MAIN EVENT: WELTERWEIGHT
One of the best overall fight cards that the UFC has ever staged culminated in the main event, welterweight match-up between defending champion Kamaru Usman and the late replacement, challenger Jorge Masvidal.
It might not have been pretty, nor hugely entertaining, but Usman, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’, stuck to his game plan which was to employ the clinch at every opportunity to neutralise Masvidal’s striking power and wear him down.
Stylistically, the two 170-pounders were a study in contrast, but in the end Usman's incredible wrestling game and ability to toy Masvidal for five rounds. To his credit, Masvidal, fought in patches like a man who has thrived in chaos but could never quite hurt Usman enough to turn the fight in his favour.
Kamaru Usman (16-1-0) def. Jorge Masvidal (35-13-0) via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-25, 49-46)
Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski first faced off at UFC 245 last December where the Australian won by decision to rip the belt of the Hawaiian.
With both fighters aware of each other’s power and strengths, fight No. 2 for the lightweight title began rather cautiously with the exchange of a lot of leg kicks.
Holloway won the opening two rounds, before Volkanovski bounced back strong in the third which he pulled back only to appear to hand Holloway the advantage in the fourth where the Hawaiian fought with his head, and heart.
But it was still close as Volkanovski looked the more hungry and dangerous fighter, a pattern he continued in the fifth and final championship round.
Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkonovski wins by split decision.
Alexander Volkanovski (21-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC), def. Max Holloway (21-5 MMA, 17-5 UFC) via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
The action in this bantamweight division fight between Russia’s Petr Yan and Brazil’s Jose Aldo began with a touch of gloves, but that’s where the cordialities ended.
Yan has an MMA record of 14-1 has six wins in the UFC so far, with three of them coming via stoppages. Riding a nine-fight win streak “No Mercy” defeated Aldo to become world champion at the age of 27.
Aldo, who is regarded one of the greatest bantamweight fighters ever, showed plenty of heart until the fourth round where he took some incredible punishment to the head via ground and pound before the referee Leon Roberts called a stop to the contest at 3.25 min
It was a high-level fight both in offence and defence with both fighters evenly matched until Yan turned on the pressure from round three as Aldo, brave as he was, began to tire and lost all chance of staging a comeback.
Bantamweight: Petr Yan (14-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) defeated Jose Aldo (28-6 MMA, 10-5 UFC) via TKO. Round 4: 3.25 minutes
Brazil’s Amanda Ribas continued her rapid rise up the UFC ranks with straightforward first-round victory over American mixed martial artist, author and model, Paige VanZant.
Fighting in a flyweight bout on the main card at UFC 251 at Yas Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, Ribas secured the centre of the ring from where she was able to pressure VanZant with strikes and hard knees.
The two women moved into a clinch from where Ribas executed a head-and-arm knockdown to gain a strong position against the fence. As VanZant attempted to escape from the rear, Ribas trapped her right arm in a deep arm-bar which soon led to her tapping out.
“It doesn’t matter who you are and what you do, it’s what you want to do if you’re aliv,” Ribas said. “
I trained hard to learn how to beat the girls in the big gyms, I have a big heart.”
Women’s flyweight: Amanda Ribas (10-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) def. Paige VanZant (8-5 MMA, 5-4 UFC) via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 2:21
‘Thug’ Rose Namjunas exacted her revenge on Brazil’s Jessica Andrade in an action-packed women’s strawweight division contest.
The fight was 14 months in the making after Andrade knocked out Namajunas with a brutal slam that led to the American rethinking her future in the sport.
But on Sunday morning, she showed that the break had helped her regroup and rebuild her confidence when she produced a gritty display to win by split division.
Andrade was the more aggressive fighter of the two and inflicted a lot of damage on Namajunas’ face which looked like she had been hit by a truck. But the heart and dedication to her craft saw her shine through and earn a possible fight against reigning champion Weili Zhang from China.
Women's strawweight: Rose Namajunas (9-4 MMA, 7-3 UFC) def. Jessica Andrade (20-8 MMA, 11-6 UFC) via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)