UFC 251 Results: Predicting Next Fights for Volkanovski, Yan and Biggest Winners

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIJuly 12, 2020

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: (R-L) Kamaru Usman of Nigeria punches Jorge Masvidal in their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns for the UFC Welterweight Championship was supposed to be the main event of UFC 251, the first event to be held at UFC's Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It didn't end up happening because of Burns testing positive for COVID-19, so Jorge Masvidal took on Usman for the title instead.

However, a fight between Usman and Burns still appears to be in UFC's cards.

After Usman successfully defended his title with a unanimous-decision victory over Masvidal on Saturday night, UFC President Dana White said a matchup against Burns will be next for Usman.

"I think that Gilbert Burns and Kamaru Usman is going to be a really, really good fight," White said in his post-fight news conference.

Usman improved to 17-1 in his professional career with his win over Masvidal, and he's yet to lose since competing on The Ultimate Fighter in 2015 and joining the UFC. He won the welterweight title by defeating Tyron Woodley at UFC 235, and he's successfully defended it against Colby Covington (UFC 245) and Masvidal.

UFC 251 set the stage for some potential championship fights in several other divisions. Here are predictions for what title bouts could be coming down the line.

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Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 3

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: Alexander Volkanovski of Australia celebrates after his split-decision victory over Max Holloway in their UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 1
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Although Alexander Volkanovski defeated Max Holloway for the second straight fight Saturday, it didn't come without some controversy, which included White calling out the "bad judging" during his news conference. Then, when White was asked if he'd consider a third fight between Volkanovski and Holloway for the featherweight title, he didn't reject the notion.

"Did anybody in here score it for Volkanovski? Did anybody have it for Volkanovski?" White said. "Nobody in the media? I don't know. We'll have to figure it out."

At UFC 245, Volkanovski defeated Holloway by unanimous decision to become a UFC champion for the first time. The rematch was more competitive, and Holloway came out strong early, taking control during the first two rounds and knocking down Volkanovski in the closing seconds of each. But Volkanovski was resilient, scored a few late takedowns and did enough to win the fight on two of the three judges' scorecards.

Other potential challengers for Volkanovski include Zabit Magomedsharipov and Chan Sung Jung, but both of those fighters appear to have other bouts coming up. Magomedsharipov is supposed to face Yair Rodriguez in August, while Jung could have a fight against Brian Ortega.

So, Volkanovski and Holloway could go at it one more time. And if it's anything like their second bout, it should be an entertaining one to watch.

     

Petr Yan vs. Marlon Moraes

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: Petr Yan of Russia celebrates after his TKO victory over Jose Aldo in their UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhab
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

There are some tough future challengers awaiting Petr Yan, who became a UFC champion for the first time by defeating veteran Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title Saturday night. That includes Marlon Moraes and Aljamain Sterling, the top two ranked contenders in the division.

According to ESPN's Marc Raimondi, Yan said he believes Sterling should be his first challenger. Sterling also made it known that he thinks he's deserving of a shot, tweeting at White, who had said, "I don't know," when asked if Sterling would be Yan's first challenger during his postfight press conference.

Moraes had been scheduled to fight Yan before the coronavirus pandemic caused some events to be postponed earlier this year, and then Yan got inserted into a title bout following Henry Cejudo's retirement. At his press conference, White was asked where Moraes, the No. 1 contender in the rankings, fits in the bantamweight picture.

"He fits. Obviously he's the No. 1 guy," White said. "So we'll get all that figured out when we get home."

At UFC 238, Moraes lost to Cejudo via third-round TKO in a bout for the vacant bantamweight title. However, he bounced back with a split-decision victory over Aldo at UFC 245. The prediction here is that Moraes is Yan's first challenger for the championship, but Sterling will be waiting in the wings and will soon get a title shot.

     

Weili Zhang vs. Rose Namajunas

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: In this handout image provided by UFC, (L-R) Rose Namajunas punches Jessica Andrade of Brazil in their strawweight fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island,
Handout/Getty Images

On Saturday, Weili Zhang's top two contenders for the strawweight title, No. 1 Jessica Andrade and No. 2 Rose Namajunas, went head-to-head in a thrilling three-round bout that earned Fight of the Night honors. In a competitive fight, Namajunas won the rematch between the two competitors.

Now, Namajunas appears to be deserving of being the next challenger for Zhang's championship. And it's a fight that should be highly anticipated, as the two have never previously faced each other.

Zhang is 21-1 in her professional career, and she hasn't lost since her first fight in 2013. She's won all five of her bouts since joining the UFC, which includes winning the strawweight title from Andrade last August and successfully defending it against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248.

Namajunas hasn't challenged for the strawweight title since losing it to Andrade at UFC 237. But after avenging that loss in impressive fashion, it's clear that she's poised to get a title shot against Zhang soon.

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