Fight Island is real and it’s nearly time to hop on a plane and head out. UFC is set to descend on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi for a series of events beginning on July 11 for UFC 251. The latest PPV offering will be headlined by a trio of title fights, including the main event of welterweight champion Kamaru Usman taking on Gilbert Burns.
The pair of top 170 pounders have long been training partners and teammates, and share nothing but respect as they head into familiar territory. Usman has moved his camp to Colorado to work with Trevor Wittman while Burns is staying home at Sanford MMA, though he won’t have coach Henri Hooft in his corner as he wants to remain impartial to both parties.
The second title fight will be a rematch of December’s thrilling technical battle between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway. Volkanovski is on as strong a run as any at 145 pounds with 18 straight wins dating back to 2013, including the decision over Holloway to claim the belt. Holloway, meanwhile, will look to get back on the winning track after a 1-2 2019. Before that, he was on a Volkanovski-type run, going undefeated for five years and claiming the title with two wins over Jose Aldo.
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Speaking of Aldo, he will be featured in the third title bout when he takes on Petr Yan for the vacant bantamweight title. Aldo, the greatest featherweight in history, moved to bantamweight at UFC 245 and lost a mildly controversial split decision to Marlon Moraes. After the fight, UFC president Dana White said Aldo would fight Henry Cejudo for the championship, but the fight was ultimately derailed by the coronavirus pandemic. Cejudo has since retired and vacated the belt, leading Aldo to face top contender Yan. The Russian is on a nine-fight winning streak, including six in the UFC Octagon.
Plus, a pair of important women’s fights round out the main card. Top strawweight contenders Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas will finally meet for their rematch after being scheduled to fight at UFC 249 in April. Namajunas was forced to withdraw when two family members died from COVID-19, according to her manager. Kicking off the main card will be a women’s flyweight scrap between Paige VanZant and Amanda Ribas. It is reportedly VanZant’s final fight on her UFC contract.
Dana White announced the rest of the fight card on June 18, complete with 13 fights to fill out the prelims and early prelims.
Let’s take a look at the announced fight card for UFC 251.
UFC 251 fight card
- Kamaru Usman (c) -195 vs. Gilbert Burns +165 — Welterweight title
- Alexander Volkanovski (c) -220 vs. Max Holloway +180 — Featherweight title
- Petr Yan -220 vs. Jose Aldo +180 — Vacant bantamweight title
- Rose Namajunas -190 vs. Jéssica Andrade +160 — Women’s strawweights
- Amanda Ribas -700 vs. Paige VanZant +500 — Women’s flyweights
- Volkan Oezdemir -160 vs. Jiří Procházka +135 — Light heavyweights
- Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Muslim Salikhov — Welterweights
- Makwan Amirkhani -170 vs. Dan Henry +145 — Featherweights
- Leonardo Santos -180 vs. Roman Bogatov +155 — Lightweights
- Marcin Tybura vs. Alexander Romanov — Heavyweights
- Zhalgas Zhumagulov -180 vs. Raulian Paiva +155 — Flyweights
- Karol Rosa -220 vs. Vanessa Melo +180 — Women’s bantamweights
- Martin Day vs. Davey Grant — Bantamweights
UFC 251 info
- Date: July 11
- Location: Yas Island — Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Start time: 10 p.m. ET (Main card)
- How to watch: ESPN+ PPV