UFC 261 is arguably the biggest card of the year to date, along with UFC 257 (Poirier-McGregor 2) and UFC 260 (Miocic-Ngannou 2). This card will featured not one, not two, but THREE championship fights. The main event includes a rematch between welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal, who met at UFC 251. This will also be the first pay-per-view in the UFC with 100% capacity as fans are allowed back in Florida. Let’s have a look at the UFC 261 odds for this showdown.
Also featured in these UFC 261 odds are two more title showdowns. Women’s strawweight champion Zhang Welli looks to retain her belt against former champion Rose Namajunas. In the women’s flyweight division, Valentina Shevchenko aims to stay atop the division against former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade. Also, while it isn’t a title fight, the middleweight bout between former champion Chris Weidman and Uriah Hall is intriguing. I’ll share my picks for this card on our blog next week.
UFC 261 takes place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The early prelims start at 5:45 PM ET on UFC Fight Pass. The prelims start at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN and ESPN+. The main card can be seen on pay-per-view and ESPN+.
All odds from Bovada.
Kamaru Usman (-400) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+300) – Welterweight Championship Bout
Usman (18-1) overcame a slow start to defeat Gilbert Burns by TKO in the third round of their fight at UFC 258. Prior to that, Usman scored a unanimous decision over Masvidal (35-14). He stepped in on short notice for Burns, who had contracted COVID-19. Masvidal claims that with a full camp, he would have better conditioning and be able to stand up to Usman’s clinch-and-wrestling-heavy style.
He gets his chance to prove that now. Masvidal came out firing in the first match, but Usman adjusted, put Masvidal up against the fence and it was rinse and repeat from there. The UFC 261 odds for this match reflect that dominant performance. This match will be won on how well Masvidal can defend clinches and takedowns. Usman probably isn’t going to deviate much from that gameplan. It would be extremely dangerous of the champion to get into a slugfest with Masvidal.
Zhang Welli (-190) vs. Rose Namajunas (+155) – Women’s Strawweight Championship Bout
Welli (21-1) has been off since last March at 248, where she defended the title against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a split decision that was the Fight Of The Year in 2020. Namajunas (9-4) lost the belt to Jessica Andrade at UFC 237 in May 2019. However, she won the rematch by split decision at UFC 251 at July 2020. However, it wasn’t for the belt. Welli had taken the belt from Andrade in August 2019.
It has been a long time since we saw Welli in the octagon. This is why these UFC 261 odds seem a little strange. That being said, Namajunas only fought two months later than Welli. Ring rust is going to be the main factor in this title bout.
Valentina Shevchenko (-400) vs. Jessica Andrade (+300) – Women’s Flyweight Championship Bout
Shevchenko (20-3) has rolled over everyone in her path, and a unanimous-decision win over Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 in November was so dominant, Maia won a round and it shocked the MMA world. The aforementioned Andrade (21-8) was last seen in October, scoring a first-round TKO win over Katlyn Chookagia. Andrade is the first woman in UFC history to win in all three divisions (flyweight, strawweight and bantamweight).
She’s going to be in tough against Shevchenko, who is as well-rounded an MMA fighter as there in the company right now. Andrade is also very well-rounded, but she is going to be really hard-pressed against Shevchenko, who is the clear #2 women’s fighter in the UFC behind bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, who Shevchenko has lost to twice. Those are Shevchenko’s only losses since 2010.
Uriah Hall (-115) vs. Chris Weidman (-105) – Middleweight
Hall (16-9) was supposed to be the next Anderson Silva as he won the 17th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Instead, he has had a middling career and his last fight was win over Silva in October ended in a fourth-round TKO that should have happened long before that. Weidman (15-5), who took the belt from Silva in July 2013 in one of the biggest MMA betting upsets in history, defeated Omari Akhmedov by unanimous decision in August in a return to middleweight after getting routed by Dominick Reyes at 20 pounds.
This feels like a crossroads fight for both, and their UFC 261 odds are very close. Hall is on the world’s most underwhelming three-fight winning streak and Dana White would love to see him be more aggressive. Weidman has lost five of his last seven and you get the feeling if he loses in a romp, this might be it for him in the UFC. This is a rematch of a fight from Ring of Combat 31 in September 2010. Weidman won by first-round TKO to take the middleweight title, which he lost to Costas Philippou in his next fight.