In one of the most anticipated fight cards of the year, UFC 251 takes place this Saturday. The debut of Fight Island will see three title fights decided on July 11th. The Bantamweight (Jose Aldo vs Petr Yan), Featherweight (Max Halloway vs Alexander Volkanovski) and Welterweight (Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal) belts will all be on the line in Abu Dhabi. Despite all that, the UFC 251 card hosts more than just title bouts, with talented fighters from top to bottom.
So what fighters should you keep an eye on?
Rose Namajunas has rightfully earned her place on the main card of Fight Island. A former champion looking to get back to the top, “Thug” Rose is no boring fighter. Saturday night sees Namajunas face a familiar opponent in Jessica Andrade. In her last outing, Rose Namajunas failed to defend her strawweight title against the Brazilian. Despite starting promisingly, a shocking slam on her head from Andrade seen Namajunas finished in round two.
Despite losing her title last May, Namajunas has an impressive resume in the UFC. Following a loss to Carla Esparza in The Ultimate Fighter finale, the American dramatically picked up her form. She has gone 6-2 in the UFC, suffering defeats only to Karolina Kowalkiewicz in 2016 and Jessica Andrade last summer. Not to mention her six wins include prolific names such as Joanna Jedrzejczyk, whom which she defeated twice in title bouts, Angela Hill and Michelle Waterson.
Originally scheduled to fight Andrade at UFC 249, Rose pulled out due to tragically dealing with two Covid-19 related deaths. In relation to her withdrawal, manager Brian Bulter-Au spoke out for his fighter. “Her hopes are to return to the octagon as soon as possible but for now we ask for people to respect their privacy during this time.”
Fight fans around the world will be happy to see Namajunas return to the sport after a difficult year.
This rematch has all the potential to be one of the bouts of the evening. Will Rose be able to turn the tables and overcome top contender Andrade? A victory for American Namajunas looks likely to set up a Strawweight title clash with current champion Weili Zhang. An exciting possibility for women’s MMA.