We’ve reached the end of March and another monthly schedule for the UFC has been completed. Across the last 31 days, we’ve been treated to some of the best action of 2021 so far.
At UFC 259, Jan Blachowicz handed Israel Adesanya his first MMA loss, defending his UFC light heavyweight title for the first time. Amanda Nunes disposed of Megan Anderson with ease and Aljamain Sterling became UFC bantamweight champion under strange circumstances.
At UFC Vegas 21, Dan Ige returned in dominant fashion and Ryan Spann made it nine wins in 10.
UFC Vegas 22 saw Derek Brunson establish himself as a true contender, with a convincing five-round performance over Kevin Holland. Big wins for Tai Tuivasa and Adrian Yanez preluded the main event. The highlight event happened just last weekend.
UFC 260 saw the crowning of Africa’s first UFC heavyweight champion. The brutal knockout of Stipe Miocic brought us March’s most memorable moment. A massive win for Vicente Luque and the return of the “Sugar Show” also made that pay-per-view worth every penny.
Looking to the future, April is set to be just as thrilling and exciting. As well as two Fight Nights and a stacked PPV, the upcoming month will also see the return of fans.
With that said, let’s have a go at ranking every UFC main event in April.
#3 UFC on ABC 2: Marvin Vettori vs. Kevin Holland (TBC)
It’s devastating a main event can go from arguably the month’s most exciting fight to the least anticipated headlining bout. If this had been written a day or two ago, Marvin Vettori vs. Darren Till would have been ranked first. The uncertainty that now surrounds the April 10 main event has left it sitting at the bottom.
The two European fighters were set to meet in what would have been a clash of middleweight titans. Just over a week out from the event, Till was forced to pull out after breaking his collarbone whilst training.
The state of April’s first main event isn’t certain. Thankfully one man has put himself in the mix to replace the Englishman. Offering himself for a second five-round main event in just over 20 days, Kevin Holland has stepped up.
The 28-year-old provided a mixed bag at UFC Vegas 22. On the one hand, his talking during the fight and his exchanges with Khabib cage side were entertaining. On the other hand, we want to see competitive main events and it just didn’t seem like “Big Mouth” wanted to win.
Nevertheless, being willing to fight another 25 minutes so soon has to be applauded. If he is brought in as Till's replacement, Holland has a chance to make amends for his performance a fortnight ago.
The hype a fight between Vettori and Holland would have has certainly decreased after his last fight, but it's still an intriguing matchup. It seems it's now down to the UFC to accept Holland's proposal.
#2 UFC on ESPN 22: Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum are set for a second attempt at facing each in a UFC main event. The pair were scheduled to headline UFC 234 two years ago The Australian was forced to pull out of his title defense on the day of the fight after suffering a hernia. Timing doesn’t get much worse than that.
On April 17, the pair will finally stand opposite each other inside the Octagon. Although the month's second headliner was originally between Whittaker and Brazilian Paulo Costa, the new bout is a worthy replacement.
Since losing the 185 lb title, “The Reaper” has bounced back. Wins against contenders Darren Till and Jared Cannonier in 2020 showed why the 30-year-old has been at the top of the middleweight ladder for so long. Whittaker will be looking to secure a rematch with Adesanya with a win at the Apex in April.
For Gastelum, this represents a golden opportunity against arguably the top contender in the division; an opportunity he probably wasn’t expecting given his results over the past couple of years.
After a Fight of the Year bout with Adesanya, Gastelum endured a three-fight losing skid with losses to Darren Till and Jack Hermansson. A victory over Ian Heinisch at UFC 258 brought the 29-year-old back onto the winning tracks. A win over Whittaker would bring him back into contention.
Given the build-up this matchup had before and the disappointment when it was canceled, it seems right that we finally get to see it. It might not have the same level of hype it had in 2019 but ticking it off our middleweight bucket list has been long overdue.
#1 UFC 261: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2 - UFC Welterweight Championship
“Street Jesus” gets a second opportunity to baptize the “Nigerian Nightmare.”
In a rematch 10 months after their first meeting, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will defend his title against Jorge Masvidal. “Gamebred” traveled to Fight Island last summer and endured a brutal weight cut for their first fight. The 36-year-old went the full five rounds with Usman on less than one weeks’ notice. Everyone loves a grudge match and this one has a good amount of beef behind it.
With a full training camp, Masvidal believes he can dethrone the welterweight king at the second time of asking. The blockbuster main event headlines a stacked UFC 261 PPV card, featuring three title fights.
The two stars have always shared animosity. The confrontation at the Miami Beach Convention Center laid the groundwork for their feud. Usman’s post-fight interview after defending his belt against Gilbert Burns in February made it clear this rematch was on the way.
The 15,000 fans inside the sold-out VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena will witness the promotion’s return to full crowds and what a main event they’ll be back for. Usman and Masvidal’s first fight sits sixth on the UFC’s list of highest PPV buys. With a full crowd and a stacked card, UFC 261 could be set to surpass it.