UFC 251 Confirmed. Aldo vs Yan! Holloway vs Volkanovski 2! Burns vs Usman?

by Preston Ekdahl

In perhaps the biggest day of fight announcements in recent memory, Dana White appeared on First Take to announce the triple main event for UFC 251.

What a night of fights we have lined up next month but the question has to be asked if these are the definitive title fights in each division. I like Petr Yan, he’s been a whirlwind of destruction since entering the UFC and is off his most impressive finish to date in dismantling Urijah Faber at UFC 245 in December. I have no qualms with him being in the interim title fight but it’s his opponent that doesn’t exactly make much sense. Jose Aldo is a legend in the sport, he’s fought a who’s who of names in the lower weight divisions since his WEC debut back in 2008; however, he is also off two back to back losses which while debatable means that he should not be fighting for the title. Is the fight intriguing? Of course, both guys are high-level striking practitioners and should deliver a very fan-friendly fight but the real title fight will be against the man in waiting in Aljamain Sterling who looked sensational in taking out a very tough Cory Sandhagen just this past week.

The second title bout on this card is one that makes the most sense out of the three to me in Alex Volkanovski defending his newly won UFC Featherweight Championship against Max Holloway in a rematch of their bout from UFC 245 in December. The biggest drawback for the immediate rematch is that the first fight was not even exciting. Volkanovski beat Max standing mainly due to heavy leg kicks and didn’t let Max get his combinations off at all. The other issue is that Alex did not even use his heavy ground control and wrestling to get the fight to the ground. Now is there a better contender currently at 145 for this bout instead of Max? I can make the argument that the Korean Zombie should be given the title shot but a win over Renato Moicano and Frankie Edgar doesn’t exactly light the room on fire. Zabit is right there as well with that win over Calvin Kattar in November but he’s likely one more win away from a title shot as well. While I’m not thrilled with this matchup, it makes sense and putting it on a stacked card makes sense.

Now we go to the main event of the evening with Kamaru Usman defending his Welterweight championship against Jorge Masvidal. Wait, Gilbert Burns? This to me is the biggest detractor of the card and the UFC in general. Gilbert Burns is a good fighter, he’s on a very nice winning streak and is fighting every other month but to have him leapfrog all the other fighters in the division who have earned the title fight leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Gilbert is coming off a 5 round destruction against Tyron Woodley. It is a great win no doubt, I even took Burns in that bout mainly due to the lay-off and how poor Woodley looked in losing his title against Kamaru Usman back at UFC 235. It’s a very good name win for Burns but one has to wonder if Woodley has lost something inside the octagon due to his last two performances. Prior to that bout, Burns knocked out Demian Maia which admittedly is a great win, outworked Gunnar Nelson and won a close decision against Alexey Kunchenko. These are all fine wins but I believe the UFC is doing a disservice to Jorge Masvidal. The last man to make as much of an impact as what Masvidal did in 2019 in the UFC was Conor McGregor in 2015. Did Dana White refuse to pay Conor? No, he saw a star that was on the rise and made sure to get Conor to that superstar status. The UFC has a superstar in waiting in Jorge Masvidal.

I mean what are we doing? This guy has two of the best knockouts in the UFC last year and beats the hell out of Nate Diaz in November yet still does not have a fight booked? I understand that the fighters want to re-negotiate their current contracts and want to get paid more but how are you not dumping the Brinks truck at Masvidal’s doorstep right now. You do Masvidal vs Conor McGregor and that breaks PPV records in my opinion, but of course Conor just retired. Will that retirement last? Of course not, he’s going to watch Khabib vs Gaethje in September and fight the winner in December and get gifted another title shot.

The wealth of talent in the UFC is at an all-time high so how come they can not deliver the best fights on a consistent basis? Money talks and the UFC has made it hand over fist for the last decade. The time is now to start making the right fights not just the easy ones.

Nate Diaz says it best. The fans know what the real fight is.

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