Brian Ortega’s transformation has led him to a UFC title shot

Brian Ortega, UFC

This past Saturday at UFC Fight Island 6, we saw a new and improved Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC). Ortega hadn’t fought in nearly two years, and I figured he might be a little rusty. His opponent Chan Sung Jung (16-6) appeared to be the favorite entering Saturday.

Ortega has always been known for his slick skills on the ground. His guillotine chokes are legendary. However, his striking always seemed to be lacking behind. He showed promise in that area especially when he knocked out former UFC champion, Frankie Edgar.

However, most believed that a standup fight would favor the Korean Zombie on Saturday. What we saw at UFC Fight Island 6 was the complete transformation and evolution of T-City. Brian Ortega looked like a world beater on Saturday night.

From the opening bell, Ortega controlled the striking. With leg kicks from the outside and crisp shots down the middle, Ortega never allowed TKZ to get comfortable. When the Zombie charged forward in round two, he was met with a spinning elbow that floored him.

Ortega completely dominated the fight from the opening bell to the closing bell. I figured if the fight remained standing, the Zombie would have a big advantage. However, Ortega proved me and all of his doubters wrong on his way to securing a UFC title shot.

Clarity in the UFC’s featherweight division

The UFC‘s featherweight division has been in a little bit of a limbo state over the last few months. The champion, Alexander Volkanovski, just defeated Max Holloway for the second time back at UFC 251. Holloway had earned an immediate rematch after losing the title in December.

The fight was razor close, however, the judges gave the nod to the current UFC champion. With those two having fought back-to-back, there needed to be a new top contender. The UFC booked two fights that could produce a number one contender.

Due to injuries, the only fight that came to fruition occurred at UFC Fight Island 6. Brian Ortega is the new number one contender in the featherweight division, and he’s going to pose some problems for Alexander Volkanovski with the way he looks now.

Alexander Volkanovski has his eyes on UFC Fight Island 6

The UFC‘s featherweight champion of the world certainly has his eyes on this weekend’s main event. Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) has been sitting on the sidelines since his split decision win over Max Holloway back at UFC 251 in July.

Since then, the UFC‘s featherweight champion has been waiting for a worthy top contender to emerge. Volkanovski has been waiting for the highly anticipated matchups to occur between Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung as well as the Zabit Magmedosharipov and Yair Rodriguez.

The Zabit – Rodriguez fight has been sidelined with injuries to Rodriguez. However, Jung and Ortega will take center stage this weekend at UFC Fight Island 6. The main event of the evening will likely produce the top contender in the featherweight division.

You have to imagine that Volkanovski is chomping at the bit to get back in the octagon. There were more questions than answers provided in his last title defense at UFC 251. Saturday night a new and dangerous contender will emerge in the featherweight division.

UFC Fight Island 6’s Title Eliminator

There’s already bad blood that exists between Brian Ortega (14-1, 1 NC) and Chan Sung Jung (16-5). Throw in the fact that the winner is likely going to get the next shot at UFC gold and you have the perfect recipe for a fantastic main event.

It’s almost been two years since we have last seen Ortega inside the octagon. Ortega last fought for the UFC title against Max Holloway. It was a fight that showed off a lot of areas where T-City needed to improve. The world should expect a much better Brian Ortega Saturday night.

Saturday night will also mark the first fight of 2020 for the UFC‘s Korean Zombie. Jung will enter the cage on a two fight winning streak. Jung has knocked out Frankie Edgar and Renato Carneiro in his last two UFC contests.

Volkanovski will be glued to his TV come Saturday night. This matchup between top five UFC featherweight contenders will give Alexander The Great something that he’s been waiting for all year. A challenger not named Max Holloway.

 

UFC: Alexander Volkanovski eyes two key fights for next title defense

Everything has been pretty quiet at the top of the featherweight division since UFC 251. Champion Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) has been in a state of limbo since he defeated the former champion, Max Holloway (21-6), for the second time.

The second fight was razor close, and at first, the UFC seemed interested in putting on the trilogy. However, Volkanovski didn’t seem interested as he had just defeated Holloway twice in his eyes. Can’t really blame the guy for wanting to move on.

Since then, the UFC has abandoned the idea. Now, Volkanovski is eyeing two key featherweight contests to determine who will face him next. Those two contests are the Chan Sung Jung – Brian Ortega fight and the Zabit Magomedsharipov – Yair Rodriguez fight.

Who will be the next contender for the UFC featherweight crown?

On the upcoming fights, the UFC featherweight champion said to MMA Junkie, “I want these guys to go out and take their number one contender spot. Right now, if someone was just given the shot, it’s not a big fight.” Volkanovski wants his next fight to generate a ton of interest.

“At the end of the day, it’s what the UFC and fans want. It also depends on their performances. If someone has a big knockout, submission or a dominant performance, it can solidify them as the next guy,” Volkanovski said.

Brian Ortega (14-1, 1 NC), Chan Sung Jung (16-5), Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1), and Yair Rodriguez (13-2, 1 NC) would all be deserving of a UFC title shot with a win. But whoever wins those contests must do it impressively. Sound like the most impressive could get the next shot at the champ.

What about Holloway?

As I pointed out above, originally the UFC was interested in a trilogy fight with Holloway. However, Volkanovski wants to see Holloway get active again in the division before he grants him another shot at the title. He does seem interested in the trilogy eventually.

“Even though I’m 2-0, there still seems to be unfinished business. I think it could definitely happen, but not anytime soon,” Volkanovski told MMA Junkie. My guess is that Holloway is going to be paired up with someone like Calvin Kattar (22-4) before the year is over.

There is a lot of fluidity right now in the featherweight division. The UFC champ is happy to just watch it all play out. Whatever fight generates the most interest after all these matchups, Volkanovski will be ready for it and ready to defend.

How would Patricio “Pitbull” Freire fair in the UFC?

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Over the weekend, the media were quick to ask UFC President Dana White about the comments that Scott Coker made regarding Bellator’s light heavyweight division. Coker stated that their division was better than the UFC’s.

White responded with a short and quick, “Isn’t he cute?” The media followed-up by asking about if the UFC be interested in cross promotional super fights. White dismissed this saying nothing would be interesting.

When the media followed-up asking about arguably Bellator’s top fighter, Patricio Pitbull (30-4), White played it off. He said he couldn’t tell you anything about Bellator’s double champ. Pitbull wasn’t pleased with the response.

How would Pitbull fair in the UFC?

Let me start out by stating that I’m a big fan of Patricio Pitbull. I think he is a great fighter, and I truly believe that he can compete with anyone in the UFC‘s featherweight division. There is a reason that Pitbull is currently ranked 4th in the ESPN featherweight rankings.

I believe that Patricio Pitbull would be squarely in the top five of the UFC‘s featherweight rankings if he was with the promotion. Would he beat Alexander Volkanovski, Max Holloway, or Zabit Magomedsharipov? I’m not sure about that, but he would definitely be competitive.

Where I don’t see him being very competitive is in the UFC‘s lightweight division. Pitbull is the Bellator lightweight champion as well, but that’s not his natural weight class. The UFC‘s lightweight division is the deepest division in the history of the sport.

Yes, Patricio Freire has a knockout over top free agent Michael Chandler, but I’m not sure how he would do against the UFC‘s best. Imagine Pitbull against Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, and I could go on and on. He’d be a sizable underdog in any of those contests.

If the UFC and Bellator would ever agree to such an event, I would implore Pitbull to take on the UFC‘s featherweight champion. That would be a competitive fight. However, I don’t think he could swim with those sharks at lightweight. What do you think?

 

UFC BREAKING: Zabit Magomedsharipov – Yair Rodriguez off due to an ankle injury

Yair Rodriguez

One of the more anticipated UFC featherweight contests of 2020 will not happen. Dana White confirmed this evening that Yair Rodriguez (13-2) has injured his ankle and will not headline the August 29th fight night against Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1).

What does the UFC do?

The UFC has tried to make this fight multiple times over the last couple of years. Injuries have continued to get in the way of this fight being a reality.

Zabit and Rodriguez are two of the brighter stars in the UFC‘s lower weight classes. The fight between the two of them was likely to determine who would face Alexander Volkanovksi next for the featherweight title.

As ESPN’s Ariel Helwani suggested, Calvin Kattar has offered to step in to face Zabit in the main event of the August 29th card. Kattar and Zabit do have history.

The two men just fought and headlined a fight night back in November. Zabit won the three round main event, but Kattar was really coming on strong at the end. Many believe that Kattar could have won if it had been a traditional five round main event.

Kattar would make sense from a rankings perspective, but there’s no word on if Zabit would want to fight Kattar back-to-back. There are a couple of additional options for Zabit at 145 pounds.

Other Options

The UFC has been trying to book Chan Sung Jung and Brian Ortega for some time now. White has said that the UFC is close to booking that fight. However, maybe the promotion looks to see if one of them would be interested in stepping in to face Zabit.

Another outside the box option could be giving Max Holloway a call to see if he’d take the fight. The former champion could really establish that he should get another shot at Volkanovski if he can beat Zabit.

White said the Rodriguez has a high ankle sprain and a fracture. It’s unlikely, but if he recovers quickly, the UFC could shift gears to move up a main event and move back the Zabit – Rodriguez fight. Many options are on the table and we should expect the UFC to move quickly on this one.

 

UFC: Alexander Volkanovski Isn’t Fond Of Fighting Max Holloway Again

Dustin Poirier, UFC

We’ve never had a fighter take on the same opponent four straight times in the UFC, but that’s not one hundred percent out of the question with the current situation in the featherweight division. Alexander Volkanovski surprised the world by taking the belt from Max Holloway, and held onto it by defeating Holloway again, but now it’s unclear who his next opponent is and Dana White is partial to another fight against the former champ.

That poses some obvious problems, though. For one, Volkanovski has defeated Holloway two straight times already. It’s hard to say that Holloway deserves another rematch this soon. Second, if Holloway does win a rematch like this, it puts the matchmakers in a very awkward situation.

Volkanovski has done enough to earn an immediate rematch if he loses, after all. But this ‘rematch’ would actually be the fourth fight between him and Holloway.

For obvious reasons, the current champion isn’t too fond of the idea.

What did Volkanovski say about the potential fight?

“It’s pretty clear that like, you win back-to-back, two wins in a row. To make a third one, it just doesn’t really make sense, especially right now. Again, we know that last fight was close, but the judges gave me the decision, and that’s that. And in the first fight, even though it was competitive, I pretty clearly won that fight,” Volkanovski said to Submission Radio. “So, to just give him another rematch straight away and put the division on hold, it just doesn’t make any sense…”

He also implied that the UFC is looking to push one of their stars back to champion status by giving him a second instant rematch.

“We’ve got 15 people that are ranked for a reason, and what, we’re just gonna keep fighting until Max wins? You know what I mean? It just doesn’t make sense.”

It’s true that many of the other contenders in the division are occupied, but it does look bad for the UFC to give one of their former champions back to back shots at winning the belt again without giving other fighters a chance during the same period.

And if there is a fourth fight, it may not do as well from a ratings point of view. Fans want to see something different after a while, after all. This is anything but that. But with the current state of the division being what it is, we’ll just have to wait and see what the league eventually decides. There’s no telling what the decision from Dana White will be.

UFC: Max Holloway could get the next title shot according to Dana White

It was very clear that UFC president Dana White was not a fan of the decision at UFC 251 between featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, and former champion, Max Holloway.

The fight left the UFC in a bit of a pickle when it comes to what happens next. If Holloway had only lost that one time to Volkanovski, the promotion would have no issues booking the fight again.

However, Holloway has lost two consecutive fights to Volkanovski. Yes, the second fight was razor close, but still it’s two losses in the record books. With that, most thought that there is no way that the UFC would give Holloway another shot especially right away.

Despite that, White said to ESPN that, “It’s hard to not…” when considering booking Volkanovski – Holloway 3. White went on to talk about how Volkanovski wouldn’t enjoy that idea.

What should the UFC do?

The UFC is really in a tough spot when it comes to the featherweight division. The UFC is going to book Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez but that’s not finalized yet. They are also going to book Brian Ortega – Chan Sung Jung but that fight is also not finalized.

Those are all the contenders in the division outside of Calvin Kattar. I’m not convinced the UFC loves the idea of giving Kattar a shot at the title right now.

So with everyone booked, either Volkanovski is going to sit for a while or they run the fight back a third time. I definitely understand the frustration this would bring from the champion.

Volkanovski really has nothing to gain from fighting Holloway a third time meanwhile Holloway has everything to get back. Both of these fighters are so evenly matched. A third fight between the two would create more problems than solutions.

What if Max Holloway wins a close fight? How could you then deny Volkanovski a fourth fight since he won the first two? If you give Holloway another shot, it really hurts the division.

While he might not want to, I think the best thing would be for Volkanovski to sit on the sidelines for a bit. Maybe let Holloway fight a guy like Calvin Kattar next. Let the division play out more before giving Holloway a third fight with Volkanovski.

Three fights to make after UFC Fight Island 1 and 2

UFC

The UFC held it’s second and third events from Fight Island this week and the fights didn’t disappoint. The promotion is already going to be in matchmaking mode after the two cards.

With that in-mind, let’s dive into four fights that the UFC should look to make following the two Fight Island fight nights from this past week.

Calvin Kattar vs Max Holloway

Calvin Kattar (22-4) came out this week on the UFC‘s Fight Island and put on a clean boxing display against Dan Ige. Kattar proved he was one of the best at 145.

With this win, Kattar appears to be just one win away from a title shot. With that, who should the UFC give him next?

Everyone who is ranked above is tentatively booked for their next fights. Only two are not and that is the champion and Max Holloway (21-6).

Holloway and Kattar would be the perfect fight for the UFC to make assuming that Holloway is staying at featherweight. The former champion just proved he’s still at the very top of the heap even in a loss to Alexander Volkanovski.

This would be Kattar’s true test to see if he’s title shot ready. If Kattar fights and beats Max Holloway, you cannot the deny the man of a title shot.

If Holloway bounces back and beats Kattar, you can start to try to angle for his third shot at the champion Volkanovski.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Askar Askarov

Last night, we crowned a new flyweight champion in Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) who stopped Joseph Benavidez for the second consecutive time.

When he did it back in February, he didn’t get the UFC title due to missing weight. However, there was no controversy last night as Figueiredo ran through Benavidez on his way to the title.

Another fighter who looked incredibly impressive last night was Askar Askarov (12-0-1). Admittedly, I didn’t pick Askarov to beat Alexandre Pantoja, but he proved me wrong.

With a win over Panoja, I think that the undefeated Russian should be next in line to fight Figueiredo for the UFC flyweight championship.

Russian MMA is on fire right now with two active champions in the UFC. Askarov could make a push to become the third, then at featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov could be right behind.

I will say it’s going to take a herculean effort to wrestle the flyweight title away from Figueiredo. Figueiredo looks like he can be Brazil’s next great male UFC champion. He looks poised to potentially dominate the division for a while.

Jack Hermansson vs Romero/Hall winner

Jack Hermansson (21-5) made extremely quick work of Kelvin Gastelum last night at UFC Fight Island 2. The Joker submitted Gastelum in just 78 seconds of their fight.

Hermansson is now 5-1 in his last six fights in the UFC. There’s not really a clear path for his next fight, but I think I see a potential matchup coming after the month of August.

Yoel Romero (13-5) and Uriah Hall (15-9) are scheduled to fight next month. I think Hermansson could face the winner of that matchup.

In all likelihood, the winner of Whittaker/Till will get the next title shot, and I can’t see the UFC remaking Hermansson/Cannonier right now. Yoel Romero would be the next step up for Hermansson.

Hermansson is getting closer to a title shot. He’s going to need one or two wins coming against someone in or near the top five to make it happen. A win over Romero/Hall would get him halfway there.

The UFC’s week ahead

The UFC is going to be firing on all cylinders this week. Dana White said this week that he was hoping to get the UFC‘s schedule through October/November done by Friday. We should see some big news this week coming from the promotion.

 

Dana White following UFC 251: “Does anyone think that Volkanovski won that fight?”

UFC, Dana White

One of the things that’s going to be talked about after UFC 251 is the decision in the Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) and Max Holloway (21-6). The fight was razor close with many in the media scoring the fight for Holloway.

In our live recap on ESM, I personally scored the fight for Volkanovski, but the third round could have gone either way. Holloway out-landed Volkanovski slightly in the third. UFC president Dana White gave his thoughts on the decision.

“We’ve got some bad judges. I’m sure Max is devastated. Does anyone think that Volkanovski won that fight?” White said to the media in the post-fight press conference.

UFC title won in that third round

The fight really came down to that third round. The first two round were clearly Holloway’s rounds while the last two were the UFC champs. Michael Bisping who was commentating told Volkanovski in the post-fight show that the stats would indicate that Holloway won the third.

“It is what it is. He made good adjustments, but I made good adjustments on the fly. Max’s is tough… I thought I won the last three rounds,” Volkanovski said to Bisping in response.

It’s going to be very interesting to see where the UFC goes from here. It’s hard to give Holloway a third fight with Volkanovski after losing two decisions. However, it’s clear the company thinks he won the fight.

Volkanovski said that he wants to fight at the end of this year in the post-fight press conference. Maybe it’s time for Holloway to move up to lightweight because I’m not sold that the UFC will give him a shot against Volkanovski anytime soon.

 

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.