- Date & Location: Saturday, April 24 @ VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida
- Odds: Kamaru Usman (-390) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+325) via BetOnline
- Prediction: Usman via decision
On Saturday, April 24, the UFC plans to hold its first event with a full crowd since UFC 248 took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on March 7, 2020. The event, UFC 261, features three title fights. The first belt up for grabs is the women’s flyweight title. In that contest, Valentina Shevchenko faces Jessica Andrade. In the evening’s co-main event, Weili Zhang attempts to defend her strawweight belt against ex-champion Rose Namajunas. Finally, in the main event of the UFC 261 pay-per-view card, which streams on ESPN+, UFC welterweight titleholder Kamaru Usman faces Jorge Masvidal in a rematch.
Usman and Masvidal first faced each other in July. The champion won that fight via unanimous decision, but Masvidal took the bout on short notice. Usman requested the rematch because he said he does not want to give Masvidal an excuse for the first loss.
Usman is 18-1 and on a 17-fight winning streak. He won the 170-pound belt in March 2019 with a decision over Tyron Woodley. Usman has defended the title three times and is coming off a February TKO win over Gilbert Burns.
Masvidal sports a 35-14 record heading into this rematch. He has not fought since his loss to Usman on Fight Island in July. Before that setback, Masvidal was on a three-fight winning streak.
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USMAN vs. MASVIDAL 2 PREDICTION & PICK
The first time these two met, Usman won by scores of 50-45, 50-45, and 49-46. Masvidal replaced Gilbert Burns, who tested positive for COVID-19, on six days’ notice. However, there were reports that Masvidal was training for a future fight against Usman before he accepted the bout. Despite preparing for Usman, Masvidal still had to endure a flight to Abu Dhabi and a sped-up weight cut. With that, he may have fought at less than optimal condition. That’s why this rematch is taking place.
I don’t see a different outcome for this rematch. I think Usman will defeat Masvidal and I think he will do so with little problem. The bookmakers seem to agree, as Usman is a bigger favorite in this matchup than he was in the first fight.
Masvidal is the better boxer of the two, but that’s the only place he has an advantage, but I think that advantage is less pronounced now that coach Trevor Wittman has Usman fighting behind a jab. As for the other key component in this fight, which is the wrestling game, I don’t think Masvidal, after 18 years in MMA, will suddenly be able to stop the takedowns of Usman. Usman landed five of 16 takedowns in the first meeting between these two.
If there’s one fighter from who I expect to see improvement in this fight, it’s the champion.
Prediction: Usman -400 via Bovada.
BETTING VALUE WITH USMAN
Here are the important stats from the first meeting between these two.
Significant strikes landed: Usman had 94 and Masvidal had 66
Total strikes landed: Usman had 263 and Masvidal had 88
Takedowns: Usman had five and Masvidal had zero
Control time: Usman had 16:38 and Masvidal had 0:00
I think Usman is a very safe bet for a win and I would lean toward a decision win. I would also expect him to land several takedowns and run up a fair amount of ground control time.
The wildcard here is Usman’s developing striking. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Usman uses his hands more in this fight than in the first meeting. I don’t think Wittman will allow him to get carried away and stay in the striking game if things look dicey, but I think Usman strikes more on the feet in the rematch. That could be dangerous as the longer the fight stays standing or at the range, the more of a chance Masvidal has to land a power strike. I don’t think Usman scores a knockout, but if he has fallen in love with his striking, that could give Masvidal an opportunity to score a KO win.
I think Usman wins by decision and with that, a prop bet for over/under on rounds might be a better value than a Usman victory by decision with him being such a favorite. As for Masvidal, a stoppage victory bet is very risky, but not out of line if you believe he can keep Usman at distance for most of the fight.
Prediction: Usman via decision -400 via BetUs.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Anyone who saw the first fight between these two would be hard-pressed to give the edge to Masvidal in anything but boxing. The only concern I have with Usman is if he will rely too much on his striking after his knockout win over Gilbert Burns. The one thing that makes me believe that won’t happen is Wittman. As a coach, Wittman is one of the best minds in MMA and if Usman fully trusts his coach, I think Wittman will control what Usman does in the cage and offer him the proper guidance between rounds. Usman’s edge in this fight will be as big or bigger than the first time he faced Masvidal.
FIGHT STATS: USMAN vs. MASVIDAL 2
|Kamaru Usman||Category||Jorge Masvidal|
|4.66||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||4.20|
|2.33||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.00|
|3.22||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.57|
|0.10||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.4|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
This is a big fight for Usman. He specifically asked to face Masvidal after he defeated him soundly the first time. Usman’s goal is to leave Masvidal with no excuses in this contest and that means he needs to dominate this contest. As for Masvidal, this could very well be his last shot at a UFC title. He needs a win.
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