UFC 251, the first of the UFC’s four “Fight Island” events this month, wrapped up Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with the last of three title fights on the card. The bout was the most lopsided of the bunch.
Kamaru Usman grinded his way to a unanimous decision over Jorge Masvidal to retain his welterweight belt. Usman was never in danger of losing on the judges’ cards: He won the bout 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46, meaning Masvidal won just one round on just one card.
UFC 251: How much money will Usman and Masvidal make?
Usman (17-1) used a variety of strikes, toe stomps and grappling to control Masvidal (35-14), who took the fight on six days’ notice after Gabriel Burns was scratched for testing positive for COVID-19.
“I’m just at levels better, I have more tools in the toolbox and when I need to pull them out I can pull them out and use them,” Usman told ESPN after his win.
Usman’s win was his 16th straight and second successful defense of his welterweight championship. Burns is likely to get his shot at Usman next.
The other title fights were a lot more intriguing. Petr Yan pummeled Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight championship, and Alexander Volkanovski rallied to decision Max Holloway in their rematch and retain his featherweight championship.
Sporting News provided live results and highlights from the main card of UFC 251 at Flash Forum on Yas Island, aka Fight Island, Abu Dhabi (all times Eastern).
1:58 a.m.: And, no, it wasn’t close. Usman almost pitched a shutout, with Masvidal winning just one round on one judge’s card.
1:48 a.m.: Usman gets Masvidal down in the middle of the fifth and rides that long enough to take the round. Masvidal gets to the feet in the final minute but his attempt at a desperation knockout was never going to work. This should be a lopsided decision for the champ.
1:42 a.m.: Masvidal shows an iron chin as he eats multiple hard strikes from Usman. It’s on to the final round, and it looks as if Usman is in command.
1:37 a.m.: To the fourth. Masvidal was trying to troll Usman by smiling in the previous round.
1:35 a.m.: Annnnd, another low blow: Masvidal takes this one in the third, although one replay showed that maybe the shot was legal.
1:30 a.m.: Another clash of heads leaves Masvidal bleeding from the forehead. This one may need stitches. Usman comes out strong in the third against an opponent who took the fight on less than a week’s notice and had to cut a bunch of weight to get to 170 pounds.
1:20 a.m.: The main event is underway. Good action in the first round. Masvidal was bleeding from an accidental clash of heads.
12:55 a.m.: Volkanovski retains by split decision. Scores are 48-47, 47-48, 48-47. Now it’s on to the main event.
12:50 a.m.: The fight goes the distance. To the judges’ cards. Volkanovski worked his way back into the fight with better work in Rounds 3 and 4. Round 5 should decide this.
12:35 a.m.: We’re midway through Volkanovski-Holloway, and it looks as if the challenger is in control. Observers have Holloway winning the first two rounds.
11:57 p.m.: Petr Yan bludgeons Jose Aldo in a fifth-round TKO and grabs the undisputed bantamweight belt. Yan had the former champion in trouble on the ground multiple times in the fight, but the finish didn’t come until after Yan had split open Aldo’s face with ground and pound midway through the fifth. The referee gave Aldo way too much time to recover and answer the barrage of strikes from Yan.
11:12 p.m.: It’s time for the title fights, starting with Yan-Aldo.
11:10 p.m.: Rose Namajunas takes a split decision from Jessica Andrade in their rematch. This was a straight slugfest that left both fighters bloodied. It was contested almost exclusively on the feet, but both women escaped takedowns in the third round. Two judges had the bout 29-28 for Namajunas and the other judge had it 29-28 for Andrade. A Fight of the Night candidate.
10:30 p.m.: The first fight of the main card is over quickly: Amanda Ribas submits Paige VanZant with an armbar at 2:21 of the first round. This was the last fight of VanZant’s UFC contract.
And while it might seem as though Ribas’ MMA record is 100-1 after that effort, it is just 10-1.
10 p.m.: Jiri Prochazka ends the prelims in style with a clean two-punch knockout of Volkan Oezdemir:
9:40 p.m.: The theme of the night/morning has become low blows. There have been a few of ’em:
Material from Omnisport was used in this report.
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