UFC251 Preview

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BetMGM @BETMGM Jun 16, 2021, 5:25 PM

UFC is back! After what seems like forever, fans of UFC and MMA can look forward to epic battles in the Octagon. Dana White has made good on his promise to deliver Fight Island – a private island for fighters that were unable to enter the USA due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Located in the United Arab Emirates, Yas Island is the designated destination.

The names loaded on the match card are enough to send UFC fans into a frenzy. There are some tantalizing fights to look forward to. If a championship triple-header, two women’s fights, a couple of sleepers, and four debuts are not enough to get your adrenaline pumping, then we don’t know what will. Let’s take a look at the mouth-watering matches and get more information like MMA betting odds from our sportsbook casino.

The event

When the COVID-19 pandemic brought sports across the world to a grinding halt, Dana White made a promise that the fight would go on! Yas Island is the chosen destination and is the perfect spot given its relatively light travel restrictions.

This event’s UFC schedule is as follows:

Date: 11 July


  • Early Prelims: 6:00 pm ET
  • Preliminary Card: 8:00 pm ET
  • Main Card: 10:00 pm ET

UFC 251 fight card

  • Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Jorge Masvidal — Welterweight title
  • Alex Volkanovski (c) vs. Max Holloway — Featherweight title
  • Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo — Vacant bantamweight title
  • Rose Namajunas vs. Jéssica Andrade — Women’s strawweights
  • Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant — Women’s flyweights
  • Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiří Procházka — Light heavyweights
  • Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Muslim Salikhov — Welterweights
  • Makwan Amirkhani vs. Dan Henry — Featherweights
  • Leonardo Santos vs. Roman Bogatov — Lightweights
  • Marcin Tybura vs. Alexander Romanov — Heavyweights
  • Raulian Paiva vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov — Flyweights
  • Karol Rosa vs. Vanessa Melo — Women’s bantamweights
  • Martin Day vs. Davey Grant — Bantamweights

Men’s championship titles

The main card in this round of UFC fights includes a championship triple-header.

  • Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Jorge Masvidal — Welterweight title
  • Alex Volkanovski (c) vs. Max Holloway — Featherweight title
  • Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo — Bantamweight title

Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal

The main event of the evening was meant to be an ultimate showdown between Gilbert Burns and Kamaru Usman, but Burns tested positive for COVID-19 and had to drop out of the contest.

In stepped Jorge Masvidal in what we expect to be an even more exciting fight for the welterweight title. The wildly entertaining and memorable “Gamebred”, as Masvidal has become known, versus the superior wrestling of “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman has everyone eagerly waiting for the showdown.

Masvidal has become a firm favorite with fans all over the world through his dynamic striking techniques. He had an incredible hot streak leading up to this event with wins over Till, Askren, and Diaz. However, most sportsbooks don’t see Masvidal putting this welterweight championship belt alongside his BMF title.

Usman has an unbelievable 100 percent takedown defense, 4.60 significant strikes per minute, and 3.44 takedowns per 15 minutes, which will likely see him hold onto his belt. He enters the fight 11-0 and has looked sharper in each performance.

Masvidal has fluid striking and movement, but ultimately, he will be worn down by Usman with his unrelenting pressure and exhausting pace. When you put Usman’s ground game up against Masvidal’s violent striking flurries, it’s hard to see how Masvidal will get going in each round.

It’s expected that Masvidal will hold the early striking advantage, but Usman will most likely find his feet and apply his usual unwavering pressure. Although we don’t expect this to be a knockout match, keep your eyes out for more than a few ground and pounds.

Verdict: Usman -295 vs. Masvidal +230

Peter Yan vs. Jose Aldo

The newly vacated bantamweight belt is up for grabs. We’ll get to see the rising Russian star Peter Yan take on championship hopeful Jose Aldo from Brazil. It’s hard to see anything but a win from Yan in this fight and all the betting odds will tell you the same.

We last saw Yan destroying former WEC champion Urijah Faber in a swift and destructive manner, once he tired of their bout in the Octagon. Yan is only 27 years old and is surging towards his prime, while Aldo is a legend that most likely won’t be able to keep up with the youngster. Simply put, Yan is scary. His destructive striking, unrelenting pressure and the swagger of a champion put him above the very best in an incredibly talented bantamweight division. An average of 5.65 significant strikes per minute, 1.73 takedowns per 15 minutes, and 1.52 knockdowns per 15 minutes make him an opponent to fear.

Perhaps the only chance Aldo has is taking his notoriously effective counter strikes to Yan when he comes in close. But given recent form, Yan’s age and physical prowess, it’s likely that this highly competitive match will end in the second or third round and we’ll crown a new champion.

VerdictYan -250 vs Aldo +200

Max Holloway vs. Alexander Vokanovski

Max Holloway tasted defeat against Alexander Volkanovski in December and missed his chance to become the featherweight champion. Whether he wanted it or not, Halloway has got his chance to rectify this loss and claim to become the undisputed kingpin. Is he going to be able to take on this match more effectively?

Having dispatched elite UFC fighters Anthony Pettis, José Aldo, Brian Ortega, and more, before their last match, Holloway went into the game with confidence. The problem is that Volkanovski was quickly able to stifle Holloway’s strongest attribute: his striking. Volkanovski’s low leg kicks threw off Holloway’s effective, yet routine game plan.

To really be effective in this bout, Holloway is going to have to rethink his fighting repertoire. Yes, his incredible 6.66 significant strikes per minute are highly effective against other opponents, but they didn’t possess the relentless style of Volkanovski. Even if he switches up and adds interesting counter-attack techniques, Vokanosvki has one of the world’s best striking coaches, Eugene Bareman in his corner.

This match is going to be a well-thought-out fight from both sides and you should expect a counterpoint for every point. Holloway is eager to get his belt back, but Volkanovski is out to prove that he is the deserving champion. This is going to be a fast-paced, exciting fight with both fighters holding nothing back.

VerdictVolkanovski -223 vs. Holloway +180

Women’s fights

A pair of fights for women include:

  • Rose Namajunas vs. Jéssica Andrade — Women’s strawweights
  • Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant — Women’s flyweights

Rose Namajunas vs. Jéssica Andrade

This much-anticipated rematch in the strawweight women’s division is finally going to take place. It’s been a long road. We last left Rose “Thug” Namajunas in the middle of one of the most spectacular striking masterclasses before she was slammed out by Andrade in round 2.

The two were set to fight at UFC 249 in April, but due to the death of two family members from COVID-19, Namajunas had to withdraw. We are expecting a spectacular performance from Andrade trying to retain her bragging rights and Namajunas trying to regain her pride.

Since her weight change from bantamweight, Andrade has been lauded for becoming an extremely effective mauler by the cage side. She is undoubtedly strong, but being short in height, she doesn’t like to come within kicking range and rather counters with hard hooks on forward runs or into a takedown. Her underneath strikes are unrelenting.

Namajunas, on the other hand, is all about getting in range and pressuring other fighters with high kicks and jabs. She is renowned for her axe kicks, front kicks, and head-targeted forward roundhouse kicks. When she goes in, she’s a huge fan of grappling.

There’s a lot to win and lose in this match and we are set to watch a spectacular game between two of the world’s best women fighters. This is a fight you don’t want to miss.

VerdictAndrade + 162 vs. Namajunas – 200

Paige VanZant vs. Amanda Ribas

In the women’s flyweight division, we’re looking at some of the most uneven odds of the night. Paige VanZant is taking on Amanda Ribas in what could be VanZant’s last fight in the UFC.

VanZant is coming into this fight with the odds heavily stacked against her. She hasn’t fought since January 2019, due to a number of injuries, where she won through submission against Rachael Ostovich. She is currently unranked in the UFC and hasn’t won a fight against a ranked opponent in some time.

On the other hand, Amanda Ribas is sitting 14th in the flyweight division and a win here could vault her into the top 10. She is eager to climb the rankings and looks set to challenge for the title in the near future. With a background in Judo and BJJ black belt, Ribas is an incredibly dangerous opponent. In her last fight against Randa Markos, she landed 85 significant strikes. With seemingly endless energy, she relentlessly hunts submissions on the mat and has a strong ground and pound.

Paige is a strong fighter and she isn’t expected to take this fight lying down, but her predictable striking techniques which mainly include blitz attacks, superman punches, and jumping switch kicks leave her vulnerable to Ribas’ strengths.

The art of choking her opponents unconscious is one of Ribas’s strongest submission techniques. Paige has been particularly vulnerable to rear-naked chokes in the past. It’s likely that VanZant is going to expose herself and her neck. Ribas won’t think twice about ending this bout in that instant.

Verdict: Paige VanZant +500 vs. Amanda Ribas -715

Sleeper match-ups

These are the two fights that have flown largely under the radar that you should keep an eye on:

Elizeu Zaleski vs. Muslim Salikhov

In this fight, we have Salikhov who has lost just one fight since 2012, and Zaleski, who has won eight of his last nine. We’re expecting fireworks from these two welterweight fighters, who have quietly added to their impressive fight resumes and fan numbers. The style of the fight is going to be one of the most intriguing aspects. Salikhov is the only non-Chinese winner of Wushu Sanda King’s cup. Zaleski brings his capoeira and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experience to the Octagon. This contest should be explosive.

Makwan Amirkhani vs. Danny Henry

This is the fight to watch in the prelims. Amirkhani and Henry are both excellent fighters in the featherweight division. They will be looking to get back to their winning ways after losses against Shane Burgos and Dan Ige, respectively. Both fighters are expected to come out hard and fast and this match could be a serious contender for a “Fight of the Night” performance. Importantly, this high-tempo, violent match is going to get fans riled up for the main card.


The UFC 251 match card includes some incredibly exciting debuts by up and coming fighters Jiří Procházka, Roman Bogatov, Maxim Grishin, and Zhalgas Zhumagulov. Let’s take a quick look at what to expect:

  • Procházka: If you’re looking for knockouts Procházka is the fighter who can deliver. This Rizin veteran is up against a tough opponent in Volkan Oezdamir for his debut. Ultimately, he may not win this match but it will be an exciting fight that announces his arrival in the Octagon.
  • Bogatov: Bogatov left his M-1 opponents in tatters before he signed with the UFC. This 28-year-old Russian is pitted against Leonard Santos in an extremely tough debut. He may also struggle to beat the more experienced UFC fighter, but this is just the start of what is set to be an exciting UFC career for Bogatov.
  • Grishin: Coming from the Professional Fighters League, Grishin will be facing off with heavyweight Marcin Tybura in a daunting debut. Grishin isn’t quite the complete fighter yet and even if he does win against Tybura, it’s going to be a while until he elevates himself to truly elite status.
  • Zhumagulov: The men’s flyweight division has a vacant title and has been dying for new and exciting fighters for a long while now. With a 13-3 record to his name, Zhumagulov could be exactly what the division has been waiting for. He is expected to be part of a crop of new flyweight fighters that will once again make it a hugely popular division. He will face Raulian Paiva in his debut. The odds are stacked against Zhumagulov but he is expected to go far in the UFC.

Online sports betting with BetMGM

UFC is back and we couldn’t be more excited. BetMGM has a massive array of sports betting options for you to choose from. Whether you’re looking for odds on the next UFC fight or live betting and more, we’ve got what you’re looking for. Use our site to keep up-to-date with the UFC 251 odds as the night draws closer.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.