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UFC 251: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal odds, picks and best bets

Joe Williams
Sportsbook Wire

Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal tangle in a championship bout for the welterweight title on the main card at UFC 251 on Saturday at the UFC's Fight Island facility on Yas Island, United Arab Emirates. The prelims kick off at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN/ ESPN+, followed by the main card set for 10 p.m. ET on Pay-Per-View.

Usman (16-1) enters this one as a heavy favorite to retain his strap. He was expected to face Gilbert Burns originally, but that fight was scrapped after Burns, his brother and one of his coaches tested positive for COVID-19 in Las Vegas.

In steps Masvidal (35-13) for a fight that more fans wanted to see anyway. Usman is one inch taller and has a two-inch reach advantage. More importantly, Usman, a switch-stance fighter, owns a slight 4.60-4.33 significant strikes landed per minute advantage, and a 52.89-47.73 significant strikes accuracy-percentage advantage. He is also a 2-to-1 leader in takedown average at 3.44-1.70. The "Nigerian Nightmare" has won all 11 of his fights at the UFC level, including two straight title bouts. Last time out he polished off Colby Covington at UFC 245 (Dec. 14, 2019) in the fifth round by KO/TKO, although four of his past five, and eight of the past 10, have gone the distance.

For Masvidal, he has turned things around after two-bout mini skid which included a split-decision loss to Demian Maia at UFC 211 (May 13, 2017) and a unanimous-decision setback against Stephen Thompson at UFC 217 (Nov. 4, 2017). Since then, Masvidal has cobbled together a three-fight win streak, all by way or KO/TKO, including a doctor's stoppage last time out against Nate Diaz at UFC 244 in the main event (Nov. 2, 2019). In fact, each of Masvidal's past five wins at the UFC level have been by way of KO/TKO, so Usman will have to be very careful of those devastating Masvidal fists.

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Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal betting odds

Odds via BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports' betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated Friday at 11:50 a.m. ET.

Usman (-228) is a heavy favorite to retain his belt for a third straight fight, and he hasn't lost at the UFC level yet. The better bet, even in a title fight, would be going with USMAN BY DECISION/TECHNICAL DECISION (+175) on the 7-way Method of Victory line, as eight of his past 10 fights have gone the distance.

If you're not feeling a winner, but you just think the FIGHT WILL GO THE DISTANCE ( +125), that's not a bad return, either. OVER 3.5 ROUNDS (-112) is a solid play, too, as there is very little chance Usman is able to finish this one that early.

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