The UFC’s historic UFC 251 introduced UFC Fight Island (Yas Island) to the world and proved to sports fans that you can hold an international event during a pandemic.
Aside from the logistical marvel that Abu Dhabi and the UFC managed to pull off, fans were treated to competitive fights from the international cast of fighters that filled out the promotions first of four events, scheduled on Fight Island for July.
Kamaru Usman defeats Jorge Masvidal – Unanimous decision for Welterweight Title
Jorge Masvidal started the fight with his back to the champion Kamaru Usman, and was rewarded almost immediately by being taken down – setting the scene for the remainder of the fight.
Usman spent eighty per cent of the fight with Masvidal up against the fence or underneath him. Masvidal traded body shots in the early rounds, but wasn’t able to keep up with pace and relentless, foot stomps, body rips, leg punches and shoulder shrugs.
Ultimately, Usman cruised to a one-sided decision.
Alexander Volkanovski defeats Max Holloway – Split decision for Featherweight Title
This time around Max Holloway decided to fight fire with fire. Holloway responded to almost every kick from Volkanovski with a low kick or high kick, and occasionally a flying knee – the strategy was working well in the early rounds, ‘Blessed’ caught the Australian with a right high kick that had him wobbled at the end of the first. Volkanovski continued to face adversity in the second, with Holloway finding a home for his right uppercut, that dropped the champion again.
In the fourth, the tide started to change when ‘The Great’ used his wrestling to mix up the exchanges, closing the distance and avoiding the high-kicks and knees that were causing him issue in the early rounds.
At the end of more competitive fight than the last, two judges thought that Volkanovski had done enough to secure a split decision win.
Petr Yan defeats Jose Aldo – TKO (Rd 5) for vacant Bantamweight Title
Petr Yan proved too much for an otherwise inform Jose Aldo, to win the vacant Bantamweight Title.
Aldo gave Yan problems early in the fight going back to his patented leg kicks, a technique that’s been noticeably absent in his game since his loss to McGregor in 2015 – much to the anguish of Fans, commentators and analysts alike.
Yan took a number of vicious body shots and big shots to the legs which swept him off his feet more than once but was able to finish every round strong. Aldo, got hit with a big shot at the beginning of the Fifth that dropped him and wasn’t able to survive the ground and pound of Yan, who got the referee stoppage in the middle of the round – which arguably could have been called earlier.
Rose Namajunas defeats Jessica Andrade – Split decision
Rose Namajunas avenged her loss to the woman who took the belt from her over a year ago, the always dangerous Jessica Andrade.
A slower start than usual for Andrade mostly due to the elusiveness of Namajunas, bobbing and weaving in and out of range. It was a clear a battle of speed vs power. Rose had a dominant second-round landing slick combinations and making Andrade miss. In the third, It only took a few punches to land from Andrade to bloody up ‘thug rose’, but Namajunas was able to rally, in part due to a vocal Pat Barry(her fiance/coach), to a split decision win. Now Zhang Wei Li stands as the last stop on Namajunas road to try and win her belt back.
Amanda Ribas defeats Paige VanZant – Armbar submission (Rd 1)
The return of Paige VanZant didn’t last long after a brief exchange Amanda Ribas took the fight to the ground with a trip. From there it was just over a minute until Ribas got the tap from VanZant on a tight armbar. The young prospect Ribas proved she is one to look out for with the dominant performance.
Jiri Prochazka def. Volkan Oezdemir via KO (Rd 2)
Muslim Salikhov def. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via split decision
Makwan Amirkhani def. Danny Henry unconscious via anaconda choke (Rd 1)
Leonardo Santos def. Roman Bogatov via unanimous decision
Marcin Tybura def. Maxim Grishin via unanimous decision
Raulian Paiva def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov via unanimous decision
Karol Rosa def. Vanesa Melo via uniamous decision
Davey Grant def. Martin Day via KO (Rd 3)
Alex Volkanovski beats Max Holloway by split-decision at UFC 251 Fight Island