Usman v Masvidal

This weekend Yas Island will host its first UFC card which is filled with blockbuster-bouts, including three title fights! For the next two weeks, Abu Dhabi will provide a hub for fighters to stay and workout during their time in the Middle East. Through ‘UFC Embedded,’ we are able to get a glimpse of what the ordinary will look like for fighters, for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind, the late replacement in Jorge Masvidal for the welterweight title against Kamaru Usman has provided the challenger with a win-win scenario. With ‘Gamebred’ taking the fight on six-days’ notice, he will be excused for taking a loss Sunday morning UK time and will also be viewed as an incredible fighter, if he’s to dethrone Usman on such short notice. The switch of opponent from Gilbert Burns to Masvidal should not be a worry for the champion, both challengers fight with similar styles and there is a lot of hatred between Kamaru and Jorge, which is all the fuel you need for this fiery affair.

I’ll be backing the champion to fend off the hopeful Masvidal, but it is hard to specify on the round/method. Based off the fact that the contender comes into the fight with only days to spare, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Usman finish the fight within the first three rounds. However, due to the ongoing hate between the two fighters, prolonging the fight to inflict more pain on one another is something they may have in mind. At 5/11, I’m confident in Usman securing the win against a rival who hasn’t had much preparation, in which he would need in order to come out on top against a great fighter in Kamaru.

Alexander Volkanovski defends his featherweight title against former champion Max Holloway. The latter had lost the first matchup between the pair back in December 2019. It was a very close fight and I expect the same again, despite Holloway addressing that the only workouts he has endured for this fight were on Zoom calls. Daniel Cormier has called Holloway out on this, with the heavyweight explaining that Max had undergone some grappling workouts at the least. The comments seem to have bugged the champion, but I don’t think the mind games will distract him enough from beating the challenger. Despite recent UFC events providing us with a flurry of knockouts, we are definitely in for a five-round spectacle here. The Australian is just over evens to come out on top in a decision victory, which is well worth the risk considering he is a 1/2 favourite to win outright. Despite Max’s explanation of his training camp, I think he will be fully prepared for the fight but will face similar fate to what he did during UFC 245.

The fight I’m most looking forward to is Petr Yan against Jose Aldo, who square off for the vacant Bantamweight title. With Henry Cejudo calling it a day on his MMA career. The talented Russian takes on the Brazilian veteran in a bout that will be full of tactical and technical prowess. I’m a huge fan of Petr, who is looking for a seventh straight victory in the UFC where half of his wins have come via KO/TKO. With Aldo nearing the end of his career, I don’t see him holding off an aggressive and precision striker in the form of Yan, who will most likely finish this fight via stoppage. At 6/5 to win by KO/TKO, it would be worth a punt of backing heavily as a single.

The first two fights of the main card will be brought to you by the females of the UFC. Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas will be competing in a strawweight bout which will see the latter look for redemption. The first fight between the two ended in Rose being KO’d by a slam to the canvas, where the Colorado native landed awkwardly on her head. I don’t see Andrade being able to record another victory against Namajunas, as up until that point of the fight the Brazilian was on the back foot and nearly caught herself on the wrong end of a submission. However, this time round, I think Rose will be able to pull off a submission and gain a title shot against Zhang Weili. With Namajunas being a strong 4/9 favourite, backing the American to win by submission at 8/5 with Bet365 seems to be a risk worth taking.

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Paige VanZant is taking on Amanda Ribas in the womens flyweight division, which on paper looks like a one-sided fight. At 1/8, Ribas is perceived to dominate the fight from start to finish. However, the American will be looking to put on a show, as her contract with the UFC expires shortly and will be looking to impress future employers. Paige was recently quoted on making more money appearing on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ then she had in her whole UFC contract. The determination for an improved contract will be more than enough to spur VanZant on, despite Ribas winning all of her three fights within the UFC so far. At 11/2 to come out on top, Paige VanZant is more than worthy of being backed at such a price to come out on top.

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