Dubai: There may not be a single ticketed fan present when Abu Dhabi hosts the first of four mega ‘Fight Island’ events at YAS next month, but the thousands watching at home around the world will be treated to one some of the very best mixed martial arts contests in recent memory.
Scheduled for July 11, UFC 251 will be headlined by massive welterweight battle when Kamaru ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman defends his title against famed Brazilian grappler and three-time world champion Gilbert Burns.
Before that, the UFC demonstrate the depth and talent available in its ranks with several fights worthy of being staged as main events.
The flyweight match-up between champion Alexander Volkanovski and former title holder Max Holloway is an absolute cracker while the battle for the vacant bantamweight title between Jose Aldo and Petr Yan is sure to throw up plenty of fireworks.
Add to that two top women’s fights led by a rematch between two former UFC women’s strawweight champions, Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas.
The fight was originally scheduled for April 18 at UFC 249 but Namajunas withdrew from the event due to two deaths in the family related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Namajunus is seeking revenge after she lost to Andrade at UFC 237 on May 11, 2019 following a horrific second-round knockout due to an overhead slam.
In the second women’s event, UFC’s glamour girl and model Paige VanZant takes on American Top Team protege Amanda Ribas, also in the strawweight division.
VanZant, who is 12-8 in MMA, is a colourful personality who has also appeared on television shows Dancing With The Stars and Chopped.
Before UFC 251 at Yas, UFC will host two power-packed events on June 20 and 27 at the Apex Arena in Las Vegas.
Curtis Blaydes v Alexander Volkov headlines the first of these with Lyman Good, who contracted COVID-19 last month but has since made a full recovery, returning to the Octagon to take on Palestine’s Belal Muhammad in a welterweight contest.
Good is coming off a knockout win over Chance Recountre in his most recent fight while Muhammad has gone 6-1 in his past seven fights including back-to-back victories over Takashi Sato and Curtis Millender.
Tentative Fight Cards
UFC 251, Yas Island Abu Dhabi, July 11
Kamaru Usman v Gilbert Burns
Alexander Volkanovski v Max Holloway
Jose Aldo v Petr Yan
Jessica Andrade v Rose Namajunas
Amanda Ribas v Paige VanZant
Frankie Edgar v Pedro Munhoz
Shamil Abdurakhimov v Ciryl Gane
Volkan Oezdemir v Jiri Prochazka
UFC Fight Night, June 20, Apex Arena, Las Vegas
Curtis Blaydes v Alexander Volkov
Josh Emmett v Shane Burgos
Raquel Pennington v Marion Reneau
Lyman Good v Belal Muhammad
Jim Miller v Roosevelt Roberts
Bobby Green v Clay Guida
Tecia Torres v Brianna Van Buren
Marc-Andre Barriault v Oskar Piechota
Cortney Casey v Gillian Robertson
Frank Camacho v Matt Frevola
Roxanne Modafferi v Lauren Murphy
Austin Hubbard v Joe Solecki
UFC Fight Night, June 27, Apex Arena
Dustin Poirier v Dan Hooker
Mike Perry v Mickey Gall
Ian Heinisch v Brendan Allen
Gian Villante v Maurice Greene
Aspen Ladd v Sara McMann
Jennifer Maia v Viviane Araujo
Luis Pena v Khama Worthy
Philipe Lins v Tanner Boser
Sean Woodson v Kyle Nelson