Saturday, August 15, 2020

UFC 251 Predictions: Usman vs. Masvidal

UFC 251 is upon us.

The event will be held on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi tomorrow night (July 11). No fans will be in attendance. Headlining the card will be a welterweight title clash between champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. The co-main event will see a featherweight title rematch as champion Alex Volkanovski shares the Octagon with Max Holloway a second time. Also featured on the main card will be a battle for the vacant bantamweight gold between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo.

MMA News continues to keep you posted on the latest UFC 251 updates. Earlier today, we covered the weigh-ins, which you can see the results for here. Myself, Ed Carbajal, and Andrew Ravens have once again linked up to provide main card predictions for UFC 251.

Take a look at the bouts set for the main card:

  • Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Jorge Masvidal – welterweight title fight
  • Alex Volkanovski (c) vs. Max Holloway – featherweight title fight
  • Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo – bantamweight title fight
  • Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas – strawweight bout
  • Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant – flyweight bout

Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal

UFC 251 Usman Masvidal

Fernando Quiles Jr.: The highly anticipated title bout between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal is finally here. With Masvidal stepping in on short notice, I expect this one to be tougher for Usman than it had been if he was preparing for “Gamebred” all along. While Masvidal and Gilbert Burns are similar in some ways stylistically, it’s safe to say that Usman was preparing for the high-level ground game of Burns. While “Durinho’s” standup is not to be overlooked, Masvidal’s striking is world-class in MMA. Usman can hold his own on the feet but he’ll have to mix things up and potentially go to the well with his grappling. I think he gets the job done but it won’t be easy. (Prediction: Kamaru Usman)

Ed Carbajal: This fight seems to have been in the works for a while. There was a time it was rumored to be the main event for UFC 251 before the pandemic hit. So, maybe six days short notice won’t be as big a factor for Masvidal as one would think. Still, it might be. Usman has been preparing for a fight and being well prepared might be the key to victory at UFC 251. (Prediction: Kamaru Usman)

Andrew Ravens: Clearly, this is going to be a great back-and-forth fight. I see Masvidal pushing the pace in the early going as he needs an early finish here. Usman knows that and is going to be very tactical to the point where he’ll likely not win the first two rounds. However, Usman then starts to pick up the pace as round three comes to a close and picks apart Masvidal en route to a decision win. (Prediction: Kamaru Usman)

CONSENSUS: 3-0, Kamaru Usman

Alex Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway

Fernando Quiles Jr.: In his title loss to Alex Volkanovski back in Dec. 2019, Holloway fell into a trap. “Blessed” thought it was smooth sailing for him as Volkanovski wasn’t putting much damage on him. That was a mistake on Holloway’s part as it allowed Volkanovski to outwork him and snatch his gold. I don’t see much changing in the rematch. I think head coach Eugene Bareman’s game planning and Volkanovski’s ability to execute will get the best of “Blessed” once again. (Prediction: Alex Volkanovski)

Ed Carbajal: Both men fought well the last time they went at it and both seem to have wanted this rematch, albeit for different reasons. However, two men that fought as well as they did in the first outing should make for a great rematch. That being said, Volkanovski seems to know how to beat Holloway at his own violent game so the only difference would be doing it more decisively. (Prediction: Alex Volkanovski)

Andrew Ravens: With Volkanovski winning their first encounter the majority of fans will likely side with him once again in the rematch. Holloway not having a proper training camp should be concerning. There’s only so much that he can improve on while doing Zoom calls with his coaches while shadowboxing. If this were a traditional camp for Holloway, he would have a better chance, but Volkanovski is just purely a better fighter who has found his prime. Volkanovski retains by decision. (Prediction: Alexander Volkanovski)

CONSENSUS: 3-0, Alex Volkanovski

Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo

Fernando Quiles Jr.: Say what you want about Jose Aldo receiving this title fight but I think this is going to be a banger. Both Aldo and Petr Yan are sharp on the feet and are rarely on the wrong end of grappling exchanges. We very well could see a “Fight of the Night” performance with both men throwing caution to the wind. I think this is Yan’s time to shine. (Prediction: Petr Yan)

Ed Carbajal: Aldo’s legendary time in the UFC makes it hard to pick against him. That and his good looking outing at 135 despite a loss may have fans rooting for him. Still, he lost that fight and Yan has looked great at a weight class that is not new to him. Hard to pick against Yan here. (Prediction: Petr Yan)

Andrew Ravens: Can we all admit that the only reason Aldo got this fight is due to him being a name and having past accomplishments? The man has dropped his last two fights and has only won two fights in his last six bouts. Yan is the top guy going forward in this division. That doesn’t mean he won’t be challenged by Aldo, but I can’t see Aldo bringing any danger with him inside of the Octagon against this young buck. Yan by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Petr Yan)

CONSENSUS: 3-0, Petr Yan

Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas

Fernando Quiles Jr.: I picked Jessica Andrade to defeat Rose Namajunas ahead of their first encounter back in May 2019. That prediction was correct. Namajunas was looking as crisp on the feet as she ever has before Andrade adjusted and knocked her out via slam in the second stanza. This go-around, things are a bit different. I can’t ignore the question mark surrounding Namajunas and how much her heart is truly in the sport of MMA. Still, I don’t think she accepts this fight against someone who knocked her out if she wasn’t mentally prepared. Coming off a quick TKO loss over Weili Zhang, I believe Andrade will either try to do too much or even be hesitant. I see Namajunas having her way on the feet for three rounds in this one. (Prediction: Rose Namajunas)

Ed Carbajal: This is another rematch on the main card that, on paper, will likely go the way the first one went before Namajunas lost. In the first outing, Namajunas was winning everywhere, except in the grappling exchanges. While the slam by Andrade cost her the fight, she still fought a smarter fight except for making the one mistake of engaging Andrade where she was physically stronger. She likely won’t make the same mistake twice. (Prediction: Rose Namajunas)

Andrew Ravens: This fight appears to be a very interesting one for Namajunas as not only does this mark a rematch in which she lost the first go around, but also sets the tone for her future as we will find out where she is in her mind. As for Andrade, she’s looking to make a statement again. If you watched their first fight, Rose was winning before being taken out. If Rose is in the right mindset then she would win this fight outright. I just have doubts about Rose and thus going with Andrade by third-round TKO. (Prediction: Jessica Andrade)

CONSENSUS: 2-1, Rose Namajunas

Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant

Fernando Quiles Jr.: The UFC is doing Paige VanZant little favors with this matchmaking. This will be the last fight on VanZant’s UFC contract and she has expressed gripes with fighter pay. Ribas’ grappling will be the difference in this fight I believe. VanZant will probably have some added fire fighting on the last bout of her current deal but it won’t be enough. (Prediction: Amanda Ribas)

Ed Carbajal: VanZant does not get enough credit for how tough she is. Even in her losses, she never makes it easy for her opponent and while she has been out due to her arm injury, she has evolved as a fighter. Still, coming off a layoff against Ribas might make for a bad night for VanZant. The layoff, against a strong grappler in Ribas makes it hard to think VanZant can pull off a win. (Prediction: Amanda Ribas)

Andrew Ravens: This could be the final fight for VanZant in the UFC and potentially in her MMA career. She won’t have it easy with a beast like Ribas, who has won four straight with three of those in the UFC. VanZant has struggled as of late and I think a combo of skill and mindset will turn out to be the downfall of VanZant against Ribas, who I have winning by second-round submission. (Prediction: Amanda Ribas)

CONSENSUS: 3-0, Amanda Ribas

That’ll do it for the UFC 251 predictions. Do you agree with the MMA News staffers? Who do you think will emerge victorious on the main card? Give us your predictions in the comments below and be sure to stick with us for live coverage of UFC 251.

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