UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal predictions, odds, picks: Best bets on the fight card from proven MMA expert

Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal unwittingly came within inches of running into each other in a Las Vegas hotel earlier this week. Both have speculated what might have happened if there were a confrontation, but they are certain to meet on Saturday in the main event of UFC 251. Their bout headlines the UFC 251 fight card at UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, with the main card set for 10 p.m. ET. The combatants were in Las Vegas to pass medical tests before getting cleared to travel abroad.

Cameras caught Usman, the welterweight champion, stepping out of an elevator just as Masvidal, the challenger, stepped on. But they apparently didn’t see each other, and the near-miss has added intrigue to their showdown in the Octagon. Usman is a -240 favorite (risk $240 to win $100), while Masvidal is priced at +200 in the latest UFC 251 odds from William Hill. In the co-main event, Alexander Volkanovski (-210) defends his featherweight title against former champion Max Holloway (+175). Before finalizing your UFC 251 picks, make sure you check out what SportsLine MMA expert Brandon Wise has to say.

A CBS Sports editor specializing in MMA, Wise has been dissecting the sport for more than five years. He specializes in picking main-card fights for UFC, which has enabled him to be profitable every year. Wise went a perfect 5-0 at UFC 239 and was 4-1 at both UFC 245 and UFC 249. He also nailed Khabib Nurmagomedov’s destruction of Conor McGregor in 2018, Stipe Miocic’s upset of Daniel Cormier, Holloway’s downfall in 2019 and Justin Gaethje’s TKO victory over Tony Ferguson in May. 

Across UFC 247, UFC 248, UFC 249 and UFC 250, Wise went 14-6 with his main-card picks, posting a winning record on every card and returning healthy profits for anyone following them. Since the UFC returned following a two-month period of inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic, he has gone 25-12 – including 4-1 at UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Hooker less than two weeks ago – while nailing the method of victory 16 times. Anyone who has followed him is way up. 

Now with UFC 251 fast approaching, Wise has carefully studied every main-card matchup and released his selections. Those picks are available at SportsLine.

Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal preview

Usman (16-1) is riding a 15-fight winning streak that began in December 2013, less than seven months after he submitted against Jose Caceres for the lone loss of his professional career. The 33-year-old Nigerian is 3-0 in title fights after recording a technical knockout against Colby Covington at UFC 245 on Dec. 14 in the first defense of the welterweight crown. 

The champion owns an 11-0 record since joining the UFC in 2015 and has been the favorite in all but one of those bouts, with the exception being his upset victory over Tyron Woodley for the title. That trend largely comes as a result of Usman’s dominant wrestling ability, as he holds the UFC record for bottom position time at a mere two seconds. 

Masvidal (35-13) is ranked third in the welterweight division and has scored a knockout in his last five victories, including a TKO win over Nate Diaz at UFC 244 last November. The 35-year-old native of Miami, who registered the fastest KO in UFC history when he flattened Ben Askren with a flying knee five seconds into their fight at UFC 239 on July 6, 2019, has not fought for a title since defeating Nuri Shakir in June 2006 for the vacant Absolute Fighting Championships welterweight belt. You can see Wise’s complete Usman vs. Masvidal picks here.

Top UFC 251 predictions

We’ll reveal one of Wise’s UFC 251 main-card predictions here: He is backing Amanda Ribas (-800) to earn a submission victory against Paige VanZant (+550) in a flyweight clash.

Ribas (9-1), 26, is a grappling specialist who is viewed as a fast-rising contender on the strength of a 3-0 mark in the UFC. The Brazilian’s UFC victories include a decision over fellow highly-rated prospect Mackenzie Dern in October of last year.

The 26-year-old VanZant was once seen as a phenom after she won her first three UFC bouts, making her debut in November 2014. But she has fought just twice since January 2018, splitting those bouts while losing three of her past five overall. 

Her dedication to MMA has been questioned as her career diverted to numerous paths that include modeling, reality television and an appearance on “Dancing with the Stars.” 

“There’s no need to get cute here and overthink it. Ribas is the better fighter,” Wise told SportsLine. “VanZant is coming off yet another arm injury that delayed this matchup from happening in March. She’s also on the last fight of her contract and ready to explore free agency.”

How to make UFC 251 picks

Wise also has strong picks for Usman vs. Masvidal and every other bout on the main UFC 251 card. He’s also backing one fighter who has “the perfect game plan.” You can only see those UFC 251 picks here

Who wins Usman vs. Masvidal at UFC 251? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight on the main UFC 251 card, all from the accomplished expert who has been profitable for five straight years, and find out.

UFC 251 odds for main card

Kamaru Usman (-240) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+200)
Alexander Volkanovski (-210) vs. Max Holloway (+175)
Petr Yan (-240) vs. Jose Aldo (+200)
Jessica Andrade (+175) vs. Rose Namajunas (-210)
Amanda Ribas (-800) vs. Paige VanZant (+550)

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