UFC 251 is going to feature three title fights according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. The journalist reported on Monday night that UFC officials were doing their best to put together a massive pay-per-view card for July 11 and that it would likely be the first UFC card to take place on “Fight Island”.
Per Helwani, the three UFC title fights planned for UFC 251 include the rematch between UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and former champ Max Holloway, the Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo fight that’s supposed to fill the UFC bantamweight championship vacancy and UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman’s next title defense.
You can watch Helwani discuss the UFC’s plans below.
According to @arielhelwani, UFC 251 is currently expected to have three championship fights — Volkanovski vs. Holloway, Yan vs. Aldo, Usman defending his title — and take place on "Fight Island" on July 11. pic.twitter.com/8T6twJUmA1
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 9, 2020
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Volkanovski-Holloway Rematch Seems Destined for UFC 251
Volkanovski-Holloway 2 was originally on the way to becoming the main event of UFC 251 when the card was scheduled for June 6 in Perth, Australia.
Volkanovski originally defeated Holloway at UFC 245 in December to nab the belt. It was an upset win that ended Holloway’s long reign atop the UFC featherweight division and established the 31-year-old Volkanovski as a rising star.
Volkanovski ended Holloway’s 14-fight win streak within the featherweight division at UFC 245. He also handed Holloway his first loss in the division since 2013.
During the fight, Volkanovski constantly kept Holloway guessing and was able to make him pay for it through enough of the five rounds to seize the title.
Now it looks like the rematch is on the way, even though it appeared the fight might be completely off the table after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Yan vs. Aldo for UFC Bantamweight Championship
The original plan for the co-main event when UFC 251 was scheduled for June 6 in Perth was women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko’s next title defense against No. 3 ranked contender Joanne Calderwood.
But Shevchenko is recovering from an injury right now, so UFC officials have pivoted instead to filling the bantamweight vacancy created by Henry Cejudo’s sudden retirement after “Triple C” beat Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 with a match between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo.
Most would agree that No. 3 ranked Petr Yan probably deserves to fight for the vacant title. But Aldo has lost two straight fights entering the contest and the performances of several highly-ranked bantamweight contenders at UFC 250 over the weekend, such as former champion Cody Garbrandt and No. 2 ranked contender Aljamain Sterling, call into question how and why the UFC would choose Aldo over other options.
With all that being said, Aldo is a decorated former champion who should produce real fireworks inside the Octagon against Yan. It might not be the right fight, but it’s probably a fun one.
Usman vs. Burns for UFC Welterweight Championship
Finally, UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman seemed to be on his way to facing Jorge Masvidal next, but now it looks like Masvidal is content to publicly lobby for more money for the fight while Usman is likely on his way to a title defense against someone else.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported Usman’s next title defense would come against Gilbert Burns and that Usman vs. Burns would headline UFC 251 over the other two title fights.
Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns will headline UFC 251 on July 11. https://t.co/b9Rs2zXdpM
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) June 9, 2020
Usman’s been one of the toughest outs in the sport as of late, and the 33-year-old put on a brilliant performance against Colby Covington at UFC 245 to finish off the year in a strong way.
Burns was brilliant in dominating former champ Tyron Woodley at UFC Fight Night on May 30 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
So UFC 251 appears to be on its way to being jam-packed with huge title fights that promise big action.
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