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UFC 251 Main Event Predictions: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal Breakdown, Betting Odds

Timothy Finnegan breaks down the UFC 251 main event fight between Jorge Masvidal and Kamaru Usman and provides a prediction. The main card gets underway at 10:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 11.

UFC 251 is one of the most highly anticipated fight cards in recent memory. There are a total of three title fights, including a featherweight (145 lb.) title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway, a bantamweight (135 lb.) title fight between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo, and a welterweight (170 lb.) title fight between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal in the main event. The main event is expected to get started shortly after 12:00 a.m. ET.

The main event was originally scheduled to be a title fight between Usman and Gilbert Burns, which had an interesting angle because Usman and Burns were former teammates who trained together at length. However, Burns tested positive for COVID-19 last week and got pulled from the card. The UFC rushed to find a replacement for the main event, and they hit a home run by booking Jorge Masvidal to take Burns’ place against Usman. This is a rare occasion of a late replacement fight ending up being more highly anticipated than the originally scheduled fight, as fans are significantly more charged up for this main event than they were for the Usman-Burns fight.

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DraftKings users can also get in on the UFC action by betting on DraftKings Sportsbook or by downloading the DK Sportsbook app.

In this article, we will focus on the main event fight between Usman and Masvidal.


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DraftKings Sportsbook odds

Moneyline

  • Kamaru Usman (-240)
  • Jorge Masvidal (+190)

Total Rounds

  • Under 4.5 (-148)
  • Over 4.5 (+110)

To Go the Distance

  • No (-159)
  • Yes (+120)

For the full list of available bets, download the DK Sportsbook app or check out the DraftKings Sportsbook website.


Breakdown

Usman enters as the favorite to win with a -240 moneyline on DraftKings Sportsbook. Usman is the superior wrestler and grappler, and his best method to win is by grinding it out with pressure, clinch work and wrestling. This is reflected in the total rounds of 4.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook, tied for second highest on the card. Eight of Usman’s last 10 fights have been decision wins, and he has recorded octagon time in the fifth round in each of his last four fights, so there’s a good chance this fight could be lengthy if Usman is executing his game plan.

Usman likes to trap his opponents near the fence to limit space, where he can work the head and body from the clinch and execute dirty boxing, similar to the way UFC legend Randy Couture used to take advantage of his high-level wrestling. Trapping opponents near the fence also makes it difficult for opponents to change levels and get their hips underneath him. By limiting the ability to change levels, Usman has an easier time getting underneath his opponents’ hips in order to secure takedowns.

In Usman’s fight against Tyron Woodley, he applied constant pressure throughout five rounds, cruising to a decision win and landing a heavy 141 significant strikes in the process. 58% of those significant strikes were body shots, many of which came from the clinch after Usman walked down Woodley and went to work from the inside. Usman also had an impressive series of strikes off a collar tie, another weapon that is at his disposal.

Usman is incredibly difficult to take down and has stopped a perfect 100% of opponent takedown attempts in his 11 UFC fights. Because of this, Usman practically never spends any time on his back, which allows him to keep attacking on offense. Usman’s bottom position time and bottom position percentage are both the best among all qualified UFC fighters since the metric began being tracked.

While Usman is excellent at using his wrestling to stay on the feet and work over his opponents with close-range strikes, he can also railroad fighters with his wrestling in the takedown department. Usman logged a heavy 12 takedowns in his win over Rafael dos Anjos and can get the fight to the mat if he sets his mind to it.

Since Masvidal is taking the fight on very short notice, Usman has had more time to prepare for a lengthy fight, which will likely benefit Usman as the fight goes into the later rounds. If Masvidal, who is a +210 underdog on DraftKings Sportsbook, is going to pull off the upset, it will likely have to be via TKO/KO before the fight enters the championship rounds. Masvidal has showcased the ability to be a hot starter, most notably with his five second flying knee destruction of Ben Askren, which was one of the most devastating knockouts you’ll see in a decade.

All three of Masvidal’s last three fights have been won by TKO or KO and he has recorded at least one knockdown in each of those fights. One of those knockdowns was an impressive head kick that had Nate Diaz in trouble in the first round of his most recent fight. If Masvidal can catch Usman during a level change, that could be one of his best ways to win, although throwing kicks to the body and head makes him more susceptible to getting taken down due to being off balanced.


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Prediction

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the most likely outcome of this fight is Usman via decision (+140), which makes sense given eight of Usman’s last 10 fights have been decision wins. Usman by KO, TKO or DQ (+210) is the next most likely outcome, followed by Masvidal by KO, TKO or DQ (+250).

While Masvidal is a live underdog and has the ability to finish the fight, I think Usman’s blend of clinch work, close-distance strikes and elite wrestling is going to be too much for Masvidal to overcome. Usman has more margin for error due to his ability to find success both striking and wrestling, with his striking offense primarily in the form of the standing clinch. His elite wrestling not only allows him to generate takedowns, but it helps his striking play up because he does not need to be gunshy about committing to a strike out of fear of being taken down.

Usman’s advantage is further compounded by the fact that Masvidal has taken the fight on extremely short notice and has not had a full championship-level training camp to prepare for this fight. Because of this, we could see Usman drag Masvidal into the championship rounds (rounds 4-5) and finish him there, although the safe bet is to just take Usman via decision. Masvidal has been incredibly difficult to finish, as he has not been finished in over a decade and has not been finished in any of his 18 UFC fights. Usman is also not exactly a finisher, having finished just two of his last 10 opponents, and one of those finishes came with less than a minute left in the fifth round.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman via decision

DraftKings Sportsbook odds for Kamaru Usman via decision: +140

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All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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