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UFC 251 “Fight Island”: A bit of Mortal Kombat nostalgia in the air

Is Dana White the next Shao Kahn? The idea does seem to be consuming parts of his mind as he presents us with Fight Island for UFC 251. Those of us who grew up playing video games in the 90’s know Mortal Kombat and remember Shao Kahn as the villain behind organizing the battles between multiple realms. I just hope Mr. White follows suit and goes full-on with the theme, sitting at the top of a stadium on a throne when it happens. Just don’t forget the lava pits.

UFC has had multiple successful fight cards back in Vegas, taking place at the Apex, but without an audience since late May. Unfortunately, this still limits fights to those fighters currently living in the United States. Hence, the grand plan of “Fight Island” that Mr. White has created.

Fighters were taken by private aircraft to Yas Island and cleared by medical personnel to participate. UFC’s tactic¬† worked as contender Gilbert Burns was forced to drop out due to the pre-tests, as he tested positive for COVID-19. The UFC has also ensured the island will only be accessed by required personnel. All who work or fight there, including attending media, will be tested before the fights happen to ensure the utmost safety. UFC 249 continued despite one positive coronavirus test, and the organization wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again. In preparation for Fight Island, let’s break down this upcoming card and make our predictions.

Kamaru Usman VS. Jorge Masvidal

Headlining the night for Welterweight title are Usman and Masvidal, with Masvidal replacing Burns as mentioned above with only six days of notice. That’s quite short notice for any fighter, especially when a Welterweight belt is on the line. Masvidal, though, never turns down a fight. These two have some history after getting in a shouting match during a Super Bowl media row earlier this year. This is the grudge match fans want to see and almost didn’t happen as Masvidal had wanted more money. The UFC had balked at the idea and originally booked Burns. Now that things are back on track, its time to see who will win. Usman’s record is 16-1-0 and hasn’t lost in over 10 fights. Masvidal’s history is a lot larger at 35-13-0 and has won his last 3 matches. This is going to be a great fight!

Prediction: Masvidal, with his amazingly precise stopping power, will not disappoint ending the battle by KO in the first round.

Alexander Volkanovski VS. Max Holloway

The Featherweight title is on the line as well. Volkanovski has an excellent 21-1-0 record and is defending his belt against Holloway, whose record of 21-5-0 isn’t that bad either, but this is a rematch with Halloway losing the previous fight. Neither fighter has fought anyone else since then, so this lines up another grudge match for the night.

Prediction: Volkanovski will retain his title by decision. Both fighters have an excellent standing game, but Volkanovski is just able to take blows. Holloway can’t; it’s just that simple.

Petr Yan VS. Jose Aldo

This is the final title bout of the night, but neither fighter has the Bantamweight belt. Henry Cejudo’s surprising and sudden retirement left the belt up for grabs. Aldo is a former titleholder with more experience and a record of 28-6-0. Yan is the young blood in the ranks charging up the roster with a history of 14-1-0. Making this an exciting bout to watch. Aldo is coming off two straight losses against opponents with similar striking abilities as Yan. Yan is coming into this fight with three consecutive wins. Including an exciting one against Urijah Faber, who is just as experienced as Aldo.

Prediction: The hunger Yan has to be a titleholder will carry him through, and he will close the distance and score the KO in round two against Aldo.

That covers my three main predictions for this stacked fight card. UFC 251 will air Saturday, July 11, 2020, at 10/7 PM ET/PT on ESPN+.

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