It might not be beachside, but the UFC's rebranding of Yas Island in Abu Dhabi as "Fight Island" certainly delivered some fresh buzz to the sport. The location will host elite matchups in a fresh environment, buoyed by previously travel-restricted talent stacking four coronavirus pandemic fight cards over three weeks.
Fighters have been scratched from recent matchups due to positive tests, but in a twist, the main event this week has generated increased excitement due to a late replacement.
With the dropout of Gilbert Burns and rapid replacement by Jorge Masvidal, defending welterweight champion Kamaru Usman defends his title against the current "BMF" belt holder. That means that at UFC 251, there are arguably four belts on the line. That's not bad sports entertainment for one weekend.
In the bantamweight and featherweight divisions, two former champs will return to the cage as underdogs. Jose Aldo and Max Holloway will not face each other (they've already done so twice), but both will get a shot at a title. It's a test of whether the betting market has too short a memory or knows when to favor fresher talent.
Prelims begin at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+, and the main card starts at 10 p.m. ET on PPV.
Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.