UFC 251 is a blockbuster card featuring no less than three title fights, but beyond those bouts there are several other tempting bets for the debut of ‘Fight Island’. Read on for more UFC 251 predictions & tips…
UFC 251 Undercard Predictions & Tips: Jessica Andrade v Rose Namajunas
Jessica Andrade v Rose Namajunas is happening for the second time and for the latter this is a shot at redemption. Namajunas lost the women’s strawweight title to Andrade just over a year ago, but she dominated that contest until a moment of bad fortune ripped the belt out of her hands. ‘Thug Rose’ appeared to be in complete control of the contest after round one, but things went horribly wrong for her in the second round when she once again took control of Andrade’s arm only to be on the receiving end of a slam that knocked her unconscious. Namajunas has a shot at revenge here, although she will not be able to regain the strawweight title because Andrade lost it to Zhang Weili, inside a minute, a year ago. So can ‘Thug Rose’ avenge that loss? I believe she can. This is the woman who ended Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s dominance of the division in three minutes and then proved it was no fluke by besting her over five rounds in the rematch. Andrade is clearly no mug and boasts a 20-7 record that includes wins over some notable opposition, but Namajunas was controlling that first meeting between these two women until she was dropped on her head and as long as she has learned the lesson from that (ie protect herself when being slammed) she should be able to outpoint Andrade or perhaps force her to tap out to a submission. Andrade has a couple of submission losses on her CV and Namajunas has the ground skills to make her tap out for a third time in her career.
UFC 251 Undercard Predictions & Tips: Amanda Ribas v Paige VanZant
This fight was originally scheduled for January, only to be scrapped when Paige VanZant was forced to undergo a second operation on her injured arm, but ‘Fight Island’ will finally play host to VanZant v Amanda Ribas on July 11. The question is will VanZant make up for lost time and head into free agency on the back of a big victory? ’12 Gauge’, who is on the final fight of her UFC contract, remains a very marketable fighter for the promotion despite the fact that she has been hampered by injuries and gone 2-3 in recent years, but if she wants to maximise her value she desperately needs to stop the rise of Ribas, who has won three straight fights in the Octagon to propel herself into the strawweight rankings. VanZant goes into the fight having ended a two-bout losing sequence with a submission win over Rachel Ostovich in January, but I do not see her building on that victory with another one here. Ribas is the better fighter in every aspect and should be too much for VanZant. This is likely to be a one-sided blow-out and the only question is whether or not the fight goes the full three rounds? A convincing points win for Ribas does appear to be the most likely outcome, but VanZant has been submitted twice in her career (in two of her last three losses) so if Ribas is to end this inside three rounds she will probably do it by forcing VanZant to tap out.