UFC 263 Odds

The UFC returns to Pay-Per-View this weekend and BetRivers.com is proud to provide a wide variety of UFC 261 odds, props, and specials. UFC 261 takes place on Saturday, April 24 at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The UFC 261 early preliminary fights begin at 6 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN and available for streaming on WatchESPN. The UFC 261 preliminary card gets going at 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN and available for streaming on WatchESPN. The UFC 261 main card begins at 10 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on PPV.

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A card headlined by three championship bouts makes the slate of UFC 261 odds all the more interesting for parlay bettors and fans of heavy underdogs. Two of the three title fights feature heavy UFC 261 odds favorites, as welterweight champ Kamaru Usman is currently -435 to beat Jorge Masvidal, and women’s flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko is -455, the heaviest favorite on the entire card, against challenger Jessica Andrade.

Troy Machir breaks down the UFC 261 odds, previews the main card, and finds some plus-money bets worth a wager.

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UFC 261 FIGHT CARD: Saturday, April 24

UFC 261 Main Card: 10:00 p.m, ET on PPV
Kamaru Usman (18-1, -435 ML) vs. Jorge Masvidal (35-14, +320 ML)
Weili Zhang (21-1, -200 ML) vs. Rose Namajunas (9-4, +165 ML)
Valentina Shevchenko (20-3, -455 ML) vs. Jessica Andrade (21-8, +340 ML)
Uriah Hall (16-9, +100 ML) vs. Chris Weidman (15-5, /-125 ML)
Jimmy Crute (12-1, -200 ML) vs. Anthony Smith (34-16, +160 ML)

UFC 261 Preliminary Card, 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
Randy Brown (12-4, -155 ML) vs. Alex Oliveira (22-9-1, +125 ML)
Dwight Grant (10-3, -245 ML) vs. Stefan Sekulic (12-3, +190 ML)
Brendan Allen (15-4, -155 ML) vs. Karl Roberson (9-3, +125 ML)
Pat Sabatini (13-3, -230 ML) vs. Tristan Connelly (14-6, +180 ML)

UFC 261 Early Prelims, 6:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
Danaa Batgerel (8-2, -182 ML) vs. Kevin Natividad (9-2, +150 ML)
Zhu Rong (16-3, -250 ML), Rodrigo Vargas (11-4, +195 ML)
Qileng Aori (18-6, -110 ML) vs. Jeff Molina (8-2, -110 ML)
Ariane Carnelossi (12-2, -210 ML) vs. Na Liang (13-4, +165 ML)
Johnny Munoz (10-1, -286 ML) vs. Jamey Simmons (7-3, +220 ML)


Welterweight Title: Kamaru Usman (18-1, -435 ML) vs. Jorge Masvidal (35-14, +320 ML)
Although the main event is a high-profile bout, I don’t see any situation in which
Kamaru Usman doesn’t retain his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal. The two met at UFC 251 as Masvidal stepped in on short notice after Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19 the week of the bout. Masvidal was a game opponent but was thoroughly outclassed by Usman. I find it hard to see how even a full camp gives Masivdal the edge he needs. Yes, his fitness is sure to improve, and his striking is likely to be even crisper.  But Masvidal has never been a tactician or a strategist. It’s why he’s become such a fan favorite. His game plan is always the same: Hit hard and try to knock the other guy out. To beat someone like Usman, who nullifies his opponent’s best skills, you need to have the perfect plan, and that just isn’t how Masvidal does business.

On top of that, and arguably more important is the fact that Usman is on a different level right now. His wrestling is elite. His cardio is elite, and his striking has improved leaps and bounds since becoming champion. He has legitimate KO power, and uses his wrestling to keep the fight standing. Nothing is for sure in the fight game, and anyone can be knocked out on any given night, but nothing Usman has done makes me believe he will lose this fight aside from divine intervention.

Usman opened -400 ML and is currently -435 ML. That number is only going to get bigger. While the Usman moneyline might be too steep for some bettors, Usman -148 to win by decision is a much smarter play. Of Masvidal’s 14 career losses, all but three were by decision, and the Miami native has never been stopped inside The Octagon. The public is currently backing Usman with 77% of fight bets and 81% of the total fight handle.

The Pick: Kamaru Usman by Decision (-134 ML)

Flyweight Title: Valentina Shevchenk0 (20-3 -455 ML) vs. Jessica Andrade (21-8, +340 ML)
UFC women’s flyweight champion
Valentina Shevchenko defends her belt for the fifth time when she takes on former UFC women’s strawweight Jessica Andrade in one of the three title fights on the UFC 261 card. Shevchenko has just two losses on her UFC resume, both coming against current Pound-for-Pound Queen Amanda Nunes. Shevchenko is a kickboxing expert who has finished two of her four title challengers via strikes. 

Andrade is a game competitor with heavy hands, but has come up short when facing elite competition. Granted, she did capture the strawweight title by knocking out Rose Namajunas, but she was down on the scorecards when she bizarrely dropped Namajunas on her head, rendering her unconscious. Shevchenko isn’t unhittable, but if you want to inflict damage, you have to get through her precision striking and excellent footwork.

Shevchenko is the heaviest favorite on the entire UFC 261 card. Having opened at -400 ML, Shevchenko is now -455 ML and it’s only going to go up from here. I’m not yet ready to predict Shevchenko to win by finish, but I’m more than ready to back Shevchenko to win. The public is backing Shevchenko to win with 91% of fight bets and 98% of the total fight handle. The largest current bet is a $6,500 wager on Shevchenko to win (-400 ML) with a potential payout of $8,125.

The Pick: Valentina Shevchenko -400 ML

Strawweight Title: Weili Zhang (21-1, -200 ML) vs. Rose Namajunas (9-4, +165 ML)
Two women who share Jessica Andrade as a common opponent do battle for the UFC women’s strawweight title as champion
Weili Zhang takes on former champion Rose Namajunas. Zhang became the first Chinese UFC champion when she stopped Andrade in under 50 seconds with knees and punches at UFC Fight Night 157 in August of 2019. She made her first successful defense, beating former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk in arguably the best fight of 2020.

Namajunas, who defeated Jedrzejczyk for the title at UFC 217 in November 2017, lost her title to Andrade via a slam KO at UFC 237, but then earned revenge with a decision win over Andrade at UFC 251.  Namajunas has excellent movement, utilizes her reach exceptionally well, and has strong striking skills. I don’t see her KO’ing Zhang, but then again, most pundits said the same thing prior to her title shot at UFC 217. I’m not ruling out a flash finish in the first round, but I tend to believe this fight will be action-packed and will reach the championship rounds.

Of the three title fights on the UFC 261 card, Namajunas has the best chance to pull off the upset. But I’m leaning toward Zhang to retain her title on account of the punching power and physical strength advantage. But this is a really tough one to predict, because of Namajunas’ reach and her previous experience. The public is currently backing Zhang to retain with 71% of fight bets and 82% of the total fight handle.

The Pick: Weili Zhang -200 ML, Rose Namajunas to finish (+350)

Middlweight:  Chris Weidman (15-5, -125 ML) vs. Uriah Hall (16-9, +100 ML)
No fight has better UFC 261 odds than this one. Chris Weidman was once the next big thing in mixed martial arts, having dethroned MMA icon Anderson Silva atop the UFC middleweight division with an undefeated record. But since December 2015, when he lost his title to Luke Rockhold via TKO at UFC 194, Weidman’s chin has become woefully exposed. Weidman has won just two of seven fights since losing the middleweight title, with all five losses coming via TKO or KO.

On the other side of The Octagon is Uriah Hall, one of the most dynamic strikers in the UFC. Although often inconsistent, Hall has found a groove, winning three straight and four of his last five. Of Hall’s 16 career victories, 12 have come via TKO or KO. I didn’t love the UFC 261 odds opening line here of Hall -115 ML and Weidman -108 ML. But the line has since shifted to Hall +100 ML, which is a must-bet for me. I was already leaning toward Hall due to Weidman’s suspect chin, and that was before Hall became a plus-money bet.

The Pick: Uriah Hall (+100 ML), Uriah Hall to Finish (+188)

Light Heavyweight: Jimmy Crute (12-1, -200 ML) vs. Anthony Smith (34-16, +155 ML)
One of the more intriguing fights on the main card is the light heavyweight banger between former title challenger Anthony Smith and rising star Jimmy Crute.  Although Smith, seven years the elder to Australian Crute, has dropped three of his last five bouts, his three losses are to Pound-for-Pound king Jon Jones, former title challenger Glover Teixeira and current top contender Aleksander Rakic. UFC 261 represents a real measuring stick moment for Crute, who is taking a major step up in competition.

I tend to believe Crute is the more dynamic fighter right now, with all five of his UFC fights ending before the final bell, but Smith as a plus-money underdog is great value considering his wealth of experience and sneaky good ground game. The heavier the fighters, the more likely a finish is, which is why this is the fight I’m looking to find a plus-money wager on.

The Pick: Jimmy Crute to Finish (+125),  Anthony Smith ML (+160)

UFC 261 Main Card Predictions

Kamaru Usman (-425 ML) over Jorge Masvidal
Valentina Shevchenko (-455 ML) over Jessica Andrade
Weili Zhang (-200 ML) over Rose Namajunas
Uriah Hall (+100 ML) over Chris Weidman
Jimmy Crute (-200 ML) over Anthony Smith

UFC 261 Notable Preliminary Fights

Pat Sabatini (13-3, -230 ML) vs. Tristan Connelly (14-6, +180 ML)
UFC newcomer Sabatini is the heavy favorite in the first bout on the preliminary card, and I tend to believe he is the superior fighter. Connelly has not competed since his UFC debut in September 2019, albeit a decision win over the viral sensation Michel Pereira. But at 35 years old, and coming off of neck surgery, Connelly isn’t getting any younger. Connelly has over two years of ring rust to deal with, but Sabitini will need to avoid any rookie mistakes. I lean toward Sabatini, but I think they play here is on the fight to end via submission, as both fighters enter the weekend with nine pro wins by submission.

The Pick: Pat Sabatini -230 ML

Randy Brown (12-4, -155 ML) vs. Alex Oliveira (22-9-1, +125 ML)
When it’s all said and done, the careers of Randy Brown and Alex Oliveira might be pretty even, but on Saturday night, the advantage is heavily in Brown’s favor. Oliviera exited the prime of his career nearly half a decade ago, and while Brown has his flaws, he also has fight-stopping potential. Of his 12 career wins, all but two were wrapped up before the final bell. Brown is the pick, and Brown to win by finish is also a bet worth considering.

The Pick: Randy Brown -155 ML

Zhu Rong (16-3, -250 ML), Rodrigo Vargas (11-4, +195 ML)
Looking for an early prelim fight to get your UFC 261 betting action headed in the right direction? Look no further than 21-year-old Zhu Rong, a dynamic striker making his UFC debut against an opponent looking to avoid the dreaded 0-3 UFC start. Of Rong’s 16 career victories, 11 have come by KO or TKO. This is a massive step up in competition for Rong, but it’s hard not to love his talent and potential. He has a crisp straight right that can end things standing, but he also enjoys pounding it out on the ground and cinching in a guillotine or rear-naked choke. I’m looking for a TKO/KO finish prop for Rong here since I didn’t love the -250 ML when the UFC 261 odds were posted. For Vargas, fighting Zhu Rong won’t make it right. Sorry not sorry.

The Pick: Zhu Rong -250 ML

UFC 261 Preliminary Card Predictions

Randy Brown (-155 ML) over Alex Oliveira
Dwight Grant  (-245 ML) over Stefan Sekulic
Brendan Allen (-155 ML) over Karl Robinson
Pat Sabatini (-230 ML) over Tristan Connelly
Kevin Natividad (+150 ML) over Danaa Batgerel
Zhu Rong (-250 ML) over Rodrigo Vargas
Qileng Aori (-110 ML) over  Jeffrey Molina
Ariane Carnelossi (-210 ML) over Na Liang
Johnny Munoz Jr. (-285 ML) over Jamey Simmons