Fight Night on Yas Island; Everything You Missed From Yesterday’s UFC Matches
UFC found a big challenge in hosting international fights because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading them to another location to host four events on what they’ve called “Fight Island”. The series of events are taking place on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, and kicking off just hours ago with the biggest event of the four, UFC 251! The monumental line-up made the event arguably the most anticipated UFC event of the year, with three titles on the line!
If you haven’t watched the amazing event, we’ve got you covered; we pulled off an all-nighter to watch and write about this one! The event was already hyped up once it was announced that Brazilian fighter, Gilbert Burns, had to pull out of his match against Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman after testing positive for COVID-19, his replacement being the super popular, Jorge Masvidal.
The fight between Usman and Masvidal boosted that hype even more, for several reasons, including the beef that the two already had for each other before, and the fact that Masvidal took the fight on a 6-day notice! The fact that it was announced before the event that Masvidal is one of the two stars to be on the cover of the video game “UFC 4” spiced things up even more.
Not to mention that the main event of Usman and Masvidal wasn’t the only important fight of the night, as the main card was literally stacked with superstars and important matches. It’s also worth mentioning that the prelims (the matches that take place before the main card) were pretty interesting, especially the UFC debut match of the Czech Fighter Jiří Procházka, who won his debut fight with a knockout in the second round and was later named one of the two fighters who won performance of the night!
The main card kicked off with a very quick match between Brazilian Amanda Ribas who defeated American Paige VanZant in a flyweight bout via submission using an armbar in the first round!
This was followed by an interesting match that was later named the fight of the night, the rematch between Jessica Andrade, who won her first match back in May 2019, and Rose Namajunas from the USA. Namajunas won via decision after three very intense rounds, making her the apparent contender for the Strawweight Champion, Zhang Weili.
The third match in the main card was for the vacant Bantamweight Championship that was left open when Champion Henry Cejudo announced his retirement. The match was between Petr Yan from Russia, who was ranked number 3, and UFC Legend Jose Aldo, ranked number 6. The very bloody match ended in the fifth round as the referee needed to stop the match with a TKO announcing the win to Yan!
Another anticipated rematch was the co-main event, the featherweight championship match between the Champion Alexander Volkanovski and the GOAT of the featherweight division, Max Holloway. The first match saw Alexander win after five rounds in which he was mostly in control, while this rematch appeared to have Max dominating. It was a shock for some of the fans to see that the decision of the judges gave the match to Alexander! Two gave everything they had in those 25 minutes, but it looks like Alexander was the better fighter in this one.
The much anticipated main event, unfortunately, didn’t live up to the expectations of the fans. Although it ended in a unanimous win to Nigerian Champion Kamaru Usman, some might argue that the fight was somewhat boring. It appears that Masvidal did more than expected of him given the fact that he only had 6 days to prepare and without a proper training camp, but Usman was there to defend the title and play safe.
In the end, we stayed up till 8 AM (GMT+2) to see Usman hug Masvidal for 25 minutes! Of course, the fact that the match wasn’t quite as expected doesn’t take away from the glory of the champion who is still undefeated in his UFC history. The fans just expected more intensity from the match because of all the trash talk and bad blood in the lead-up, and not just corner clenches from Usman to take points. Usman was very respectable at the end of the match, and both fighters embraced each other and showed good sportsmanship.
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