UFC 261 Early Championship Fight Betting Breakdown

  • Weili Zhang has -200 odds to defeat Rose Namajunas at UFC 261.
  • Valentina Shevchenko is a -360 favorite over Jessica Andrade.
  • Kamaru Usman is a -350 favorite in his rematch against Jorge Masvidal.

LAS VEGAS - The UFC has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in unique ways, with the introduction of Fight Island and the fights at their Vegas Apex complex.

Now, they’ll be opening up fights to fans as UFC 261 will be held in Jacksonville, Florida, with full fan attendance.

The card is scheduled for April 24, and that does leave open the possibility of further vaccination, although the general public is currently not vaccine eligible in Florida. By April, however, the situation could be different, and the UFC could be prescient in taking this measure.

On the other hand, the possibility remains of unvaccinated crowds of people spreading COVID-19.

COVID aside, the card itself looks intriguing, with multiple title fights available for wagerers to examine.

These fights are going to be big draws for UFC sports bettors, so let’s check out the championship matchups.

Rose Namajunas vs. Weili Zhang - UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship

Weili Zhang is the reigning champion of the UFC’s Women’s Strawweight division, and has only lost one fight in her professional career.

She faces off against Rose Namajunas, the number one contender in the division, and a fighter with a lot of fans around the world.

Zhang is a notable favorite on the odds boards as they open, but the fight is more than a month away.

Rose Namajunas vs. Weili Zhang Odds

  • Rose Namajunas +170
  • Weili Zhang -200

Namajunas’ 10-4 professional MMA record pales in comparison to Zhang’s 21-1 record, but she still has a chance in this matchup.

In fact, of the three championship matches on the card, this is the one that has the most even odds at the online sportsbooks.

Jessica Andrade vs. Valentina Shevchenko - Women’s Flyweight Championship

In the Women’s Flyweight division, Valentina Shevchenko sits at the top, with a record of 19-3 overall.

Her challenger at this PPV is Jessica Andrade, the number one contender in the division, who has a professional record of 21-8.

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Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade Odds

  • Jessica Andrade +295
  • Valentina Shevchenko -360

Shevchenko is a huge favorite in the matchup, with -360 odds to take Andrade down.

One notable mismatch in the fight is in terms of reach - Shevchenko has a reach that is five inches longer than Andrade’s, which is a very significant difference.

Shevchenko also has a three-inch advantage on Andrade in terms of leg reach, which could be a serious advantage in the era of low kicks in the UFC.

Jorge Masvidal vs. Kamaru Usman - UFC Welterweight Championship

Jorge Masvidal vs. Kamaru Usman is probably the biggest money fight at Welterweight, so it’s not a surprise that the UFC would make it happen once again.

Usman dominated Masvidal in their previous encounter, although Masvidal fans would note that he took the fight on short notice.

Still, Usman looks set to dominate the fight once again, and as one of the true stars of MMA, it would be a surprise for him to lose.

Jorge Masvidal vs. Kamaru Usman Odds

  • Jorge Masvidal +285
  • Kamaru Usman -350

Usman is a huge favorite at -350 odds, and it’s easy to see why. While Masvidal does have KO power, Usman is an absolutely dominant fighter at Welterweight.

With Israel Adesanya picking up a loss to Jan Blachowicz, Usman now sits at third place in the pound-for-pound rankings.

Considering that first place is Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is coaching now, and second place is Jon Jones, who hasn’t fought since February of 2020, Usman could reasonably be described as the best active fighter in the UFC.

Masvidal is ranked fourth in his own division, behind Leon Edwards, Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington, with Usman, of course, holding the championship.

It seems likely that Usman will retain his title in this matchup against Masvidal.