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Yan Opens as -240 Favorite Over Aldo at UFC 251 on Fight Island

David Golokhov

by David Golokhov in Mixed Martial Arts

Jun 9, 2020 · 5:29 PM PDT

Former UFC bantamweight champion Jose Aldo
Jose Aldo has opened as a dog to Petr Yan at UFC 251. Which way will the line move? Photo by Andrius Petrucenia (Flickr).
  • Jose Aldo and Petr Yan will fight for the vacatant UFC bantamweight championship at UFC 251
  • UFC 251 will take place on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi on July 11th, 2020
  • Aldo is ranked No. 13 in the division and has lost four of his last six bouts, so this will be an uphill battle for him

With Henry Cejudo “retiring” (few people actually believe he’ll stay retired), his bantamweight title belt is up for grabs. As part of UFC’s launch of Fight Island, Jose Aldo will take on Petr Yan for that belt, which means on July 11th, a new king will be crowned at 135 pounds.

The odds opened heavily in favor of Yan. Which way the line will move?

Jose Aldo vs Peter Yan Odds

Fighter Odds
Jose Aldo +205
Petr Yan -240

Odds as of June 9.

Welcome to Fight Island

Nobody has worked harder to get their sport back in action than UFC president Dana White. From trying to work out deals on native land with tribes to getting MMA cards going again in Florida, White has done a tireless job to make sure that the sport not only continues, but continues in a safe way.

As part of his creative brainstorming, the UFC had the idea to host fights on an island. One of the biggest issues right now is traveling internationally, so a lot of fighters who are trapped overseas can’t join in the fun on US soil.

With the launch of Fight Island, which will take place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, the UFC now has a transnational venue where they can start to bring the international fighters in for matchups.

Yan Is a Sizable Favorite

One of the main reasons Yan is a favorite here is because he’s yet to lose in the UFC. He’s 14-1 in his MMA career and was supposed to headline the UFC’s first-ever event in Kazakhstan with Marlon Moraes right before the COVID-19 pandemic spread. He’s won nine in a row, including wins over Urijah Faber, Jimmie Rivera, and John Dodson since the start of 2019.

Yan is currently ranked No. 3 in the official bantamweight rankings and his profile was really elevated by his head-kick win over Faber. He’s cool and composed in the octagon and has now won three of his six matches by knockout. He’s on the rise and is deserving of a title shot.

His opponent? That’s another question altogether.

Why Is Aldo Getting a Title Shot?

The short answer here is that Aldo was supposed to be getting a shot at Cejudo, who was the champ. That bout was scheduled for May 9th, but when travel restrictions were put in place all around the world, Aldo was stuck in Brazil, which gave Dominick Cruz a chance to step in. Regardless, Aldo probably shouldn’t have been looking at a title shot anyway.

With all due respect to Aldo (he’s clearly a legend of the sport), he’s just not the fighter he used to be. Even by the UFC’s own rankings, he’s No. 13 in the division. Back in 2015, we were talking about a guy who hadn’t lost a fight in over 10 years. However, he suffered a knockout loss to Conor McGregor at the end of 2015 which sent his career on a downward trajectory.

Aldo started his career 25-1; he’s just 3-5 since. He’s lost four of six entering UFC 251 and now he has to fight a guy who is on the rise. Can he pull this off? Yes, it’s possible he’s still got it. His recent losses are all to mostly elite competition. However, the 33-year-old appears to be in the twilight of his career while the 27-year-old Yan is entering his prime. This would be a surprising upset.

Which Way Will The Line Move?

Yan has opened as a sizable favorite but this line should only climb. I expect him to close at about -300 – if not shorter. We’ve already seen some people chiming in as UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov posted on Instagram that he’s picked Yan to win at UFC 251.

You’re going to have some Aldo fans hopeful of an upset but that’s really it here. It’s just a matter of how high this line goes before it’s enticing enough to take a shot on Aldo.

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