Kamaru Usman tips his hat to oddsmakers who have made him a heavy favorite on Saturday, saying they know a "sure thing" when they see one. The welterweight champion gets a chance to prove them correct when he faces third-ranked Jorge Masvidal in the main event of UFC 251. Their bout, the second title defense for "The Nigerian Nightmare," tops the loaded UFC 251 fight card for the promotion's debut at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
The main UFC 251 card is set for 10 p.m. ET. Usman has confidently maintained he will overwhelm Masvidal, who took the fight on less than a week's notice. Usman is a -260 favorite (risk $260 to win $100), while Masvidal is priced at +210 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 win by submission in a women's flyweight bout against Paige VanZant (+550). Ribas is a perfect 3-0 since joining the UFC last June and 9-1 overall. Now, she's looking to work her way up the flyweight rankings.
VanZant is coming off an arm injury that forced the original fight in March to be pushed back by four months and has lost three of her last five, with two of those losses coming via submission. Ribas is the more active striker (4.84 significant strikes per minute to 3.4) and grappler (2.02 takedowns per 15 minutes to 1.31). She's the more dangerous combatant once the fight gets to the ground.
"There's no need to get cute here and overthink it. Ribas is the better fighter," Wise told SportsLine. "VanZant is also on the last fight of her contract and ready to explore free agency. While most might say that's extra motivation, I think it lands VanZant in bad spots in this one by pressing too much."
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 (-260) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+210)
Alexander Volkanovski (-210) vs. Max Holloway (+175)
Petr Yan (-260) vs. Jose Aldo (+210)
Jessica Andrade (+175) vs. Rose Namajunas (-210)
Amanda Ribas (-800) vs. Paige VanZant (+550)