Deep Dive: Fight Island starts with stacked card headlined by three title fights

UFC 251 opens Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates with 3 title fights.

The main event features Kamaru Usman taking on Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal on short notice for the welterweight championship. The co-main event features the rematch between featherweight champ Alex Volkanovski and former champ Max “Blessed” Holloway. And lastly Petr “No Mercy” Yan and Jose’ Aldo will scrap for the vacant bantamweight title.

Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Jorge Masvidal  — Welterweight title

*There are still many hurdles to clear for this fight to take place including a few more COVID-19 tests but the fight was announced late last Sunday night.

Masvidal has stepped up on short notice to headline a massive UFC 251 main card against Usman for the welterweight title after Gilbert Burns’ positive COVID-19 test forced him off the card. This fight was the talk of the town after Masvidal defeated Nate Diaz for the BMF title, but the UFC and Masvidal couldn’t work out the financial details and in turn Masvidal asked to be released from the company.

Usman is stepping back in the Octagon after finishing Colby Covington at UFC 245 via TKO in the fifth round. The champ has a well-rounded fight plan as his top notch grappling couples with his relentless pressure. Usman has seamlessly become a willing striker as well.

If this fight becomes a standup fight I would favor “Gamebred” but I think Usman will use his grappling to keep Masvidal grounded and frustrated. Also, Masvidal has said he needs to lose 20 pounds before Friday’s weigh-in and this could play a role in his performance.

Alex Volkanovski (c) vs. Max Holloway — Featherweight title

“Blessed” is well known for being a slow starter who gets more active as the fight progresses. Against Volkanovski in the first fight, he was fighting off his back foot for most of the fight due to leg kicks from the challenger. It should be noted that Holloway hasn’t had any sparring for his camp leading up to this fight due to the current pandemic outbreak.

Volkanovski has 18 straight wins dating back to 2013 at 145 pounds. Holloway 1-2 in his last 3 fights is looking to regain his championship form. Holloway is a tough guy to finish, I see this fight going five rounds. If Holloway loses, I see him moving up to 155 and maybe getting a fight with Tony Ferguson by the end of the year.

Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo — Vacant Bantamweight Title

Let me first start off by saying I feel that Jose’ Aldo does not deserve this title shot and Aljamain Sterling should be fighting Yan for this title. To win this fight, the former WEC star and longtime UFC featherweight champion will need to find his long-lost kick game to stay out of Yan’s reach and his vicious boxing.  Aldo who is now 33-years-old and possibly in the twilight his career, could have a career resurgence by winning this title.

Yan, 27 years old, is hitting his prime. He is an excellent striker that mixes in power shots with his slick combinations. The fighter hailing from Russia is on a nine-fight winning streak, including six in the UFC. “No Mercy” Yan will be looking to win this fight with his stand-up game as Aldo looked nothing like the former featherweight king in his only bantamweight appearance against Marlon Moraes.

UFC is opening Fight Island with a stacked card headlined by three title fights and the returning Rose Namajunas. Purchase the UFC 251 PPV today.