UFC 251: Kamaru Usman defends welterweight championship against Jorge Masvidal

Taking and accepting this fight on just six-days’ notice, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Jorge Masvidal played their parts in building one of the most hotly-anticipated UFC pay-per-view events in recent years.

It all started at a frenetic pace. Perhaps sensing the preparation for his first UFC title fight was less than perfect, “Gamebred” took the fight to Usman from the off.

While Masvidal had some success in those striking exchanges, an errant kick was caught by Usman, who then took the fight to the ground to assert his gameplan.

That would be the theme for the later rounds, too.

Usman smartly sought to drain Masvidal’s gas tank as much as possible. As Masvidal’s energy waned, Usman’s confidence grew.

The fight was dictated in the clinch against the cage for long periods and it was all Usman’s doing. If he wasn’t looking to land knees, punches, elbows and foot stomps against the cage, Usman was looking to take the fight to the floor to dole out more punishment.

Masvidal had his moments in the contest with brief skirmishes on the feet after scrambling off the floor or stuffing a takedown, but those instances were fleeting. Though, it should be noted that Masvidal’s defensive wrestling was impressive against a talented grappler like Usman.

After five rounds, Usman was rightly rewarded for his performance with a unanimous decision – signalling his second successful defence of his championship.

 

UFC 251: Alexander Volkanovski makes first defence of UFC title in Max Holloway rematch

UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski had to dig deep and make adjustments to defeat Max Holloway for a second time in their rematch.

In the first two rounds, Holloway looked like a man on a mission as he sought to regain the UFC gold Volkanovski took from him last time round.

The Hawaiian’s striking looked crisp and he managed to stifle much of Volkanovski’s offence in the first 10 minutes. Holloway also punctuated both rounds with some knockdowns, wobbling the Australian with a head kick in the first and a sneaky uppercut in the second.

Sensing he had lost the first two rounds, Volkanovski had to step things up a gear and he did just that.

The third round was close with both men seeing success – in fact, it turned out the fight’s result hinged on the middle fifth – but Volkanovski did a much better job of closing the distance and landing strikes in the fourth and fifth round.

Volkanovski also switched the gameplan up, successfully landing a couple of takedowns to secure the latter rounds in the eyes of judges.

Two of the three officials sat cageside scored the fight 48-47 in favour of Volkanovski, while the last judge scored the fight 48-47 to Holloway. Many believed the fight should have been scored the other way – including UFC President Dana White – but it’s “The Great” who remains champion.

 

UFC 251: Petr Yan finishes Jose Aldo to win vacant bantamweight title

Russia has its second UFC champion.

In a bloody, back-and-forth war, it was Petr Yan who prevailed and left Fight Island with the UFC bantamweight championship vacated by former champion Henry Cejudo.

Yan and former sparring partner Jose Aldo fought their hearts out in this brutal contest.

Former UFC featherweight king Aldo looked sharp in the fight’s earlier rounds as he sought to become a UFC double champion.

The Brazilian found success in his leg kicks – a hallmark of his WEC and early UFC career – which forced Yan to fight as a southpaw for the remainder of the fight. Aldo also ripped and landed some nasty punches and kicks to the body as he looked to soften up his foe.

However, Yan was utterly undeterred by any of the firepower being thrown his way and seemed to grow in confidence in the championship rounds as he started to land more of his powerful punches up top and to the mid-section.

Aldo looked to tire in the fourth as Yan’s output increased and the Russian took full advantage of that early in the fifth round.

Yan floored Aldo with a simple one-two punch combination and punished “Scarface” down on the mat.

We haven’t seen a whole lot of Yan on the ground so far in his UFC career, but he expertly controlled Aldo to dish out damaging, fight-ending ground and pound. Aldo somehow survived while being  smashed by elbows and punches while pinned in the crucifix position, but he turtled up as Yan continued to pour on the punches.

Referee Leon Roberts gave Aldo plenty of time to recover, but that was in vain as the fight was eventually stopped.

Yan is the new UFC bantamweight champion and there are plenty of suitors looking to challenge him for it.

 

UFC 251: Rose Namajunas avenges defeat against Jessica Andrade

Rose Namajunas is back and better than ever as she avenged her defeat to Jessica Andrade in their rematch.

Namajunas hadn’t fought since she lost her UFC strawweight title to Andrade at UFC 237 last year, but she showed off why fans were so excited to see her return to the Octagon after months of retirement talk.

With slick movement, technical boxing and the ability to strike effectively in close quarters, Namajunas displayed her offensive and defensive prowess as she consistently beat Andrade to the punch and fight the way she wanted it to go.

Namajunas was too smooth for Andrade in the first two rounds.

Perhaps sensing she was down on the scorecards, Andrade upped the pace in the third round and found success in closing the distance and landing big power punches.

The Brazilian had Namajunas hurt and leak crimson from her nose, but Namajunas displayed heart and a solid chin to weather the storm to see out the fight and win a split decision.

 

UFC 251: Amanda Ribas in total control as she submits Paige VanZant

Amanda Ribas continued her trajectory to stardom with a dominant display against Paige VanZant on Fight Island.

VanZant tried her best to avoid the clinch against such a talented grappler – one who owns black belts in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo- but those efforts were futile as Ribas soon threw VanZant to the mat early in the opening round.

Like she did on the takedown, Ribas seized her opportunity on the canvas.

As VanZant tried to scramble out of this precarious position, Ribas snatched an arm and went belly-down to force the tap at 2:21 of the first round.

Really impressive stuff from Ribas, who adds another big name to her growing list of wins.

The Brazilian is now riding a four-fight win streak.

 

UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal full results

Welterweight Kamaru Usman (c) def. Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision after five rounds
Featherweight Alexander Volkanovski (c) def. Max Holloway by split decision after five rounds
Bantamweight championship: Petr Yan def. José Aldo by TKO (punches) at 3:24 of round five
Women’s Strawweight: Rose Namajunas def. Jéssica Andrade by split decision after three rounds
Women’s Flyweight: Amanda Ribas def. Paige VanZant by submission (armbar) at 2:21 of round one
Light Heavyweight: Jiří Procházka def Volkan Oezdemir by KO (punch) at 0:49 of round two
Welterweight: Muslim Salikhov def. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos by split decision after three rounds
Featherweight: Makwan Amirkhani def. Danny Henry by Technical Submission (anaconda choke) at 3:15 of round one
Lightweight: Leonardo Santos def. Roman Bogatov by unanimous decision after three rounds
Heavyweight: Marcin Tybura def. Maxim Grishin Decision by unanimous decision after three rounds
Catchweight: Raulian Paiva def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov by unanimous decision after three rounds
Catchweight: Karol Rosa def. Vanessa Melo by unanimous decision after three rounds
Bantamweight: Davey Grant def. Martin Day KO (punch) at 2:38 of round three