UFC 261 – Usman vs Masvidal Predictions & More

April 22, 2021

UFC 261 is not just an ordinary pay per view. It does feature a trio of title fights, but that is not what makes this card so special. UFC 261 marks the first time fans will be back in the arena since lockdowns and other measures turned our lives upside down. 

It also marks the first time in a year the UFC is having fights outside of The Apex in Las Vegas or on Fight Island. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but every step in a return to normalcy brings me a sense of relief.


Moving onto the fight card itself, it is a very good one. The three title fights all carry large lines, but I do believe we have live dogs in them. We will not have a play on the main event, but we will have a play on the other two title fights. More on those later.

The pay per view portion of the card is rounded out with some sound fights, particularly the fight kicking off the premium portion. Jim Crute will look to take his next step in a matchup with Anthony Smith, and that is a fight I’m excited to see. The pay per view portion is completed with a nice striker vs grappler matchup of veterans Uriah Hall and Chris Weidman.

The undercard, particularly the televised portion is well-made as well. The streaming portion of the prelims will give us some information on some debuting fighters, but we unfortunately will not have any wagers on that portion. 

I will say I was quite close to pulling the trigger on a debuting underdog, but ultimately felt it more prudent to not make it a dedicated play. Don’t worry, I won’t leave you in the dark. I nearly made Na Liang a dedicated play. I think her grappling and ground game will be too much for Ariane Carnelossi, and the +185 price is certainly right.

We will have one play on the televised prelims, and had an additional pair that I considered pulling the trigger on. We will get to our dedicated play later on, but the just missed plays were Dwight Grant ITD and Alex Oliveira.

We will have a betting play on four of the five pay per view fights, three of which coming with a plus figure. We conspicuously do not have a play on the main event, so I will touch on that fight here. We have seen the Usman vs Masvidal matchup play out already. 

While a full camp may help Masvidal, it is more likely we see a very similar outcome in the encore. If any fighter has improved, it is Usman under the striking tutelage of Trevor Whitman. His jab has become an incredible weapon and one that will help to continue to nullify the only advantages Masvidal has in the striking. That said, I have no interest in laying -425 on the champ.

Without any further lead-ins, let’s get to this week's UFC picks.

Zhang Weili -210 vs Rose Namajunas

Fight is five rounds at 115 lbs and is +105 to end inside the distance.

For the strawweight championship.

Betting Play: Zhang ITD +225

Valentina Shevchenko -435 vs Jessica Andrade

Fight is five rounds at 125 lbs and is -135 to end inside the distance.

For the flyweight championship.

Betting Play: Andrade +330

Chris Weidman -125 vs Uriah Hall

Fight is at 185 lbs and is -135 to end inside the distance.

Betting Play: Hall ITD +170

Jim Crute -200 vs Anthony Smith

Fight is at 205 lbs and is -185 to end inside the distance.

Betting Play: Crute -200

Brendan Allen -155 vs Karl Roberson

Fight is at 185 lbs and is -215 to end inside the distance.

Betting Play: Allen -155

Other Fight Predictions

👊 Na Liang via decision over Ariane Carnelossi 

👊 Aori Qileng via decision over Jeffrey Molina

👊 Rong Zhu via KO over Rodgrigo Vargas

👊 Danaa Batgarel via KO over Kevin Natividad

👊 Pat Sabitini via decision over Tristan Connely

👊 Dwight Grant via KO over Stefan Sekulic

👊 Alex Oliveira via decision over Randy Brown

👊 Kamaru Usman via decision over Jorge Masvidal 

TJ Calkins
TJ Calkins was raised in a gambling loving household. He knew how to handicap horse races and follow line movements well before his tenth birthday. While sports betting remained a passion into adulthood, poker and Daily Fantasy Sports also became passions and remain as such today.