“Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi is going to be a busy place over the next two weeks as some of the best UFC fighters on the planet will compete in four events in that span, beginning with UFC 251, which will take place on Saturday night…well, at least here in the U.S.
The official date for UFC 251 is actually July 12 but seeing as there are no fans allowed inside the Flash Forum, local time in Abu Dhabi wasn’t an issue so Dana White and company set everything up to run live during primetime hours in the States on the evening of July 11. The early prelims will actually start at 2:00 a.m. Gulf Standard Time with the main card beginning at 6:00 a.m. For those here in North America, that’s 6:00 p.m. Eastern for the early prelims and 10 p.m. Eastern for the main card with the regular prelims in between. Yes, there will be a test later.
While that might be a little confusing, there’s no confusing the fact that UFC 251 has a stacked card, headlined by huge title fights. So let’s take a quick look at every single match on the card.
The UFC 251 main card is stacked with title fights
One of the original co-main events for UFC 251 was scheduled to be Kamaru Usman putting his welterweight title on the line against Gilbert Burns. But after Burns and his coach, Greg Jones, tested positive for COVID-19, Jorge Masvidal was placed in the match, much to the delight of fans as he’s had 48 career fights without ever receiving a UFC title match, the most in history.
The other co-main event will see UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski put his title on the line against the man he won it from, Max Holloway. This highly-anticipated rematch comes seven months after Volkanovski defeated Holloway via unanimous decision at UFC 245 last December.
The third title match on the card will see former featherweight champ Jose Aldo take on Petr Yan for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship.
Former champions Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas will compete in the women’s strawweight division in what is essentially a number one contender’s match to see who will next challenge Weili Zhang. The two first met at UFC 237 with Andrade coming out on top via second-round TKO. A women’s flyweight showdown will see Amanda Ribas take on Paige VanZant, who may be fighting for the final time in UFC.
- UFC Men’s Welterweight Championship: (c) Kamaru Usman (16-1) vs. Jorge Masvidal (35-13)
- UFC Men’s Featherweight Championship: (c) Alexander Volkanovski (21-1) vs. Max Holloway (21-5)
- UFC Men’s Bantamweight Championship (vacant): Petr Yan (14-1) vs. Jose Aldo (28-6)
- Women’s Strawweight Division: Jessica Andrade (20-7) vs. Rose Namajunas (9-4)
- Women’s Flyweight Division: Amanda Ribas (9-1) vs. Paige VanZant (8-4)
The UFC 251 preliminary card
A light heavyweight showdown between Volkan Oezdemir and Jiri Prochazka headlines the UFC 251 prelims. Prochazka is currently on a 10-fight winning streak and has only gone the distance one time in 30 career fights.
In the men’s welterweight division, the bout between Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Muslim Salikhov certainly has the potential to steal the show as both possess amazing knockout power. Makwan Amirkhani and Danny Henry meet in the featherweight division and Leonard Santos takes on undefeated Roman Bogatov in the lightweight division.
- Men’s Light Heavyweight Division: Volkan Oezdemir (17-4) vs. Jiri Prochazka (26-3-1)
- Men’s Welterweight Division: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (22-6) vs. Muslim Salikhov (16-2)
- Men’s Featherweight Division: Makwan Amirkhani (15-4) vs. Danny Henry (12-3)
- Men’s Lightweight Division: Leonardo Santos (17-4-1) vs. Roman Bogatov (10-0)
The early prelims for Fight Island
The only heavyweight division matchup on the UFC 251 card takes place on the early prelims. Marcin Tybura was scheduled to take on Alexander Romanov but after Romanov tested positive for COVID-19, he was replaced by Maxim Grishin, who will be making his UFC debut.
Raulian Paiva was set to take on Zhalgas Zhumagulov in a men’s flyweight division bout but Paiva failed to make weight, weighing in at 129 pounds, three pounds over the non-title limit. The fight is now expected to take place at catchweight, as is the match between Karol Rosa and Vanessa Melo after Melo came in five pounds too heavy.
A men’s bantamweight division bout between Martin Day and Davey Grant rounds out the UFC 251 early prelims.
- Men’s Heavyweight Division: Marcin Tybura (18-6) vs. Maxim Grishin (30-7-2)
- Men’s Flyweight Division: Raulian Paiva (19-3) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-3)
- Women’s Bantamweight Division: Karol Rosa (12-3) vs. Vanessa Melo (10-7)
- Men’s Bantamweight Division: Martin Day (9-3) vs. Davey Grant (11-4)
UFC 251 can be ordered on pay-per-view through ESPN+.