UFC Fight Island Ready, UFC 251 Odds set for July 11
June 11, 2020
By Brian Edwards
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UFC President Dana White finally revealed the location of ‘Fight Island’ earlier this week. Yas Island in Abu Dhabi will host four shows on July 11, July 15, July 18 and July 25.
The first card will be UFC 251, featuring two current champions, five former champs, three title fights and a pair of rematches. The headliner will be Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns for the welterweight belt.
UFC 251: Usman vs. Burns
Key Fights and Odds
Kamaru Usman -190 vs. Gilbert Burns +170
Alexander Volkanovski -175 vs. Max Holloway +155
Petr Yan -275 vs. Jose Aldo +235
Amanda Ribas -450 vs. Paige Vanzant +375
Rose Namajunas -190 vs. Jessica Andrade +170
Pedro Munhoz -200 vs. Franike Edgar +175
Usman vs. Burns
As of June 11, FanDuel had Usman (16-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) installed as a -205 favorite with Burns available at +166 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $166). Usman has won 15 straight scraps and is off his first successful title defense, beating Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington via fifth-round knockout when he was down on the judges’ scorecards.
Burns (19-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) is going for UFC gold after ripping off six consecutive victories, including two since the global pandemic started. On March 14 in the UFC Brasilia co-main event, Burns ended Demian Maia’s three-fight winning streak with a first-round KO.
Then in the main event of the show at the UFC’s Apex Facility in Las Vegas on May 30, Burns dropped former welterweight kingpin Tyron Woodley with a big right hand less than 20 seconds into the fight. The 33-year-old Brazilian couldn’t quite take Woodley out, but he was in control from start to finish in a blowout unanimous-decision victory (50-44, 50-45, 50-44). VegasInsider scored it 50-43 for Burns, who has bagged Performance of the Night bonuses in back-to-back wins.
With his 76-inch reach, Usman will have a five-inch advantage. The champ also has a two-inch edge in height.
I expect this fight to play out similar to Usman’s contest with Covington. In that bout, neither fighter went for a takedown in 20-plus minutes of action. Both men opted to stand and trade out of respect for the others’ ground game.
Burns is an elite grappler and Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion. Usman has a black belt in BJJ and was a three-time NCAA Division II All-American at the University of Nebraska at Kearney from 2008-2010.
Usman and Burns are teammates at Sanford MMA (formerly the Blackzilians) in South Florida.
I think this fight plays out on the feet. I like Burns’s hands better than Usman’s and that’s why I like the underdog in this spot.
Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
In the co-main event, featherweight champion Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski (21-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) will make his first title defense against the man he wrested the belt away from, Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway. As of June 11, FanDuel had Volkanovski listed as a -182 favorite with Holloway as a +148 underdog.
On the same night Usman defended his belt vs. Covington at UFC 245 last December, the 31-year-old Volkanovski won a unanamious decision (48-47, 50-45, 48-47) over Holloway, who had been the undisputed champion since June of 2017 and captured the interim featherweight strap in December of 2016. Volkanovski cashed tickets as a +165 underdog.
Holloway (21-5 MMA, 17-5 UFC) saw his 14-fight winning streak in the 145-pound loop snapped by Volkanovski. The 28-year-old Hawaiian is the division’s all-time leader in career wins (16) and career wins by KO/TKO (eight). He’ll be in his first underdog spot here since beating Jose Aldo to win the belt at UFC 212.
Yan vs. Aldo
The third title fight is for the bantamweight belt vacated by Henry Cejudo, who retired after his second-round KO win over Dominick Cruz at UFC 249. It’ll pit sixth-ranked Aldo vs. third-ranked Petr ‘No Mercy’ Yan.
As of June 11, FanDuel had Yan (14-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) installed as a -230 ‘chalk.’ Aldo, the former featherweight king, was a +184 underdog.
The 33-year-old Aldo (28-6 MMA, 10-5 UFC) made his bantamweight debut at UFC 245 this past December. He lost a controversial split decision to top-ranked Marlon Moraes (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). VegasInsider scored the bout 29-28 in Aldo’s favor.
Aldo seemed to have a smooth weight cut and he looked fast at 135 pounds. After losing back-to-back fights to Holloway by third-round KOs, Aldo responded with KO victories over Jeremy Stephens and Renato Moicano that garnered him a pair of Performance of the Night bonuses.
However, Volkanovski dominated Aldo in a UD win (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) at UFC 237, prompting Aldo to drop down to bantamweight.
The 27-year-old Yan is off a head-kick KO of Urijah Faber at UFC 245. The Russian also had victories over Jimmie Rivera and John Dodson on his resume.
Namajunas vs. Andrade
The other rematch of former champions is a women’s strawweight contest between ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade. As of June 11, FanDuel had Namajunas (8-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC) listed as a -188 favorite, leaving Andrade at +154 on the comeback.
When these women met at UFC 237 on May 11 of 2019, Namajunas won the opening frame with superior striking. She seemed to be in total control of the fight until midway through Round 2 when Andrade scored a KO victory (slam) by using a clinch situation to pick Namajunas up and drop her on her head.
However, the 28-year-old Andrade (20-7 MMA, 11-5 UFC) lost the belt in her first title defense against Zhang Weli, who won the strap with a first-round KO victory in the UFC Shenzhen headliner last August.
Andrade is 7-2 in nine career strawweight fights. She owns scalps over the likes of Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Tecia Torres, Claudia Gadelha, Angela Hill, Raquel Pennington and Joanne Calderwood.
Edgar vs. Munoz
The other former champion on the card is Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar, who once ruled the lightweight division and is making his bantamweight debut against Pedro Munhoz. As of June 11, FanDuel had Munhoz listed as a -205 favorite, with Edgar as a +166 underdog.
Edgar has lost back-to-back fights and three of his last four. The New Jersey native went winless in 2019, losing by UD to Holloway at UFC 240 and by first-round KO to ‘The Korean Zombie’ in the UFC Busan main event in South Korea.
Munhoz had his three-fight winning streak snapped in a UD loss to Aljamain Sterling at UFC 238 last June.
UFC Fight Island
UFC Fight Island has become a reality and the venue will produce four events in July. (UFC Images)
Along with the UFC 251 card on July 11, the promotion will have four other fights at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on July 15, July 18 and July 25. Key fights and betting odds for those cards are listed below, plus other schedule announced UFC Bouts.
UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2
Deiveson Figueiredo -240 vs. Joseph Benavidez +200
July 18, 2020
UFC Fight Night: Wittaker vs. Till
Robert Whittaker -160 vs. Darren Till +140
July 25, 2020
UFC Upcoming Events
Daniel Cormier -120 vs. Stipe Miocic +100
August 15, 2020
Khabiv Nurmagomedov -200 vs. Justin Gaethje +175
September 19, 2020
Odds and Bouts Subject to Change
B.E.’s Octagon Nuggets
-- The trilogy bout between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and former two-division champ Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier will be the UFC 252 main event on Aug. 15 at a venue in the United States (probably Las Vegas). FanDuel has the scrap listed as a pick ‘em (-110 either way). Cormier won the first meeting via first-round KO at UFC 226. He seemed to be winning the rematch, too, until Miocic caught him with a flurry of punches and closed the show by fourth-round KO at UFC 241.
-- The headliner for the Aug. 1 Fight Night card is a women’s bantamweight contest between Holly Holm and Irene Aldana.