After a difficult series of events leading up to Fight Island, I was almost sure we wouldn’t make it here in one piece.
However, we had an absolutely riveting night of action at UFC 251 with all three title fights being absolutely incredible displays of our sport that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time throughout.
I also can’t help but to brag just a bit about how well my predictions went down for this card. My wallet is quite happy.
Of course, now we’re looking ahead and wondering what’s next after all these great performances. Well, I’m here to do my best at reading the tea leaves and putting out the best next matchup for each of tonight’s main card winners!
Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns
Usman put another successful defense on his resume, this time taking down the BMF. Although it wasn’t the stand and bang war of his last fight, Usman represented himself extremely well here and found a way to secure the victory against an incredibly dangerous competitor. Gilbert Burns was the sacrificial lamb for this performance, as he was removed from this main event slot, but his recent victory over Tyron Woodley cemented his spot as the next deserving title challenger. Although Welterweight is one of the most dangerous divisions in the UFC with a number of contenders like Leon Edwards and Covington, Burns deserves his shot after his untimely illness.
And for my money, I’m liking Burns. That’s for another post, though.
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 3
Alexander Volkanovski came away with the decision victory, but many (including myself) believe that Holloway deserved the victory in this match. AFter knockdowns in both the first two rounds and incredibly close third and fourth rounds, it felt as though the former champ had done enough to get the win. Volkanovski dealt with an improved and adapted Holloway, however, showing that he truly is worthy of his spot at the top, controversial judging or not. However, there really isn’t a Featherweight contender on standby right now. We have Kattar vs. Ige going down on Wednesday, as well as rumored bouts between The Korean Zombie and Brian Ortega as well as Zabit Magomedsharipov against Yair Rodriguez. Until those matchups come to a close and we have a clear cut contender, I don’t see a reason Max shouldn’t get another chance to run it back after how close this fight was.
Of course, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson’s series doesn’t give me the most hope.
Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling
Petr Yan proved himself worthy of all the hype behind his name, finishing the Featherweight GOAT Jose Aldo in the fifth round. There isn’t even an argument that this is a past-his-prime Aldo, either, as Aldo was at his leg-kicking and body-shouting best. However, Yan’s hold on the division is not yet solidified entirely. With his first-round submission over Cory Sandhagen back at UFC 250, Aljamain Sterling made it clear that he is the next contender after he and many argue that he got passed over with this title fight. That matchup will give us a clear and truly undisputed best Bantamweight on the planet.
Rose Namajunas vs. Weili Zhang
Although I’m sure the judging was closer than she would have liked, this was a much needed win for Thug Rose after losing her title to Andrade last year. She proved that she still has the technical boxing and submission pedigree that earned her champion status, as well as withstanding a ferocious onslaught from Andrade in the third round. With this win, she has earned herself a chance to reclaim her belt. Currently, Zhang Weili is holding the belt and has been clear on her position that Rose is a deserving challenger, so I imagine that this one shouldn’t be hard to call.
Amanda Ribas vs. Tecia Torres
Although this may have been contested at 125 pounds, it was through and through a Strawweight tilt. Amanda Ribas ran through Paige VanZant about as easily as the -900 betting lines projected her to, finishing the star with a first-round armbar. Ribas brought up her name value a lot with this win, gaining a lot of fans on a big pay-per-view, as well as establishing her threatening abilities. The ease that she dispatched “12 Gauge” with should give all the ranked Strawweights pause, as well as her win over top prospect Mackenzie Dern. Tecia Torres currently inhabits the #11 spot in the Strawweight rankings, while Ribas is likely to step up a few numbers from her #15 ranking. Torres came up victorious when it was important in her last fight against Brianna van Buren, halting a three0fight winning skid. The veteran’s wrestling acumen and striking puzzle represent a great test for Ribas as she looks to pursue her dreams of championship gold.
The UFC has four fantastic cards in a total of two weeks’ time, with our next event taking place this Wednesday! Calvin Kattar will be taking on Dan Ige in the main event, so stay tuned for our predictions coming out tomorrow!