UFC 251: Winners, Losers And What Comes Next
The UFC held the first of several Fight Island events with UFC 251 Saturday night, but not everybody came out of it as a winner.
For everything that went into UFC 251 and putting the mega-event on, the biggest winner turned out to be, well, good question.
In general, the biggest loser is pretty easy to pinpoint: the UFC.
Sure, they were able to pull things off and host three title fights. However, that also means three champions are now on the sidelines for the next several months at a time when some belts are being held on freeze.
Let us take a look at the winners, losers and what comes next following the events of UFC 251, the first card on Fight Island.
The reigning UFC welterweight champion took Jorge Masvidal’s best shots in the first round and came out stronger. He dominated Masvidal over five rounds and 25 minutes, claiming a decision and another title defense.
Some might say that Masvidal was not at his best, accepting the contest on short notice. But this is “Gamebred,” a fighter who tends to stay ready no matter the day, month or year.
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Usman is now the best welterweight fighter in the world. And it is going to take a super-human effort to knock him off.
The youngster earned his first UFC championship, doing so in devastating fashion with a fifth round finish of Jose Aldo.
Yan is now the reigning UFC bantamweight titleholder, and while Henry Cejudo vacated the belt, it could be a prime time to work on bringing him back into the fold.
With a decision victory over fellow former champion Jessica Andrade, Rose Namajunas has positioned herself as the next contender in the strawweight division.
The outcome was razor-close, as one judge ruled in favor of Andrade. Maybe the UFC tries to set up a third meeting seeing as how Andrade won the first via knockout.
The light heavyweight division was put on notice with the arrival of Jiri Prochazka.
Prochazka, a former champion in Rizin, taunted Volkan Oezdemir from the opening bell before knocking him out less than a minute into the second round.
As Jon Jones sits on the sidelines, the UFC could run wth Prochazka.
While having a strong champion is nice, the prospects of bringing Conor McGregor back to face Kamaru Usman do not appear bright.
Had Jorge Masvidal pulled off the upset and claimed the title, you can bet the promotion would have moved very quickly to book him vs. McGregor.
For now, we will have to wait and see what “Notorious” wants to do next. But not having him on the schedule is a major loss for the UFC.
You cannot help but feel bad for Max Holloway.
Some felt as if he never lost the UFC featherweight title when the judges ruled in favor of Alexander Volkanovski in the first meeting. And after the rematch went in favor of the champion, “Blessed” is forced to sit and see.
Will there be a trilogy? Had Holloway won, it would have been pretty easy to do. Now, it might be a little more difficult.
It appeared almost a foregone conclusion that Paige VanZant was leaving the UFC win, lose or draw after UFC 251.
But going out after a one-sided submission loss does not help the free agent market value of VanZant.
She had no answer for Amanda Ribas, and now will need to use her tremendous appeal outside the Octagon to try and land a big contract.
What Is Next
The UFC remains on Fight Island for the next several cards including this Wednesday with UFC on ESPN: Kattar vs. Ige.
Featherweight contenders Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige meet in the main event. Tim Elliott and Ryan Benoit square off in the co-main along with Jimmie Rivera vs. Cody Stamman, Molly McCann vs. Talia Santos and Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Mounir Lazzez.
The entire card airs live on ESPN and ESPN+.