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By Daniel Rebain – Summer Staff Writer
What was once a figment of our imagination in Fight Island became a reality this weekend as 13 total fights took in Abu Dhabi. The fans were clearly excited to watch this event take place and a whopping 1.3 million people bought the Pay Per View and the action did not disappoint as we recap every fight and what exactly went down on the beaches of Abu Dhabi.
Davey “Dangerous” Grant (12-4) def Martin “The Spartan” Day (8-4) via R3 KO
Martin Day being back for the first time since 2018 takes on high level striker Davey Grant. Day stated he added “a lot of muscle mass” before this fight with Grant. Grant started the fight with a right leg kick and was switching his footwork. Grant was landing some amazing right leg kicks on the leg off Day and with Day trying to find that range he was not throwing that much. Day finally got into range and landed a huge right, dropping Grant, and Day hopped into full mount. Grant eventually got up and took down Day himself, trying for an armbar but could not get Day to tap before the horn sounded. Grant in the second round seemed to be throwing most of the strikes, mostly throwing towards Day’s head, looking for a KO. But later in the round Day dropped Grant with a punch to end the round, but Grant was saved by the bell. In the third round it was more of the same. Both fighters were standing in the middle of the octagon just trading punches. Day was throwing great combinations with Grant firing back. And when Grant threw back, he connected, which KO Day with an amazing left hook that put him out. Grant with the KO improved to 11-4 in his pro MMA career.
Karol Rosa (13-3) def Vanessa Melo (10-8) via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-27, 30-26)
Karol Rosa seemed to have the advantage against the high-class Vanessa Melo from the jump. Melo who missed weight by about 5 pounds and even though it usually would be an advantage it was not for Melo in this case. Rosa came out fast, throwing combinations which hurt Melo early. Rosa did mix in throwing beautiful kicks, while also throwing more strikes that found her opponent on a consistent basis. Rosa kept trying to get the takedown but did not succeed in getting it but then threw a left that seemed to hurt Melo. Finally, Rosa was able to eventually get the takedown, having Melo close in the guard with Rosa in a full mount. Rosa seemed to throw some punches, but Melo seemed to have her arms locked up pretty good and Rosa would end the round on top. Rosa seemed to have more speed in round 2, and it was more of the same for her in round 2 as well. Rosa was throwing amazing left hands, while also getting another takedown and even attempted submission but will end the fight on top. Rosa seemed to have all the MMA qualities that Melo had but significantly better. Melo ended the fight on a high note, but it was clear to say Rosa got the decision in this fight. Karol Rosa put on quite the show, dominating Melo. Rosa landed a very strong 177 strikes, with 120 of those being significant strikes. Rosa also threw in two takedowns on the night. One judge gave Rosa a 30-26 while the other two judges gave Rosa 30-27’s. With the win, Rosa moves to 2-0 in the UFC. With the win, look to see Rosa get a shot at a top 15 Bantamweight. Rosa has the skill to become a dangerous contender as long as her game continues to evolve, as it appears to be doing with each outing. Rosa has now won four fights in-a-row, and for Melo she has lost three straight via a decision.
#14 Raulian Paiva (20-3) def Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-4) via Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Raulian Paiva also missed weight coming into this fight and being the #14 ranked 125 lb fighter put some pressure on him to secure the victory. Zhumagulov came into this fight making his debut in the UFC and was looking to make a statement. Both fighters got to work early, throwing leg kicks and Paiva landed a good counter left hand and a right-hand seconds later. Paiva then landed a kick to the body that echoed throughout the arena. Zhumagulov did land a solid right hand when Paiva threw an inside low kick but it was mostly Paiva early on. A very high paced first round between these two fighters. In round two Pavia threw multiple strikes to Zhumagulov to start the round. Zhumagulv sought to advance more in this round throwing more strikes and attempting more takedowns, securing some but Paviva got back up instantly most of the time. The fight was not ready to slow down any time soon, keeping the same pace as the round before. The back and forth continued in the third round. Zhumagulov landed a solid right hand a minute and a half into the round then had a beautiful trip takedown seconds later but Paiva got right back to his feet. Paiva was starting to land some good shots before Zhumagulov landed a big left hand that was maybe the best punch of the fight. Unfortunately, seconds later Paiva landed a HARD kick to the groin of Zhumagulov. It was as clear as day toe to cup and Zhumagulov crumbled, stopping the action. When the fight restarted, there was a minute left and Zhumagulov immediately shot for a takedown but Paiva once again got back to his feet immediately. As the fight was ending, Paiva landed a knee to the cup of Zhumagulov but it did not impact the fight at all because the bell rang one second later. The fight seemed to be even, but ultimately Paliva got the nod from the judges and won the fight. All three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Paiva, who has now won two fights in a row. Zhumagulov falls to 13-4 while Paiva improves to 20-3.
Marcin “Tybur” Tybura (19-6) def Maxim Grishin (30-8-2) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-27)
Maxim Grishin was a very late replacement making his UFC debut and was fighting out of his weight class. Grishin, usually a Light Heavyweight only weighed around 226 Lb’s on Saturday compared to the normal Heavyweight, Marcin Tybura who weighed 252 Lb’s and this would be a huge factor in the fight. Marcin Tybura used a methodical controlling attack to pick up a unanimous decision win against Maxim Grishin. Throughout the first half of the fight, he controlled the center of the cage. He was able to take down Grishin and when he couldn’t was able to control the clinch positions. Round two and three were much of the same, not much of anything besides boxing, and again Tybura would use his almost 30 pound weight advantage to use grinding and wearing Grishin down draining all of his energy for big portions of the fight. Grisian was getting really beaten up, and Grisian couldn’t ever get out of that spot of being taken down or clinched against the fence, not really having many options. After three rounds of dominating his opponent, controlling Grishin for nine minutes of the 15 minute fight. Marcin Tybura would get the unanimous victory and his second consecutive victory by decision. For Grishin, It was his first loss in 10 fights.
Leonardo Santos (18-4-1) def Roman Bogatov (10-1) via Unanimous Decision (29-26, 29-26, 29-26)
One of four fighters making their promotional debut at UFC 251 was Roman Bogatov. The undefeated Russian had served as the M-1 lightweight champion, and was looking to extend a ten-fight win streak against Brazil’s Leonardo Santos. Round one was a little boring as both fighters were really just feeling eachother out. But In round two, things would pick up a bit. Bogatov took little time shooting at the legs looking to take this fight to the ground but Santos defended against the cage like you’re taught to. And once they broke from the cage, Santos hurt Bogatov with a knee and right hand and he swarmed. Santos landed punches and kicks as Bogatov was on the retreat. Santos took the back and tried to finish the fight, but to no avail. In the final round Santos looked visibly tired and Bogatov was looking to take advantage and tried to take him down. Santos defending the takedown took a knee to the groin which caused the ref to pause the fight (och). As the action resumed Bogatov was back all over Santos, again trying to take him down and again Santos was defending the takedown perfectly. Bogatov would then land another strike to Santos groin, but no point taken (och again). As they resumed Bogatov finally completed a takedown. But as Bogatov had Santos down to one knee, he threw an illegal knee and that is highly illegal as Santos was grounded and Bogato was deducted two points (OMG you can’t make this up lol). The fight ended with Bogatov needing a finish because of the two point deduction but couldn’t get it. Santos would leave with the win but at the expense of a sour groin if you know what i mean. Santos now is 12-0-1 in his last 13 while Bogatov, a former champ, lost his first professional fight.
Makwan “Mr. Finland” Amirkhani (16-4) def Danny “The Hatchet” Henry (12-4) via R1 Submission (Anaconda Choke)
Makwan Amirkhani was looking for a rebound after he lost his last fight against Shane Burgos back in November, losing via TKO, ending a two-fight win streak. Amirkhani was taking on Danny Henry, who was coming off a loss to Dan Ige who choked Henry out but Henry was looking to avenge his loss as well. For Henry this fight didn’t last long and he probably didn’t know it to be honest. In the middle of the first round, Amirkhani would earn his eleventh win via submission when he locked in his fourth anaconda choke of his career, becoming one of four UFC fighters to accomplish this feat. Henry was put to sleep. Right after his win, Amirkhani was immediately concerned for his featherweight rival, cradling his head before lifting up his leg as medics rushed in to help Henry. A very nice jester, in which most fighters would have left their opponent without any help unconscious. Amirkhani is now back on track in the featherweight division now winning seven out of his last nine fights
Muslim “King of Kung Fu” Salikhov (17-2) def Elizeu “Capoeira” Dos Santos (22-7) via Split Decision
It was about as close as a fight could ever be but Muslim Salikhov pulled out the victory. There was no highlight reel knockout but they did not disappoint the purists as they prowled around the centre of the cage, looking to pick each other apart, or to landing one of the spinning kicks. The pair began with caution, feeling each out and trying to find their range. It took until halfway through the first round where things took off and both fighters decided to throw. Dos Santos late in round one would land a huge leading right rocked Salikov and he looked to be in trouble, but was saved by the first round bell as he took a seat on his stool between rounds. Dos Santos again would rock Salikhov in the second with a right, this time from overhead. Even with Dos Santos landing heavy shots on Salikhov, he had spent more time in control of the cage, despite the significant strike count reading 46-40 in Dos Santos favour. But with Salikhov landing multiple kicks to Dos Santos, it seemed like he was in a better position to get a decision win, especially the way the judges were scoring fights Saturday night. And when Bruce Buffer announced the winner was Salikhov, Dos Santos was upset and he had a point. Dos Santos landed more significant strikes to the head, body, legs and “controlled” Salikhov more in this fight. “I wasn’t worried,” said Salikhov. “First round he got me with one right hand and that was it. The whole three rounds I controlled him.” Salikhov is now a winner of his past four while Dos Santos has dropped two of his last three fights.
Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka (27-3-1) def #7 Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir (17-5) def via R2 KO
The former Rizin light heavyweight champion out of the Czech Republic, Jiri Prochazka has blown onto the UFC scene with his KO win of the #7 ranked Light Heavyweight Volkan Oezdemir Saturday night. A head kick, followed soon after by a brutal right hook that connected on the jaw, ended things 49 seconds into the second round. But the first round was a bit odd for most people to watch because of how Jiri was fighting. Jiri would drop his hands, put his chin forward, and dared Oezdemir to tag him. Oezdemir fell into the “so called” trap, tagging his foe with authority on several occasions. But Jiri would eat those punches but he gave those shots as good as he got them, and whenever the dust settled, Jiri immediately resumed his mind games. But in the second round went all Jiri’s way as a wicked left-footed head kick wobbled Oezdemir. And Jiri thought about ending it by throwing a running knee, then instead opted for a jab, followed by the pinpoint right hook that put Oezdemir to sleep. That made the 11th consecutive win for Prochazka, and the 24th by knockout or TKO. Oezdemir had a two-fight winning streak snapped. The UFC might have just found Jon Jones an exciting fight.
#14 Amanda Ribas (10-1) def Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant (8-5) via R1 Sub (ArmBar)
Paige VanZant entered this fight on her last fight before her contract expired. She’s come out multiple times saying she will test free agency and isn’t gurerenting a return to the UFC. Ribas on the other hand is on a hot streak and was a +900 favorite entering the fight with VanZant being a +550. The thing is when the fight started it all went down hill for VanZant. It didn’t take long for Ribas to trip VanZant to the canvas.VanZant tried to work her way free against the fence, but when she got loose Ribas went after an armbar. VanZant tried to roll out of it, but it was too tight and VanZant was forced to tap. Ribas won for the fifth straight time. VanZant, who fought for the first time in 18 months after a third broken arm and subsequent surgery, has dropped three of her past four. We still love you Paige, good luck with your future.
#2 Rose “Thug” Namajunas (10-4) def #1 Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (20-8) via Split Decision
The rematch between Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade was well worth the wait for both Namajunas and the viewers who got to witness a tremendous scrap. In the first fight Rose had what many would say was “her best round ever”. But in the second round Rose got dropped on her head and lost her belt last year. Rose, the second time around, put together two stellar rounds, and even had to show great heart in withstanding a furious third-round onslaught from the powerful Andrade. Rose, competing for the first time since losing the title, didn’t need much time to figure out her range, and she began using a pinpoint jab, crisp straight hands, and solid counters on the occasion Andrade managed to break through. This continued for the better part of two rounds, but Andrade might have the heaviest hands at 115 pounds would land a huge shot at Rose and then judo throwing her to the ground. But Rose got up not taking much damage on the ground but damage was done. Andrade threw everything but the kitchen sink at her foe, leaving Rose with her nose cut open and her left eye nearly swollen shut, but it wasn’t enough. Rose came out with the unanimous decision, and potentially is set up for a title fight against the champion Zhang Weili. Rose has now won four out of her past five while Andrade has dropped two in a row.
Bantamweight Title: #3 Petr “No Mercy” Yan (15-1) def #11 Jose Aldo (28-7) via R5 TKO (Punches)
Jose Aldo had moments when it looked like he might become a two-division UFC champion. But in the end, Petr Yan may have brought about a changing of the guard in the lighter weight classes. Yan, throughout the 5 rounds hurt Aldo numerous times, in the first Yan landed a body shot that had Aldo wincing in pain. Yan had no issue staying right in the pocket in the second round and was unafraid to throw bombs Aldo’s way. Aldo had his best moment of the fight, landing hard body shots that might have hurt Yan, but Yan clinched Aldo up, escaping any more damage. Aldo started to slow down just a little bit. Yan continued to walk Aldo down, and late in the fourth Yan landed several big punches that had Aldo covering up on the fence. In the fifth it all caught up to Aldo, Yan landed a straight right that dropped Aldo and for the next three minutes Yan was on Aldo’s back trying to end it and eventually the ref had to call it leaving Aldo in a pool of his own blood face down. Aldo by all means did not look out of place landing his own damage on Yan, in the end Yan was just able to find his timing and hurt Aldo, landing 150 significant strikes to Aldo’s head. Yan now champ, has won 10 in-a-row but many say he should still be undefeated after losing a split decision in 2016. For Aldo he has now lost three in-a-row but has found his new division for his future.
CO-MAIN EVENT & Featherweight Title: Alexander ”The Great” Volkanovski (22-1) def #1 Max “Blessed” Holloway (21-6) via Split Decision
Holloway opened up the fight as perfectly as one can in a championship fight, in the first two rounds he was landing shot after shot and even dropped Volkanovski twice, once in each of the first two rounds. Holloway looked loose and confident over the fight’s opening two rounds. He used the trademark kickboxing mix that brought him to the top of the sport, and never allowed Volkanovski to get in a groove offensively. Momentum started to change in the third. Volkanovski noticeably closed the gap in the third, and each of the fight’s final three rounds were close. Volkanovski threw leg kicks throughout the fight, and they began slowing Holloway down by the fight’s halfway mark. Volkanovski continued to rack up leg kicks and began to find a home more frequently with his jab and left hook. In the fourth and fifth rounds, Volkanovski started to mix in his wrestling. He scored takedowns late in the fight and stayed consistent with his jab and leg kicks. In the end the judges, despite the opinion of almost everyone in the world saying Holloway won the fight three rounds to Volkanvski’s two rounds, they gave a split decision to the champ Volkanovski. The champ has now won 19 consecutive fights, while Holloway has dropped three of his past four.
MAIN EVENT & Welterweight Title: Kamaru “Nigerian Nightmare” Usman (17-1) def #3 Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (35-14) via Unanimous Decision
Kamaru Usman played to his strengths against Jorge Masvidal and it led to the retention of his UFC welterweight title. Masvidal took the match on short notice after original title challenger Gilbert Burns had to withdraw when he tested positive for COVID-19. Masvidal came out the gate fast in the first round, pushing the pace and landing hard kicks to Usman’s legs and body while also landing some right hands too, though Usman was never in danger. It was pretty clear Masvidal was attempting to finish things early. But whenever Masvidal would start to gain a rhythm, Usman would either take him down or push up against the fence and stifle any offense Masvidal was trying to unleash. Usman’s strategy remained the same in the championship rounds; work for the takedowns, and try to stay away from Masvidal’s power when not in control. A minute into the final round, Masvidal wasn’t able to stop one final Usman takedown attempt and was stuck on his back. Usman postured up and tried to land elbows in tight, then worked for a choke that wasn’t quite close enough. Masvidal got back to his feet late and landed a couple knees, then went for broke in the final 20 seconds. But the Hail Mary wasn’t there, and Usman had enough to retain his belt. Usaman controlled his opponent of 16 and half minutes out of the 25 minutes in the fight. Ultimately when you look back on this fight it wasn’t really a close fight with Masvidal taking the fight on six days notice. Yes Masvidal had her moments but Usman controlled the fight the way he wanted. Usman has now won 16 fights in-a-row and is 12-0 in the UFC. For Masvidal it breaks up a three fight winning/KO streak and will need to win two or maybe even three fights to get back to a title fight in the future.
$50K Fight of the Night: Rose Namajunas vs Jessica Andrade
$50k Performance Bonus: Davey Grant, Jiri Prochazka
Dana White Press Conference:
- “I thought the main event played out i thought it might, if Jorge didn’t catch him that’s the way it was going to go, but it’s tough to stuff Usman’s takedowns like Masvidal did”
- Masvidal told Dana post fight, “I’ll be back”
- Talking about the co-main event, “you can’t leave it to these guys, we got some bad judging”
- “We’ll have to figure out of there will be a trilogy fight for these two (Holloway vs Volkanvski)”
- “Thought Yan looked good, but Aldo looked great for people who were criticizing him” and “Horrible stoppage, the ref should’ve stopped it way sooner than he did”
- “ I like Paige, but Paige VanZant should definitely test free agency”
- Is it possible for the UFC to have an event with fans in Australia/New Zealand later this year? “It’s Possible said White”
- UFC 251 sold a reportedly 1.3M Paper View’s, close to the Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagamedov fight back in 2018 at UFC 229
UFC action will be back Wednesday July 15 on Fight Island for Fight Night featuring Dan Ige (14-2) vs. Calvin Kattar (21-4) in a featherweight bout. Prelims will start around 7:00pm EST and the Main Event at 10:00pm EST. Find the full card for the fight here.
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