UFC 251: Pick Prediction
- Volkan Oezdemir (-165) vs. Jiri Prochazka (+145)
- Muslim Salikhov (-120) vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (Evens)
- Makwan Amirkhani (-190) vs. Danny Henry (+170)
- Leonardo Santos (-180) vs. Roman Bogatov (+160)
- Marcin Tybura (-110) vs. Maxim Grishin (-110)
- Raulin Paiva (-180) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (+160)
- Karol Rosa (-230) vs. Vanessa Melo (+190)
- Martin Day (-180) vs. Davey Grant (+160)
Check out all main card UFC 251 predictions here. Below, you you can see all prelims and early prelims predictions, based on the latest odds by the U.S. sports betting sites.
Volkan Oezdemir (-165) vs. Jiri Prochazka (+145)
Hopes are high for former RIZIN light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka ahead of his UFC debut against Volkan Oezdemir, where it’s difficult to ascertain who should lead the stakes.
Oezdemir has a 5-3 record in the promotion (17-4 in his MMA career) and is seeking a third straight win after wins over Ilir Latifi and Aleksandar Rakic. Prochazka, meanwhile, has a 26-3 record and has won his last 10 fights (almost all in Asia), with nine of those coming by way of knockout.
It’s fair to say the Czech newcomer packs power behind his punches, but it’s hard to judge how that will translate into the UFC.
Oezdemir—who is 6’2”—came undone against taller opponents in Dominick Reyes and Anthony Smith, who are both two inches taller than him (identical to Prochazka). However, rising talent Rakic was the same dimensions, and the Swiss star managed to overcome his assault.
Prochazka could warrant a punt to get the knockout at +320 (4.20) with William Hill NJ in what’s sure to be a heated, excitable fight, but Oezdemir’s advantage in experience in this promotion means the Czech contender could easily over-extend himself.
Prediction: Oezdemir via TKO
Muslim Salikhov (-120) vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (Evens)
Brazil versus Dagestan is becoming an increasingly common head-to-head in the UFC these days, with welterweights Muslim Salikhov and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos set to keep the rivalry alive in Abu Dhabi.
There’s not much between the two competitors ahead of UFC 251, but Salikhov enters as the -120 (1.83) leader ahead of Dos Santos, who’s listed at evens (2.00) to emerge as victor with William Hill NJ.
Salikhov, 36, has won his last three bouts but hasn’t faced a grappler of Dos Santos’ standard, possibly in his entire career. The latter was knocked out by Li Jingliang late in the third round when they met in August last year, but Dos Santos claimed seven straight wins in the UFC prior to that.
Dos Santos, 33, is a black belt in BJJ and is the superior ground technician compared to the “King of Kung Fu” Salikhov, who holds a blue belt and will try to keep the fight standing in search of a 15th career KO.
Prediction: Dos Santos via submission
Makwan Amirkhani (-190) vs. Danny Henry (+170)
Two fighters based in Europe will collide when Makwan Amirkhani takes on Danny Henry, with the former leading at -190 (1.53) to get the edge over his Scottish enemy.
Amirkhani suffered a TKO defeat to Shane Burgos the last time he fought in November, where a fairly significant reach disadvantage finally caught him out near the bout’s climax. Scot Henry—who also lost in his last outing—won’t hold the same trump card come Saturday, with both featherweight combatants seeking redemption on Fight Island.
The difficulty for Henry is that—following his submission loss to Dan Ige in March 2019—he faces a submission specialist like Amirkhani, who has sealed 10 of his 15 career victories by tapping his opponents.
“The Hatchet” has likely made adjustments on the ground to improve his defence, but Amirkhani holds the allure at +175 (2.75) to take his target down and bag another submission result with Pointsbet NJ.
Prediction: Amirkhani via submission
Leonardo Santos (-180) vs. Roman Bogatov (+160)
The UFC has thrown Roman Bogatov an incredibly tough matchup for his debut in the promotion, with the Russian hoping to hand 18-year MMA veteran Leonardo Santos his first defeat since 2009.
Russian star Bogatov, 29, makes his bow with an impressive 10-0 record and has submitted his opponents in half of those, but the experience held by 40-year-old veteran Santos means he might have forgotten just how to lose.
The Brazilian has fought only once in the past three-and-a-half years, however, and he ended that meeting with Stevie Ray via knockout in less than three minutes. Santos’ conditioning and ability to go three rounds is the doubtful aspect, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he attempted to end this clash early via the same means.
A fourth-degree black belt in BJJ, Santos should be easily able to defend the takedown and stop Bogatov’s submission attempts, instead making use of the standup game or ground and pound should the fight go to the floor. The elder name is at +380 to win by TKO at Borgata sportsbook, or +210 (3.10) to extend his 11-year unbeaten run by decision.
Prediction: Santos via TKO
Marcin Tybura (-110) vs. Maxim Grishin (-110)
Poland and Russia go to war in a matchup almost too close to call when Marcin Tybura faces Maxim Grishin in the heavyweight division.
Grishin is one of numerous fighters set to make their UFC debut in Abu Dhabi, riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak that includes two draws, both in the Professional Fighters League (PFL).
Tybura will hope the step up in pedigree proves too much for his Russian opponent, who has only gone past two rounds once in his last six outings. “Tybur” has lost four of his last six fixtures, three of those coming via TKO, but Grishin doesn’t hold quite the same knockout threat as the likes of Derrick Lewis or Augusto Sakai.
Both fighters are level pegging at -110 (1.91) at SugarHouse, but we give Tybura the slight edge given the level of competition he’s faced despite a patchy record in recent years.
Prediction: Tybura via decision
Raulin Paiva (-180) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (+160)
Flyweight Raulin Paiva hopes to clinch back-to-back wins for the first time in his UFC career on Saturday when he’ll look to give Zhalgas Zhumagulov a frosty welcome to the big time.
However, his Kazakh opponent will be high on confidence making his UFC debut on the back of a four-win streak, each of which were awarded to him via the judges’ scorecards.
Zhumagulov stands 5’4”—four inches shorter than Saturday’s opponent—but that hasn’t helped Paiva in the past considering each of his two UFC losses were against fighters at a similar ‘disadvantage’.
The underdog newcomer is +155 (2.55) to upset the odds by any means with betmgm NJ, or the more extravagant punter might fancy his price of +275 (3.75) to triumph on points.
Prediction: Zhumagulov via decision
Karol Rosa (-230) vs. Vanessa Melo (+190)
The odds look stacked against Vanessa Melo ahead of her UFC 251 bout with Karol Rosa, a -230 (1.43) favorite to collect her fourth straight victory on Saturday, per bet365 NJ.
Melo (10-7) has lost her last two fights—both by decision—but 25-year-old Rosa looks a hungry talent capable of winning this fixture across multiple areas having impressed early on in her career.
Rosa isn’t beyond defeat considering she has three losses to her record (two by submission), but the bantamweight prospect will be motivated to extend her win streak after almost a year on the sidelines.
Numerous cancelled bouts with Julia Avila will have fuelled the Brazilian up-and-comer’s desire to make a statement against Melo. Rosa via TKO or KO looks an enticing pick at +700 (8.00) for William Hill customers in New Jersey despite Melo having not been stopped since 2012.
Prediction: Rosa via TKO
Martin Day (-180) vs. Davey Grant (+160)
UFC 251 opens with a tight-looking showdown between former Ultimate Fighter contestant Davey Grant and bantamweight newcomer Martin Day, who made his UFC debut in a split-decision loss to Pingyuan Liu in November 2018.
Day (10-3) looks a stiff enough challenge for his British foe but is bound to be somewhat rusty having not fought since that loss almost two years ago. Grant (11-4) is a +160 (2.60) underdog after he beat Grigorii Popov in November 2019, though that was his first victory in more than three years.
The spotted nature of both fighters’ records make this a difficult clash to call on paper. It bodes well for “Dangerous” that he’s never suffered a loss via knockout or TKO ahead of meeting striking specialist Day. However, “The Spartan” has likewise never suffered a submission defeat, which is Grant’s preferred method of victory if he can get his way.
Day’s imperious record against grapplers could change in what will be only his second UFC fixture, with Grant’s experience a possible edge to steer him through a tricky encounter. The Briton is at +240 (3.40) to win on points with William Hill NJ, or +500 (6.00) to win via any form of stoppage.
Prediction: Grant via submission
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