UFC 261 Expert Picks & Analysis

Usaama

Usaama is the editor in chief at MBS Report and writes about politics, economics, and sports.

By Usaama

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Kamaru Usman VS. Jorge Masvidal for the UFC Welterweight Title

 

I’m picking the underdog here.

 

In Kamaru Usman’s last fight, Gilbert Burns hurt him badly in the first round. And if Burns (who is known for his grappling) can hurt you, Jorge Masvidal can definitely hurt you too.

 

Also, Usman beating Burns and Masvidal in his last two outings was a factor of having better cardio. Burns was competitive and perhaps winning until he gassed out very quickly. Masvidal cut close to 30 pounds in 1 week ahead of his first fight with Usman, which definitely sapped his cardio.

 

Yet Masvidal was still able to fight for 25 minutes, and easily got off his back when Usman took him down in the first round, while Masvidal was still feeling fresh. Masvidal also settled against the cage for long periods of time during their first fight, most likely to conserve energy. I don’t see that happening again in their rematch when he comes in with a full gas tank.

 

One scary possibility is that Usman’s work with coach Trevor Whitman improves his striking so much that it surpasses Masvidal’s. It’s unlikely but possible, and if that turns out to be the case it’s going to be a long painful night for Masvidal.

 

My Prediction: Jorge Masvidal by KO/TKO to become the new UFC Welterweight Champion

What the others are saying: TBD

Betting Note: Jorge Masvidal is currently a 3-1 underdog, but I think his odds are going to come down a bit as casual fans put money on Jorge as the fight gets closer. So I’m thinking of betting on Jorge sooner rather than later.

Weili Zhang VS. Rose Namajunas for the UFC Women’s Strawweight Title

 

MMA is unlike any other sport. In basketball, if the Lakers lose to the Warriors in the season opener but beat them on the final game of the season, everyone would agree that the Lakers improved (assuming there were no major injuries on either team).

 

But MMA doesn’t follow that logic, and Rose Namajunas is the perfect example.

 

If they had given Rose a title fight against Weili Zhang immediately after Rose’s knockout loss to Jessica Andrade, I would have picked Namajunas to win all day. Rose’s boxing looked on point and her defense was flawless until she made a tactical error that lead to her getting slammed on her head for a knock out loss.

 

Rose won the rematch against Andrade. And to the casual fan it would make logical sense that if Rose was a favorite against Zhang after the loss to Andrade, she would be an even bigger favorite after avenging that loss.

 

But this is MMA. In her rematch with Andrade, Rose looked very hittable despite coming through with the split decision win. For some reason, Rose’s defense deteriorated or Jessica’s offence improved. Whichever the case, there is a 100% chance that Weili’s coaches are analyzing the adjustments Jessica was able to make in order to land powerful punches on Rose.

 

An X-factor here is Rose’s grappling. If Rose is able to take Weili down and hold her there, she could definitely pull out the submission win. But that’s big IF considering Weili’s 100% takedown defense so far in her UFC career.

 

My Prediction: Weili Zhang by KO/TKO to remain UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion

What the others are saying: TBD

Betting Note: My gut tells me that there’s going to be a lot of casual Chinese fans who are going to bet on Weili Zhang as the fight gets closer. I’m probably going to put in some money on Weili today, and if/when the odds shift significantly to make Rose and even bigger underdog, place a little money on Rose too to make sure I go home with money no matter who wins.

Valentina Shevchenko VS Jessica Andrade for the UFC Women’s Flyweight Title

 

You have to pick Valentina to win here. Jessica Andrade looked phenomenal in her last 2 fights against Katlyn Chookagian and Rose Namajunas (despite losing to the latter by split decision). But Shevchenko in my opinion is the greatest female fighter to ever walk planet earth, and Jessica Andrade is just at the wrong place at the wrong time (yes I do think Shevchenko beat Amanda Nunes).

 

But there was a moment in Shevchenko’s last fight where she looked beatable, and it was when her opponent (Jennifer Maia) was able to hold her against the cage for a long time, take her down, and holder down for an entire round. Even though Maia was never close to winning the fight, Maia definitely won 1 round and illuminated a path to victory for anyone fighting Shevchenko in the future.

 

You better believe Andrade is going to come in with a solid strength and conditioning camp, combined with a wrestling heavy game plan to try and expand on Maia’s limited success.

 

My Prediction: Shevchenko by DEC to retain the UFC Women’s Flyweight Title

What the others are saying: TBD

Betting Note: Because Jessica Andrade has a legitimate path to victory and the odds are so heavily in Shevchenko’s favor, I’m not going to put any money on Shevchenko. If the odds for Andrade to win get crazy good towards the fight, I would consider a small bet on her.

Chris Weidman VS. Uriah Hall

 

I’m not touching this fight with a 10 foot pole from a betting perspective. Both fighters are as inconsistent as any fighter can be.

 

In the middle of 5 knockout losses over his last 7 fights, Weidman somehow submitted Kelvin Gastelum who is a perennial top 5 contender.

 

Hall for his part has never beaten a top 10 fighter, except that one time when he spinning back kick flying kneed Gegard Mousasi.

 

I’m leaning slightly towards Weidman to use his wrestling to take Hall down and submit him or hold him down, but Hall can definitely pick Weidman apart from the outside or land a knockout punch to Wideman’s weak chin.

 

My Prediction: Chris Weidman by Submission

What the others are saying: TBD

Betting Note: I will most likely not bet on this fight.

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