In the main event of the stacked UFC 251 card on Fight Island, Kamaru Usman was looking to defend his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal. The co-main attraction saw Alex Volkanovski and Max Holloway have their immediate rematch for the featherweight strap. And, in the third and final title fight Petr Yan took on Jose Aldo for the promotions vacant bantamweight strap.
In the end, Usman defended his belt for the second time in dominant fashion, winning all five rounds on two judges scorecards. In the co-main, Volkanovski narrowly edged out a split decision win, and Yan became the new Bantamweight champion with a fifth-round TKO win over Aldo.
Now, following UFC 251, here is what we think should be next for the fighters involved in the title fights.
Kamaru Usman did what he needed to in order to defend his belt.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” was originally supposed to fight his former teammate in Gilbert Burns. Yet, a positive COVID-19 test pulled him from the fight and “Gamebred” stepped in on six days’ notice. Although some though Masvidal might be able to get the job done, Usman used his wrestling and clinch game to earn a decision win.
Now, after defending his belt for a second time, there is a clear next guy and that is Gilbert Burns. The Brazilian had the title fight before the positive so should get his shot. The fight makes sense to headline a pay-per-view in November or December of this year.
Jorge Masvidal took a chance of becoming a massive superstar if he were to beat Usman on short notice. Yet, he came up short but still put up a good effort all around.
Now, for Gamebred, there is a ton of options for him. The grudge match with Colby Covington always makes sense, and so too, does a rematch against Nate Diaz. Ultimately, Masvidal needs a big fight and I think the UFC needs to book Covington vs. Masvidal to headline a Fight Night card so we can see the two go at it for five rounds.
Alex Volkanovski knew he would have to beat Max Holloway twice in order to start his reign at featherweight. And, he did just that at UFC 251 edging out a very close fight, where many thought Holloway should’ve won.
Now that Volkanovski is 2-0 against the Hawaiian he can start to fight the other contenders at featherweight. The Aussie has a ton of options for his next fight as he could fight the winner of Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Yair Rodriguez if that scrap happens.
Yet, the fight that needs to happen is Volkanovski vs. Korean Zombie. The two have trashed one another and a scrap between them would guarantee to be entertaining.
Max Holloway is now in a weird spot in the featherweight division.
The Hawaiian is 0-2 against the champ and he could make the move up to lightweight given the cut to 145 is a tough one. But, if he decides to stay at featherweight, Holloway still has a ton of options for him to fight.
The most logical option is the loser of Magomedsharipov-Rodriguez if the fight happens in August as targeted. It could headline a Fight Night or be a solid addition to a pay-per-view card and be a guaranteed barnburner striking match. A win for Holloway could also get him back in the title talks as after many thought he won, there is a good chance he can get a third fight against Volkanovski even though he is 0-2.
There is only one logical fight for Petr Yan’s first bantamweight title fight and that is Aljamain Sterling. Many thought Sterling should’ve been fighting for the vacant title already but will get his shot later this year.
A Yan vs. Sterling scrap will be super interesting and entertaining and can be a solid co-main on a pay-per-view later this year. The winner of that fight would truly be considered the best bantamweight in the UFC.
Jose Aldo is now on a three-fight losing streak and 0-2 at bantamweight but has looked good at 135-pounds. The Brazilian should stay at this weight class and fans should be treated to a WEC showdown between Aldo and Dominick Cruz.
It would be a massive fight where both are looking to get back into the win column. It is also a fight many fans have wanted to see for a long time.
What do you think should be next for the stars of UFC 251?