After a super successful UFC 251 card, the UFC makes a quick turn-around for it’s second card on Fight Island this week.
The card is headlined by featherweights Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige but has some sleeper fights on the undercard for the hardcore fans to sink their teeth into.
After picking 12 out of 13 winners at UFC 251, I take a look at this card to see if I can maintain that success rate.
Jack Shore (12-0) vs Aaron Phillips (12-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Welshman Jack Shore returns to the UFC after his winning debut over Nohelin Hernandez in September last year. Phillips is making his UFC debut after amassing a five-fight win streak in the WFC, including four finishes. Shore has 7 submission wins on his record but also has power in his hands with four KO’s and will be looking to take this fight to the ground. Phillips loves a head kick and that could open the door for ‘The Tank’ to secure the takedown to work for his submissions. At just 25 years old Shore is one to watch, but Phillips is no pushover himself. I think Shore will get the fight down and threaten with submissions, before ultimately getting a decision win.
PICK – Jack Shore via Unanimous Decision
Liana Jojua (7-3) vs Diana Belbita (13-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Two women looking for their first wins in the UFC square off on Fight Island following defeats on their debut. Jojua was stopped by punches by Sarah Moras back in September, while Belbita was beaten on the judges scorecards by Molly McCann the following month. While Jojua had won four of her last 5 wins via submission, Belbita is no slouch on the ground. She herself has 4 submission wins on her record including 2 of her last 4 wins. The difference in this fight is the stirking. Belbita is a more well rounded fighter and has a nasty right hook. I expect her to be able to avoid any takedown attempts to outstrike ‘She Wolf’ for the decision win.
PICK – Diana Belbita via Unanimous Decision
Jared Gordon (15-4) vs Chris Fishgold (18-3-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Jared Gordon will have to overcome an abundance of obstacles if he’s to be successful in this fight. ‘The Flash’ had both his cornermen test positive for Covid-19, meaning they couldn’t make the trip to Fight Island. His team-mate Paul Felder will step up from the commentary table to corner Gordon in this fight. Fishgold has lost two of his last three fights and is making his first appearance in over a year. The UK fighter is a submission specialist with 13 of his 18 wins coming via tap out. Gordon has lost 3 of his last 4 fights, being KO’d each time. The fact he’s against a grappler might be a welcome rest for his chin and his stand up game will be an advantage to him. That said, Fishgold has the physical advantage in this fight and if he can get the fight down to the ground then he may be able to keep him there for a submission.
PICK – Chris Fishgold via Unanimous Decision
Modestas Bukauskas (10-2) vs Andreas Michailidis (12-3) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
The reigning Cage Warriors Light Heavyweight champion makes his UFC debut against Greek debutant in an interesting clash. Bukauskas has dominated in his three Cage Warriors fights, winning them all including stopping former champ Marthin Hamlet late in the fourth round of their title fight. 7 of his 10 wins have come by way of knockout. Michailidis has won his last three fights in the first round by knockout, having also won 7 of his fights by KO. This should be a fun stand-up fight. Bukauskas is a good kickboxer and will have a reach advantage over his opponent. Michailidis has fought a few bums on his way to the UFC and this will be a big step up in competition for him. I think Bukauskas makes a victorious debut in the UFC.
PICK – Modestas Bukauskas vs Knockout, Round 1
Ricardo Ramos (14-2) vs Lerone Murphy (8-0-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A sleeper for fight of the night here. Ricardo Ramos bounced back from his highlight reel knockout loss to Said Nurmagomedov with back-to-back wins over Journey Newson and Luiz Garaggori, while Lerone Murphy’s UFC debut saw a split draw at UFC 242. Ramos is a silky BJJ fighter who has good wrestling, while Murphy is a solid wrestler but a very good striker. He has a great double jab which gets used a lot but he’s also great off his back and in the scramble. Against Zubaira Tukhagov he showed his ability to get back to his feet against a better pure wrestler than Ramos, so he will take confidence in that. Both fighters also have no issue with attacking submissions. Ramos has an array of spinning attacks in his arsenal but I think this fight will end up being a battle on the ground with plenty of scrambles. In what should be an entertaining, energetic fight, I’m going with a decision win for Ramos.
PICK – Ricardo Ramos via Unanimous Decision
John Phillips (22-9) vs Khamzat Chimaev (6-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
UFC veteran John Phillips is yet another UK fighter on the card and he takes on Swede Khamzat Chimaev who takes this fight on short notice. Phillips is a powerful middleweight who swings for the fences with every punch, while Chimaev is moving up from welterweight to take this bout. Chimaev is a very good striker but uses that technique to close the distance and get the fight to the ground. If that happens in this, you’ll see Phillips at his absolute worst as he is like a fish out of water on his back. The longer the fight goes, you’ll see Phillips’ power deplete and he’ll become even easier to take down so I expect the short-notice debutant Chimaev to win this one.
PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Submission, Round 2
Stay tuned for the main card picks coming soon.