Kamaru Usman kicks Colby Covington in a mixed martial arts welterweight championship bout at UFC 245, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
- Kamaru Usman is the current welterweight champion, but will he hold the belt by the end of 2021?
- Why is Conor McGregor listed?
- See the full odds to be UFC welterweight champion by end of 2021, below
The welterweight division has always been one of the premier divisions in the UFC as it is one of the deepest.
Ahead of 2021, the division seems poised for at least two title fights and some big non-title-fights. The first title fight will likely happen in February as Kamaru Usman will finally defend his belt against Gilbert Burns.
After that fight, it is anyone’s guess as to who fights for the belt next. Colby Covington, Leon Edwards, Khamzat Chimaev, and Jorge Masvidal could all earn title shots in 2021, so oddsmakers have now set out odds on who will be the heavyweight champion at the end of 2021.
Odds to be UFC Welterweight Champion by End of 2021
Odds as of Dec. 31
Is Chimaev or Edwards The Better Bet?
Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards were supposed to happen on January 20th, 2021, but Chimaev was forced out of the bout with COVID-19. The plan is to rebook this fight in the coming months as it is an important one for the division.
Although Chimaev is only 3-0 in the UFC and 1-0 at welterweight he is the better bet because of his star power. Even if Edwards beats Chimaev, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Swede rebound with a couple of wins and fight for the belt before year’s end.
Khamzat Chimaev’s manager tells @bokamotoESPN that Chimaev “needs time for his lungs to recover” after contracting coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/uySffwRP3J
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) December 30, 2020
Dana White has made it clear he is a massive fan of Chimaev and is getting a big promotional push, similar to Conor McGregor. Edwards, on the other hand, isn’t the biggest fan of the Brit because he doesn’t trash talk and his last several fights have gone the distance.
If you were going to be picking between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards, the better bet would be Chimaev.
Why is McGregor An Option?
There is only one reason why Conor McGregor is on this list, and that is for him to become a champ-champ again.
To open 2021, McGregor is back at lightweight and set to rematch Dustin Poirier, where the fight might be for the belt. If it ends up being for the title and the Irishman wins, given he has fought at welterweight, having McGregor fight for a second title, and try and become a three-weight champion would do big business for the UFC.
Although I believe McGregor does fight at least twice in 2021, I expect all of his fights to be at lightweight.
2021 Vezina Trophy Odds Tracker
Who’s the Best Bet?
It’s not the sexiest odds, but Kamaru Usman to still be the champion by the end of 2021 is the best bet.
The current welterweight champion has looked dominant so far. The 33-year-old is 17-1 as a pro and 12-0 inside the Octagon. During his run to the title, he beat the likes of Leon Edwards, Rafael dos Anjos, Demian Maia, and Sean Strickland. To win the belt, he dominated Tyron Woodley and in his first title defense, showed off his chin and striking to TKO Colby Covington.
One year ago: Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington at UFC 245pic.twitter.com/iLkb98mVXE
— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) December 14, 2020
Although Usman only fought once in 2020, it was a dominant win over Jorge Masvidal, where he showed off his wrestling game. I expect Usman to beat Burns and fight again at the end of the year against Covington, Masvidal, or Edwards and defend his belt for the fourth time.
Pick: Kamaru Usman (+125)
Cole graduated from Sheridan College in April of 2019 with a diploma in journalism. He now is a full-time freelance writer, focusing on MMA for sites like BJPENN and MMA News, while also covering the Toronto Blue Jays as a credentialed media member. At SBD, Cole covers the four major sports and MMA.