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Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas UFC 261 Betting Odds, Pick & Prediction (Saturday, April 24)

Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas UFC 261 Betting Odds, Pick & Prediction (Saturday, April 24) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Zhang Weili.

  • UFC women's strawweight champion Zhang Weili defends her belt against former champion Rose Namajunas in the co-main event of UFC 261.
  • Zhang, undefeated in the UFC, hasn't lost a pro fight since 2013.
  • Sean Zerillo previews the matchup and details why it's the perfect live betting opportunity.

Zhang vs. Namajunas Odds

Zhang odds
Namajunas odds
4.5 (-148 / +110)
Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena, Fla.
Approx. 11:40 p.m. ET 
Odds as of Friday afternoon and via FanDuel.

Of the three title fights on the UFC 261 card, this one is the closest in terms of betting odds, which has also stayed in the closest proximity to the opening odds (+170/-200) for the bout.

Rose Namajunas gained No. 1 contender status with a split decision over Jessica Andrade. She will seek strawweight gold for the second time after winning the belt over Joanna Jędrzejczyk as a +350 underdog in 2017.

Weili Zhang took the belt off Andrade as a +130 underdog and established herself as the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the women's rankings after just five trips to the octagon.

Does "Thug Rose" have what it takes to get her belt back, or will Weili continue to prove that she is at a different class than the rest of the 115-pound division?

Below, I preview the matchup and odds for tonight's fight.

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Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time11:5312:33
Weight (pounds)115 lbs.115 lbs.
Reach (inches)63"65"
Date of birth8/13/896/29/92
Sig Strikes Per Min6.384.13
SS Accuracy45%40%
SS Absorbed Per Min4.433.98
SS Defense53%60%
Take Down Avg1.261.91
TD Acc23%53%
TD Def100%50%
Submission Avg0.50.8

Namajunas is the cleaner and more technical striker in this matchup. Still, she doesn't have the ability to maintain a pace over five rounds to win minutes against the champion consistently.

In the early rounds, Namajunas could pull ahead, but Zhang will win this fight with pressure and dictate a hot pace. On paper, she has the edge in both strike differential (+1.95 to +0.15) and output (+2.25 strikes landed per minute), and those margins should widen in the later rounds.

Namajunas has shown questionable cardio in three-round fights, and that problem is obviously exacerbated over a five-round title fight. Her footwork and movement could give Zhang problems early, but Weili has the power edge, and once Rose starts to wilt, she tends to stop moving and stand in front of her opponents.

Namajunas could use her grappling (40% takedown accuracy, 1.91 landed per 15 minutes) to win minutes, but Zhang (100% takedown defense) has proven difficult to control and looks to be very durable. It's also unlikely that Rose finds a finish.

Weili is more likely to win minutes and more likely to finish — it's no wonder that she's a sizable favorite, but should the line be wider?

Zhang vs. Namajunas Pick

I projected Zhang at 67% in this matchup, implied odds of -204, just about in line with the betting market.

I wouldn't bet Zhang's moneyline unless it dropped below -180, but I would consider using Zhang as a small parlay piece (at -200 or better) with Kamaru Usman.

Looking at the prop market, I projected this bout to go the distance 55% of the time, so there isn't any value compared to listed odds (-130).

There might be slight value on the Namajunas decision prop (projected +367, listed +365) but not enough to make a play. The odds for Zhang to win by decision (projected +198, listed +160) or inside the distance (projected +198, listed +185) are just out of range too.

The best way to play this fight is to bet Zhang live after Round 1 and/or after Round 2. Namajunas' output typically falls off after the first five minutes, and I expect Zhang's pressure and power to win a war of attrition.

If Zhang drops below -150 in the live market, I'd be happy to fire off a bet.

The Pick: 

  • Weili Zhang Live after Round 1 and/or Round 2
  • Weili Zhang's moneyline (up to -200) as a small parlay piece

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