It is finally time! The highly anticipated, much debated, UFC Fight Island makes its debut this weekend. And, no, it isn’t technically an island – it’s a peninsula. And, no, it isn’t some tropical, deserted oasis – it’s in the Middle East. And, no, the fights aren’t going to be taking place in a cage on a beach, like originally hinted at. But, reality be damned, the UFC is going to run with the UFC Fight Island (or UF-Sea) moniker, despite all these factors.
UFC Fight Island’s actual location is Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The promotion has it primed to host four events over the next two weeks, the biggest being this Saturday’s UFC 251, which features a stacked card. How about a card topped with three title fights, as well as a fourth fight (Jessica Andrade vs Rose Namajunas) pitting two former champions rematching each other? That’s my definition of stacked.
Strong Main Event
The main event lost its title challenger a few days ago, yet it somehow got even stronger. Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19 on July 4th, taking him out of his UFC Welterweight Championship fight against champ Kamaru Usman. In steps fan favourite Jorge Masvidal, making the fight even more anticipated than before. Masvidal has put himself up near Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz in his level of popularity, causing lots more gambling interest in this fight. However, he poses a far easier style matchup for the champ (at least on paper). Hence Usman currently sitting at
20/57* on the board at MansionBet. His wrestling will probably be just too much for ‘Street Jesus’ to handle, and he should also be the bigger and physically stronger of the two combatants. However, Masvidal does have that one-hitter quitter power, so there’s always a chance he knocks out the champ with his fists or a flying knee or something else spectacular. But the most likely outcome is Usman takes him down every round and grinds out a decision victory.
Volkanovski v Holloway
The co-main event will be a UFC Featherweight Championship rematch between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway. But this time the Aussie – Volkanovksi – will be entering the octagon as the champion on Saturday night. Chances are he’ll be leaving the octagon that way as well. When the two first met last December, ‘Alex The Great’ totally outclassed the Hawaiian, blasting him with low kicks the whole fight, earning himself a unanimous decision victory. The bookies agree with my assessment that he win again at UFC 251, pegging him as a
5/12 favourite. The only thing harder than the climb to becoming a UFC champion seems to be the attempt to climb the mountain again a second time after losing your title – it has very, very rarely been done in the history of the sport. That, plus the fact that the original loser rarely wins in an immediate rematch, makes Volkanovski the easy pick here.
Yan v Aldo
The third title fight on the night is for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship, after champ Henry Cejudo ‘retired’ (aka wanted a better contract and the UFC called his bluff). This one pits surging 27-year-old Russian Petr Yan, winner of nine straight and sporting a 14-1 pro record, against featherweight GOAT Jose Aldo, loser of two straight, 2-4 in his last six, and 0-1 as a 135-pounder. You can tell which way I’m leaning in this one – for the chalk, once again – Yan at
If you’re looking for some live dogs for the weekend, here a few quick ones: Davey Grant
7/5 against Martin Day, Zhalgas Zhumagulov
13/10 against Raulian Paiva, and Jiri Prohazka
6/5 against Volkan Oezdemir.
*All odds correct at time of writing.