On Saturday night, UFC 251 took place at the Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It was the first night on Dana White’s “Fight Island” and it was definitely warranted the hype. The MMA event was originally scheduled for June 6th, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was eventually rescheduled. The last minute dramatics and schedule changes lead to the highly-anticipated bout between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal for the Welterweight Championship.
Kamaru Usman (C) vs. Jorge Masvidal
Masvidal, the challenger, came into the fight a 3-1 underdog, and rightfully. He wasn’t even supposed to be Usman’s opponent after Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19. Masvidal came out of the gates swinging in the first round, by throwing as many punches and kicks as he could to try to finish the champion as soon as he could. Usman answered Masvidal’s wild approach with a grappling counterattack. The strategy was executed perfectly, because Masvidal eventually ran out of gas, and Usman was able to remain the champion, via an impressive decision victory.
Alexander Volkanovski (C) vs. Max Holloway
Hawaiian native Max Halloway faced off against the Australian Alexander Volkanovski for the UFC Featherweight Championship. This was a rematch of their UFC 245 bout, which Volkanovski won via unanimous decision to take the belt from Holloway. Holloway dropped Volkanovski to the canvas at the end of each of the first two rounds. Holloway matched an impressive offensive performance with a nearly impeccable defensive effort. The reigning champion was able to hold his own. At the end of the fight the judges gave the victory to Volkanovski via split-decision. To say the judges made a controversial decision is an understatement, they were flat out wrong. Dana White would echo the sentiment in the post fight presser saying, “We got some bad, bad judging.”
Jose Aldo vs. Petr Yan ( C )
José Aldo and Petr Yan squared off for the UFC Bantamweight Title. The 33-year old Aldo, who has the record for holding the Featherweight Title for the longest period of time, is now fighting for a different title at 135 pounds. Petr Yan, before Saturday, was the #3 bantamweight fighter in the world. In the first three rounds, the two strikers were pretty much neck and neck. The audience saw a vintage Jose Aldo as he showed his athleticism in his leg kicks. However, in the fifth round Yan put Aldo on the floor, and the referee ended the fight as Yan landed lethal blows to Aldo.
Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas
Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas faced off for a fight between two strawweight competitors. This is the rematch after Namajunas lost her belt to Andrade in May of 2019. This time around it was back & forth the whole fight, which went a complete three rounds. Namajunas clearly won rounds one & two, however Andrade did some damage in round three. Both fighters were able to stay on their feet, which was also different than the first time around. Namajunas won the fight via split decision. An upcoming fight with champion Zhang Weili would most likely be next for the Milwaukee native.
Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant
Unranked Amanda Ribas took on Paige VanZant in a bout between two flyweight fighters. VanZant started out aggressive, however Ribas was able to counterattack by her grappling. From there, Ribas was able to put VanZant in an armbar. VanZant tried to get herself out of it, but was unable to do so and was forced to tap out. Ribas won the fight fairly effortlessly early in round 1.
by Noah Soria