Fight Island finally debuted with three title fights decided at UFC 251 and only one new champion.
Kamaru Usman (17-1, 7 KOs) retained his welterweight title in the main event against Jorge Masvidal, while Alexander Volkanovski defended the featherweight title against Max Holloway.
Petr Yan defeated Jose Aldo to claim the undisputed bantamweight championship.
Masvidal was fighting on short notice, filling in for Gilbert Burns after he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 3. The Miami native had to cut 20 pounds in six days to make weight but showed up ready to go Saturday.
Usman's game plan at UFC 251 might not have won him many new fans, but it was brutally effective. The Nigerian Nightmare continually pushed Masvidal up against the fence, working in the clinch to land a number of body blows and shoulder strikes while routinely stomping on the feet of his opponent.
If Masvidal was going to pull off the stunning upset, it appeared he wanted it to happen early on. In Round 1, Masvidal came out throwing everything in his arsenal, using a number of leg kicks to try to create space between him and the champ. He may have gotten a bit too predictable.
On Masvidal's third attempt at a low kick, Usman grabbed his leg and forced him to the ground for the first of many battles in the clinch. Despite Masvidal landing twice as many strikes as Usman in Round 1, it didn't bode too well for his overall strategy.
Usman continued to drive Masvidal back into the corner each of the following four rounds and scored easy points by pinning his opponent back and taking his time finding open shots.
Overall, Usman had control in the clinch for 16:38, landing 263 total strikes to Masvidal's 88.
By the end of Round 5, the Floridian had little left to counter with and even less energy to throw it.
This wasn't the thrilling main even many were expecting, but given the short notice for Masvidal and all that went into making Fight Island happen, it's nothing short of a major success for Usman, who has now won 15 straight matches, including 12 UFC bouts.
For Masvidal (35-14, 16 KOs) it snaps a three-fight win streak with each victory coming by knockout.
As the two embraced in the Octagon at the conclusion of the bout, Masvidal told the champ he'd win a few more fights and be back for him, hopefully with more than a month's notice.
Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, played host to the massive card with no shortage of big names.
Here's how the rest of the evening played out.
Kamaru Usman def. Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
Alexander Volkanovski def. Max Holloway via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47)
Petr Yan def. Jose Aldo via TKO (punches) at 3:24 of Round 5
Rose Namajunas def. Jessica Andrade via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Amanda Ribas def. Paige VanZant via submission (armbar) at 2:21 of Round 1
Jiri Prochazka def. Volkan Oezdemir via knockout at 0:49 of Round 2
Muslim Salikhov def. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Makwan Amirkhani def. Danny Henry via technical submission at 3:15 of Round 1
Leonardo Santos def. Roman Bogatov via unanimous decision (29-26, 29-26, 29-26)
Marcin Tybura def. Maxim Grishin via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Raulian Paiva def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Karol Rosa def. Vanessa Melo via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
Davey Grant def. Martin Day via knockout at 2:38 of Round 3
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
Arguably the closest fight of the night will have plenty wondering just who deserves the featherweight belt.
For now, thanks to a late flurry of strikes in the championship rounds, it still belongs to Alexander Volkanovski.
The rematch between the two produced the same result as the first bout.
Holloway (21-5, 10 KOs) came out early with a combo of right hooks and leg strikes, using his four-inch height advantage to keep Volkanovski (22-1, 11 KOs) on his heels and unable to go for the challenger's legs. With 10 seconds left in Round 1, Holloway found his opening and knocked down Volkanovski with a kick to the head.
The Hawaiian was able to pull off a similar move at the end of Round 2, using a strong uppercut to put Volkanovski on the mat just before the bell.
Round 3 may have been the determining factor with each fighter trading blows but neither able to fully establish himself. After Holloway took the first two rounds, this proved pivotal, as Volkanovski would grab the judges' attention in Rounds 4 and 5 with multiple takedowns.
Though Holloway was able to respond quickly and get back to his feet, three takedowns from Volkanovski had Holloway visibly exhausted and unable to keep pace with the champ.
Volkanovski landed 139 strikes to Holloway's 111 and had control over his opponent for 1:26. That was all the advantage he needed to retain the belt in his first title defense after grabbing the championship from Holloway at UFC 245 last December.
Whether the two will meet for a third fight remains to be seen, but the second bout proved a trilogy is more than justified.
Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo
Petr Yan (15-1, 7 KOs) is UFC's newest undisputed bantamweight champion.
The Russian boxer defeated Jose Aldo (28-7, 17 KOs) by technical knockout after getting on top of the 33-year-old immediately at the start of Round 5. It was Yan's third attempt at a ground-and-pound, and there was little Aldo could do to stop it.
As Yan continued throwing headshots and elbows, Aldo lay curled on the mat bleeding profusely until the referee was forced to call the match. Aldo could no longer defend himself. The 27-year-old Yan began sprinting around the Octagon in celebration as his opponent continued to try to regain himself.
The match started off fairly even with both fighters appearing to split the first two rounds. Yan mixed up his style, switching from an orthodox stance to a southpaw stance in Round 3, and struggled to regain his rhythm until the final minute when he landed an elbow and leg kick to create some separation on the scorecard.
Once the championship rounds began, Aldo appeared to grow tired, constantly retreating and looking for openings rather than attacking as he had early on. Yan pounced on his opponent's exhaustion, landing a quick combo to open up Round 4 and continuing to push the pace.
The round ended with Yan on top of Aldo for the second time, looking to put the finishing touches on a knockout before time expired, but Aldo was able to make it to the bell. After getting stung during Yan's first ground attack in Round 1, the sum of Aldo's injuries finally caught up to him at the start of Round 5.
Yan regained his position on top of Aldo and landed blow after blow until the ref was forced to make the call.
Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas
Jessica Andrade's strategy in a strawweight rematch with Rose Namajunas (9-4, 1 KO) was clear from the start: move her head and upper body as much as possible and make sure Namajunas doesn't use her height and reach advantage against her.
For three rounds, that strategy served Andrade (20-8, 7 KOs) well, but it wasn't enough to make it two straight victories against Namajunas. A split decision went to Namajunas thanks to a sizable difference in strikes landed. Thug Rose began landing blows to Andrade's head midway through Round 1 after struggling to get her timing down at the start of the fight. Namajunas reverted to a number of leg kicks until she caught on to Andrade's movements. From there, the Wisconsin native started racking up significant strikes.
By the middle of Round 2, Namajunas had landed 13 more significant strikes than her opponent, and that gap only grew. By the end of the frame, Namajunas recorded 58 head strikes to just 17 from Andrade.
Even still, Round 3 proved closer than Namajunas likely was comfortable with. After missing multiple flying knees, Namajunas was taken to the ground with Andrade landing a number of blows to the head, cutting Namajunas and leading to swelling in her left eye.
If there was a moment where Namajunas was in danger of getting knocked out, this was it. Unfortunately for Andrade, Namajunas used a quick leg kick to create separate and pop back up on her feet. Thug Rose countered with her own takedown with 30 seconds left, sealing the victory.
This matchup served as one of the best fights of the evening and will surely have fans calling for one more rematch.
Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant
Amanda Ribas' stock continues to rise after she made quick work of Paige VanZant to start off the main card Saturday.
It took only one minute for the Brazilian to get VanZant on the ground. Ribas worked on maneuvering into a chokehold while landing a number of blows to VanZant's head, opening up a wound less than 90 seconds into the bout. VanZant was able to reverse her position and get back on top of Ribas, but that didn't solve the American's problems.
Instead of finding a way to use her leverage to take control of the fight, VanZant got twisted up with Ribas, who quickly pulled off an armbar that forced VanZant to tap out.
The submission officially came 2:21 into Round 1.
Ribas moves to 4-0 in UFC and 10-1 overall in her pro career. VanZant (8-5, 2 KOs) has now dropped four of her last six matches.