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Usman-Masvidal main event among best bets for UFC 261

Kamaru Usman is a heavy favorite at Circa sportsbook to defend his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal in the main event of UFC 261 on Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida.

Rather than lay -400, handicapper Lou Finocchiaro recommends a half-unit play on Usman to win inside the distance, which pays +310 at Circa.

“It’s my opinion that Usman is on a different level than Masvidal, so we’ve got to figure out the best way to derive value from Usman,” said Finocchiaro (@GambLou). “We could take him to win via decision at -135, which is the most likely result. But we’re not going to go that route.

”I think Usman wants to look impressive, so we’re going to take him inside the distance.”

The title fight — one of three on the card — is a rematch of Usman’s win over Masvidal via unanimous decision in July of last year at UFC 251. The total is 4½ rounds at William Hill, where the under is +170.

Finocchiaro also has three best bets for one unit each:

Zhang-Allen parlay, +147

Finocchiaro recommends a two-team parlay of Weili Zhang (-200) over Rose Namajunas in the women’s strawweight title fight in the co-main event and Brendan Allen (-155) over Karl Roberson in a middleweight bout in the prelims.

“Zhang is going to be too strong in the later rounds and Allen is going to drag Roberson down to the floor and control him,” Finocchiaro said.

Smith, +175

In a light heavyweight fight on the main card, Finocchiaro is banking on veteran underdog Anthony Smith to upset Jim Crute.

“Crute is strong and aggressive with 13 pro fights. Smith is cagey and experienced with 50 pro fights,” he said. “Smith has been in there with better fighters and has too much experience. I really like him as a live underdog here.”

Oliveira, +130

In a welterweight bout in the prelims, Finocchiaro is backing Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira to upset Randy Brown.

“Each of these fighters lost their last time out and both of them have been a little inconsistent,” he said. “But I think Oliveira is the more desperate fighter and the more well-rounded fighter.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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