UFC 251 Fight Island Debut – Sand, Sea & UFC Superstars

Posted on July 10, 2020

UFC 251 Fight-Island debut Saturday from Dubai is about to go down, and it’s a big one. A card stacked with big names and big action, including three UFC world title fights.

Get your $500 risk-free first bet from FanDuel right here.

Nobody believed Dana White when he talked about UFC having their own fight island, but the boss man got it done.

A Setback For One – An To Opportunity For Another

When Gilbert Burns tested positive for coronavirus, he could not oppose Kamaru Usman in the main event. That would normally scrap an individual fight, if not an entire card.

But presto! Out comes third-ranked Jorge Masvidal, who wanted to fight Usman anyway, and we’ve got the main event.

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Updated UFC 251 Card

Main Card (10 p.m.) – Matchups with DraftKings odds

  • Kamaru Usman -265 vs Jorge Masvidal +210, welterweight title
  • Alexander Volkanovski -230 vs Max Holloway + 285, featherweight title bout
  • Petr Yan -239 vs Jose Aldo + 200 bantamweight title bout
  • Rose Namajunas -200 vs Jessica Andrade +162
  • Amanda Ribas -825 vs Paige Van Zant +525

Top Preliminary Card Bouts (8 p.m.) – Matchups with FanDuel Odds 

  • Volkan Oezdemir -160 vs Jiri Prochazka +130
  • Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos -110 vs Muslim Salikhov -110
  • Makwan Amirkhani – 182 vs Dan Henry +148
  • Leonardo Santos – 205 vs Roman Bogatov +166

UFC 251 early prelims at 6 p.m.

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UFC 251 Midweek Moves

Salikhov and dos Santos were both -110 to open. Salikhov went to -126 on Wednesday, while dos Santos moved to +108, indicating a decent amount of Salikhov money checked in.

Namajunas bettors react to the line like it was fish bait at FanDuel. 

  • She opened at -200.
  • The number drifted down to -178 and generated attention.
  • It shot back up to -196 Wednesday. Namajunas bettors want in, but not at 2-1.

UFC has performed well at the books since its May 9 return. The bevy of cards displays organizational depth. Fight Island’s debut has been special. Props went up a week before the contest and the event is well-positioned.

johnny avello draftkings
Johnny Avello – DraftKings Sportsbook Director

“We expect the fight card to do well,” DraftKings sportsbook director Johnny Avello told njbetting.com. “Although you had a cancellation, this fight (Usman-Masvidal) was expected at some point down the line anyway, so it’s happening now and people want to see it.

“The UFC is in a particularly good spot this weekend. The golf (Workday Charity Open, in the afternoon) should be over by then and I don’t think there will be much going up against it.”

Fight Overview – UFC 251 Fight Island

Fight Island’s debut fashions three world title fights, a couple of rematches, and some performers from the organization’s top 10 pound-for-pound rankings.

  • Usman is number 6 on the UFC’s top 10 pound-for-pound list.

Usman has been a distance fighter throughout his UFC career. Eight of his 10 matches have gone all the way.

He’s undefeated in the UFC and won his welterweight championship with a decision over Tyron Woodley in March of 2019. Last December, he notched a fifth-round TKO over Colby Covington in his first defense.

Masvidal, a popular all-action fighter, comes off a November TKO victory over Nate Diaz. He’s been making noise about facing Usman and now gets his wish.

The DraftKings board indicates this won’t go the distance, putting a stoppage at -148. Picking either fighter to win by KO/TKO will pay well. Masvidal is + 265 to win by KO or TKO, while Usman is +175.

Variable: One of Masvidal’s head coaches, Mike Brown, tested positive for the virus. At mid-week, it was revealed Brown would not accompany Masvidal, who said he was “devastated”.

Fighters react differently to such news. Some are impervious. Some are no longer grounded when they face adversity in a fight. Saying he was “devastated” not to have Brown indicates Masvidal could wage a less-strategic, more emotional bout. That could explain the board revealing a fight not expected to go the distance.

Volkanovski and Holloway did a flip-flop.

Before their first fight, Holloway was the featherweight champ and Volkanovski was the top contender. But Volkanovski won the fight, becoming champ, and Holloway is the number one contender.

It will be up to Holloway to force a stylistic change.

Volkanovski changed the course of the first Holloway fight with 75 leg strikes, forcing Holloway to go southpaw as he favored one side. In the end, it was simply Volkanovski’s night. He is 8-0 on the UFC circuit since entering in 2016 and may simply have the stylistic goods on Holloway. The board says so. We’ll find out.

A Volkanovski decision is -106, while Holloway is + 275 at DraftKings. That’s a midweek swing of money, albeit sight, on Holloway.  If you like Holloway to turn the tables, that’s a nice price. On the other hand, Volkanovski looked too quick and strong in their first encounter.

Yan is -239 against Aldo in a bantamweight title bout. Yan is 6-0 in UFC and comes off a head kick KO in round 3 against Urijah Faber in December.

On the same card, Aldo lost a split decision in his bantamweight debut against Marlon Moraes.  He has lost two fights to Holloway and one to Volkanovski in recent times.

Namajunas-Andrade is intriguing.

Andrade must believe oddsmakers gave Namajunas a mulligan. Based on the -200 odds, you’d never know Namajunas lost to Andrade last year. Namajunas controlled the first round, cut Andrade up, and looked like she would slice out a victory.

In the second round, she was lifted and slammed to the canvas. And the strawweight title was lifted.

What’s overlooked? Andrade had already found a way to get inside Namajunas’ jab and was doing good work before she won by stoppage. If you look only at the stoppage, you can think Namajunas lost because of a sudden lapse. If you look at action just before that, you’d be betting Andrade, at +162.

And this is one reason of many that you love these fights. One betting group hangs their hat on a particular development. The other sees something different.

Andrade is the number one strawweight contender. Namajunas is number two.


Fight Island is well thought-out for the pandemic age. There is plenty of room to train, eat, and social distance on UFC President Dana White’s grounds of operation.

UFC plans fights on July 15, 18, 25 and Aug. 1.

Dave Bontempo Avatar
Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a national multi-award-winning writer, and broadcaster, writes extensively on the evolving legalized sports-wagering world. Over the past four decades, he has called fights for all major networks, authored columns for the Associated Press, Atlantic City Press, and iGaming Player. He is in the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame and a Sam Taub Award for broadcast excellence, given by the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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