Jorge Masvidal will have a home-court advantage of sorts when he battles Kamaru Usman on Saturday in the main event of UFC 261. The loaded UFC 261 card takes place at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, and the main card is set for 10 p.m. ET. The fourth-ranked Masvidal was born and raised in Miami and still resides in South Florida. He is already one of the promotion's most popular fighters, but will likely have even more fan support than usual since the venue is a five-hour drive from his hometown. Who should you back in Usman vs. Masvidal 2 as part of your UFC 261 bets?
Usman is a -400 favorite (risk $400 to win $100), while Masvidal is a +320 underdog in the latest Usman vs. Masvidal 2 odds from William Hill Sportsbook. In the co-main event, women's strawweight champion Zhang Weili (-185) will defend her title against Rose Namajunas (+165). Before making any Usman vs. Masvidal picks or any bets for the rest of the UFC 261 card, make sure you check out the MMA predictions from SportsLine analyst Kyle Marley.
Marley won the first-ever "ToutMaster" UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and daily Fantasy shows. He watches every single fight for every professional MMA card and does extensive research before each event.
Over the past 26 months, $100 bettors who have followed Marley's picks are up more than $19,000. Already in 2021, the accomplished MMA analyst has built on his memorable 2020 run and has now connected on 29 of his last 44 UFC main event picks, a stretch that includes a streak of five straight underdogs.
Last week at UFC Fight Night, Marley told SportsLine members to back top-ranked middleweight contender Robert Whittaker (-260) to earn a decision victory against Kelvin Gastelum (+220) in the main event. Whittaker controlled the action from the opening bell and pitched a shutout on all three scorecards to give Marley's followers an easy winner. Anyone who has consistently followed Marley is way up.
Now, with UFC 261 fast approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for every fight. Those selections are only available here.
Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal preview
Marley knows the main event pits perhaps the promotion's most gifted fighter in Usman (18-1) against its most marketable one in Masvidal (35-14). Usman seeks Masvidal's newfound level of fame, while the challenger wants his late-career surge to end with a coveted UFC crown.
After taking a nearly 18-month break from the sport, Masvidal returned to the UFC with a flourish in 2019. He won numerous Fighter of the Year accolades following stunning knockouts of Darren Till and Ben Askren, along with a stoppage against the rugged Nate Diaz for the manufactured BMF title.
However, he failed to capitalize on his momentum in 2020, turning down numerous fights reportedly because the UFC wouldn't meet his salary demands. That all changed when Gilbert Burns, then the top-ranked contender, had to withdraw from a fight against Usman after testing positive for COVID-19.
Masvidal raised his hand and UFC president Dana White wrote the massive check, but the fight largely failed to deliver as Usman used his wrestling and cage control to author a dominant performance. Masvidal hasn't fought since, while Usman scored a third-round stoppage of Burns in February. You can see Marley's Usman vs. Masvidal picks here.
UFC 261 expert predictions
We'll share one of Marley's UFC 261 selections here: He is backing Brendan Allen (-130) to get past Karl Roberson (+110) in a battle of middleweight prospects.
Many industry experts believe the well-rounded Allen (15-4) is a prodigal talent who could see his elite grappling skills carry him to the top of the division in the near future. The poised 25-year-old already has handled several upper-tier opponents including Kevin Holland and Tom Breese. However, a potential weakness was exposed when the hard-punching Sean Strickland finished Allen with a series of powerful strikes in their November fight, Allen's first UFC loss.
Allen faces another daunting striker in Roberson (9-3), who has seen six of his nine career wins come inside the distance. The 30-year-old New Jersey native has split his last four fights, but the losses came against top-ranked light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira and third-ranked middleweight Marvin Vettori.
"Allen will probably look for a takedown in the first 30 seconds and, if he gets it, I think he dominates in top control," Marley told SportsLine.
How to make UFC 261 picks
Marley also has strong picks for Usman vs. Masvidal 2 and every other bout on the UFC 261 card. He's also backing a fighter who "can win with a TKO, submission, or decision." Those selections are only available here.
Who wins Usman vs. Masvidal 2? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 261, all from the incomparable expert who's up more than $19,000 on MMA in the past 26 months, and find out.
UFC 261 odds, fight card
Kamaru Usman (-400) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+320)
Zhang Weili (-185) vs. Rose Namajunas (+165)
Valentina Shevchenko (-400) vs. Jessica Andrade (+320)
Uriah Hall (-115) vs. Chris Weidman (-105)
Jim Crute (-190) vs. Anthony Smith (+170)
Randy Brown (-155) vs. Alex Oliveira (+135)
Dwight Grant (-250) vs. Stefan Sekulic (+210)
Brendan Allen (-130) vs. Karl Roberson (+110)
Patrick Sabatini (-220) vs. Tristan Connelly (+190)
Danaa Batgerel (-145) vs. Kevin Natividad (+125)
Zhu Rong (-250) vs. Rodrigo Vargas (+210)
Jeff Molina (-110) vs. Qileng Aori (-110)
Ariane Carnelossi (-180) vs. Na Liang (+160)