UFC 251 ON ESPN®: USMAN vs MASVIDAL will take place Saturday, July 11th at Yas Forum on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.
The preliminary bouts will be live from 6PM ET and will be available on ESPN, or if you are based in the UK, the prelims will kick off around 11PM BST and will be available on BT Sport.
UFC 251’s main card will stream live on Pay-Per-View exclusive to ESPN+ in the US, starting at 10PM ET/ 7PM PT/ 3AM BST.
The main event welterweight title fight between the champion, Kamaru ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman vs Gilbert ‘Durinho’ Burns has been greeted by a last-minute change, when Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal stepped in on six-days’ notice to replace Burns, who withdrew after contracting coronavirus.
When the news of Burn’s withdrawal struck, MMA fans across the world were left devastated as the card, which is arguably the most stacked card of the year, had lost its main event.
However, the self-proclaimed ‘Street Jesus’ gave us hope when Masvidal and his manager, Malki Kawa, teased across social media that he was getting ready to step in and save the day.
Shortly after this, ESPN MMA became the first to report that, subject to a Covid-19 test, Masvidal and the UFC had come to an agreement for him to face Usman for the title.
Many fans across social media have argued that this bout is more exciting than Usman vs Burns and this is something I find hard to disagree with.
Masvidal (35-13) comes into this fight riding a three-fight win streak, with highlight reel finishes over Darren Till, Ben Askren and a Fight of the Night contender against Nate Diaz at UFC 244.
‘Gamebred’ broke a UFC record when he delivered the fastest knockout in the history of the sport, a five-second flying knee KO to Askren back at UFC 239.
Following this, Masvidal continued to make history for the UFC, when he headlined UFC 244 against Nate Diaz and cemented himself as the sport’s first-ever BMF title holder.
Many had argued that Masvidal deserved a title shot prior to this bout, as he is now the first fighter to compete for a belt after 48 professional fights in the sport.
This will be the UFC veteran’s 19th fight in the promotion and it is safe to say that all eyes will be on the fan favourite come Saturday night.
However, he comes in against one of the most devastating, all-round mixed martial artists in the sport, let alone the welterweight division, Kamaru Usman (16-1).
Usman is on a 15-fight win streak, against top contenders like Colby Covington, Leon Edwards and the former champion Tyrone Woodley.
‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ hasn’t lost a fight since his second bout in 2013 and has since looked unbeatable in the UFC. Usman is 11-0 in his fights for the promotion and he will aim to extend this to 12-0 on Saturday night.
He first came onto our radar when he won season 21 of The Ultimate Fighter by submitting Hayder Hassan. In his next victory, he came up against the rising UFC contender, England’s Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards.
This is sure to be a match-up that showcases Usman’s elite level wrestling against Masivdal’s explosive ability to turn his opponents lights-out with one strike.
In the co-main event of UFC 251, the two greatest featherweight fighters meet in the rematch between the champion, Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovksi, and the former champion, Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway.
Volkanovski (21-1) put on a masterclass against Holloway in their first fight, when he dethroned the champion after just over three-years of holding the title.
Volkanovski trains under the City Kickboxing head coach, Eugene Bareman, alongside top fighters such as the UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, and the No. 5 ranked lightweight contender, Dan Hooker.
This fight could take ‘The Great’ to 22-1, which is arguably one of the most impressive records in the entire sport and it is becoming increasing harder to see how an opponent can beat him.
His conditioning is amongst the very best and he packs a heavy punch for a featherweight, in the first fight between these two, the story of the fight was Volkanovski’s ability to read Holloway’s movements and repeatedly land leg kicks that constantly slowed the former champion down and disrupted his rhythm.
Not many men can match Holloways volume, let alone out-strike the Hawaiian. However, Holloway seems refreshed and refocussed, eager to reclaim his throne.
2013 was the last time that Holloway lost two-fights in a row, after this he went on a 13-fight winning streak and was not defeated for six-years to come.
With dominant victories over Brian Ortega, José Aldo and Anthony Pettis, Holloway has cemented himself as one of the featherweight division’s greatest of all time.
In his 13-fight win streak and his three-year title reign, we began to see a fighter who could not be hurt and could break his opponent down via the sheer volume of striking output that he produced.
Holloway is the all-around more experience mixed martial artist and he will be looking to prove a point in Saturday’s co-main event.
In a bout where two top-level strikers will be sure to trade in the centre of the octagon, this is a fight that you do not want to miss.
Finally, in the third title fight of the night, Russia’s Petr ‘No Mercy’ Yan faces his toughest challenge yet, when he meets a UFC veteran in Brazil’s José Aldo ‘Junior’ for the vacant bantamweight title.
After defeating Dominick Cruz at UFC 249, the former champion, Henry ‘Triple C’ Cejudo, shocked the UFC when he announced his retirement from the sport at just 33-years-old.
Cejudo’s announcement was quickly heard across the world and within a week the UFC and Dana White had announced that Yan and Aldo would compete for the belt.
Yan (14-1) has become one of the top-rising talents in the sport and he caught a lot of people’s attention when he won four UFC bouts in the space of a year between December 2018 and December 2019.
‘No Mercy’ is undefeated in all six of his UFC fights and holds victories over former MMA champions such as Urijah Faber, Jimmie Riviera and John Dodson.
He is one of those fighters that just seem unbeatable, he is phenomenal all-around, with elite level grappling skills and shocking power at 135lbs.
However, he comes up against the longest reigning UFC featherweight champion, José Aldo (28-6).
Despite losing his featherweight belt to Conor McGregor back in 2015, Aldo held the title for over five-years and defended the title an incredible seven times.
Prior to the McGregor loss, Aldo was undefeated for over a decade and was riding an 18-fight win streak, with many respected experts labelling him one of the pound-for-pound best and the greatest featherweight fighter of all time.
Despite starting his career way back in 2004, Aldo is still only 33-years-old and he will be looking to get a second UFC title under his name, this time as a bantamweight fighter, after holding the featherweight title a total of three times.
Many have criticised the UFC’s decision to place Aldo in the title picture, as he is riding a two-fight losing streak and has only won three of his last eight bouts.
However, it is safe to say that he is unlike any other opponent that Yan has fought and Aldo has never lost three-fights in a row.
In a bout that has a lot on the line for both fighters, we will be sure to see each of them tested to their limit. Once more, this is a brawl that you will not want to miss.
Make sure to tune in to UFC 251 and check out WHOA TV’s fight predictions for the main card below. We have also attached a blank card for you to make your own picks via our brand new ‘WHOA TV Fans Picks’ template.
Make sure to tag us at @WHOATV on social media when you submit your picks.
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