UFC 251| Fight Island | Sporting Index
Fight Island Has Eventually Landed for UFC 251: Kamaru Usman v Jorge Masvidal
Some of the world’s most talented fighters will head into battle at UFC 251 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend. Fight Island is designed to allow international MMA stars the opportunity to put on a show for their fans during a time when travel to the US is heavily restricted. UFC has taken over a 10 square mile safety zone on the island, which is famous for hosting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ferrari World, Waterworld and SeaWorld. It will host three big events at a dedicated venue on Yas Island, and UFC 251 kicks things off at the weekend.
Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal
Welterweight champion Usman was set to put his belt on the line in an eagerly anticipated headline bout against Gilbert Burns at UFC 251. However, Burns tested positive for Covid-19 and he had to pull out. Jorge Masvidal has now stepped in at short notice to lock horns with Usman, and it promises to be a thrilling clash. Burns was the number one contender in the welterweight rankings, but Masvidal is a dangerous fighter and he has the potential to cause the champion problems.
The Florida native started out as a bareknuckle fighter and he has earned legions of fans across the globe since become a crossover star. He relishes the role of the antihero, and he significantly bolstered his reputation by accepting his first title shot. He had to shed 22 pounds to make weight, and he will be without head coach Mike Brown after the 44-year-old trainer also tested positive for Covid-19. Masvidal is the 21/10 underdog in the UFC odds, and it would be a remarkable achievement if he were to secure victory under the circumstances.
Usman is unbeaten in 10 UFC bouts and holds a career record of 16-1. This will be his second welterweight title defence after his thrilling fifth round knockout victory against Colby Covington in December 2019. The Nigerian Nightmare is one of the most dominant fighters in the UFC. His trash talk divides opinion, but he backs it up with a relentless approach and powerful striking ability. Usman has had a full training camp on Fight Island, he is in better shape and he has had a lot more time to prepare, so his status as 4/11 favourite is justified, but Masvidal is on a three-match winning streak and he beat Nate Diaz the last time he stepped into the octagon, so he certainly represents a formidable challenge for Usman.
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
The co-main clash sees featherweight champion Volkanovski defend his crown against top contender Max Holloway. This will be a rematch of their bout at UFC 245 in December 2019, which Volkanovski won via a unanimous decision. The Australian featherweight landed more strikes than Holloway in every round and ground his opponent down with several vicious low kicks, so Holloway could have no complaints in the end.
However, he has now had seven months to plot his revenge. Volkanovski is seventh in the UFC pound-for-pound rankings, while Holloway is 10th, so fans will be able to witness two supremely talented fighters battle for glory. They are great friends outside the octagon, so the build-up to the fight has lacked a little intensity, but once the action gets underway you can count on them to display professionalism and ambition throughout.
We make Volkanovski the 2.5-5.5 favourite in the Supremacy Index. He is 63-69 in the 100 Index at our UFC spread betting page, while Holloway is 31-37, suggesting that the American has a tough task ahead of him. However, Holloway is a former UFC featherweight champion and we have seen Holloway beat José Aldo twice, so he will cause Volkanovski plenty of problems in this fight. Total Minutes has been set at 19.5-20.5 after the first fight went the distance. This time around you can find 63-69 on it going the distance and 31-37 on it not going the distance.
Petr Yan vs. José Aldo
The third title bout of the evening pits two exciting brawlers against one another in a battle for the vacant bantamweight belt. Champion Henry Cejudo announced his retirement after beating Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 in May, and now Yan will go up against Aldo in a bid to seize the title. Russian fighter Yan is unbeaten in six bouts since signing with the UFC. He was last seen knocking out Urijah Faber with a devastating head kick at UFC 245.
This represents the sternest test of his career so far. Aldo is an MMA legend after embarking on an unbeaten streak that lasted for more than a decade. It finally ended at the hands of Conor McGregor in 2015, and he has since lost to Holloway, Volkanovski and Moraes, but the former UFC featherweight champion still retains an intimidating aura. Yan is the 2/5 favourite, and you can find 13/10 on him winning via a knockout or 5/2 on him securing a points victory if you want more value. Aldo is the 19/10 underdog, and 19/4 to win courtesy of a knockout.
Jéssica Andrade vs. Rose Namjunas
Andrade and Namajunas are ranked fourth and sixth respectively in the UFC women’s pound-for-pound chart, so this promises to be an exciting fight. They met for a UFC strawweight title bout at UFC 237 in May 2019, and Andrade picked up the win courtesy of a savage knockout. She picked up Namajunas and slammed her down on her neck in absolutely brutal fashion. Some called it a fluke, and now Andrade is out to prove it was no such thing.
Since then she has lost to Zhang Weili, and she is now keen to improve her record and secure a shot at winning back the belt from Weili. Namajunas has not fought again since that defeat to Andrade, but she has now recovered and she is desperate to gain revenge. She is an elite striker and brings a great deal of power, so she will feel confident in her ability to win the fight. Our traders make Namajunas the clear favourite, with a 100 Index of 62-68 compared to 32-38 for Andrade.
Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant
The final fight of the main card offers Brazilian fighter Ribas the chance to bolster her burgeoning reputation against the aggressive VanZant. Ribas has beaten Emily Whitmire, Mackenzie Dern and Randa Markos since signing with the UFC, and she has a 9-1 career record. VanZant is the same age as Ribas, but she has been involved in UFC bouts since 2014 and she is much more of a household name.
She finished off Rachael Ostovich with an armbar in her last appearance, but she is the heavy underdog at UFC 251. Ribas is priced at 1/9, while VanZant s all the way out at 11/2. You can alternatively find 21/20 on Ribas to win on points, 5/1 on Ribas to win by knockout or 2/1 on her winning via a submission. The fight is 10/11 to go the distance and 17/20 not to go the distance. There is also an exciting preliminary card at UFC 251, featuring bouts like Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Muslim Salikhov.