The Weekly Showstopper: UFC 261, 76ers vs. Bucks and Suns vs. Nets

Actor and BetMGM Brand Ambassador Jamie Foxx with a phone in his right hand on a dark background

It’s fight night at BetMGM! Three titles are on the line in a tripleheader at UFC 261.

We break down all three championship fights in this edition of the Showstopper, including the welterweight rematch between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. Also, it’s a prime slate for hoops bettors, as the 76ers battle the Bucks and the Suns try to scorch the Nets.

Gain an inside edge before you place your bets this weekend.

MMA

UFC 261

Saturday, April 24 | TV: ESPN+ Pay-Per-View

UFC’s return to the Octagon features three title bouts. Though most of the action will likely be on the main event, there’s some major intrigue for wagering on the two female showdowns on this card.

Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Jorge Masvidal

The first time these two fighters met last summer, Masvidal wound up on the losing end of a unanimous decision. Masvidal will benefit from a full training camp this time around, but he’s going to be hard-pressed to stop Usman’s takedown attempts and ground control. Usman will try to take advantage with his wrestling acumen and methodically pick Masvidal apart once again. Usman’s lone blemish on his 18-1 record came via a submission defeat way back in 2013. With 5 of his last 7 fights having gone the distance, we expect The Nigerian Nightmare to notch another decision victory.

Women’s Strawweight Champion Zhang Weili (c) vs. Rose Namajunas

Sporting a terrific 21-1 record, Weili makes her second title defense following her victory over Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the unanimous 2020 Fight of the Year. We anticipate another hard-hitting battle for Zhang against “Thug Rose,” who is the fan favorite and a narrow underdog after going 7-2 in her last nine fights. Zhang’s nickname is “Magnum” for a good reason. Not only is her striking power fearsome, but her attack mode can be relentless. That said, Namajunas is a very skilled fighter, especially in the boxing department, so the possibility of an upset looms large in what could be the best fight of the night.

Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Jessica Andrade

Shevchenko has only lost three times, and two of those defeats came against Amanda Nunes, so nothing to be ashamed about. Since Shevchenko’s second loss to Nunes, she’s reeled off six straight victories, while her Brazilian challenger has lost two of her last three fights. Andrade is an incredibly powerful puncher who is always a threat to land a knockout blow out of nowhere, but Shevchenko has the more well-rounded skillset, with her combination of kickboxing, wrestling and defensive ability. This fight could easily end in a TKO, and we like “Bullet” Shevchenko to deliver the final blow.

NBA

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks works against CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the third quarter at Moda Center on April 02, 2021 in Portland, Oregon.
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Saturday, April 24 | TV: ESPN

The 76ers are locked in a battle for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed with the Nets – and the Bucks aren’t that far behind. Milwaukee actually knocked off Philadelphia on Thursday in a 124-117 offensive showcase that featured balanced scoring from both squads. Keep a close eye on Ben Simmons’ status heading into this matinee, as the 76ers point guard has missed three straight games due to an illness. Even if Simmons suits up, the Bucks appear to have the 76ers’ number this season, as they also won in overtime against them back in March. This could shape up to be another close, back-and-forth contest.

Phoenix Suns vs. Brooklyn Nets

Sunday, April 25 | TV: ESPN

Monty Williams’ Suns have been on a remarkable run as one of the elite teams in the Western Conference. They did have a letdown game in a 99-86 loss to the Celtics on Thursday, but that was on the tail end of a tough back-to-back. In these teams’ first showdown of the season, the Nets came away with a narrow 128-124 victory. Although with Kevin Durant nursing a thigh injury and James Harden out indefinitely, this game looks entirely winnable for Phoenix. The safer play is betting on this to be another high-scoring affair, with Kyrie Irving’s usage rate likely to be through the roof.

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