In this edition of his weekly column The Ticket, Adam Kramer celebrates his newfound love of UFC, offering up UFC 261 Bet Picks and previewing Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal 2 and Rose Namajunas vs Weili Zhang. Adam also continues his NFL Draft previews, kicks off Kentucky Derby prep and makes more weekly bet picks.
Read our full 2021 NFL Draft Guide for our 3-round mock draft, player scouting reports, and more.
I would love to tell you that I fell in love with the UFC at a young age. That my fandom and spirit for the sport has been groomed over the past 15 years. That I am an encyclopedia when it comes to the history of the sport — a human library of knowledge as it pertains to MMA’s history.
But I cannot tell you any of those things. In fact, I am more than willing to admit quite the opposite. I adopted UFC right around this time last year as the world slowly came out of its COVID hibernation and Dana White loudly brought the sporting world back to life.
Since then, I have become somewhat of an MMA nut. Although this love was originally born out of desperation — we had to watch and bet on something — it has blossomed into an authentic relationship I truly appreciate.
On Saturday at UFC 261, this relationship will come full circle. The sport will return to Jacksonville, Florida, the city that welcomed its initial rebirth last year. Although this time, it will do so with a sold-out crowd, a fascinating main event and three title fights.
In this past year, I have fallen in love with the strategy. I have learned to love (and hate) the imperfect nature of judging. Most of all, I truly believe that no sport is more enjoyable to wager on.
I say that as a football purist. Sure, a four-quarter game will always have a soft spot in my heart. But there is something to be said about an event that can end and flip at any moment.
You are never truly out of it. This goes to the fighters and also the bettors. You also are never truly comfortable. This also goes to the fighters and also the bettors.
The chaos and unpredictability of MMA is magnetic. Add in betting intrigue, and you have the perfect wagering concoction.
I am not alone, that is to be certain. There are many, many others like me who fell in love with the UFC largely through COVID. But that love is here to stay, no matter the size of the octagon or attendance.
Although in this instance, as a sold-out event approaches, I am more than thrilled to see my relationship with MMA take yet another step.
Oh, and best believe I have bets. (See below.)
This Week’s The Ticket
At the Window: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
UFC and golf. A match made in heaven. Results varied spectacularly.
THE GOOD: Another Wonderful UFC Weekend
Let’s continue the theme. Collectively, I have lost only two UFC wagers in the past two weekends. I know this won’t last forever, so I will savor every second. On Saturday in Vegas, I cashed on Robert Whittaker as a big chalk over Kelvin Gastelum. I edged out a heavyweight win with Alexander Romanov — even after he was kicked in the, well, place you don’t want to be kicked that ended the fight early.
The highlight, however, was backing Jessica Penne (+240) over Loopy Godinez. Again, another close call. Let’s hope that momentum continues.
THE BAD: The Yankees. Period.
I backed the team in pinstripes twice this week—once against Toronto and once against Tampa Bay. I lost both of those bets by a combined score of 15-5. For a team with as many resources and promising talent as the Yankees have, it’s odd to see them struggle as mightily as they have.
We have a long way to go, of course, but this is not an ideal start at 5-10. Also, bad betting by me.
THE UGLY: Ben Askren … What the %^&* Was That?
Seriously, what was that? I understood going into the Jake Paul-Ben Askren fight that size was not on Askren’s size. Regardless, I backed the man with a wealth of combat experience as a small dog over the man on YouTube. I lost — pretty pitifully I might add.
And if I am being completely honest, the whole stoppage to the fight was as bad as the lack of preparation Askren looks to have put into the whole thing. Just an enormous amount of yuck, although the odd PPV was still wildly compelling.
What I’m Watching: More UFC, NYC and Some Prep for Next Week
As I mentioned above, this is a wonderful fight card. No, Usman vs. Masvidal won’t move the needle the way it did last year. But it’s still an intriguing main event, especially with Masvidal getting something closer to a full camp. There are a few big chalks, although with 14 fights and a full crowd this promises to be a show. Cannot wait.
The New York Knicks
Yes, you read that right. I grew up in New Jersey, and I have spent much of life ashamed of what the Knicks have become. At the moment, I can honestly say I am proud of my team. They won their sixth straight game on Sunday against the Pelicans and have now covered the spread in their last eight.
This week, the Knicks play the Charlotte Hornets, the surging Atlanta Hawks and the Toronto Raptors. There’s a real chance to get the streak to nine wins. That is unless they Knicks this thing.
Kentucky Derby Film
I don’t want to confuse you. The Kentucky Derby is NOT this weekend. I repeat, the Derby is not this weekend.
It will be the following weekend, however, which means now is the time to study up. This is one of my favorite betting events for the year, although I don’t follow the sport as closely as I once did.
To make up for that, I cram as much intel in as I can and watch as many prep races possible. Will it help? TBD.
What I’m Betting: More UFC and More NFL Draft Props
I promised more NFL Draft props, and I will deliver. Please know that next week’s column will be chock full of Draft goodness.
But first, UFC 261 Bet Picks for Usman vs Masvidal and Namajunas vs Zhang.
UFC 261 Bet Picks For Usman vs Masvidal, Namajunas vs Zhang
Rose Namajunas (+155) vs. Weili Zhang
This is a very live underdog in a really good fight. While Zhang has an incredible resume, I think Namajunas will be game.
Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal: Won’t Go the Distance (+125)
I don’t think we’ll see a blueprint of the last fight where Usman just sat on Masvidal for 25 minutes. I think he wants to prove he can throw (which he can), and we might get some fireworks as a result.
More 2021 NFL Draft Futures Bets
Total Alabama Players Drafted in First Round: Over 5.5 (-200)
LOVE this bet from SugarHouse/BetRivers, and I am willing to bet the Over.
Player To Be Drafted First: DeVonta Smith (-112) over Jaylen Waddle
Another fascinating SugarHouse prop. While Waddle is indeed electric, I still believe Smith will hear his name called first. Fun bet at what is essentially a coin flip.
Thanks for reading Adam’s latest edition of The Ticket: ‘UFC 261 Bet Picks (Usman vs Masvidal, Namajunas vs Zhang) & Yankees’ Slow Start.’ Like any of these sports betting picks? Wager where legal with one of our sportsbook partner offers. PointsBet, for instance, is giving new customers 2 Risk-Free Bets for up to $2,000.