We finally arrive at the much-hyped Fight Island for this weekends PPV, UFC 251. From Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, the UFC have provided us with arguably the most stacked card of the year.
Due to a Gilbert Burns positive COVID test, Jorge Masvidal steps in on a weeks’ notice to fight the current Welterweight title holder, Kamaru Usman. As well as the Welterweight title fight, there is a Featherweight title rematch between Volkanovski and Holloway as well as the fight for the vacant Bantamweight title between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo.
There are many other top-class fights on the card which include returning Rose Namajunus in a rematch against Jessica Andrade. It’s time to enjoy the first of four fight island cards in what should be an entertaining two weeks for us fight fans. We look at the UFC 251 card below.
UFC 251 Betting Picks
Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal
Don’t hate me America but Masvidal has a punchers chance of winning this fight. Masvidal is clearly one tough man, who has really polished striking, especially boxing, but he is not near Usman’s level. I would love to see Masvidal finish Usman for what it would do for the division, but I expect a 50-45 unanimous decision win for Usman.
Usman has underrated striking and the idea of him having ‘pillow hands’ is laughable. Usman dropped Covington who is notoriously tough and withstood everything he threw back at him. He also has the massive wrestling advantage to take Masvidal down and hold him there. The only real plus I see for Masvidal is I believe he has got in Usman’s head and made him emotional. Apart from an Usman brain explosion I fully expect Usman’s elite wrestling to take this down and drop elbows on Masvidal until the bell or ref steps in.
Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway
This is one of the most interesting fights on the card. In their first fight, Volkanovski was able to chop at Holloway’s legs in what was a fight winning move (don’t fool yourself there is no controversy in that decision). Volkanovski fought the perfect fight and when Holloway switched to southpaw due to leg kicks, Volkanovski picked him apart in what was clearly the most dominant round of the fight. With time to prepare for the rematch the question is what adjustments has Holloway made to counter this or will it be almost a Garbrandt vs Dillashaw situation where one just has the style to beat the other? I must lean towards Vollanovski to get the win again solely due to the fact I believe he has the game plan and style to cancel out Holloway’s pressure game and has the clear advantage in power.
Volkanovski defends his title in what is a close fight and he might even get the slate stoppage win over Holloway to stamp his authority on the division. Don’t expect this to be the last time these two meet.
Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo
Due to Henry Cejudo vacating the Bantamweight title we have this fight between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo. Petr Yan is a strong boxer whose physical strength enables him to control clinch exchanges and fighters from top position. Jose Aldo comes into this fight off two losses, but he will be by far Yan’s biggest test to date.
The big factor against Yan is that he really hasn’t fought anyone of championship calibre yet and has never had a five-round fight. His win over Rivera, while visibly strong, showed his struggle to outpoint opponents, which is what Jose Aldo does better than most. Although he did win that fight it was off late knockdowns and was in a fight he was arguably losing early on. While I am definitely leaning towards a Yan victory there are too many questions to confidently tip him.
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs Muslim Salikhov
Short and sweet on this one, dos Santos is a brawler who has been out struck in his last couple of fights and meets a striker that has superior technique on the feet and enough of a wrestling game to keep it standing. Back to a regulation size Octagon also suits and I would be surprised to see Salikhov not earning a victory here either through a well-executed counter punch or a decisive decision victory.