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The headlining event for UFC 251 sees Kamaru Usman defend his 170-lb welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal with this fight tentatively scheduled to start at 12:10 AM ET early Sunday morning at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Masvidal was the initially planned opponent for Usman for this event before Dana White settled on Nate Diaz — but when Diaz was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, Masvidal was named as the replacement with just six days of notice. Our Best Bet for this fight is for Usman to earn the victory which Bovada currently lists at a -250 price. Usman (16-1) won the title last year in a decision victory over Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 and he comes off his first successful title defense on December 14th when he knocked out Colby Covington with just 50 seconds left in the 5th round at UFC 245. The Nigerian Nightmare is a physical monster who is a cardio machine. While continuing to develop into a formidable striker while being a dangerous kickboxer, Usman thrives on the mat with his outstanding MMA wrestling skills. He should grind out a victory over Masvidal. The Gamebred offers a great story with this being his first UFC title opportunity in his seventeen-year career. Masvidal (35-13) is a highly-respected fighter who has been consistently fighting top-notch fighters since 2005. He is so good that he fought Nate Diaz back on November 2nd for the newly created gimmick of the BMF belt (“Baddest Mother F****r) which he won with a 3rd round knockout. Masvidal has been thinking about this fight — and he reportedly is a workout machine — so I do not think the lack of preparation time hurts him too much (and perhaps that is mitigated by Usman having to change his tactics). But the fact that Masvidal had to drop 20 pounds in six days to make weight for this fight has to play a role — especially when facing such a strong opponent in the Nightmare. Masvidal has good takedown defensive skills — but he may not have ever faced as physical a specimen as Usman. Masvidal does have the tendency to let his opponent dictate the style and pace of the fight. If he lets Usman back him into the cage for grappling, that is not the way that Gamebred tends to win fights. Masvidal has a striking edge and probably has more weapons at his disposal — but Usman’s wrestling techniques will force him to play defense with this clinching sapping his strength. Osman has won fifteen straight fights while being a perfect 11-0 in the octagon since his first fight in the UFC in 2015. He should continue his stranglehold in this division with the win.
Our Top Overlay Bet on the prop bet that offers the most value in this fight is on this fight to last at least four complete rounds which Bovada lists at -125. Usman is not an elite finisher — he has only seven KO/TKOs on his professional resume with just one submission. The Nigerian Nightmare has won only two of his last eleven fights via KO/TKO. He is quite content to grind out a victory in this match and win via the points on the scorecard. Given the new opponent who will likely come out of the gates very aggressive, I expect Usman to be cautious early while not engaging in a striking contest but instead working to get Masvidal on the mat. At that point, he can look to slowly sap Gambred’s strength. Despite his experience, Masvidal has fewer five-round fights under his belt than Usman who has seen all five of his last five fights enter the 5th round with three going to the cards. Four of Masvidal’s last five fight losses have come from a split decision. And while Usman did win via a KO/TKO in his last fight against Covington last December, that finish did occur late in the 5th round. Since this bet is not dependent on Usman winning, it also serves as a de-facto hedge bet in case Masvidal pulls the upset (via decision or 5th round stoppage). Our Long Shot Bet for this fight with a proposition paying off at an underdog price is on Usman to win via a decision which Bovada lists at +150. This shapes up to be a tactical fight similar to the one that Usman fought against Woodley to win the title. Woodley had a striking edge in that fight but succumbed to Usman’s grappling that sapped his strength. But it is also telling that Usman was not able to finish Woodley despite the reigning champion’s declining skills. Best of luck for us — Frank.
Frank Sawyer offers unmatched handicapping analysis over a diverse array of sports for his Hollywood Sports clients. Frank combines his over twenty years of experience as a professional sports handicapper with the drive to outwork his competition. Why invest in a sports service? Frank answers that question with a proven methodology. His model for success starts by investing a significant amount of time analyzing each team in the sports he handicaps to serve as a foundation for that season. Frank then combines his team assessments with empirical situational handicapping angles along with the latest in cutting edge analytics to identify value in the betting line. Decades of handicapping experience along with his unrelenting focus are the qualities that Frank offers his clients. Frank produces extensive reports that detail his decisions. He does this for two reasons: (1) clients deserve to see the work that goes into a conclusion and (2) Frank’s attention to detail within these reports validates to his clients that he continues to work tirelessly to unearth winning angles. With that ambition in mind, Frank has expanded his areas of interest and scrutiny to include the English Premier League, the PGA Tour, the WNBA, and UFC/Boxing in recent years to go along with the major four sports of football, basketball, baseball, and hockey along with the Canadian Football League, Horse Racing, and World Cup Soccer that he has specialized in since he began Hollywood Sports in 1997. Frank believes long-term success involves not only continuing to dig deeper into the sports that he covers but also in expanding his horizons with new events that can provide additional tools in his handicapping toolbox with the goal of rewarding his clients for their loyalty over the years.
Frank uses a rating 10*, 20*, 25* rating system that also serves a guide for money management: 10* plays warrant a standard bet; 20* plays should see a doubling of that standard bet; 25* plays are Frank’s highest-rated play with the recommendation to invest 2.5 times the standard bet. For Frank’s futures reports or for events with odds such as PGA events or horse races, Frank usually offers three recommendations in his betting report: his Best Bet for the event; his Top Overlay Bet which presents his best value play relative to the odds for the event: and his Long Shot Bet for a big underdog offer value with its potential big payout. Frank’s signature play his “A-List* release which is reserved for rare and elite betting opportunities.
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