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Monday MMA Round-Up: Fight Island Kicks Off

Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up. I hope everyone reading this enjoyed their Fourth Of July Weekend. It seemed like it was going to be a quiet week in the MMA world with no major events running, but, boy, were we ever wrong. News came fast and furious over the last few days, so let’s jump right in.

Thoughts On This Week’s News

  • The big news of the week was the change in the main event of this upcoming Saturday’s UFC 251 event. Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19 and was pulled from his title fight against Kamaru Usman for the UFC Welterweight Championship. In stepped the baddest MF’er in the game, Jorge Masvidal; taking the fight on short notice. It is the fight we were going to get on this show had the pandemic never started, and it’s one of the biggest fights that could be made in the sport. While Burns has been on a roll, the July UFC pay-per-view is supposed to be the big event of the year, and he doesn’t feel like a main event title challenger. Masvidal is one of the biggest stars in the sport, and this fight actually is a main event.
  • Credit to Usman for taking the fight. You know Masvidal is the guy he wanted to fight the entire time. This is his legacy fight right now.
  • Masvidal has been training this entire time, so it isn’t like he is going to go into the fight unprepared. He brought in high-level wrestlers to get ready, and there was this feeling in him the entire time that he was going to end up fighting Usman on July 11.

  • You have to feel for Burns, who was the third choice for the fight from the get-go. He benefitted from the fact he was going to take less money than other challengers, and it would pay off if he was to win. He really didn’t deserve the fight, though, as he didn’t feel like a real number one contender like Masvidal. This would have been his third fight in four months during the pandemic, meaning he has spent this entire pandemic in a gym, in Florida, a COVID hot spot, with teammates and coaches who have also tested positive. This is his body telling him to take a break. He can come back later in the year and fight the winner.
  • In the end, Masvidal got the deal he wanted, and perhaps even a better one in an effort to save the show. It is another example of fighters sticking to their guns and it working out in the end for their benefit. It’s happened so many times in the past. This is where the UFC getting into public contract disputes never pays off, because the fighter wins in the end. They really should just spend more time making sure they aren’t getting into disputes because it only hurts the fans for the time being, though the fans ultimately get what they want.
  • You do have to give the UFC credit for ultimately delivering the fight fans want the most. Maybe Dana White should take more family vacations to his property in Maine.
  • Let’s not gloss over the fact there are two other title fights coming up this week that should be loads of fun.
  • It is officially time for Fight Island, and I’m excited to see the presentation of everything. There will be lots of fun fights coming over the 14-day stretch from July 11 to July 25.
  • The way everything has been handled by the Abu Dhabi government in response to handling the COVID-19 pandemic should be a guideline of how the United States athletic commissions handle everything going forward, and really shows how bad the US response to the virus has been.
  • There have been a few other fighters scheduled to compete on the upcoming cards who have tested positive and been pulled. It’s time for the UFC to have every fighter tested on a weekly basis, or at worst, ten days prior to traveling to an event location for a fight.
  • It feels weird to not be heading to Las Vegas for International Fight Week. Here’s to hoping things are back to normal for 2021 International Fight Week.
  • Condolences to Khabib Nurmagomedov and his family on the loss of his father, Abdulmanap. While there are more important things going on in Nurmagomedov’s life, it must be said that it seems unlikely that he will be fighting in September, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t fight at all this year now.

Coming Up This Week

It is the UFC Fight Island kick-off as UFC 251 takes place on Saturday at 10PM eastern time on ESPN+ pay-per-view, with four hours of prelims airing on ESPN at 6 PM eastern time. UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman defends against Jorge Masvidal in the main event. UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski defends against Max Holloway in the co-main event in a rematch of their UFC 245 bout from December. A third title fight graces the card as the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship is up for grabs when Petr Yan battles Jose Aldo. The rest of the main card sees Jessica Andrade taking on Rose Namajunas, and Amanda Ribas taking on Paige VanZant.

On Friday night, LFA returns for LFA 84 airing on UFC Fight Pass at 9 PM eastern time. Also returning this week is KSW as KSW 53 takes place on Saturday at 12 PM eastern time.

This Week In MMA History
There are so many memories from this week in the history in MMA, so picking one is a hard task.

On July 11, 2015, arguably the best pay-per-view in UFC history took place with UFC 189. It was a massive event that saw Ireland take over as Conor McGregor was gunning for his first UFC championship. McGregor was supposed to fight Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship, but an injury took Aldo out of the fight, and McGregor instead fought Chad Mendes for the Interim UFC Featherweight Championship. It had the big-fight feels with live performances for their walk-outs. McGregor ended up stopping Mendes in the second round to win the title, and a massive celebration took place in the MGM Grand.

The show also had what was arguably the best fight in UFC history in the co-main event that saw Robbie Lawler successfully defend the UFC Welterweight Championship against Rory MacDonald. It was an absolute war that was bloody and violent, and Lawler finished MacDonald in the fifth round to retain the title. The fight has lived on as one of the best fights in the history of the sport.

The rest of the main card was absolutely fantastic, as Jeremy Stephens beat Dennis Bermudez in what is an often overlooked great fight. Also, Gunnar Nelson finished Brandon Thatch, and Thomas Almeida had a violent flying knee knockout of Brad Pickett.

You can watch the UFC 189 main card on UFC Fight Pass here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/52665?playlistId=1850.

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