UFC 251 – Usman vs. Masvidal – Predictions and Picks

First fight: Martin Day (-170) vs. Davey Grant (+140). Day has great striking and solid take down defense. Day is comfortable fighting opponents with more mass than him which shouldn’t be a problem in this match-up since he is the taller fighter. Downside is he leaves himself open to big counter blows by keeping his hands low too often. Day’s last fight was a split decision loss to Liu Pingyuan. Easily could of been ruled in Days favor if he didn’t get knocked down in the third round by a much more tired opponent in Pingyuan; who caught Day with his hands down. This time out I think he will be fighting like his job is on the line. Davey Grant doesn’t have the fire power and has not been impressive in the UFC thus far. Taking Martin Day (-170) to win.

Second fight: Karol Rosa (-260) vs. Vanessa Melo (+200). Rosa showed in her last fight she belongs in the UFC. Melo is coming off of two losses. She badly missed weight. 80% of Melo’s victories have come by way of decision against smaller opponents and I feel Rosa will use her reach advantage early and keep the pressure on Melo to control this fight until the end. Give me Rosa (-260) to win.

Third fight: Zhaigas Zhumagulov (+140) vs. Raulian Paiva (-170). Paiva badly missed weight. There are two sides to that coin: a) Paiva missed weight on purpose to have more power against Zhumagulov. b) Paiva did not take the weight cut seriously. Zhumagulov will be making his UFC debut. Zhumagulov is an active fighter who prefers the stand up game similar to Paiva but relies more heavily on his hands. Zhumagulov tends to throw his punches wide and wild leaving him open to counter strikes. Paiva is coming off of a KO victory against De La Rosa where he was in control the entire fight. Paiva is the taller and lankier fighter of the two, similar to his last opponent in De La Rosa. Zhumagulov has had an impressive run in the FNG promotion where he is on a current 4 fight win streak. One win coming against fellow UFC fighter Tyson Nam. Zhumagulov is getting his first shot in the UFC and I don’t expect him to fold. Rolling with Zhumagulov (+140) on this one.

Fourth fight: Marcin Tybura (-125) vs. Maxim Grishin (-105). Tybura has been streaky as of late only winning 2 out of his last 5 bouts but he is coming off of a win. Grishin gives Tybura a new obstacle to hurdle. Grishin can submit you if he gets to your back but his fights mostly remain on the feet. Standing up with the bigger Tybura after Grishin has moved up a weight class and took this fight on short notice. Rolling with Tybura (-125).

Fifth fight: Leonardo Santos (-185) vs. Roman Bogatov (+150). Bogatov likes to smother his opponent. He is relentless when it comes to attempting take downs. Ground and pound are key to setting up submissions for Bogatov. Santos is coming off a big knockout win over Steven Ray. Don’t let Santos’s age (40) fool you he is game. I think it’s a toss up but have a gut feeling Bogatov will put the pressure on Santos and grind him out for the victory. Taking Bogatov (+150) to win.

Sixth fight: Makwan Amirkhani (-200) vs. Danny Henry (+160). Both fighters have been off for awhile; expect to see a slow start. Amirkhani gravitates to his wrestling and ground game so I believe Henry will be dealing with that most of this fight. Henry has a punchers chance here. Amirkhani has the advantage on the ground. Rolling with Amirkhani (-200) to win.

Seventh fight: Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos (+115) vs. Muslim Salikhov (-145). Dos Santos got back on track after his last win in March of this year against a tough Alexey Kunchenko. Dos Santos has his work cut out for him against Salikhov who likes to mix things up on the feet. Watching both of these fighters in the past I think the style matchup suits Salikhov a little better but Dos Santos has tremendous upside and his timing and patience will see him through. Another toss up. Taking Dos Santos (+115) to win.

Eighth fight: Volkan Oezdemir (-155) vs. Jiri Prochazka (+125). Oezdemir is one of the most accurate strikers in the light heavyweight division. It is hard to compare the competition level of Prochazka to Oezdemir. Nonetheless Prochazka has strung together an impressive 10 fight win streak avenging one of his losses in the process. Momentum is powerful in MMA fights and Prochazka will have plenty of that. However, Oezdemir has momentum on his side riding a two fight win streak into this bout. Oezdemir won his last two bouts by being the more accurate striker and avoiding the big shots. Taking Oezdemir (-155) to win.

Ninth fight: Paige VanZant (+525) vs. Amanda Ribas (-850). VanZant is a scrappy fighter and she is comfortable going where her opponent likes to go. Unfortunately for VanZant; Ribas, is the more skilled ground fighter and will put it all on display against VanZant. Ribas (-850) to win.

Tenth fight: Jessica Andrade (+165) vs. Rose Namajunas (-205). The last fight between these two ladies was Andrade slamming Namajunas unconscious. This fight I don’t see it going that way but I do see Andrade closing the distance and wrestling with Thug Rose. I like Rose’s stand up game but Andrade may prove to be too much for Rose with constantly having to defend take downs. Andrades last bout was a loss to Welli Zhang and there is no shame in that. Roses striking is no where near Welli Zhangs but not many womens strawweights are. Rolling with Andrade (+165) here.

Eleventh fight: Peter Yan (-225) vs. Jose Aldo (+175). First title fight of the night for the vacant bantamweight title. I don’t know what Peter Yan has to do to prove to people he is the real deal @135 lbs.. Yans last three bouts he won convincingly. This has all led Yan up to this moment in his career with the title in reach. Aldo is a legend and will always be a legend. He has a chance against anybody anytime but Peter Yan is the Aldo of old. I don’t believe this is the last we will see of Aldo @135lbs but this is Yans moment and I don’t see him wasting it. Rolling with Yan (-225) to win.

Twelfth fight: Alexander Volkanovski (-230) vs. Max Halloway (+180). Max underestimated Volkanovski the last time out. Both are elite fighters and its good we are getting a rematch. This fight will be more entertaining than the first one. I believe Max will be more willing to let his hands fly here and I think we are going to see him at his best. Both know how each other fight so if Volkanovski sticks to his plan of keeping Max off balance, I see that playing into Max’s hands and giving Max the win. Rolling with Halloway (+180) here.

Thirteenth fight: Kamaru Usman (-235) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+185). Usman is the heavy favorite here and I can completely understand why. Usman is as technical a fighter as they come. Usman beat Tyron Woodley convincingly and followed that performance up with a TKO victory over Colby Covington. Usmans 15 fight win streak has come against the likes of RDA and Demian Maia. Insert Jorge Masvidal, a tenacious striker who has flipped a switch in his last 3 fights. Finishing the likes of Darren Till, Ben Askren, and Nate Diaz. We talked about momentum earlier. Both men have it entering this bout. The key to me is who can use that momentum to their advantage. Masvidal has shown that if you really get into a war of words with him, he uses it as fuel to light the fire inside him. That is a scary thought for a fighter as talented as Masvidal. Taking Masvidal (+185) in this bout.

*Odds courtesy of bovada.lv and are subject to change at any given time.*

*Tail at your own discretion.*

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