UFC 251 Betting Pick: Volkan Oezdemir vs Jiri Prochazka

Who is excited for Fight Island?! The Octagon is firmly on the beach. I seent it…on Instagram that is. I would do ANYTHING to be there right now!

It is gonna be pretty hot, though. I think the forecast is sunny with a high of 112. They will be fighting in the morning over in the Middle East so that the American market can watch live in primetime on Saturday night.

There is good news and there is bad news.

Gilbert Burns has been pulled from the main event against Kamaru Usman for the Welterweight World Title. COVID got him.

The good news is Street Jesus himself, Gamebred Jorge Masvidal, has stepped up and will step in for the Brazilian and challenge the Nigerian Nightmare for the strap.

Pedro Munhoz is also out of his bout with Frankie Edgar. He got the COV as well.

I think it has been only Brazilians to test positive. That’s very strange but like Max Blessed Holloway always says: It is what it is.

Frankie doesn’t have an opponent just yet but we will keep you posted on any developments. The word is there are a lot of young fighters who would love to make a name for themselves by stealing a victory from the aging legend.

I would be careful what I wish for, though. The Answer is still a force.

The first fight I picked to break down and make a prediction for is the light heavyweight matchup of UFC vet Volkan Oezdemir against Czech Jiri Prochazka who will be making his Octagon debut.

The guy is huge for the weight class, quite athletic, and has a great record of (26-3) including 10 straight heading into UFC 251.

The guy is dangerous but Volkan has shown to be one of the most durable fighters in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight Division.

Let’s quickly recap our betting performance from the previous UFC event and make out pick for this exciting matchup of light heavy hitters.

UFC Betting Recap

Okay, if you have been following my UFC betting picks closely for a while now, you know we had our worst 3-week stretch in years.

We were crushing the fight picks pretty hard for about a full year but ran into a little bit of bad luck, made some completely wrong picks, and chased the wrong side after the sharp bettors priced us out.

This past fight card, I wanted to take a sniper approach and just hit one or two. The main event featuring Dustin Poirier and Dan Hangman Hooker was an absolutely tremendous fight!

Dustin proved that he is one of the best 5-round fighters in the history of the UFC’s Lightweight Division.

We went with the near 2 to 1 underdog Hooker and I’m not mad at that. He won the first two rounds pretty convincingly but the championship rounds belonged to The Diamond.

It was still a profitable night, though. Thank goodness!

I capped most of the fights for that night blindly and the biggest disparity I found with my betting odds and the actual betting odds over at BetOnline.AG was with the matchup between Luis Violent Bob Ross Pena and Khama Worthy.

I capped it about even but leaned towards Pena slightly because of the offensive wrestling he has shown lately.

The books had Luis Pena at (-300) and Khama up at (+240)!

I haven’t been doing the blind handicapping for that long now so at first, I assumed I was just way off. After giving it a little more thought…No. I feel confident.

Pena scared me at the weigh-ins, though! He looked like the much larger fighter and even though he is 6’3” fighting at 155, his build looked thicker than Worthy’s as well.

Luis hasn’t really fought anyone and I made the point that if the hype behind him was warranted, he would have made much quicker work of his previous UFC opponents. He didn’t, though, and Pena fades in the third.

Khama came out and out-struck him winning the first but in the 2nd, Pena had his back for nearly the entire round.

Going into the 3rd 1-1, I felt good but the small cage favored Pena to get the fight to the mat once more. The big man didn’t show up in the third, though, just like a few of his previous contests and Worthy actually secured a guillotine win halfway through the final round.

Long explanation, sorry but this win felt good.

Here is the lesson, though
As more sharp bettors with big money are focusing on UFC betting now with other sports on hold, guys like you and I are priced out of certain situations.

I liked Dustin Poirier where he opened at (-140) but his (-240) by fight time proved to be a pretty hairy wager. We were priced into the Worthy win, though!

With the big money hitting these lines so early, we have to accept that opportunities will be taken away. We mustn’t chase those but instead, focus on the door that was just opened.

My first BJJ coach told me that Jiu-Jitsu is like a series of doors. Some doors are locked and some aren’t depending on who you’re rolling with.

Dependent on your skill is how many keys to said locked doors do you have? Don’t beat on the door that is locked and you have no key because eventually, they’re going to open the door and you will quickly fall through.

Take what your opponent is giving you!

That is the point here. The books are the opponent and they aren’t perfect so they will give us an edge somewhere.

I think one of those edges is with the light heavyweight matchup between the Swiss Volkan Oezdemir and the Czech Republic’s Jiri Prochazka.

Let’s make our pick!

Volkan Oezdemir (-160) vs Jiri Prochazka (+140)

Round Total

OVER 1.5
-145
UNDER 1.5
+115

Volkan is a top-five fighter in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight Division. He is slightly undersized compared to guys like Jon Jones, Dominick Reyes, and his most recent opponent, Alexander Rakic.

I picked Rakic in that fight and I’m still upset at the split decision that was given to Volkan. Rak was landing very very powerful nearly clean shots on Oezdemir for most of the fight.

I remember I was on a train one morning in Vietnam watching the fight and I yelled at the screen a few times. The locals glanced and shook their heads and I modestly nodded in apology.

Volkan has shown to have some problems with the 6’4 or 6’5 extra-long and athletic fighters. The Czech Republic’s Jiri Prochazka is one of those very long strikers with dynamite in his hands.

The big man lacks technical prowess, though, and hasn’t always fought both high-level competition who could nearly match his size. He is sloppy on defense and on offense but his size and athleticism have carried him to his outstanding 26-3 record.

We have yet to see a dominant fighter come out of the Czech Republic but Jiri could be that guy. He has the potential. The guy just needs to clean a few things up.

If he switched his camp up to ATT or one of the other top gyms in the states, I think he will level up.

This is definitely a dangerous fight for Oez but he has only been stopped in one fight in his UFC career and that was ground and pound by Daniel Cormier where he wasn’t knocked out.

If Volkan can take shots from Rakic and Reyes, he should be able to handle a few from Jiri as long as he sees them coming.

It takes a bit for the big man to gain his confidence in there. He is one of those prodders until he sees weakness, then his aggression increases and he starts to come forward.

The striking could go either way but I like the calf kicks of Volkan and I think he will have an advantage in the clinch.

That is also where the Swiss fighter does some of his best offensive work with some of the most powerful short uppercuts and hooks in all of MMA.

I’m going to edge Oezdemir here. The over 1.5 rounds is also a good play. We would have to cap Volkan at (-200) to make a safe play, though.

I am going with the over 1.5 rounds. That pays a little better than the (-160) we would get on Oezdemir.

Both men are bangers but they are each durable and I believe Volkan will invest in clinch time early in hopes of slowing down the dangerous arms of the underdog.

We are back to a bigger Octagon as well.

My Pick
OVER 1.5 ROUNDS

In Conclusion

Alright guys, that one was a bit long but I wanted to drive home the point to you guys as well as burn it into my brain that just because we are being priced out of certain plays doesn’t mean the board is devoid of value.

They priced us out of the Poirier pick but I still don’t feel terrible about taking Hooker as a 2-1 dog. He has the victory if he could’ve taken just one more round.

Instead of beating on a locked door that we don’t even have a key for, we walked down the hall calmly and found one sitting wide open. Luckily for us, it wasn’t a trap, and Khama Worthy is now 2 for 2 as a sizable underdog in the UFC.

I went into this wanting to pick Volkan Oezdemir but the sheer size and athletic ability of his opponent scares me. (-160) isn’t that expensive so I gave it a lot of thought but I believe each man respects the power of the other and hopefully, this one lasts past the halfway point.

Get your bets in now, guys, check back soon for more picks, and enjoy UFC 251 from Fight Island!

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.