UFC 251 stands out as the sixth card in promotional historical past to boast three title fights, however few have matched this stage of pleasure and anticipation. Certain, Georges St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping at UFC 217 had hype as GSP returned from an prolonged layoff, and naturally Conor McGregor difficult Eddie Alvarez for the light-weight title at UFC 205 was must-see TV, however this weekend feels completely different when Kamaru Usman appears to be like to defend his welterweight title in opposition to Jorge Masvidal at “Battle Island” in Abu Dhabi.

The 2 have had beef over the past seven months as they negotiated backwards and forwards to get a deal achieved. However Masvidal and UFC could not come to phrases. As a substitute, the promotion selected Gilbert Burns — a teammate and coaching associate of Usman — to face the champ for the title. Nevertheless, Burns examined constructive for the coronavirus simply six days earlier than the scheduled battle, forcing UFC to discover a answer. In steps Masvidal and one of many largest playing cards of the yr received even larger.

Not solely will there be a trio of titles up for grabs, however some big-name prospects and former champs fill out the remainder of the cardboard. Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade are set for a strawweight showdown and rematch of their Could 2019 battle that noticed Andrade snag the title with a slam knockout. Plus, Amanda Ribas battles Paige VanZant in a key girls’s flyweight contest.

Get your professional picks for UFC 251 from our podcast — State of Fight with Brian Campbell — the place we take a look at every little thing on the principle card and get some in-depth evaluation with Brandon Clever beneath.

Buckle up, it may be a wild experience. Let’s take a better take a look at the remainder of the cardboard with the most recent odds from William Hill Sportsbook.

UFC 251 battle card

  • Kamaru Usman (c) -240 vs. Jorge Masvidal +200 — Welterweight title
  • Alex Volkanovski (c) -220 vs. Max Holloway +180 — Featherweight title
  • Petr Yan -230 vs. Jose Aldo +190 — Vacant bantamweight title
  • Rose Namajunas -210 vs. Jéssica Andrade +175 — Ladies’s strawweights
  • Amanda Ribas -800 vs. Paige VanZant +550 — Ladies’s flyweights
  • Volkan Oezdemir -150 vs. Jiří Procházka +125 — Gentle heavyweights
  • Muslim Salikhov -135 vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos +115 — Welterweights
  • Makwan Amirkhani -195 vs. Dan Henry +165 — Featherweights
  • Leonardo Santos -170 vs. Roman Bogatov +145 — Lightweights
  • Marcin Tybura -110 vs. Maxim Grishin -110 — Heavyweights
  • Raulian Paiva -175 vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov +150 — Flyweights
  • Karol Rosa -240 vs. Vanessa Melo +200 — Ladies’s bantamweights
  • Martin Day -170 vs. Davey Grant +145 — Bantamweights

With such an enormous essential occasion on faucet, the crew at CBS Sports activities went forward with predictions and picks for the principle card. Listed below are your choose makers: Brent Brookhouse (Fight sports activities author), Brian Campbell (Fight sports activities author), Matthew Coca (producer), Jack Crosby (editor) and Michael Mormile (producer).

UFC 251 picks

Usman (c) vs. Masvidal Masvidal Usman Masvidal Usman Usman
Volkanovski (c) vs. Holloway Holloway Volkanovski Holloway Holloway Holloway
Yan vs. Aldo Yan Yan Aldo Aldo Yan
Namajunas vs. Andrade Namajunas Andrade Namajunas Namajunas Namajunas
Ribas vs. VanZant Ribas Ribas Ribas Ribas Ribas

Campbell on why Masvidal will win: Let’s get this out of the way in which: Stylistically, this battle is a nightmare for Masvidal given Usman’s unimaginable wrestling sport and skill to ragdoll opponents for 5 rounds. Masvidal, a slight betting underdog, will even must shed, in his personal phrases, 20 kilos throughout battle week to make championship weight on simply six days’ discover. However Masvidal is a fighter who has lengthy thrived within the midst of chaos, which Saturday’s battle affords in droves. And Usman, contemporary off a five-round standup warfare with Colby Covington, has stuffed many a reporter’s pocket book in latest months by complaining that critics do not see him as a well-rounded fighter. This has all of the makings to be disastrous for Usman ought to he select to commerce with this sort of opponent. Masvidal has confirmed to be a knockout menace at any second of the battle as a result of his explosive hanging and will likely be a dwell canine to do the identical in opposition to an opponent who was given no time to organize for him. 

Brookhouse on why Usman will win: Masvidal is on the peak of his combating profession, however the circumstances listed here are lower than best. He was not in camp and was not planning to battle when he took the bout on six days’ discover. There could also be nobody on the UFC roster as prepared for a battle at any second than Masvidal, so it is not an entire catastrophe. However Usman is a handful with a full camp. Usman additionally has the power to be a relentless grinder, and figuring out the scenario, I absolutely count on him to put on Masvidal down within the early rounds, forcing him to wrestle and work each second earlier than taking the battle over late and doubtless scoring a stoppage. Masvidal is the higher story, however this does not really feel like math that provides up in his favor.

Campbell on why Holloway will win: Let’s give Volkanovski props for disarming Holloway all through the primary three rounds of their title bout in December when he claimed an in depth resolution. Volkanovski managed distance in opposition to the longer Holloway and stifled him with leg kicks. However let’s not overlook simply how shut his margin of victory was and the way a lot Holloway rallied over the ultimate two rounds. For those who give a fighter nonetheless in his prime just like the 28-year-old Holloway a second probability to do what he does finest, which is dictate the phrases of the battle and get off first and final with combos, it is arduous to think about anybody beating him consecutively the identical approach. Contemplating that buying and selling with Holloway on equal phrases could be a nasty strategic play for Volkanovski, the room for enchancment based mostly on their performances of their first battle leans closely towards Holloway. Search for him to remind us of his greatness following 25 minutes of high-paced assault.

Brookhouse on why Volkanovski will win: The Metropolis Kickboxing type of combating requires lots of work to regulate to. Volkanovski does a beautiful job of utilizing feints and leg kicks to throw off an opponent’s rhythm. If Holloway is critical that he didn’t have any kind of camp or sparring and simply skilled through Zoom periods, that could possibly be an enormous drawback. That scenario would depart Holloway to his combating instincts somewhat than a completely ready gameplan, which is a nasty scenario to be in. In fact, Holloway’s combating instincts are absolute top-level, however I do not see him with the ability to modify to the issues Volkanovski did so effectively of their first battle. This must be an excellent one, however Volkanovski ought to be capable of pile up sufficient rounds to take the choice.

Campbell on why Yan will win: Aldo’s evolution with age has seen him go away from taking the lead with arduous leg kicks and settle into extra of a heavy counter-punching function as a 33-year-old veteran. It is not that Aldo would not yield the form of energy that would see him stroll away with the bantamweight title. It is simply that Yan seems to be too quick, too younger and too hungry to succumb to it. The primary disadvantage in Aldo’s evolution is that he would not throw sufficient strikes to win shut rounds and relies upon too extremely on the prospect of inflicting injury with a giant strike. That has led him to be outworked in latest losses to Alexander Volkanovski and Marlon Moraes. Not solely does Aldo not deserve this title shot being contemporary off of two defeats, he has an opponent who is simply too good to make the form of mistake that will open the door for a feel-good victory. 

Brookhouse on why Andrade will win: It is arduous to get away from the truth that Namajunas’ focus usually appears off. After Andrade slammed her to win the strawweight championship, Namajunas gave the impression to be achieved with the game. She then introduced her intention to return, however tragically misplaced a number of members of the family to the COVID-19 pandemic. The psychological sport seems like an even bigger difficulty with Namajuans than with different fighters and there is loads of motive to assume that it is going to be a difficulty for her as she faces a girl who nearly retired her. Possibly that’s overthinking what’s, in the end, a battle, however I am going to roll with Andrade to show that the primary time round was greater than a fluke slam victory.

Who will win Usman vs. Masvidal, and the way precisely will every battle finish? Go to SportsLine now to get detailed picks on each battle on Saturday’s UFC 251 card, all from the achieved professional who’s up nearly $21,000 and has nailed 12 straight essential occasions.