Helwani: Volkanovski vs. Holloway 2. Historically, when an ex-champion gets an immediate rematch after losing his or her belt, it doesn’t bode well for the former titlist. UFC 251 Live Will the same thing happen to Holloway? Also, a second straight loss to Volkanovski would put Holloway in purgatory at 145, not that long after it seemed like he would be reigning supreme at featherweight for years. How does Holloway respond to that loss? Will he make adjustments, especially when it comes to checking those leg kicks? How will Volkanovski respond after hand surgery? And will he feel the pressure that comes with being the hunted and not the hunter for the first time? All those questions and more will be answered. Intriguing fight.
Murphy: The main event between Usman and Burns is my favorite of the three, almost by process of elimination.
Aldo is no better than the fourth-most deserving bantamweight for a shot at the vacated belt. Part of me feels like we’re watching a Grand Prix semifinal, with Aljamain Sterling waiting for the winner in the championship. In the co-main event, nothing from Volkanovski piecing up Holloway for 25 minutes six months ago suggests 25 more minutes will finish any differently.
In Usman vs. Burns, though, you have former Blackzilians training partners with world-class grappling in different disciplines who share two of the longer active UFC winning streaks. The matchup is replete with a backstory that’s a refreshing change from “these two don’t like each other.” It’s top-tier MMA with scores of options in how the fight will unfold, many of which would keep fans on a knife’s edge.