Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will face dangerous veteran Jorge Masvidal, and Max Holloway seeks to win back the featherweight title from Alexander Volkanovski in an attractive set of UFC 251 matches on ESPN+ on Saturday from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
The third title match on the main card, being shown via pay-per-view on ESPN+, pits bantamweights Petr Yan and Jose Aldo against each other.
Three title fights highlight the UFC 251 main card
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UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (16-1) is on a 15-match winning streak, with eight of his last 10 bouts going the distance, as he makes his second title defense. Opponent Jorge Masvidal is 35-13 in a pro career that began in 2003. He recorded the fastest knockout in UFC history by beating Ben Askren in five seconds at UFC 239.
Masvidal is a late replacement on the ESPN+ pay-per-view for top-ranked welterweight Gilbert Burns, who tested positive for COVID-19 before arriving at Fight Island. Masvidal will be without coach Mike Brown, who also tested positive for COVID-19.
On virtually any other fight night, the UFC featherweight title rematch between current champion Alexander Volkanovski (21-1) and former champ Max Holloway (21-5) would be the headliner on the card. Volkanovski defeated Holloway at UFC 245 by unanimous decision to capture the title, but Holloway’s 16 victories in UFC featherweight bouts are the most in divisional history.
The vacant UFC bantamweight championship will be up for grabs between Petr Yan (14-1) and former two-time featherweight titleholder José Aldo (28-6). The belt is in play because Henry Cejudo announced after his title defense at UFC 249 that he was retiring from the sport.
How to watch UFC 251 from Fight Island
The card for UFC 251 is broken into three parts, each with different viewing options.
The early prelims are only on UFC Fight Pass, a subscription service available through devices such as Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Xbox, and Amazon Fire TV.
The second portion of the card, the prelims, will air on ESPN and ESPN+.
The main card is an ESPN+ exclusive pay-per-view event. Fans with an existing ESPN+ subscription can buy the PPV for $65. Non-subscribers can buy an $85 bundle that includes the UFC 251 fights and a one-year subscription to ESPN+, which normally costs $49.99 annually by itself.
As is the case with UFC Fight Pass, the ESPN+ app is available on major mobile and connected TV devices.
The full UFC 251 card from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi
The UFC 251 card from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi starts at 6 p.m. ET Saturday and is broken into three pieces:
Early Prelims (6 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass)
- Martin Day vs. Davey Grant (Bantamweight)
- Karol Rosa vs. Vanessa Melo (Women’s bantamweight)
- Raulian Paiva vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (Flyweight)
- Marcin Tybura vs. Maxim Grishin (Heavyweight)
Prelims (8 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and ESPN)
- Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka (Light heavyweight)
- Elizeu Dos Santos vs. Muslim Salikhov (Welterweight)
- Makwan Amirkhani vs. Danny Henry (Featherweight)
- Leonardo Santos vs. Roman Bogatov (Lightweight)
Main Card (10 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
- Amanda Ribas vs. Paige Vanzant (Women’s flyweight)
- Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas (Women’s strawweight)
- Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo (Bantamweight title)
- Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway (featherweight title)
- Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal (Welterweight title)
More about UFC’s home base on Fight Island
Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is eight time zones ahead of New York City. That means that the early prelims for UFC 251 will start at 2 a.m. local time and the main card begins at 6 a.m. in Abu Dhabi, resulting in the fighters adjusting their sleeping hours over the past week.
There will be three more UFC events coming up in rapid succession from Fight Island:
- July 15: UFC Fight Night, featuring featherweights Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige, both top-10 contenders
- July 18: UFC Fight Night, featuring Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez for the vacant flyweight title.
- July 25: UFC Fight Night, featuring Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Till, a pair of top-five middleweight contenders.
UFC 251 was originally scheduled for early June in Perth, Australia. The so-called Fight Island is being used as the venue in order to simplify travel for the combatants. There will be no fans in attendance for any of the UFC cards on Yas Island.