UFC Fight Island 6 could be it for Katlyn Chookagian

The top ranked contender in the flyweight division could be calling it a quits after this weekend’s UFC Fight Island 6 event. Katlyn Chookagian (14-3) is considering hanging up her gloves for good following this weekend’s event.

Chookagian will be welcoming former UFC strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade (20-8), to the flyweight division this Saturday night. It’s a big time fight for the flyweight division and it could determine who’s going to get the next shot at Valentina Schevchenko.

Shevchenko will defend her title at UFC 255, but she will be a massive favorite over challenger, Jennifer Maia. Whoever wins at UFC Fight Island 6 would have a clear argument as the top contender in the flyweight division.

However, Chookagian might not be interested in rematching with the champion. The top UFC flyweight contender has been itching to start a family over. She told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that she’s taking her career fight by fight, but this Saturday could be it.

A lot riding on UFC Fight Island 6

It’s very interesting to see a fighter in Chookagian’s position take the stance she is. It’s extremely admirable, but it’s rare that a fighter would walk away right before getting a UFC title shot. However, if she wins Saturday, she could do just that.

Chookagian fought the champion back at UFC 247. Shevchenko walked away with her hand raised that night. A very motivated Chookagian bounced back by dominating Shevchenko’s sister, Antonina, at UFC on ESPN 9.

Chookagian looked like she could once again be a formattable challenger for the UFC title following that victory. However, she might not take that chance given the way she’s currently talking.

On the other side of the cage is Jessica Andrade. The former champion is coming off a razor close loss to Rose Namajunas back at UFC 251. Many people believe Andrade is finally fighting in her natural weight class which is scary. This should be a fantastic matchup with multiple storylines on Saturday.

UFC: Jessica Andrade to fight Katlyn Chookagian

The UFC has booked a potential title eliminator in their women’s flyweight division for October 17th. Top ranked, Katlyn Chookagian (14-3), will be taking on Jessica Andrade (20-8). The fight was first reported by MMA Junkie.

For Andrade, she will be making her flyweight debut. Much like Cynthia Calvillo did earlier this year, Andrade will be going straight to the top of the UFC‘s flyweight division in her first contest at the new weight.

UFC Title Eliminator?

Chookagian will enter the octagon on October 17th as the UFC‘s top ranked flyweight. She is coming off of a dominant win over Antonina Shevchenko back in May. Chookagian is 3-1 in her last four fights with a win over the next title challenger, Jennifer Maia. Her only defeat has come at the hands of the champion, Valentina Shevchenko.

The former UFC strawweight champion, Andrade, finally feels like she found her natural weight class. The former champ has lost two fights in a row, but they were to the current strawweight champion and a former strawweight champion. The Namajunas loss was razor close.

Andrade used to fight at 135 pounds in the UFC. She was always the smallest so when the UFC started the strawweight division, she moved down 20 pounds. Many people believed 125 was her ideal weight, but she was able to capture gold at strawweight.

With the weight class move, Andrade is hoping to once again become UFC champion. Given her championship status and the fact that Chookagian is the top ranked contender, one has to believe that the winner will face the winner of Shevchenko – Maia at UFC 255.

UFC: Jessica Eye welcomes Jessica Andrade to the flyweight division on Oct. 17

The former UFC strawweight champion has decided to move up in weight. Jessica Andrade (20-8) is moving up to flyweight and taking on former title challenger Jessica Eye (15-8, 1 NC) on October 17th per ESPN.

As Okamoto’s tweet says, Andrade will be competing in her third weight class in the UFC. After starting her career at 135 pounds, she dropped to 115 when that weight class started. Now, it’s on to flyweight.

Eye welcomes another to the UFC flyweight division

For the second consecutive fight, Jessica Eye is going to welcome a former strawweight contender to the flyweight division. She took on Cynthia Calvillo back in June.

In that fight, Eye was not able to get past the wrestling of Calvillo. It was just Eye’s second loss since she had moved to flyweight back in 2018. The other of course being the knockout loss to current UFC flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko.

For Andrade, she’s jumping right into the deep end of the UFC‘s flyweight division taking on the fifth ranked contender. We last saw Andrade compete at UFC 251 on Fight Island.

Andrade took a tough loss against former champion, Rose Namajunas. Despite being outclassed early on, Andrade came on strong and really put on a clinic late. However, it was a little too late.

Many people believe that 125 pounds is the ideal weight class for Andrade. She carries a lot of muscle from her days of competing at 135 pounds. Now, she won’t have to worry about cutting the 10 extra pounds.

Andrade might become the best version of herself in the UFC‘s flyweight division. A win for either her or Eye has a big impact on the flyweight division. While I don’t think the winner will be next in line, I think the winner will get a title eliminator in their next outing.

 

Four fights to make after UFC Fight Island 3

UFC, Dana White

The UFC hosted it’s fourth and final event from Final Island last night, and the card completely delivered from top to bottom. After the card was over, it’s always time to start pondering what’s next. Here are four fights that should be made following last night.

Robert Whittaker vs Winner of Adesanya/Costa

This is one of the easier ones when you think about it. The former UFC middleweight champion looked very impressive last night defeating world class striker, Darren Till.

Whittaker was hurt very early in the fight, but went on to win three of the next four rounds on his way to a unanimous decision. Whittaker improved to 10-1 since moving to the middleweight division.

Bobby Knuckles lost his title to Israel Adesanya back in October of last year at UFC 243. Getting a win over a guy like Till puts him right back in the top contender status.

If you look at the middleweight division, there really is not another fight for Whittaker. I expect Bobby Knuckles to sit back and watch the September title fight with Adesanya and Paulo Costa.

Whoever wins that fight will likely get a fight with Whittaker in early 2021 or even perhaps by the end of this year.

Fabricio Werdum vs Ryan Bader

I know you might be thinking, “Why is a Bellator matchup in a UFC article?” Well it’s no secret that last night was the last fight on Fabricio Werdum‘s current contract.

The former champion has made it known that he’s interested in moving on from the UFC. The logical next step for Werdum would be to move to Bellator.

Bellator has a history of pushing UFC vets straight to the top when they jump ship. I expect Werdum to get the same treatment given his resume. The heavyweight division in Bellator is not very strong.

With that, Werdum could go right into a title shot in Bellator. He poses some interesting problems for Ryan Bader. If the Werdum that fought last night shows up, it’s not out of the question that he becomes the Bellator heavyweight champion this year.

Carla Esparza vs Jessica Andrade

Carla Esparza was able to capture her fourth consecutive win last night at UFC Fight Island 3 defeating Marina Rodriguez. With that win, Esparza looks to be ready to challenge one of the divisions best.

In looking at the logical next opponents for her, there are only two opponents that make sense from a divisional standpoint and that’s Tatiana Suarez and Jessica Andrade.

Suarez just finished Esparza two years ago so I can’t see the UFC making that fight. Andrade is coming off of a close loss to Rose Namajunas back at UFC 251.

This fight would pair two former champions against each other as both look to get back to the top. Andrade has lost two in a row, but they were to the two best women in the world. Esparza needs a win over someone like Andrade to prove she’s still one of the very best.

Khamzat Chimaev vs Top 15 UFC opponent

For all of the fighters that took part in Fight Island, the one that UFC fans should be the most excited about is Khamzat Chimaev. The guy is an absolute monster. His dominance can be illustrated with one tweet.

Chimaev resembles a larger version of the UFC’s lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“Borz” is a frightening matchup for anyone in the welterweight division. He’s so exciting because unlike some wrestlers who just take their opponents down, Chimaev is constantly looking to “Smash” his opponents.

Seeing how polished he is already, I would not be surprised to see him fast-tracked. Chimaev’s wrestling base can allow him to move quicker than some prospects would in the UFC.

Perhaps a good fight for Chimaev would be taking on the winner of next week’s Randy Brown – Vicente Luque fight. Either way, Chimaev is going to get a quick turnaround. I expect to see Borz fight one or even two more times before 2021.

 

UFC: Diverging Paths For Rose Namajunas & Jessica Andrade After UFC 251 Slugfest

UFC 251 was a notable event for having not one but three belts on the line, but the title fights weren’t the only ones that have a big impact. The card also had two fights featuring high level talents from the women’s side of the UFC, and one of these fights pitted Jessica Andrade against Rose Namajunas in a rematch of 2019’s title fight.

This time, Namajunas came out on top in a split decision – it won’t be a popular decision with every fan, as it’s not impossible to make an argument that Andrade was the winner, but at the end of the day it was higher volume striking that won ‘Thug Rose’ the fight.

The result has important implications for the division, which is currently ruled by Zhang Weili. Weili currently has one title defense, which came against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, leaving her in a situation where the rest of the division is looking up to her and waiting for their shot.

Where will tonight’s result take both fighters as well as the champion?

A step down for Jessica Andrade

Many would say that Jessica Andrade is one of the most exciting talents in the UFC. Despite fighting at a lower weight class, she has great power and an aggressive style. She’s fought bloody battles before against high level opponents, and her fights are anything but boring.

Perhaps that’s the reason why the UFC was willing to throw Andrade a bone and give her the Namajunas fight immediately after her loss of the belt to Weili. If she managed a win, there’s a chance she would get a rematch and a chance to take the belt back.

However, the loss means that Andrade has lost back to back fights. With a recent record like this, one can expect her next fight to be of a lower caliber than her last two.

Will the UFC match Andrade up with another contender, giving her a chance to get right back into the mix in the competition for the number one contender spot? Or will they instead use her recent lack of success as a chance to ‘put on’ a newer fighter with a matchup against the veteran who has fallen out of favor?

What are the possible fights?

If the league does decide to send Andrade down the rankings a bit to fight some of the others who are in the contender mix, a couple of names stand out. Tatiana Suarez is still undefeated in professional MMA and 4-0 in the UFC and could easily move into title contention with a win over a name like Andrade. Suarez is already a top three name in the division rankings, and has a chance to move up due to Andrade’s defeat.

Claudia Gadelha, on the other hand, was at number six in the rankings before UFC 251 but has a history of contention and already fought one bout against Andrade, which was Fight of the Night and had some exceptional action. Few would complain about a rematch, and Gadelha is on good form, having won her past two fights.

There’s also some decent names in the division to match with Andrade if the UFC wants to set up a former champion versus rising prospect fight, which would either put Andrade back on track or put a newer contender on the map. Yan Xiaonan is a possible opponent who was at 10 in the rankings going into UFC 251, with a 5-0 record in the UFC.

Amanda Ribas is more of a longshot but will likely move up from her spot at #14 thanks to her quick finish of Paige VanZant in the earlier fight at UFC 251.

The road to the belt for Rose Namajunas

It looks like Rose Namajunas is certainly going to fight for the title next.

Things are far more clear cut for Thug Rose than they are for Andrade. Andrade has been the opponent for the past two of her fights and she came out with a 1-1 record from those matchups, but in her previous fights, she had put together three straight wins including two against ex-champion Joanna Jedrzejcyzk.

With Andrade’s defeat, her and Tatiana Suarez are the last ones standing in the race to fight Weili. And with Suarez lacking the resume, it’s blatantly obvious that Weili and Namajunas are set for a fight where Namajunas will have a chance at getting her belt back.

It looks like an entertaining title fight – one where Weili’s 21 fight win streak will be challenged by a contender who has experience against the best. And thanks to the way things panned out, it seems certain that we’ll get this fight as the next title bout in the strawweight division.

UFC 251 Recap: Kamaru Usman smothers Gamebred to retain his title

UFC 251 marked the first event on the infamous Fight Island. The first our four cards in just two weeks on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The main event of the evening featured the much anticipated UFC welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman (16-1) and Jorge Masvidal (35-13). The UFC‘s debut on Fight Island did not disappoint.

Kamaru Usman suffocates the BMF

The main event of the evening featured the most anticipated matchup of the year. The UFC champ, Usman, taking on the BMF himself, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal. A little over a week ago, Usman thought he’d be making the walk to fight his former teammate Gilbert Burns. However, a positive COVID-19 test led to the fight the fans have been waiting for all year long.

As the fight started, Masvidal landed some massive leg kicks. However, Usman immediately caught one and took Masvidal down. Usman was able to land some good elbows from the top position. Two minutes in Masvidal was able to get back to his feet. On the feet, Masvidal had the clear advantage landing some big shots.

Usman shot in and immediately pushed Masvidal up against the fence. Masvidal was able to break with about a minute left. Masvidal was clearly superior on the feet dominating the striking exchanges. Despite a takedown the challenger takes round one.

Early on in the second, Usman seemed desperate to take the fight to the ground. Masvidal defended well, but used a ton of energy to stay on his feet. Usman seemed content with just leaning on Masvidal against the cage early in the second. Masvidal had two cuts that developed from accidental headbutts.

Usman landed a good right during a break, but immediately shot back in for the clinch. The second round lacked in action, but Usman controlled position the entire time. Late in the second, Masvidal was able to get away and land some big shots. However, Usman’s control gives him the second.

In the third round, Usman seemed more content to strike early. However, after Masvidal landed some clean shots, Usman immediately engaged in another clinch. About a minute in, Masvidal broke and again landed some big shots. Usman immediately shot back in for another clinch.

A low shot caused a break in the action about halfway through the round. After Masvidal took some time to recover, action resumed. The two men started striking for a second, but Usman timed a double leg and got Masvidal to the ground. Masvidal got up but was taken right back down. Another slow round for the champion.

As the fourth round began, Usman was able to land a good body kick. He transitioned that into a takedown. Masvidal got back to his feet, but Usman held the clinch position. Halfway through the round, Masvidal broke free landing some really clean shots. However, Usman landed a couple good shots of his own and re-engaged the clinch. Nothing else happened in the fourth which translated to another slow round for Usman.

The final round began and Usman seemed content to strike with Masvidal. However, after Masvidal landed a clean counter shot, Usman shot in for another takedown. After no action, Masvidal tried to get back to his feet with two minutes left, but Usman gained side control.

Masvidal tried a scramble to get back up with a minute left. He was able to get to his feet, but Usman held him against the fence. Masvidal was able to separate and land some big shots late, but nothing that put Usman in danger. Masvidal brought the fight to Usman, but the champion wins this one 4-1 on my scorecard. The judges agreed giving Usman the unanimous decision as he retained his UFC welterweight title.

Volkanovski edges Holloway by Split Decision

The co-main event of the evening featured a featherweight title fight between UFC featherweight champ, Alexander Volkanovski (21-1), and former champion, Max Holloway (21-5). Holloway was considered to be the greatest featherweight of all time before Volkanovski defeated him in January. Many were considering this fight to be the fight that determined who is the real featherweight GOAT.

Early on in the first round, Holloway put pressure on Volkanovski. Both men took the first couple of minutes just feeling each other out, neither throwing anything serious. Halfway through, both men seemed to open up. Holloway did a really good job of landing some decent shots on Volkanovski coming in.

Holloway seemed to land a clean 1-2 that possibly wobbled Volkanovski late in the round. Max was looking a lot better in the first round than he did in the first fight. Volkanovski stayed patient and landed some good leg kicks. Holloway dropped Volkanovski late in round one. Great first round for the former champion.

Volkanovski seemed to be wearing it a little on his face to start the second round. Holloway landed a massive combination about a minute in that stunned Volkanovski again. Volkanovski threw some leg kicks, but in this fight, Holloway would follow with his own. Holloway just looked incredibly loose in this one. Right before the end of the second, Holloway drops Volkanovski for the second time. Clearly 2-0 for Holloway after two.

Volkanovski came right out in the third with heavy leg kicks, but again, Holloway countered with his own. Holloway landed a big knee about a minute in. Volkanovski just seemed to be out of reach in this one. About halfway through the third, Volkanovski did start to find his range landing some good shots.

Volkanovski shot in for a takedown, but wasn’t able to secure it. Volkanovski held onto a clinch, but Holloway was able to break free landing a couple of solid shots off the break. Holloway was getting caught a little more in the third. Volkanovski was finding a solid left hook throughout the round. Good bounce back round for the champion who takes the third in my opinion.

Both men were wearing a little damage to begin the fourth. Volkanovski seemed to be throwing much cleaner shots in the fourth. The champions confidence was definitely growing. About halfway through the round, Holloway landed a pretty good combination that backed up the champion.

With about two minutes left, Volkanovski landed a takedown, but he couldn’t keep Holloway down. Once the fight was back on the feet, Holloway seemed to get the better of the striking exchanges. However, with the takedown and more shots landed, I’ll give Volkanovski the round. I have it 2-2 going into the fifth.

Entering the fifth, this one is anyone’s fight. Holloway seemed extremely aggressive to start the fifth round. Volkanovski did a good job at countering with some big shots. These two men were so evenly matched. Volkanovski shot in for another takedown a minute into the round.

The two men landed good shots, but Volkanovski’s shots seemed to have a bit more pop on them. Both men nodded at each other and traded big combinations halfway through the round. Volkanovski secured a takedown with about two minutes left. Holloway was able to get right back up.

With a minute left both men got really aggressive. Volkanovski kept trying for takedowns, but couldn’t land them. The two men exchanged again, but Volkanovski was able to secure one more takedown at the end of the round. Razor close fight that I give to the champion 48-47. Two of the three judges ended up agreeing giving the fight to Volkanovski by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47). Volkanovski retains his UFC featherweight title in a decision that will definitely be debated.

Yan becomes champ with a fifth round TKO

The third fight of the main card saw our first UFC title fight as Petr Yan (15-1) took on former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo (28-7). Yan is considered by many to be the best bantamweight in the world. Aldo was promised a shot against Henry Cujudo, but had to miss the fight in May due to travel restrictions and that is how we go to Yan/Aldo.

Both men immediately took the center to start the fight. Neither man was using a ton of footwork early. About a minute in, Aldo threw a leg kick which reminded me of his older fights, but it was countered with a massive right from Yan. Yan was taken off his feet with another powerful leg kick, but he got right back up and landed some clean shots.

Aldo was looking really good in the first round. Yan landed some decent shots, but Aldo’s leg kicks and combinations were a major factor early. With about a minute left, Yan landed a massive body kick that caused Aldo to shoot for a takedown. Yan landed some massive shots and almost finished the fight. Yan gets the first round.

Aldo came out for round two with his hands very high after the way round one ended. Yan looked extremely patient to start the round just looking for his openings. Aldo continued to land strong kicks in the second. Aldo’s combinations and kicks were really effective in the second round. Yan landed a couple of shots, but seemed to be waiting a little too much. Aldo’s consistent output and kicks gave him the second.

Aldo came right out for the third and landed some massive body kicks. Yan looked extremely tentative to start the third. Aldo continued to chop Yan down with kicks to the body and the legs. Aldo hurt Yan bad with some body hooks about halfway through the round.

Yan tried to come back strong, but Aldo continued to land the cleaner shots. With about 90 seconds left in the round, Yan seemed to come alive landing some really clean shots. Confidence really began to grow for Yan late in the third as he hurt Aldo. Extremely close round three. I lean Yan with the way the round ended.

Yan immediately came forward aggressively to start the fourth round. About a minute in both men traded massive hooks. These two seemed content with fighting in a phone booth in the fourth round. Yan and Aldo both landed some clean shots, but Yan seemed to landing just a little more. Aldo seemed to be tiring a little in the fourth round.

Yan bloodied Aldo’s nose and put a ton of pressure on Aldo late in the fourth. Yan rocked Aldo late in the fourth which led to a solid leg sweep. Once on top, Yan relaxed into Aldo’s guard. Yan stacked up Aldo and landed some big ground shots late. Definitely Yan’s round in the fourth.

Both men hugged before the start of the fifth round. Yan dropped Aldo very early in the fifth round with a couple of big shots. Aldo found himself in a crucifix position and took some massive shots from Yan. Yan was able to get Aldo’s back which allowed him to unleash massive shots. After taking unanswered shots for about two minutes, the ref finally stops the action. Petr Yan is now the undisputed UFC bantamweight champion.

Thug Rose wins a war against Andrade

The second fight on the main card featured a rematch between former UFC strawweight champions Rose Namajunas (9-4) and Jessica Andrade (20-8). The two fought for the title back in May of last year. Namajunas controlled the fight until and Andrade slam put her out.

Early on in the first, Rose did a really good job of using her footwork. Rose did a fantastic job using straight shots to catch Andrade. Every time that Andrade would come in early, she was met with crisp shots from Thug Rose. Andrade kept trying to rush in with power hooks, but she was getting touched every time. Andrade landed a couple of good shots, but round one goes to Thug Rose with her crisp boxing.

Round two started out very similar to round one with Namajunas striking from distance. Andrade was using a ton of head movement, but it didn’t stop Rose from touching her. Jessica did start finding some success with some strong leg kicks in round two. However, Rose was clearly getting the better of the striking exchanges.

Halfway through the round, Andrade landed a massive right hand which caught Rose’s attention. Namajunas kept her composure and went right back to touching Andrade up. Despite a few good shots from Andrade including a strong closing fury, I give the second round to Namajunas

Andrade took the center aggressively to start round three. Jessica was doing a good job at ripping hooks to the body. Namajunas resumed the center of the cage landing straight shots like she did in the previous two rounds. Andrade bloodied Rose’s nose with a solid shot that seemed to hurt Namajunas.

Rose got rocked with a right hand from Andrade. Jessica landed a strong hip toss putting Namajunas on her back. Namajunas was busted up from the shots from Andrade. Rose worked her way back up to her feet with about two minutes left. The rest of the round featured both ladies trading some serious shots.

I gave the third round to Andrade, which on my scorecard would give Namajunas the fight 29-28. In the end, the judges came to a split decision giving the fight to Thug Rose (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). Absolutely fantastic fight and Namajunas now will be next in line to fight the champ, Weili Zhang.

Amanda Ribas subs Paige VanZant in the first

Kicking off the main card was a women’s flyweight contest between Amanda Ribas (10-1) and Paige VanZant (8-5). Ribas normally fights at strawweight but moved up to take on VanZant. VanZant entered the octagon on the last fight of her current UFC deal which has led many to believe it’s the last time we will see her in the octagon.

Early on in the first, Ribas did a really good job of cutting off the cage. Ribas engaged in a clinch early, and landed some massive knees to the body. Following the knees, Ribas landed a massive hip toss to take the fight to the ground.

VanZant tried to escape, but Ribas caught her in an arm bar. VanZant taps and Ribas takes the first round submission. A good win for Ribas when it comes to name recognition. For VanZant, this might be the last time we see her in the UFC.

Final Takeaways from UFC 251

UFC 251 delivered when you think about the card as a whole. The main event was lackluster simply because Usman did what he had to do. Jorge Masvidal was far superior on the feet so Usman had to lean (pun intended) on his grappling. A night of three UFC title fights delivered for fight fans everywhere. The UFC has three more fights on Fight Island before they return to the US in August. It’s gonna be a fun two weeks for fight fans.

UFC 251 Preview: Jorge Masvidal looks to dethrone Kamaru Usman

This Saturday night, the UFC makes it’s long anticipated debut on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. The UFC is coming out swinging with a massive PPV card that features three title fights. The main event features a welterweight title contest between the champ, Kamaru Usman (16-1), and the BMF himself, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (35-13). Two additional title fights and a stacked card make this arguably the most anticipated UFC PPV of the year. Let’s dive into the main card and preview Saturday night’s action.

Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal

The main event of the evening might be the most anticipated matchup of 2020. A fight that came together in six days after it was planned for the entire year. For the UFC‘s BMF, Jorge Masvidal, Saturday night is the culmination of his meteoric rise to stardom since the beginning of 2019. Gamebred was always considered a good fighter, but the former backyard brawler became elite in the last year and a half. 

Masvidal is extremely well-rounded, but shines when the fight is on the feet. Masvidal possesses arguably the best boxing in the UFC‘s welterweight division. He also has ruthless body kicks which he throws everything into. He’s coming into Saturday on a three fight winning streak that features two highlight reel knockouts over Darren Till and Ben Askren.

Standing across from Masvidal is the UFC welterweight champion, Usman. The Nigerian Nightmare hasn’t lost in seven years, and he’s dominated virtually every opponent he’s had since. Usman has incredible wrestling and cardio which allows him to put on an incredible pace. In his last title defense against Colby Covington, Usman also showed that he can do some serious damage on his feet.

This fight is pretty easy to preview when you think about it. Masvidal wants to keep the fight standing while Usman wants to take it to the ground. While Usman showed improved striking, he has no chance to win a stand-up fight with Gamebred. I think you’ll see Usman test the waters on the feet, but ultimately look to take the fight to the ground. If Masvidal can keep the fight standing, he can finish this fight, but I don’t think he’ll be able to over five rounds. I think Masvidal is going to find some success early, but I think as the fight goes on, Usman will be able to impose his will. I don’t see Usman getting a finish, but I think his full training camp and wrestling will give him the nod here.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman by Unanimous Decision

Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway

A rematch months in the making occurs in the co-main event as former UFC featherweight champion, Max Holloway (21-5), looks to regain his title against champion, Alexander Volkanovski (21-1). Since 2017, you can make the argument that Volkanovski has been the best fighter in the UFC. He’s gone 7-0 with almost nobody giving him trouble inside the octagon.

Volkanovski is a former rugby player who at one point weighed above the light heavyweight limit and carries an extreme amount of power. Volkanovski combines that power with great accuracy and a high level Fight-IQ. He used both of those things to out-point Holloway back at UFC 245. He used his leg kicks and explosive speed to fluster the former champion. Many people have dubbed Holloway as the greatest featherweight ever. However, if Volkanovski is able to win, he’ll hold a win over Jose Aldo and two wins over Holloway which would arguably make him the best featherweight ever.

A year and a half ago, Max Holloway looked invincible. After losing to Conor McGregor in 2013, Holloway rattled off 13 consecutive wins including two over former featherweight king, Jose Aldo. Holloway is as tough as they come, and he’s a sniper on the feet. Holloway’s precision striking is what carried him to the title. However, the last three fights have shown a vulnerable Holloway.

Holloway has gone 1-2 in his last three fights losing to Volkanovski and Dustin Poirier. In those fights, Holloway struggled to be first. He seemed to be fighting more off of his backfoot which gave him issues. For Holloway to be successful against Volkanovski, he has to be more aggressive in this fight. If he sits back too much, he’s going to lose another decision.

This fight is going to be razor close. I will not be shocked by whoever wins in this one. Both men will have their moments, but I’m not hopping off the Blessed Express just yet. I think Volkanovski will have big moments in the fight, but I expect to see a much more aggressive Max Holloway. I think Holloway’s aggressive but precise attack will be just enough to get a close decision in this one. However, if he doesn’t go first in this one, expect Volkanovski to keep the title.

Prediction: Max Holloway by Split Decision

Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo

The first of three title fights features former featherweight king, Jose Aldo (28-6), and Russian star, Petr Yan (14-1). For Aldo, you might be looking at his last chance at UFC gold. The former champ hasn’t been the same guy that was once ranked as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world just a few years ago. Aldo is coming into this fight on a two-fight losing streak, although most people believe he won his last fight.

When he’s on, Aldo has elite all-around skills. Aldo is incredibly fast and powerful with his striking. He’s also got some of the best takedown defense in the sport. Aldo is at his best when he immediately is aggressive. His best chance in this fight is to come at Yan fast and hard.

For Petr Yan, he’s looking to become the UFC‘s second Russian champion alongside Khabib Nurmagomedov. Since joining the UFC back in 2018, Yan has looked sensational. Yan does not have a weakness in his game. He’s got good grappling and elite striking. He might have the cleanest boxing and the most power out of anyone in the bantamweight division.

That power was on full display in his last fight against Urijah Faber at UFC 245. “No Mercy” completely dismantled the hall of famer, dropping him multiple times. Yan picked up the third round knockout in that one. Yan is the type of fighter who will likely take the first round to gauge Aldo’s gameplan. Look for Yan to really start getting aggressive towards the end of round one or early round two.

I think this fight is going to play out a lot like Max Holloway-Jose Aldo 1. I think Aldo is going to find some good success early being aggressive. However, as the fight goes on, I think Yan is going to start taking over. By the third round, I think Yan is going to find his groove and he’s going to land something that hurts Aldo bad. Yan will follow-up heavy and get the stoppage setting up the anticipated fight with Aljamain Sterling.

Prediction: Petr Yan by TKO – Round 3

Rose Namajunas vs Jessica Andrade

The second fight on the main card features a strawweight rematch between former champions Rose Namajunas (8-4) and Jessica Andrade (20-7). These two ladies met just over a year ago at UFC 237 and Andrade took that fight by a knockout slam. Andrade is one of the most powerful women in the world at 115 pounds. Andrade has crazy power, good leg kicks, and slams that can knock anybody out.

In this fight, Andrade is going to have to utilize her leg kicks early. In the first fight, Namajunas was having her way with the stand-up. Andrade started finding some success when attacking Namajunas’ legs. Andrade cannot be too patient or she could get touched up early and often by “Thug” Rose.

Namajunas was a budding star in 2019, but she was facing some serious demons. The weight of being UFC champion was a lot on her shoulders. When she lost the title, she looked more relieved than anything else. She admittedly said she wasn’t sure she was going to fight again after she lost the title.

However, recently Namajunas found the love for the sport again. Namajunas has elite footwork for the division. Her striking is quick and precise thanks to her training with Trevor Wittman and Pat Berry. Namajunas was controlling the first fight before she was caught up in that slam. If she doesn’t get slammed, it’s hard to imagine Andrade winning that fight.

In all transparency, it’s hard for me to see Andrade winning this fight unless she gets a flukey knockout. I think Namajunas is so much better on the feet and she’s much faster. I think she’s going to put on a clinic at UFC 251 which will setup a title fight with Weili Zhang down the line.

Prediction: Rose Namajunas by Unanimous Decision

Amanda Ribas vs Paige VanZant

The opening fight of the main card also features the most lopsided odds as Amanda Ribas (9-1) takes on Paige VanZant (8-4). Ribas comes into this fight as a -900 favorite on most betting lines. The Brazilian has a very impressive overall game and she’s been dominant since joining the UFC with wins over Mackenzie Dern and Randa Markos. Ribas has good striking, and she’s very good on the ground. She’s being touted as a potential title contender down the road.

VanZant is on the last fight of her current UFC deal. She burst onto the scene back in 2014 as the next big-time female UFC star. She’s extremely marketable, but she’s struggled against top competition. VanZant has a solid overall game, but against top-tier UFC fighters, she hasn’t found success. She has a 5-3 record in the octagon, but all three of those losses were against top-ten opponents. While VanZant has shown flashes, I’m struggling to see her having much success in this one.

I think this is a brilliant booking decision by the UFC. Ribas has the potential to become a very popular strawweight, and they’ve pitted her against a well-known fighter that is clearly inferior. I think Ribas will control this fight from the opening bell to the end of the fight. I think this will be the last time that we see VanZant inside the octagon.

Prediction: Amanda Ribas by Unanimous Decision

UFC 251 Outlook

UFC 251 is going to be absolutely insane. The card is stacked with so many interesting fights and story lines. I do not think that the fans are going to be disappointed with this card. The UFC is about to kickoff a furious stretch where they have four fight cards in the span of two weeks. Buckle up fight fans, because it’s going to be a fun ride on Fight Island.

UFC: Rose Namajunas on finding the love again for MMA; “This is what I love to do… I’m a martial artist”

The last year few years have been eventful for the former UFC strawweight champion, Rose Namajunas (8-4). After suffering some early setbacks in her career, she shocked the world by knocking out Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 to win the title. She cemented her status after defeating Jedrzejczyk a second time at UFC 223. However, Namajunas fell on tough times following that fight.

The week of UFC 223, Conor McGregor’s infamous bus attack occurred. Namajunas was on the bus, and she was visibly shaken by the event. Following her win that weekend, she stepped away from the sport for a year. She was struggling with a few things, and she was struggling to find the passion for the sport. She returned at UFC 237 against Jessica Andrade (20-7). After dominating early, Namajunas was knocked out by a vicious slam.

It was unclear if Namajunas would fight again after that loss. Conventional wisdom would say that of course a former champion entering her prime would fight again, but Namajunas was struggling to love the sport that she was so great at. However, recently she found the spark again, and she told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani all about it.

Coming back for her UFC title

“This is what I love to do…I’m a martial artist.” Namajunas told Helwani. While she said she doesn’t miss what she went through as champion, she stated that she did miss having the title. Realistically a win at UFC 251 puts her in line to fight champion Weili Zhang (21-1). When asked about the current champ, Namajunas only had the highest of praise.

“I’d love to fight her one day. She’s a true martial artist…Like, she’s the sh*t,” Namajunas told Helwani. I really believe that Namajunas is a better fighter than Jessica Andrade. No disrespect to Andrade, but she was getting absolutely dominated before that slam knockout. If that slam doesn’t occur, I don’t think Andrade would have lasted the entire fight.

When she returns, I’m expecting big things from Namajunas at UFC 251. I think when she’s mentally on, it’s hard to bet against her. I think she’s got all the advantages against Andrade outside of pure strength. A motivated Namajunas is a dangerous woman, I think she’s going to show her greatness on Fight Island this July. If she takes care of business, I can’t wait for the potential fight between her and the champion, Zhang.

UFC: “Thug” Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade added to UFC 251

The UFC’s July 11th card just added a big-time women’s strawweight fight to it’s main card. Former champions “Thug” Rose Namajunas (8-4) and Jessica Andrade (20-7) will be running it back at UFC 251 after Andrade knocked out Namajunas back in 2019 to take the strawweight title.

“Thug” Rose’s Return

Thug Rose hasn’t fought since the loss to Andrade, and this will be a big fight for her in her return. She said that going into the Andrade fight, she was questioning her future in fighting. She wasn’t feeling the fire that led her to the strawweight title. Namajunas became a star overnight when she dethroned former champion, Joanna Jedrejczyk back at UFC 217. Jedrzejczyk was widely considered the best female fighter in the world leading into the fight with Namajunas. She was 14-0 and dismantled almost every woman that stood across from her. Namajunas shocked the world by knocking Jedrzejczyk out in the first round. Because Jedrzejczyk had been so dominant during her reign, the UFC gave her the chance to run things back against Thug Rose. Namajunas proved she was the new queen after clearly defeating Jedrzejczyk over the course of a five-round decision. Namajunas took some time off after the rematch with Jedrzejczyk. Her second title defense came against Andrade at UFC 237.

Andrade Looks to Repeat

Jessica Andrade came into the fight with Namajunas as the clear number one contender. She had rattled off wins against some of the best fighters in the division and was coming off of a highlight-reel knockout win over Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 228. That being said, most people believed that Namajunas was going to retain the title when the two fought. When they fought, Namajunas controlled most of the fight. She used her distance extremely well and bloodied the challenger. It was incredibly difficult for Andrade to get on the inside to do any damage. However, one grappling exchange changed everything. Andrade was able to use her raw strength to lift Namajunas and slam her which knocked the former champion unconscious. Andrade celebrated in her native Brazil as she became the fourth ever UFC strawweight champion. Of course, her reign didn’t last long as she was knocked out in the first round by the current champion, Weili Zhang, just a few months later.

Next in Line

This is a big-time fight for the strawweight division. The winner of this fight will likely be next in line to take on the champion, Zhang. It will be really interesting to see the mental state of Thug Rose. I believe she’s one of the most talented female fighters in the world, but she’s had to battle a lot of things outside the octagon. I believe that Namajunas is the better fighter between the two, but Andrade’s raw power can change any fight at any time. We will wait to predict this fight when we do our preview, but it’s a fight that fans should be looking forward to on July 11th.