The most anticipated MMA event of the summer was thrown a massive curveball, but UFC 251 ultimately may have gotten its rightful main event after all. In a new main event that has fans all over excited, Kamaru Usman will put his welterweight title up for grabs against Jorge Masvidal in the main event on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, July 11, after Gilbert Burns tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday.
There’s still many hurdles to clear (just like the rest of the fight card) including three more COVID-19 tests, but the fight was officially announced by the promotion late Sunday night as the new main event for Fight Island.
With 48 career fights under his belt, Masvidal would serve as the fighter with the most MMA appearances before receiving his first title shot.
After a brief moment as the main event, Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 2 will go back to its original placement as the co-main event with the featherweight title on the line. Volkanovski is on as strong a run as any at 145 pounds with 18 straight wins dating back to 2013, including the decision over Holloway to claim the belt. Holloway, meanwhile, will look to get back on the winning track after a 1-2 2019. Before that, he was on a Volkanovski-type run, going undefeated for five years and claiming the title with two wins over Jose Aldo.
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Speaking of Aldo, he will be featured in the third title bout when he takes on Petr Yan for the vacant bantamweight title. Aldo, the greatest featherweight in history, moved to bantamweight at UFC 245 and lost a mildly controversial split decision to Marlon Moraes. After the fight, UFC president Dana White said Aldo would fight Henry Cejudo for the championship, but the fight was ultimately derailed by the coronavirus pandemic. Cejudo has since retired and vacated the belt, leading Aldo to face top contender Yan. The Russian is on a nine-fight winning streak, including six in the UFC Octagon.
Plus, a pair of important women’s fights round out the main card. Top strawweight contenders Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas will finally meet for their rematch after being scheduled to fight at UFC 249 in April. Namajunas was forced to withdraw when two family members died from COVID-19, according to her manager. Kicking off the main card will be a women’s flyweight scrap between Paige VanZant and Amanda Ribas. It is reportedly VanZant’s final fight on her UFC contract.
It’s shaping up to be a busy week at Fight Island, and CBS Sports will be with you throughout the week to help keep track of all the events going down with our guide. Below, you can find links to all of our feature and countdown stories, as well as predictions and picks for each main card bout at UFC 251. Be sure to check in throughout the week for the latest updates and news from Abu Dhabi.
Let’s take a look at the complete fight card for UFC 251, including the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.
UFC 251 fight card
- Kamaru Usman (c) -300 vs. Jorge Masvidal +240 — Welterweight title
- Alex Volkanovski (c) -200 vs. Max Holloway +170 — Featherweight title
- Petr Yan -230 vs. Jose Aldo +190 — Vacant bantamweight title
- Rose Namajunas -195 vs. Jéssica Andrade +165 — Women’s strawweights
- Amanda Ribas -800 vs. Paige VanZant +550 — Women’s flyweights
- Volkan Oezdemir -160 vs. Jiří Procházka +135 — Light heavyweights
- Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos -115 vs. Muslim Salikhov -105 — Welterweights
- Makwan Amirkhani -195 vs. Dan Henry +165 — Featherweights
- Leonardo Santos -190 vs. Roman Bogatov +160 — Lightweights
- Marcin Tybura -115 vs. Alexander Romanov -105 — Heavyweights
- Raulian Paiva -195 vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov +165 — Flyweights
- Karol Rosa -210 vs. Vanessa Melo +175 — Women’s bantamweights
- Martin Day -175 vs. Davey Grant +150 — Bantamweights
UFC 251 info
- Date: July 11
- Location: Yas Island — Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Start time: 10 p.m. ET (Main card)
- How to watch: ESPN+ PPV