My column ‘Insight the Octagon’ lost another best bet on the UFC slate from last week as Drakkar Klose was forced out of his fight with Jeremy Stephens due to an injury he sustained when Stephens l ‘pushed during their face-off at the weigh-in. Stephens was a fan / betting favorite for this fight.
I then regarded the push as I do now as a clue as the pressure / desperation on Stephens was heavy. He knew full well that his only path to victory was to catch Klose in a toe to toe and knock him out early or get his face dominated if Klose showed up and fought the patient and intelligent fight.
Word is that this fight will be postponed quickly.
So we’re entering production for this week’s UFC 261 with three title fights in five rounds. Three title fights are impressive until a one-sided main event handicap requires the other two championship fights to be added to complete the mismatch.
Kamaru Usman -400
against Jorge Masvidal +310
(170 pounds) Championship
These two first faced off in July 2020. All we’ve heard – and still hear – is how little training time Masvidal had.
What bothers me about this line of thinking is this: Usman was expected and prepared for months to face former teammate Gilbert Burns when Masvidal was announced as a replacement six or seven days before the fight.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a short notice fight for both parties.
Of course, Usman was in camp for weeks to prepare for another fighter, but don’t get me wrong that of any fighter on the UFC roster, Masvidal is the prototypical professional fighter … if a fight takes place in the street, the octagon, the ring or parking lot, the guy never turns down the opportunity to fight, ever.
In addition, Masvidal since elementary school has been training in MMA daily and is still in good shape to fight. I wrote after the news of this fight was announced that Masvidal had prepared for his own fight against Usman until the UFC did not give him the dollars he demanded.
Masvidal, currently ranked fourth in the division, continued to go to the gym and train with his teammates even after Burns was announced as Usman’s opponent. So the position that Masvidal will get more training time for this fight is a trick to get Masvidal paid, outright.
In terms of fighting, these cats have spent 25 minutes together and they are aware of what the other brings. Usman has physical advantages in terms of height, youth, and arm and leg reach besides being the much taller and stronger man.
Usman is a world class wrestler, as is other GOAT welterweight Georges St-Pierre. Both are at the peak of welterweight greatness in the UFC, and that’s because of the fundamental wrestling base coupled with the other miscellaneous weapons every man has / possessed.
Usman’s striking is improving day by day, and his affiliation with Trevor Wittman and the professionals of the Elevation Fight Team has only improved Usman’s ability to compete as a mixed martial artist completely. equipped and dangerous wherever the fight goes.
Masvidal is a world class fighter and has been his entire life. However, after gaining recent riches, he began to sip champagne, wear Gucci dresses, and travel first class, which is indicative of longevity for some professions, but surely not for anyone involved in the arts. Championship-level mixed martial arts.
Masvidal is all about brand / money now, not fighting. He used the years of sweating and grinding to propel himself financially, and that’s a great story.
The fact remains, however, that Masvidal is undersized for this weight class even though he “smoked and mirrored” his way into that second payday. His only path to victory on Saturday is to surprise Usman with something unusual or catch Usman with a gimmick.
This fight will look exactly like the first fight with the only difference that Masvidal, with his mouth and manners, has now pissed off Usman, giving him more focus.
The result of Masvidal defrauding the MMA community and grabbing those Benjamins will provide him with a little more champagne money, but it will also cost him a full beating. He knows it, Usman knows it, and now readers know it.
Usman’s goal is to completely dominate Masvidal, and that’s exactly what I believe we’re going to see.
After this fight, Masvidal will have to chase other unranked and stranded fighters in the organization (Nate Diaz, Rafael dos Anjos, Tyron Woodley) for paydays, but he will have that brand underpinned and South Florida believing in his cunning.
On Saturday, Masvidal will be well paid, but he will also be completely on display in front of all his pals in this Florida location.
Total for this fight: 4.5 laps out of -180
Zhang Weili -200
against Rose Namajunas +170
Straw weight for women
(115 pounds) Championship
Angelo Dundee would always say that “styles make fights”, and this fight is heavy with varied styles.
These two athletes are world class competitors.
Namajunas deserves her No.1 ranking in the division, and in this fight she will hold some advantages in terms of youth, height and arm / leg over the champion. In standing battles, these measures offer a substantial advantage.
Along with many physical benefits, Namajunas’ experience will manifest in her athleticism in skillful footwork, which will be the basis of how she applies these physical advantages against her opponent.
Namajunas’ movement is smoother than Zhang’s, and in this fight, she will absolutely have to command the octagon and prevent the champion of China from gaining an inner position, where Zhang’s power can change any fight.
Zhang, who has won her last 20 pro fights, has pulverized refined attackers like Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and she dominates strong, aggressive grapplers like Jessica Andrade, so the belief is that she is well balanced, even though the elite of the division did not see her compete. from the ground a lot.
In this fight, Zhang faces off against Namajunas, however, and she is a more refined attacker than Jedrzejczyk. She’s also pretty formidable on the mat, just like Andrade. Namajunas’ full skill set makes it very difficult for Zhang.
As this fight unfolds, I’ll be interested to see how the conditioning, movement, and combat skills of the Namajuna will affect the less refined and more powerful Zhang.
I’m also upset with how Zhang’s relentless forward squeeze power strike will mentally affect the Namajunas once this fight hits double-digit minutes. If I have reservations about picking Namajunas in this fight, it’s because when this fight gets dirty, filthy and bloody, I know Zhang will keep pushing forward, while I have doubts about the sustainability. mental Namajunas in the absolute heat of a fight with Zhang.
How do the Namajunas deal with this pressure and how will Zhang deal with the Namajuna’s IQ, movement, experience and diverse combat arsenal?
Zhang -190 (best bet of stage 1)
Total for this fight: 4.5 laps out of -140
Valentina Shevchenko -450
vs. Jessica Andrade +340
Flyweight for women
(125 pounds) Championship
While Amanda Nunes gets all the attention for being one of the greatest female athletes in the UFC, I think she has very little about Shevchenko when the body of work of every fighter is looked at.
Shevchenko is simply a Kyrgyz fighting machine. Born and raised to fight, she has all the tools, focus, and motivation to be as gifted a fighter as there is. She is dominant at all levels of mixed martial arts, and at 33, she shows little sign of being defeated by anyone in the 125 pound weight class.
Andrade, the top-ranked challenger, is the youngest fighter, but she gives up the height and reaches the left-handed champion.
Andrade has to work to gain an inside position on Shevchenko in order to soften her with powerful punches, which will slow down the champion and allow Andrade to engage with her more easily. Andrade surely wants to handle Shevchenko all the way to the mat, where she thinks she has the advantage, then rain elbows and fists on the champion.
Shevchenko has all the skills on the mat that Andrade has, so if this fight goes to the ground, Shevchenko will be aggressive and willful.
Ideally, however, Shevchenko should use her height, length and reach to maintain distance from Andrade in charge, using footwork to effectively counterattack the Brazilian as she pushes her way. inside to engage. Shevchenko’s knees / legs become important tools as she attempts to use angles to put her shin on Andrade’s chin.
This is a fight in which Shevchenko could well end Andrade.
Total for this fight: 4.5 turns out of -110
Chris Weidman -125 vs. Uriah Hall +105
Average weight (185 pounds)
These two men fought in 2010, when every fighter was as green as a cucumber. Weidman, a famous wrestler, knocked out Hall, a deadly striker, in the first round. Hall has been devastated by the loss ever since.
Weidman knocking out Hall then is ironic because Weidman’s strike is only average now. Then it was undeveloped and unrefined, which makes the result more surprising. Yesterday and today, Weidman’s wrestling is at the top of the food chain, not to mention the top of the division, so it will be his sole focus to take Hall’s distance away and bring this fight to the ground.
Hall is a dangerous power forward who has struggled with consistency in his fights. As I cripple him, Hall’s past struggles were related to a lack of mental toughness and courage in some fights.
Since starting training at Fortis MMA in Texas, however, Hall has found focus, flash, explosion and, most importantly, real inner confidence. He will look to keep this fight standing to try and hit Weidman with kicks and kicks in revenge on the former champion.
Total for this fight: 2.5 turns out of -110
Brendan Allen -160 vs. Karl Roberson +135
Average weight (185 pounds)
The unranked middleweights get it in a fight which will be decided based on where it takes place.
If striker Roberson manages to keep that right, he will retain the advantage over a skillful grappler at Allen, who is a moderately successful striker with less than effective strike defense in that he blocks strikes with his face. .
However, if Allen is able to push in, force Roberson against the fence, then down the ground, the advantage is immediately transferred to Allen, who will be aggressive in his attempt to smother Roberson without responding.
Best bet: Zhang -190 / Allen -140 parlay pay: +1.62 units
Total for this fight: 1.5 turns out of -130