UFC 251 Recap – Kamaru Usman Retains Title Against Masvidal on Fight Island

Kamaru Usman remains the UFC Welterweight Champion after successfully defending his title against Jorge Masvidal on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

Dubbed ‘Fight Island’, July is a big month for the UFC. In an effort to defy coronavirus, UFC President Dana White is holding closed-door events on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. A total of four UFC events have been scheduled for the whole of July.

Masvidal was drafted in to face the dominant Nigerian with only six days to prepare for the fight. The American had no answer to Usman’s strong wrestling skills and constant pressing.

A Dominant Display from Usman

The 33-year-old champion destroyed the challenger over a gritty five rounds in the Octagon in the sand. The judges scored the contest 50-45, 50-45, 49-46 in a clear indicator of how impressive Usman was throughout the fight.

The event went off without a hitch as only fighters, coaches, and UFC personnel were allowed to enter the ‘red zone’, which consists of the arena, a hotel, and training facilities. A total of 2,500 UFC personnel and workers on Yas Island have stayed within the safe zone for the past 14 days to guarantee a sterile environment for UFC to take place.

Originally, Usman should have been fighting Gilbert Burns, but Usman’s Brazilian opponent tested positive for coronavirus and was forced to withdraw.

Masvidal performed admirably in the fight, with a fast start and powerful strikes making their mark. The champion was clearly caught with cold feet in the opening exchanges. Usman attempted a number of early takedowns which all came to nothing.

However, Usman eventually caught his opponent after a patient ‘feeling out’ process. The big moment came in the third round, as Usman slammed Masvidal to the ground. This was the story of the remaining two rounds.

Usman’s record improves to 17-1 and he extends his winning streak to 12 fights within the UFC.

Volkanovski Defeats Holloway for the UFC Featherweight Title

Alexander Volkanovski fought former champion Max Holloway in the co-main event of the night. The champion Volkanovski prevailed in a controversial split-decision victory.

Holloway dominated the initial two rounds of the fight as the Hawaiian knocked down the Australian in each round. Volkanovski ground his way back into the fight. The champion definitely had the better of the fight in the closing rounds to take the fight to the score cards.

Volkanovski edged the split decision with scores of 47-48, 48-47, and 48-47. This is Volkanovski’s ninth straight win in the UFC and his 19th overall.

However, with the margin of victory so small, it’s likely that we could see a third fight in the future, as Holloway won’t believe he was outclassed against the featherweight champion.

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Vacant Bantamweight Championship Decided

Russian Petr Yan fought two-time former featherweight champion the Brazilian Jose Aldo in a bout that would decide the winner of the vacant bantamweight championship.

Yan became Russia’s second reigning UFC champion, alongside Khabib Nurmagomedov, and secured a record in the process. Throughout the fight, Yan landed 194 significant strikes to complete a TKO finish of Aldo in the fifth round.

Aldo was already on the ropes in the first 90 seconds of the fight, after succumbing to a big right hand from Yan. The Brazilian looked badly hurt after round one, following a big body shot in the fading seconds.

Aldo managed to hold his own, though, and by round three Yan looked like he was starting to lose his grip on the fight.

However, Yan only grew in the championship rounds, with Aldo slowing down as fatigue began to set in.

Although there were no title changes at UFC 251, fight fans will be satisfied with the performances on Fight Island and the fallout still to come.

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