The Monday After: UFC 251
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Well after all that build-up, and after all the smoke and mirrors the UFC put up in order to keep Fight Island a mystery, Yas Island was just another place on this big round ball we call Earth. I don't know why, but I guess I was kind've hoping they would be fighting on the beach lol. However it is Abu Dhabi, and it is a million degrees over there, so maybe my head was in the wrong place. You got me Dana!
But the fights!? What about the fights? Ah yes, after all of this there were fights that had to be put on. Three title fights, a fight that could very well be a title fight again in the future, and a new star is born at the expense of another fan favourite. Fight Island while looking fantastic, paled in comparison to the intimacy of the Apex, but it was still a wonderful card.
The main event. Yes, it wasn't what most fans were hoping for, but it was what many expected it to be. Usman did what he had to do as the champion to retain. Nothing special, no real damage done (other than a few unfortunate clashing of heads), and he comes away relatively unscathed. I thought Burns would be the tougher fight and I guess at some point we'll get a chance to see. Not for a while though,
It's interesting that even after the loss Masvidal still walks away a winner. Little damage taken, his takedown defence looked excellent, and still has a bevy of options in front of him. In reality there were just too many obstacles for him to get this done. 20lbs in 6 days, contract disputes, short notice fight, plus you're facing the best fighter in your division. It was a tough ask. Diaz, Edwards, Covington, they're all there for him.
We had two other title fights on this card as well obviously, and they turned out to be pretty entertaining. Blessed vs The Great, Holloway vs Volkanovski, personally I had Max up 3-2, but the champ definitely came back strong at the end. It really came down to how you scored that 3rd round, and that in itself lies that problem with the current scoring system. If you had to choose a winner based on the overall fight Max would win.
But alas, in a round-to-round scoring system, and in a world where takedowns are so overpowering in the eyes of judges, Volkanovski retains. It's hard to say what's next for both sides with Ortega-Jung, Yair-Zabit, and Ige-Kattar all still yet to be decided, but I'd imagine the winner of Zabit and Yair gets the next shot. This is a great chance for Holloway to reset once again and enjoy that beautiful Hawaiian weather.
Yan and Aldo was really competitive at first, but when the championship rounds came into play that's when we saw all those wars, all those rounds, and all those years of fighting catch up to the legendary Brazilian. Aldo looked in phenomenal shape, but he just couldn't hang with the younger Yan. With Dana noncommittal to Sterling in the post-fight presser, who knows what's next for the 135 division.
The rest of the card saw "Thug" Rose get a W back against Andrade, and will likely get the next shot. But man, she barley crossed the finish line, and with Zhang more being head and shoulders the best all-around Strawweight at the moment, that will be the toughest fight of Namajunas' career. Hopefully her nose and eye heal up quickly so we get to witness that one fairly soon.
And we can not forget two up-and-comers with two very big performances. Amanda Ribas made light work of Paige VanZant (who seems to be done with the UFC), and Jiri Prochazka dusted former title contender Volken Ozdemir, both should see their stock shoot through the roof given their personalities and fun fighting styles. Big wins for both.
It's a big week for the UFC as there are three more cards this month, two of which come in this week alone! The next one up is Ige vs Kattar, I'll have my predictions for that one Wednesday. Until then though, follow @Laymanssports for more wonderful sporting news and follow your boy @ReallyRobbieC if that's something you desire as well.