After months of speculation and debate as to whether it was real or simply a sports legend, Dana White is making good on his coronavirus promise and staging a show from a private island. Rather than an empty arena in Florida or the UFC Apex in Vegas, the UFC 251 PPV will take place from “Fight Island,” aka Las Island in Abu Dhabi. And White went all out for the island’s debut, throwing together a casual card with 3 title fights, along with a rematch of the electric Namajunas-Andrade fight with a shot at the title on the line.
The island wasn’t the only headlines the event made as Gilbert Burns, who was originally slated to face Kumaru Usman for the Welterweight Championship in the main event, was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID. With the main event in jeopardy, nobody knew who would step in, or if anyone would be willing to face the #6 Pound for Pound Fighter in the UFC on only six days notice. Enter the Baddest MF’er in the game. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal, who has resurrected his once struggling career and become one of the biggest stars in MMA, in large part due to his KO of Ben Askren, the fastest in UFC history.
On six days notice Masvidal made weight at 170 pounds, as did Usman, along with Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski at Featherweight, and Petr Yan and Jose Aldo at Bantamweight making all three title bouts official for the stacked card that I’m gonna break down.
Kumaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal
Jorge Masvidal was ready to step in on short notice because he’s prepared to fight 24/7/365, but it is very hard to be prepared for Kumaru Usman on short notice. It’s hard to be 16-1 and the champion yet somehow still be overlooked, as Usman doesn’t crack the top 5 of the pound for pound rankings despite having lost only once, in 2013 in what was his second career fight. Since then he has been absolutely dominant, coming in on a 15 fight win streak, without ever conceding a single judge’s decision to an opponent. Usman is more polished all-around than Masvidal, and his superior grappling game should be the difference in the main event.
The Pick: Kumaru Usman -240 (2.4/1)
Max Holloway vs Alexander Volkanovski
This is a rematch for the Featherweight belt that Volkanovski (21-1) took from Holloway at UFC 245. These guys are two of the best featherweights to ever do it and should be a hard hitting, fast paced fight between two of the top 10 PFP fighters in the world. Holloway has lost 2 of his last 3, and comes into this one as at +175 underdog trying to get back on track. There’s no pick here, but it should be a great fight that I see Volkanovski using to solidify himself as the division’s top dog.
Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo
The final championship, in the Bantamweight division, is truly the definition of the old guard against the new as Jose Aldo takes on Petr Yan, who made his pro debut 3 years after Aldo had won his first UFC championship. The 27 year-old Yan comes in riding a 8 fight win streak, while Aldo is coming off of two decision losses, the second coming in his bantamweight debut. Both of these guys have unreal hand speed and power, but Aldo has been struggling too much for me and Yan is too good to go against.
The Pick: Petr Yan -220 (2.2/1)
Rose Namajunas vs Jessica Andrade
This is another rematch of a title fight, but this time around these women are contenders, and the winner will likely get a chance at Weili Zhang. The first time around Thug Rose and Andrade were throwing straight out of the gate, working at a high pace as Namajunas controlled the first round but then lost as she was knocked out by a slam in round 2. Despite losing, Thug Rose comes in to Fight Island as a -200 favorite and while she did have a dominant round in the first fight, Andrade hung in there and returned everything in that fight, and was able to pick up the victory. I’m not too sure who will win this one, but I think the value lies with the current #1 as the underdog.
The Pick: Jessica Andrade +170 (1/1.7)
Volkan Oezdemir vs Jiri Proschka
The prelim card’s main event sees Proschka (26-3) making his UFC debut riding a 10 fight win streak, with 8 straight coming by knockout, against the #7 Light Heavyweight contender Volkan Oezdemir. This is gonna be a hard hitting stand up fight, as the two have combined for 35 knockouts in 43 wins, and should be a good test for both sides as Proschka has the chance to establish himself as a contender in his first fight, and Oezdemir has the chance to score a quality win on a big stage to climb the rankings.
The Pick: Jiri Proschka +125 (1/1.25
Danny Henry vs Makwan Amirkhani
These guys don’t like going the distance, having each racked up 10 career finishes and 15 combined submissions. This one should start out fast and not slow down until somebody taps or goes to sleep, I don’t see many under on this card, but this is certainly one of them.
The Pick: Under 2.5 (1.1/1)
It was a long and turbulent road, but its real and its glorious. So lets kick back, enjoy Fight Island, and win some money.