Fight Island is finally here! Dana White has taken the UFC promotion and escaped to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to hold a month’s worth of fights for fans worldwide. The fights will take place on the beach in Yas Island. The fighters have arrived, weigh ins are complete, and fans are ready to witness the action! Tonight will kick off the first of 4 events on fight Island. UFC 251 is a stacked card with a main card filled with 3 championship bouts, and two marquee women’s bouts. The Early Prelims will be featured on UFC fight pass at 6PM est (Subscription required). The Prelims will follow on ESPN at 8PM est. The Main Card will come to us LIVE at 10PM est on PPV. Let’s pull up a beach chair and breakdown the fights on the card!
Main Card (Live on PPV, 10PM)
“The Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman (C) vs. “Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal
Odds: Usman (-260) Masvidal (+200)
The fight we all expected to see is finally agreed upon, and ready to go. After Gilbert Burns unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19, Dana made the phone call to Jorge Masvidal to negotiate terms on a championship bout with Kamaru Usman. Masvidal will be stepping into the octagon on 1 week notice, but appears ready to go after making weight Friday morning.
“I come in complete violence and I’m going to leave his ass in peace, man.”
Kamaru Usman enters the Octagon as the welterweight champion with an unblemished record in the UFC (11-0). Usman has been untouchable thus far in the UFC. He holds the all time mark in the UFC with a +243 striking differential. The champ controls the fight, and establishes dominance in the octagon. The animosity towards his opponent started on media row at the Super Bowl.
Masvidal is looking to shut up the champ at fight island. He jumps in on short notice to take on his recent rival. Masvidal is arguably the hottest fighter in MMA. Once a journeyman fighter, Gamebred is riding a 3 fight win streak over Darren Till, Ben Askren, and Nate Diaz. Masvidal won the BMF title after his win over Diaz. While Kamaru Usman wants that title on the line, The BMF title will not be up for grabs, according to Dana White. The man who strapped the belt on Masvidal, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, offered his insight on the main event.
These two fighters are going to throw down in the main event. Masvidal will attempt to keep the fight standing. He’s knocked out 16 of his opponents. Meanwhile, Kamaru Usman wants to control the pace of the fight, and establish wrestling control on the mat. With emotions running high in this fight, Usman maydecide to stand up and knock him out.
“I’m going to bless him with these hands.”
This fight could go either way, but with the short notice and massive weight cut for Masvidal, I’m going to side with Usman in this bout.
Prediction: Usman via Unanimous Decision
Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski (C) vs. “Blessed” Max Holloway
Odds: Volkanovski (-225) Holloway (+175)
The co-main event of the evening will feature a re-match of a championship bout from December in which Volkanovski claimed the featherweight belt defeating Max Holloway via unanimous decision. Alexander “The Great” is out to show the world that beating Holloway wasn’t a fluke.
“I’m here to prove a point this time.”
Meanwhile, Max Holloway steps back into the cage attempting to reclaim his belt, and prove that he’s one of the most dominant featherweights in history. Holloway is the energizer bunny in the octagon. He averages 6.49 significant strikes per minute, ranking 2nd all time in the featherweight division. Also, he’s the UFC company leader all time in strikes landed. Let’s just call Holloway a volume fighter!
Alexander Volkanovski is riding an incredible 18 fight win streak, including 8-0 in the UFC. Alex the Great has laid knockout blows to 11 of his opponents. He’s averaging a 6.35 significant strikes per minute, which is 3rd all time in the featherweight division, behind Max Holloway.
Max has a chance to reclaim his featherweight title and assume his throne as king of the featherweights. Can Max dethrone the new ruler of the division? Not if Alexander Volkanovski has anything to say about it. He feels that a new king is here to stay! Fight of the night potential is all over this matchup. Don’t miss it!
Prediction: Holloway via Split Decision
“No Mercy” Petr Yan vs. “Junior” Jose Aldo
Odds: Yan (-240) Aldo (+185)
The third title fight of the night highlights the bantamweight division. Petr Yan and Jose Aldo will crown a new undisputed champion after Henry Cejudo vacated the belt earlier this year. This fight will be a battle of technical skill. Both fighters possess knockout power with pristine footwork, and both like to control the octagon.
Petr Yan is 6-0 as a member of the UFC. He averages 5.65 significant strike per minute, ranking 4th all time in the bantamweight division. Yan also averages 1.52 knockdowns per 15 minutes, ranking 2nd all time as a bantamweight. Yan will look to establish control of the fight, and take out one of the all time greats in Aldo to become the boss of the bantamweights.
What can I say about Jose Aldo? This dude is a legend! Aldo will step into the octagon entering his 15th major MMA title fight as a professional in which 8 of those fights resulted in championship victories. Now, that’s what I call experience in the cage! Aldo is an explosive striker registering 16 knockouts in his career. However, Aldo will attempt to right his ship after dropping 4 of his last 6 fights between the featherweight and bantamweight divisions. The losses included 2 with Max Hollloway, and decision losses to Marlon Moraes, and current featherweight champ, Alexander Volkanovski.
Prediction: Yan via KO, 2nd Round
Women’s Strawweight Bout
“Bate Estaca” Jessica Andrade vs. “Thug” Rose Namajunas
Odds: Namajunas (-210) Andrade (+165)
The long awaited rematch is finally here. Rose Namajunas will step back into the octagon for the first time in over a year to avenge her last defeat at the hands of her counterpart this evening, Jessica Andrade. Rose was controlling the fight landing countless jabs to the face of Andrade until suddenly Andrade got a hold of Thug Rose and landed a nasty slam on her head / neck resulting in a knockout and losing the strawweight championship. Rose struggled with the loss, and is making her long awaited return to the octagon.
“Losing made me realize that no matter how good I am, I have to be interested in this for it to be successful and safe for me to do this.”
Jessica Andrade returns to the cage after losing the belt in her first defense to Weili Zhang. Andrade possesses knockout power on her feet, but has skills to win via submission. Andrade averages 7.22 significant strikes per minutes, placing her 1st all time in the strawweight division. Rose was picking her apart on their feet, so it’s possible that “Bate Estaca” attempts to win on the mat.
Thug Rose will attempt a return to prominence in the strawweight division tonight with a victory. She has to feel confident on her feet as she dominated Andrade on their feet until the eventual slam heard round the world. Namajunas has 8 wins by way of submission focusing on a kimura lock, as you saw her attempt before she was slammed off her throne by Andrade.
Prediction: Namajunas via Submission, 2nd Round
Women’s Flyweight Bout
Amanda Ribas vs. “12 Gauge” Paige Van Zant
Odds: Ribas (-910) VanZant (+525)
Amanda Ribas and Paige VanZant open up a loaded main Card at Fight Island. This fight was orignially scheduled to happen in March, but PVZ was forced to withdraw due to an arm fracture that occurred in training.
Paige Van Zant enters the octagon for perhaps the last time as her UFC contract expires after this fight. “12 Gauge” is 2-2 is her last 4 fights. She’s battled numerous injuries over the last few years such as a broken arm, and most recently an arm fracture. VanZant hopes to build off her last victory, and a win could catapult her into a new UFC contract, or perhaps a lucrative deal with another promotion.
“This fight matters more to me than any fightin my entire life. I’m willing to put it all out there.”
Amanda Ribas is one of the hottest prospects in women’s MMA. The former Max Fight strawweight champion is riding a 4 fight win streak into tonight’s contest, including a 3-0 UFC record. Ribas will be moving up to make her Flyweight debut. Ribas is a heavy favorite in this bout, and hopes to earn a notable victory this evening.
Prediction: Ribas via Submission, 3rd Round
PRELIMS (8PM, ESPN)
Light Heavyweight Bout
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka
- Odds: Oezdemir (-170) Prochazka (+135)
Highly touted prospect Jiri Prochazka makes his UFC debut. 23 knockouts in 26 fights. You have my interest.
Prediction: Prochazka via KO, 1st Round
Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos vs. Muslim Salikhov
- Odds: Salikhov (-140) Dos Santos (+112)
25 knockouts between the two fighters. I have a feeling someone will be sleeping before the final bell sounds.
Prediction: Salikhov via KO, 2nd Round
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Danny Henry
- Odds: Amirkhani (-200) Henry (+160)
Both fighters seeking a victory after suffering a defeat last time in the octagon.
Prediction: Amirkhani via Submission, 3rd Round
Leonardo Santos vs. Roman Bogatov
- Odds: Santos (-190) Bogatov (+150)
The Lightweight champ from the M-1 promotion makes his UFC debut against 40 year old Leonardo Santos. Santos has an 11 fight win streak over a 10 year period. Battle of the submission specialists in this bout.
Prediction: Santos via Split Decision
EARLY PRELIMS (6PM,UFC Fight Pass)
Marcin Tybura vs. Maxim Grishin
- Odds: Tybura (-125) Grishin (-103)
Maxim Grishins steps in on 1 week notice to make his UFC debut vs. UFC veteran, Marcin Tybura. Both fighters have solid takedown defense, so I would expect this fight to stay on the feet.
Prediction: Grishin via Unanimous decision
Raulian Paiva vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
- Odds: Paiva (-175) Zhumagulov (+140)
Raulian Paiva missed weight for this bout, and will forfeit a portion of his purse to his opponent, Zhalgas Zhumagulov. Zhalgas is making his UFC debut. Six of his wins have come by way of knockout. Raulian Paiva is 1-2 in the UFC. Twelve wins have come via decision. I expect this one to go the distance.
Prediction: Paiva via unanimous decision
Women’s Bantamweight Bout
Karol Rosa vs. Vanessa Melo
- Odds: Rosa (-280) Melo (+215)
Vanessa Melo missed weight for this bout by 5 lbs. She’ll forfeit a portion of her purse to Karol Rosa. Melo is hoping to snap a a 2 fight skid and get back on the winning side of things. Rosa steps in the cage for the first time since August after winning her UFC debut. The judges will make the decision in this bout.
Prediction: Rosa via split decision
Martin Day vs. Davey Grant
- Odds: Day (-160) Grant (+128)
Martin Day hasn’t stepped in the cage for almost 2 years. Ring rust will be apparent in this bout. Davey Grant is 2-2 in the UFC since losing the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 18 in 2013. Grant will look to get the fight on the mat as 8 of 10 victories have come by way of submission.
Prediction: Grant via Split Decision
WHEW! That’s a lot of fights! Enjoy Fight Island tonight!