UFC 251 PREVIEW: After tipping 3 out of 5 winning bets last time out, we are hoping to go slightly better at UFC 251 with a recommended bet for each of the main card matchups.
Dana White promised us “Fight Island” and despite all of the sceptics’ doubts, he has delivered in the shape of Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, and what a show the UFC President has lined up for us. With no less than three title fights, it’s set to be the biggest card of the year to date, including the headline act, rivals Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal meeting face-to-face for the Welterweight Title.
Kamaru Usman v Jorge Masvidal
It’s not the fight that was originally headlining UFC 251, but it is definitely the fight that people want to see. Usman and Masvidal have expressed their deep-rooted hate for one another over the past couple of years and now they get to settle their score at Fight Island, for the Welterweight Championship. What’s more, Masvidal has agreed to take this fight on just six days’ notice, adding to the drama of it all.
Kamaru Usman is the champ and is currently on a 15 fight win streak with only one defeat on his professional record. He is a wrestler who looks to dominate on the ground, with 8 wins via decision to his name. That said, the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ also packs a punch, racking up 6 KO wins during this run.
Standing in front of Usman will be a veteran of the sport, Jorge Masvidal, who’s career is enjoying a second wind, or ‘The Resurrection’ as he likes to call it. His official record is 35-13 but all you need to look at are his last three fights – two amazing KO wins against Darren Till & Ben Askren, before stopping Nate Diaz. Masvidal comes to brawl on the feet but can hurt you with knees and elbows, so this will be an interesting mix of styles.
Predicting a winner of this fight is no easy task, and with Masvidal coming in as a late replacement it’s hard to know who this benefits more, as Usman was previously preparing for a different style. Usman likes to slog it out, mauling opponents on the floor. Whereas Masvidal will aim to knock Usman out but I don’t think he will be able to stop his foe before the final bell, so I’m expecting a busy five rounds either way.
Alexander Volkanovski v Max Holloway 2
The co-main event of UFC 251 is a Featherweight Title rematch, as former champion Max Holloway looks to regain his crown against the man who dethroned him back in December 2019, Alexander Volkanovski.
As champion, Volkanovski will come into this bout as the favourite and understandably so, as he is currently enjoying an 18 fight win streak that includes 11 knockouts. The Aussie is known for his power and pace, which he showed in droves during the pair’s first fight, attacking Holloway’s legs with crushing kicks to the shin. He never faded and his relentless output resulted in a majority decision victory in the eyes of the judges. However, he states that he is looking for a knockout when they run it back on Saturday.
Meanwhile Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway is looking to prove that his most recent loss was merely a blip, and that he still remains the king at 145lbs. His reign which span from 2016-2019 included two notable wins over Jose Aldo and formed part of a run of victories that lasted over six years, only for Volkanovski to halt the ‘Blessed Express’ in impressive fashion. Holloway does not back away from a fight and he too will look to put pressure on his opponent at every opportunity.
There are a number of unknowns that come to mind when picking a winner for this fight – has being champion affected Volkanovski? How has Holloway reacted to his first defeat in such a long time? For me, I think Holloway’s experience in title fights and his superior fight IQ will overcome the ferocity of former rugby player Volkanovski, but it won’t be easy.
Petr Yan v Jose Aldo
The third title fight of the night sees the recently vacated Bantamweight Title up for grabs and what a cracking fight we have in store to decide who takes over as champion, as Russia’s Petr Yan takes on legend of the sport, Jose Aldo. There’s no doubt that these two will meet in the middle of the octagon, looking for knockouts.
Yan arrives into this fight ranked #3 in the Bantamweight standings hoping to extend his winning streak to double digits after 9 wins on the bounce. That journey to this title shot featured 6 knockout victories, and a hat-trick of wins in 2019 alone, so momentum is with the heavy-hitting boxer. At age 27 it can also be said that Yan is coming into his prime and should only improve.
Challenging Yan for the belt will be Featherweight legend Jose Aldo, who ruled the 145lbs division for years until he was sensationally knocked out by Conor McGregor in 2015. Since then, it’s been a rollercoaster for the Brazilian, winning 3 out of 7 fights. That said, in 2019 Aldo decided to drop down to 135lbs to rejuvenate his career, making his debut against top contender Marlon Moraes. Aldo appeared to dominate the fight throughout yet lost via split decision, to the bemusement of many, including Dana White, who disagreed so much with the judges that here we are previewing Aldo’s title shot!
Despite Aldo’s impressive debut at Bantamweight, I can’t see him stopping Yan’s ascendency to the top of the division. Aldo will cause problems but youth and brute force will win on the day I reckon.