UFC 251 Results: Kamaru Usman beats Jorge Masvidal in underwhelming fight
Fans were hyped for the return of ‘Gamebred’ after the pullout of Gilbert Burns due to Covid-19. However, Masvidal came up short against a marauding Usman.
UFC Fight Island debuted from Abu Dhabi and it was a night that lived up to all the hype. It already had a great card with three title fights. Things were tense in the build-up to the fight with the personal rivalry between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal taking centre stage. Fans were hyped for the return of ‘Gamebred’ after the pullout of Gilbert Burns due to Covid-19. However, Masvidal came up short against a marauding Usman.
Masvidal started strong with a flurry of strikes in the initial minutes. He kept landing on Usman but the champion continued to hold strong. Usman then turned to his wrestling and the fight titled towards him. As soon as a slugfest started, Usman (17-1) went for a clinch to drain out Masvidal. It worked as it slowed down the challenger. But Masvidal was always in the fight as he landed lethal leg kicks and multiple combos on Usman throughout the fight. There were bursts from Masvidal but all those were scuffed up by Usman thorough his fight IQ.
There was less of the ‘Colby Covington fight’ and more of the ‘Tyron Woodley fight’ in Usman at UFC 251. He looked to win the match and retain the title , while Masvidal continued to rely on his punching power. Things were personal before the event and it looked as if the bad blood between the two could lead to an all-out war. But that wasn’t to be as it proved one of the most underwhelming fights of the night with. Much time was spent in clinches and ground control. Usman has already been criticised by fans for his ‘boring’ style of fighting and this does not help his case. But that doesn’t take away the fact that Usman was the better fighter against Masvidal. He knew how to break Masvidal and he did that successfully. Usman is a wrestler and he took full advantage of his superior skills to overpower Masvidal and win the fight.
Masvidal told Usman that they should run it back but the aesthetic of the UFC 251 fight wouldn’t likely excite the fans for an encore. It looked like Masvidal came for a fight but Usman went in to defend his belt.
The judges’ scorecard read 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 in favour of Usman which tied him with Georges St-Pierre for the longest streak in UFC welterweight history. This was Usman’s 12th consecutive victory.
Alexander Volkanowski (22-1) was looking to cement his legacy as he defended his UFC Featherweight Championship against former champion Max Holloway. Volkanovski had earlier defeated the featherweight ‘GOAT’ Holloway last year. The contender dominated the Australian in the first two rounds with constant pressure. However, Volkanovski started finding his stride in the third round but it looked like Holloway had done enough to win the decisive three rounds in a five-round fight. Volkanovski showed his championship heart in the last two rounds. He won the fourth round decisively and edged Holloway in the final round. It went to the judges and they announced Volkanovski as the winner of the fight. It was a split decision but it is sure to incite debate in the MMA community.
The bantamweight title was up for grabs with Russian fighter Petr Yan (15-1) facing featherweight legend Jose Aldo (28-7). Yan looked like a superior fighter throughout as he continued to blast Aldo with stiff punches and leg kicks. Aldo wasn’t willing to give up and fought back hard with his trademark pressure punches. But the 27-year-old Yan was too much to handle for 33-year-old Aldo. In the championship rounds, Yan increased his intensity and continued to pound on. The Brazilian bled heavily during the last round as Yan started a brutal show of ground and pound. The referee waived off the fight to safeguard Aldo as Yan became the new bantamweight champion of UFC.
Namajunas (9-4) returned from a 14-month break since Andrade (20-8) claimed her title with an upset victory, surprising the champ with a body slam after Namajunas dominated the early fight.
Namajunas never allowed an opportunity for Andrade to finish her in the rematch, dominating the first two rounds with her slick striking and fluid movement. Andrade rallied in the third and badly damaged Namajunas’ nose and left eye, but Namajunas won 29-28 on two judges’ scorecards.
“I was just in the right state of mind,” Namajunas said. “That’s everything. Early on in the fight, I was doing great. Then I think she hit the desperation button and started really unloading. She caught me a couple of times, but I just stayed strong.”
Kamaru Usman (c) beat Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision to retain the welterweight title
Alex Volkanovski (c) beat Max Holloway via split decision to retain featherweight title
Petr Yan (c) beat Jose Aldo via TKO to win the bantamweight title
Rose Namajunas beat Jéssica Andrade via split decision
Amanda Ribas beat Paige VanZant via first-round submission (armbar)
Jiří Procházka beat Volkan Oezdemir via second-round knockout
Muslim Salikhov beat Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via split decision
Makwan Amirkhani beat Dan Henry via first-round submission
Leonardo Santos beat Roman Bogatov via unanimous decision
Marcin Tybura beat Maxim Grishin via unanimous decision
Raulian Paiva beat Zhalgas Zhumagulov via unanimous decision
Karol Rosa beat Vanessa Melo via unanimous decision
Davey Grant beat Martin Day via third-round knockout
(with AP inputs)