The fabled Fight Island is real and the UFC is putting on a banger of a card for their first event. UFC 251 will take place at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and has three championship bouts at the top of the card.
UFC 251 is sure to be one of the biggest and most memorable pay-per-view events of all-time. The massively important card on July 11 features UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, former UFC women's strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, “The Great” Alexander Volkanovski and many more!
Kamaru Usman was scheduled to fight Gilbert Burns in the main event of the evening – however Gilbert Burns and his team pulled out over the weekend as they have been diagnosed with Covid-19.
With that all being said: Here is my UFC 251 preview and picks for the main card.
MAIN EVENT AND WELTERWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT: KAMARU USMAN VS JORGE MASVIDAL
Wow, where do I even start with this one? What a main event and a fight that every UFC fan wants to see! Props to the UFC in getting this over the line after previous negotiations with Masvidal had failed. Now we are set for a bumper of a fight and Jorge Masvidal steps in for Gilbert Burns on short notice.
If you don’t know, Jorge Masvidal is a veteran in the sport of mixed martial arts and an asset to the UFC. He currently holds the “BMF” title and got high recognition for his knockout on Ben Askren and England’s Darren Till. He is unorthodox and is an exciting watch. He’s also not shy of saying what he thinks and has recently been in a back and forth with the UFC over fighter pay.
Kamaru Usman, on the other hand, is a worthy champion. He currently only holds one defeat on his record, and he will be a big favourite going into the octagon. His grappling and octagon control are second to one and he has cardio like nobody in the sport.
Its going to be a long night for Masvidal if he doesn’t bring the fight to Usman and having been given such short notice, I fear that Masvidal won't last the full five rounds. So, to stand any chance how does he win? Knockout!
Seriously though, I'd be surprised if he knocks out Usman, the guy has a chin of granite and besides, he's been training for UFC 251 for months now! So for my prediction, I've got to go for a Kamaru Usman win.
CO-MAIN EVENT AND FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT: MAX HOLLOWAY VS ALEXANDER VOLKANOVSKI
What's amazing about UFC 251's co-main event is that it's a rare fight that actually deserves that designation in full. That's because the hotly anticipated rematch between UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and former champ Max Holloway could headline a UFC PPV card all by itself.
The Australian, Volkanovski, is a very well-rounded fighter but he loves a good old-fashioned brawl. This was on full display when he won the title in December while talking and smiling throughout the bout. He had a larger strike output in that victory than in any other fight in the UFC, though it was also his only five-round bout. He had landed at least one takedown in each of his first five fights in the UFC but hasn’t landed one in his last three fights.
The Hawaiian, Holloway, is almost strictly a standup fighter, having landed just five takedowns over his 22 UFC fights. On the feet, he averages 6.66 significant strikes per minute and has landed over 100 strikes in each of his last six bouts.
A big issue in that first bout was that he wasn’t checking any leg kicks but rather was trying to jump back out of the way. If he can check some kicks early, it could be a completely different scrap.
My pick: I am going to go for an Alexander Volkanovski win here. Volkanovski is somehow a big underdog in this rematch despite having taken the belt off Holloway in their first scrap. Holloway is a high-level fighter and overall probably the better fighter, however, styles make fights and I believe that Volkanovski is a bad match-up for max.
BANTAMWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT: PETER YAN VS JOSE ALDO
Petr Yan takes on Jose Aldo at UFC 251 on Saturday, July 11, for the vacant UFC bantamweight title. With Henry Cejudo’s reign as the king of 135 pounds now over, the gold is there for taking.
Despite losing his last two fights, including a controversial split decision in his bantamweight debut, Jose Aldo slides into the bantamweight title fight. Aldo was the former king of the featherweight division, winning 18 straight fights and defending the belt six times. As for the other challenger, Petr “No Mercy” Yan, he has a perfect 6-0 record in the UFC and is riding a nine-fight winning streak overall.
In Russia’s Yan, we have a hungry, exciting prospect highly rated by mixed martial arts fans across the globe. But Aldo, the former dominant UFC featherweight kingpin, will be keen to prove that he can thrive as the guardian of the 135-pound strap.
Aldo is still a quality fighter. He looked very good in his bantamweight debut against Marlon Moraes and can probably feel aggrieved to have lost that fight. But considering Aldo opened at +240 against Max Holloway in their second title fight, +190 against an unproven Yan seems pretty nice.
My pick: For this one, I'm going to go for the underdog once again and pick Jose Aldo to win. I think he is desperate to get his hands back on gold and looking at his previous fight against Marlon, he was really unlucky with the judges' decision against him. Don’t get me wrong Yan looks like a promising fighter, but he hasn’t fought anyone that stands out as tough competition.
JESSICA ANDRADE VS ROSE NAMAJUNAS
Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade is going to be a scrap and I'm really looking forward to this fight. This will be the second time the pair have shared the octagon after Andrade seized the belt from Namajunas last year after a second-round slam knockout.
Andrade would then go on in attempting to defend her crown, however, she was made light work of the current women's strawweight champion Zhang Weili.
Rose Namajunas seems to have rediscovered her love for the sport after taking some time out and for this one I'm going to pick the former champ. She was extremely dominant when the pair first met last year until she was knocked out of course. For that reason, I'm going for a Rose Namajunas win.
PAIGE VANZANT VS AMANDA RIBAS
Looking to remain undefeated in the UFC, Amanda Ribas has rattled off three straight wins in the Octagon and is 9-1 overall in her pro career. Ribas already scored a win in 2020, earning a unanimous decision win over Randa Markos in March. Meanwhile, Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant aims to pick up consecutive wins for the first time since she won four straight from 2013 to 2015. She most recently scored a second-round submission win in January 2019.
Not really sure why this fight in on the main event, but hey-ho. It's a fairly easy one to predict here and I'm going for an Amanda Ribas victory.
This article was written exclusively for golear.co.uk