UFC President Dana White revealed ‘Fight Island’s location during an appearance on ESPN’s ‘First Take’ earlier today. Yas Island in Abu Dhabi will host four shows on July 11, July 15, July 18 and July 25.
The first will be the UFC 251 card that’ll feature three title fights, including welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (16-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) vs. Gilbert Burns in the main event.
BetOnline opened Usman as a -175 favorite earlier today. The number quickly shot up to -260, but it was down to -225 by mid-afternoon. Burns, who is off a dominant unanimous-decision win over Tyron Woodley on May 30, is a +190 underdog.
As of Wednesday morning (6/10), BetOnline had Usman at -200, leaving Burns at +170 on the comeback. 5Dimes had Usman as a -205 favorite with Burns as a +165 ‘dog.
Usman has won 15 consecutive fights and hasn’t tasted defeat in more than seven years. Burns (19-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) is on a six-fight winning streak and is 8-1 in his past nine scraps. Burns is undefeated in four UFC welterweight bouts since moving up from the 155-pound loop.
The UFC 251 co-main event is a rematch between featherweight kingpin Alexander Volkanovski and former 145-pound champ, Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway.
In the first meeting at UFC 245 on Dec. 14, Volkanovski won the belt with a unanimous-decision victory (48-47, 50-45, 48-47). BetOnline has Volkanovski as a -190 ‘chalk’ vs. Holloway, who is +165 on the comeback. The 28-year-old Hawaiian will be an underdog for the first time since beating Jose Aldo to win the title at UFC 212 in the summer of 2017.
The third championship fight is a bantamweight contest between Petr Yan and Aldo, who lost his 135-pound debut to Marlon Moraes in a controversial split decision at UFC 245. Aldo and Yan are vying for the belt left vacant by Henry Cejudo, who was supposed to fight Aldo but instead beat Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 and then announced his retirement.
Usman, Aldo, Yan, Holloway and Volkanovski were all on that same card this past December at T-Mobile Center in Las Vegas. Yan took out Urijah Faber by third-round knockout that night, while Usman successfully defended his belt for the first time with a fifth-round KO triumph over Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington.
BetOnline has Yan installed as a -240 favorite vs. Aldo, who is a +205 underdog. FanDuel has Yan as a -230 ‘chalk’ with Aldo at +184.
The 27-year-old Yan is 14-1 overall and 6-0 in the UFC.
Three other former champions are on this July 11 card. Frankie Edgar, who once wore UFC lightweight gold and twice challenged for the featherweight championship, will make his bantamweight debut vs. Pedro Munhoz. Edgar is a +170 underdog to Munhoz (-200) at BetOnline.
Former women’s strawweight champ Rose Namajunas will take on another former 115-pound queen in Jessica Andrade. This bout was originally scheduled for UFC 249, but Namajunas pulled out after several of her family members were diagnosed with COVID-19.
Namajunas won the belt from Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a first-round KO at UFC 217. ‘Thug’ then defended her strap in a rematch with a UD win at UFC 223. However, in her second title defense on the road in Brazil, Andrade won the belt away from Namajunas with a second-round KO (slam).
BetOnline has Namajunas as a -170 favorite vs. Andrade (+145), who lost the women’s 115-pound belt to Zhang Weili at UFC Shenzhen in China last August.
In other UFC news today, White announced that heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and former two-division champ Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier will complete their trilogy in the UFC 252 headliner on Aug. 15. The venue will be somewhere in the United States, most likely Las Vegas.
BetOnline had Miocic as a -150 ‘chalk’ vs. Cormier (+130) on Tuesday. However, as of Wednesday morning, Cormier had been adjusted to the -130 favorite with Miocic at +110. 5Dimes had those same numbers, while FanDuel had it as a pick ’em (-110 either way).
Cormier won the first meeting by first-round KO at UFC 226, but Miocic won the rematch via fourth-round KO at UFC 241. Cormier has said he’s retiring after the fight whether he wins or loses.
**B.E.’s Octagon Nuggets**
–Holly Holm vs. Irene Aldana will headline the Aug. 1 card. BetOnline has Aldana as a -120 favorite, with ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ as a +100 underdog.
–Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, the light-heavyweight kingpin, has recently been bickering with White about the money he makes. He’s asked for his release, but we all know that’s not happening. Nevertheless, SportsInt. decided to post odds on a Jones vs. Ryan Bader fight. Bader has enjoyed enormous success with Bellator since signing with the promotion when his UFC deal ran out. He is 5-0 with one no-contest and is the current Bellator heavyweight and light-heavyweight champ. The offshore shop posted Jones as a -275 favorite with Bader at +200. They met at UFC 126 with Jones winning by second-round submission.
–Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor and Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal are also in contract disputes with the UFC. McGregor announced his retirement (NOT!) for the third time in his career on Twitter late Saturday night. Both fighters have contracts with the UFC and aren’t going anywhere.
–A Combate report on June 9 indicated that Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje for the UFC lightweight belt is in the works for UFC 253 on Sept. 9. BetOnline has Nurmagomedov as a -225 favorite vs. Gaethje (+190).