picks for UFC 261, let's see where the gambling odds currently stand. Per online bookmakers, here are the betting lines for each of the three headlining championship fights:
|Kamaru Usman||-385||+320||Jorge Masvidal|
|Weili Zhang||-185||+160||Rose Namajunas|
|Valentina Shevchenko||-365||+300||Jessica Andrade|
As you can see, the current title-holders are favored in each fight, and in two of them, by a heavy margin. Let's preview each fight before we decide if the bookies are on to something or not.
Masvidal Gets Another Crack At Usman
Usman completely dominated Masvidal at UFC 251 last summer, winning on every round on every judge's scorecard aside from one (the fight ended 50-45, 50-45, and 49-46). So why is Masvidal getting another crack at the welterweight gold?
Welp, Masvidal actually has time to prepare for this one. Last time out, he took the title match on six days' notice, had to cut 20 pounds in that span, AND fly across the world to Abu Dhabi to face Usman. That's far from the case this time around.
While Masvidal does have a valid excuse with the first fight's timing, this rematch feels like UFC booking with money in mind instead of match-making. UFC 261 will be fought in Jacksonville, Florida — the home state of Masvidal. With it being the first card in front of fans, our gut says UFC put Masvidal in the main event spot to draw the crowd, not necessarily because he deserves another shot at the 18-1 champion, Usman.
Usman might not be a box-office draw the level of Masvidal, but he's the superior competitor. The champ is a complete fighter with an impressive ground game, steadily improving striking skills, and a foot stomp that, while polarizing, is extremely effective. We think Usman cruises to victory once again.
Our assumption is the fight goes the distance akin to the first. Masvidal is an in-ring warrior, who's only been knocked out once before. But he does have 11 career losses by decision and a 12th defeat is our expectation at UFC 261. If there's a prop bet for the method of victory, take a decision.
Betting pick to make: Kamaru Usman (-385)
Weili And The UFC Come Full Circle
It's sort of ironic that the last time UFC held an event in front of fans, Weili was also on the card and happened to steal the show that night. At UFC 248 in March 2020, she won an all-out war against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a fight that's considered one of the greatest in octagon history. Despite that performance, Weili is a slim favorite over Rose Namajunas in this strawweight championship collision.
Both fighters are currently atop their game. Weili is the winner of 21 straight. Rose has victories in four of her last five, two of which were over Jedrzejczyk — and admittedly, beat her much more convincingly than Weili was able to.
This bout not only has "Fight of the Night" written all over it but also "upset of the night." We're of the belief that Namajunas reclaims the strawweight championship for the second time in her career.
It'll be close, but she's a more-rounded fighter than Weili. Rose can end the bout at any time and anywhere, whether that's on the ground or standing up. Namajunas' offensive flurry has no bounds and we get the sense she'll overwhelm the current champ come UFC 261.
Betting pick to make: Rose Namajunas (+160)
Shevchenko Looks To Keep Streak Alive
Unless your name is Amanda Nunes, Shevchenko has been largely untouchable in her UFC career. Take a pair of losses against Nunes away and she's a perfect 9-0 in the octagon with four straight title defenses. It's why she's the second-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the women's division.
On that same ranking scale, her competitor, Andrade, is No. 5. But if we're being honest, Andrade's big career bugaboo is never being able to win the "big one." Every time she's faced a world-class competitor, she's fallen short — including against Weili, Namajunas (they split the fight series 1-1), and Jedrzejczyk to name a few.
We see the same story playing out for Andrade at UFC 261 as Shevchenko retains the gold. Over the course of a five-round fight, the champion will outlast the aggressive Andrade, who will likely go for the knockout early on and tire herself out doing so.
Betting pick to make: Valentina Shevchenko (-365)
And there you have it, folks, three free UFC betting picks! Now, are you tailing or fading our advice? Whatever your choice is, make sure you decide before the April 24 bell time. You can get action at one of the online sportsbooks listed below.
Beyond a full list of UFC 261 odds, these betting sites also have bonuses available — the most lucrative of the bunch being sign-up deals for first-time players of the sportsbook. As the name implies, a bonus is earned upon signing up to the site. These offers aren't pushovers, either, you could stand to win thousands of dollars in free play by picking wisely.
The table underneath has details on what new player bonuses are currently live and redeemable. Cashing in on these deals before UFC 261 ever starts could spike your bankroll in a hurry — and what's not to like about that?
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