Dan Tom’s favorite bets from UFC 251 Usman vs Masvidal

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UFC 251: Usman vs Masvidal

With MMA back in full swing, you can expect to see weekly betting articles from us here at Line Movement, as I’ll be providing you with a sample of plays I like for UFC 251 this weekend. 

As per usual with content, I’ll offer my honest analysis as I try to explain my angles and attempt to add to your insight when it comes to both breaking down and betting on fights. 

This article is for entertainment purposes only, as I stress to anyone that gambles to do so legally and responsibly. 

Fights to target

Straight play: Raulian Paiva -170

Although it’s much more fun to play the big plus numbers that are next to fan favorites like Jorge Masvidal or Jose Aldo, there admittedly wasn’t a lot of underdogs that I liked on this card, whether we’re talking about picking or playing them. 

For that reason, I ended up taking a shot on Paiva, who provides a decent point of entry (especially if you can still find him in the -165 range) if you’re looking to pile onto a favorite to get things done. His opponent, Zhalgas Zhumagulov, comes from a deceptively tough region where he was able to upset the likes of Tyson Nam and both Bagautinov brothers en route to an FNG title.

That said, I wasn’t too impressed after watching the tape on Zhumagulov. His scrappy aggression and gas tank certainly suits him for five-round affairs, but there’s still a lot to be desired as far as basic range weapons and takedown defense – things that will be crucial against Paiva.

Paiva uses his size and length well for the division, wielding a diverse arsenal of attack that he spreads beautifully to both the legs and body. Add in the fact that the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt should have a clear edge on the floor against a fighter who likes to be taken down, and I believe that Paiva is worth a shot if you’re looking for playable favorites. 

Recommended parlay piece: Alexander Volkanovski -200

Although Volkanovski’s price is slightly lower than the opening line, I still believe he makes for one of the most solid parlay pieces on the card (something I thought I’d never say opposite Max Holloway).

However, as stated in my fight breakdown over at MMA Junkie, I don’t like the fact the Holloway jumped straight into a rematch before properly strategizing or getting his confidence back. In MMA, that puts you in a dangerous spot.

In addition, the more I look at this fight, the more I believe that Volanovski is a bad stylistic matchup for the Hawaiian. Not only can he hypothetically go out there on Saturday and win in a similar fashion to their first fight, but I also suspect that Volkanovski can change gears and counter any adjustments that the former champ can make.

Even without putting heavy stock into the “Zoom training sessions” Holloway was claiming, I still think that this one of the sturdier places to put a parlay leg down on this card.

Prop play: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos-Muslim Salikhov under 2.5 rounds (-105)

In an exciting fight that’s getting betting action on both sides, there’s a lot to choose from whether you’re looking at money lines or prop angles. 

Oct 26, 2019; Singapore, SINGAPORE; Muslim Salikhov (red gloves) fights Laureano Staropoli (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Singapore Indoor Arena. Mandatory Credit: Paul Miller-USA TODAY Sports

Prop plays are obviously something that is often done in the spirit of a fun shot in the dark, but props can also provide some sharp areas of coverage that can either help alleviate some risk or amplify the reward. This play is clearly not the latter of the equation, but I like it nonetheless.

Those who know me know I’m not typically one to play unders, but I believe there is some appropriate logic here.

Initially, I came into this fight leaning toward dos Santos and looking to bet him at a nice plus number. Though those dog odds still exist for anyone wanting to take a shot, I found myself slightly swayed in the other direction after further researching this fight. 

I’ve always been a big fan of dos Santos, but suspect that Salikhov is his stylistic kryptonite on the feet. Showing a propensity to get hurt more off the counter (while showing little adjustments to his wild swinging ways), dos Santos arguably makes for the perfect opponent standing, as Salikhov packs incredible timing on his right hands and can read spins due to the depth of his wushu sanda game.

What’s worrisome as a Salikhov supporter is the visual from his fight with Alex Garcia. And even though that could very well happen again (as dos Santos by submission isn’t a bad angle if you’re looking to back the Brazilian), dos Santos has been anything but consistent when it comes to both takedowns and ground control – despite clearly having underrated grappling chops. 

Ultimately, I believe that pathways to a finish are far too potent for both parties in this matchup, as I’ll be taking a shot on the under at near even money.

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