Fight Island Strategizing: UFC 251 Odds, Betting Tips And A Look At Which Fighters Bettors Are Backing

Written By Dave Bontempo on July 9, 2020
UFC 251 odds card what time does start end

The UFC continues to show the sports world how to bob and weave with the coronavirus. When Gilbert Burns tested positive and was withdrawn from Saturday’s main event against Kamaru Usman, in came Jorge Masvidal. And the main event for UFC 251, launching Fight Island in Dubai, did not miss a beat.

The Masvidal fan club has shown up for the popular fighter. With Usman -265 at DraftKings Sportsbook in his welterweight title defense, Masvidal nabbed 67% of the handle and 57% of the bets at DraftKings by Thursday afternoon.

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UFC 251 odds

Main card (DraftKings odds)

  • Kamaru Usman -265 vs Jorge Masvidal +205
  • Alexander Volkanovski -230 vs Max Holloway + 185
  • Petr Yan -215 vs Jose Aldo +175
  • Rose Namajunas -215 vs Jessica Andrade +175
  • Amanda Ribas -770 vs Paige Van Zant +500

Preliminary card (FanDuel Sportsbook odds)

  • Volkan Oezdemir -154 vs Jiri Prochazka +130
  • Muslim Salikhov -142 vs Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos +120
  • Makwan Amirkhani –200 vs Dan Henry +168
  • Leonardo Santos – 178 vs Roman Bogatov +150

There are more preliminary bouts beginning at 6 p.m.

Betting angles and overview

Prop up the bankroll

Johnny Avello, the director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings, says to take a UFC longshot now and then.

“The underdogs get a fair amount of play on our network,” he told “I see the plusses, but with the minuses (laying money on favorites), bettors don’t want to put up 3-1, even 2-1 (Usman’s favored range). They want to win a fair amount.

“The winning method and the fighter is a combination that you can really do well. Why not take a crack for a couple of dollars? You might get 30-1, 40-1.”

That has happened in some of the fights on UFC’s comeback. Taking a stoppage in the final round of five-round bouts has brought people some 35-1 returns.

In the main event, Masvidal to win by KO/TKO has 48% of the money in that DraftKings prop and he is odds-boosted to +300. Next highest is Usman by decision, 18%, at +140. That shows how bettors see this fight: Masvidal would win in a stoppage, Usman in a decision.

Watch the patterns

Usman opened at -265 and Masvidal was +230. Masvidal backers couldn’t grab that number fast enough, driving the number all the way to +200 on Thursday. It will be interesting to see where this levels off.

UFC 251 odds boosts

Here is an intriguing odds boost at FanDuel: the Usman – Masvidal main event to end in a KO/TKO is boosted from -120 to +120 for a $50 max bet.

The numbers are a gift disguised as a vig. You go from laying 6-5 to getting 6-5 on that play.

Scouring for these deals has turned odds-shopping into an unofficial pastime.

Sportsbooks and bettors recognize UFC’s Golden Goose effect since its May return. This leads to enticing props, like combining two favorites with a dog or combining fights from the prelims and the main card onto one ticket.

“Almost all the fights on a card get some pretty respectable action,” Avello noted.


There are two in the main event. One, Masvidal was inserted into the lineup on short notice. Two, his cornerman Mike Brown came down with coronavirus and won’t accompany him. Masvidal said he was “devastated.”

How do you bet “devastated?”

Will the absence of his cornerman result in a more emotional, less strategic fight? Will he gamble more? Masvidal is aggressive to start with.

Money management

Follow a model you like.

One suggestion: 75% of your bets on your favorite selection, even if the odds aren’t great. You want your main pick played. Perhaps 15% on things you may like but not necessarily love, at the right price. And then 10% on the stabs Avello referred to. Percentages on UFC 251 odds may vary, but a layered approach as to how you’ll disperse betting funds is helpful on a card with so many fights.

Quick hits

  • Sometimes we overlook the obvious. Volkanovski won by convincing decision the first time he fought Holloway. He’s -106 to win the same way again at DraftKings. Repeat verdicts happen more often than we think. It’s logical to see this exact same result. But – if you like Holloway to turn the tables by decision, that’s a nice +275.
  • Another rematch involves Namajunas and Andrade. Although Andrade won their first fight, Namajunas bettors believe it was a fluke. Even though Namajunas has been -200 most of the way, and then went to -225, she’s gotten 63% of the DraftKings handle.
  • Van Zant bettors are weighing in, giving her 64% of the handle and 45% of the bets at DraftKings as a long underdog against Ribas.
  • Salikhov money has been rolling in. He opened at a mutual -110 versus dos Santos at FanDuel and went to -136 Thursday. Salikhov has 65% of the handle.
Dave Bontempo Avatar
Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

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