After weeks of speculation and hype, the UFC Fight Island debut is finally upon us.
Admittedly, some are probably bummed that the UFC 251 show held on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi doesn't actually feature fights on the beach, but nobody can be disappointed with how the card looks, on paper.
Three championship contests. Two bouts that carry intriguing storylines. Sign us up.
BetOnline.ag will have updated odds leading up to the first blow delivered on Saturday night.
Amanda Ribas (-1,000) vs. Paige VanZant (+675)
More likely than not, Paige VanZant (8-4-0) already has one foot in Bellator heading into the last bout of her UFC contract. UFC boss Dana White wishes to build a new star by having Amanda Ribas (9-1-0) defeat the "Dancing With the Stars" runner-up, who has motr than 2 million followers on Instagram. Ribas is the better fighter and won each of her first three UFC contests.
None of that makes this a gimme. VanZant isn't a pushover as three of her four defeats came at the hands of Tecia Torres, Rose Namajunas and Michelle Waterson. This could be Paige's opportunity to silence doubters and get White to show her the money.
Jessica Andrade (+165) vs. Rose Namajunas (-190)
Rose Namajunas (9-4-0) dominated Jessica Andrade (20-7-0) with arguably the best five minutes of "Thug's" career during the opening round of their UFC 237 showdown.
Then, Andrade delivered the slam heard 'round the world:
Namajunas is the more skilled competitor of the two. Few, if any, would dispute that. The former champion hasn't competed since that May 2019 defeat to Andrade, and Namajunas lost two members of her family to COVID-19 during the early stages of the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
Her mindset could make the difference on Saturday.
Petr Yan (-210) vs. Jose Aldo (+180)
The second possible "a star is born" fight of the card features two individuals on different paths competing for the bantamweight championship dropped by Henry Cejudo following Cejudo's May "retirement."
Jose Aldo (28-6-0) isn't your typical 33-year-old fighter due to the many miles on his body. Let's also be honest and say he's never been the same since losing to Conor McGregor in 13 seconds back in December 2015.
Petr Yan (14-1-0) hasn't lost in the UFC since debuting in June 2018. All signs point to him leaving Fight Island with gold.
Alexander Volkanovski (-205) vs. Max Holloway (+175)
Fight of the Night? Max Holloway (21-5-0) will have no excuse if he's kicked to figurative death by Alexander Volkanovski (21-1-0) a second time. Volkanovski earned a unanimous decision over Holloway to win the featherweight crown at December's UFC 245 show, and the reigning champion entered that fateful evening coming off wins over Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo.
Holloway will become a more dangerous challenger with each round. Will that be enough to set up a rubber match?
Kamaru Usman (-240) vs. Jorge Masvidal (+205)
It's a fight everyone wanted to see, just not how we wanted to see it. Jorge Masvidal (35-13) stepping in for Gilbert Burns on six days' notice threatens Kamaru Usman's (16-1-0) welterweight title reign largely because the devil you know is often preferred to the devil you don't.
Usman's superior grappling won't mean much if he's hit with a knockout blow early, and Masvidal has shown he can shut the lights off in the blink of an eye:
The biggest fear among those not wagering on this is that Usman takes the BMF titleholder down again ... and again ... and again en route to grinding out a deserved yet unexciting win.
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This quiz does not include holders of interim titles.