UFC Vegas 21 betting preview: Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad

LAS VEGAS — Leon Edwards has been that mystery man in the UFC’s welterweight division. He’s ranked No. 3, and has been pretty much since the night in San Antonio in 2019 when he won a clear decision over Rafael dos Anjos.

The win over the ex-lightweight champion was Edwards’ eighth in a row, and his 10th in his last 11 bouts. The only defeat in that stretch was to the man who is now the UFC’s welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman.

His fight with Tyron Woodley in 2020 was canceled twice, and so were several attempts to make bouts with phenom Khamzat Chimaev, as Chimaev had battles with COVID-19 that made him unable to compete.

Getting a No. 3 ranking in a division like welterweight says something about Edwards. He’s behind only No. 1 Colby Covington and No. 2 Gilbert Burns, and just ahead of No. 4 Jorge Masvidal. That’s impressive.

Edwards is a -250 favorite at BetMGM over Belal Muhammad on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) in their main event bout at UFC Vegas 21 at Apex. But despite his run of success and his lofty ranking, that somehow seems too much to lay.

Since Edwards last fought, Muhammad has gone 3-0 with a Performance of the Night-winning submission over Takashi Sato followed by decision victories over Lyman Good and Dhiego Lima.

Muhammad has looked increasingly better each time out and his striking was sensational in the Feb. 13 victory over a very tough and motivated Lima.

He’s coming back a month later to take Chimaev’s spot and looks to be in a perfect position to upset Edwards. Muhammad is +210 at BetMGM, which is an attractive price given his success rate, how he’s looked to the naked eye and how well he matches with Edwards. There’s no clear area in which Edwards outshines Muhammad, and Muhammad has the motivation of knowing a win in this spot could shoot him upward in the rankings. He’s currently 13th.

In addition, Edwards’ inactivity is something that Muhammad figures to be able to take advantage of once the bell rings. Muhammad pressures effectively and when you haven’t been in that situation in a long time, it’s very difficult to deal with an opponent who is attacking with power.

I think Muhammad wins the fight, so I’ll lay $100 with the hope of doubling my money here.

Though the proposition bets have not been posted yet, I like Muhammad by decision, so I’d bet Muhammad by decision, as well as the fight goes over the total.

Other plays

  • Angela Hill at -375 over Ashley Yoder, though I cringe a bit at laying that number on Hill.

  • Hill and Yoder to go the distance, though a line hasn’t been released yet.

  • Dan Ige at -135 to defeat Gavin Tucker.

  • Ben Rothwell at -125 to defeat Philipe Lins.

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