- Date & Location: Saturday July 11 @ Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Odds: Kamaru Usman -300, Jorge Masvidal +230
- Prediction: Usman via decision
On July 11, Kamaru Usman puts his UFC welterweight title on the line when he faces late replacement Jorge Masvidal in the main event of the UFC 251 pay-per-view card.
Usman won the title in March 2019 with a unanimous decision over Tyron Woodley. In December, Usman defended his belt with a late fifth-round knockout of Colby Covington.
Masvidal, who is the No. 3 ranked fighter in the official UFC welterweight rankings, stepped in on six days’ notice to replace Gilbert Burns, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on July 3.
USMAN VS MASVIDAl ODDS
USMAN VS MASVIDAL PREDICTION & PICK
Masvidal has been waiting for this fight since he scored a TKO win over Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 244, which took place in November. Since then he has been preparing to face Usman. Meanwhile, Usman had expected to face Burns, a fighter he had trained with in the past and who employs a different style than Masvidal.
Usman has an excellent wrestling base. He also has an endless gas tank. Those two things could serve him well against Masvidal, who is one of the more experienced and well-rounded fighters in the UFC.
Masvidal has some of the best boxing in the UFC. He is excellent on his feet. I expect Usman, who is no slouch on his feet, to test the striking of his opponent early. If the champion struggles with Masvidal’s striking, I expect he will quickly transition to his pressure-heavy wrestling game.
Pick: Usman (-300)
BETTING VALUE WITH USMAN
Usman is a great fighter. He has not lost in over seven years and is on a 15-fight winning streak. Usman sets a pace that few fighters can contend with and uses pressure better than any other welterweight currently in the UFC. He also can end fights with his striking.
Usman has an outside chance to wear Masvidal down over the course of the fight and score a late knockout, but I believe the champ is more likely to earn his ninth career decision win.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Earlier in his career, Masvidal was a fighter who seemed to lose by split decision more often than not. He often did enough to build a lead, but then he seemed content to ride that lead to the scorecards. Something changed in 2019 when Masvidal scored three knockout wins. These days, he is aggressive and confident. he’s probably at the peak of his career right now, which is impressive since he made his MMA debut in 2003.
Usman might not have had as much time as Masvidal to prepare for this fight, but his style is built to smoother any opponent. I think the champion’s skill set and ability to adapt during the fight and go to his wrestling base if need be gives him the advantage in this matchup.
Let’s look at some numbers. In his past three outings, Usman landed 446 significant strikes, his opponents landed 239 and 143 of those came in one bout. Usman landed 14 takedowns. His opponents landed zero. Usman rang up 14 guard passes on the mat. His opponents had zero. Usman won all three of those fights. His opponents in those scraps were ex-interim champ Covington, Woodley and ex-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.
Masvidal had a career resurrection in 2019. After two losses in 2017, Masvidal took a year off. When he returned in 2019, he was a different fighter. He knocked out Darren Till in March of that year. He then scored the fastest knockout in UFC history when he stopped Ben Askren in five seconds. In his most recent matchup, Masvidal won the BMF title with a doctor stoppage TKO win over Nate Diaz in November.
FIGHT STATS: USMAN VS BURNS
|Kamaru Usman||Category||Jorge Masvidal|
|4.60||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||4.33|
|2.17||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||2.94|
|3.44||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.70|
|0.20||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.4|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
For Usman, a win at UFC 251 will give him three title fight wins. Only Tyron Woodley, Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre have more title fight victories in UFC welterweight history. A win will also move Usman’s UFC welterweight winning streak to 12, which will tie him for first with St-Pierre at 170 pounds and also tie him with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov among active UFC winning streaks.
For Masvidal, this fight is an opportunity to prove that his 2019 run was not a fluke. If Masvidal goes from what he accomplished last year to winning a UFC title in 2020, it could go down as the biggest career comeback in UFC history.
Other fights in the UFC 251 card include Volkanovski vs Holloway II.