The UFC continues with the Fight Island festival this weekend as the Flyweight title will finally be won as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Joseph Benavidez once again.
The two met in the main event back in February for the vacant title, but Figuereido missed weight and then knocked Benavidez out – meaning the title remained without an owner.
Before that though, there will be 11 other fights that I will break down and see if I can predict accurately. The midweek card saw me correctly predict 6/11 winners correctly, with 4 of the 6 perfect (winner, round, method). Lets see if I can improve that tally this time around.
You can see my picks for the prelims here.
Alexandre Pantoja (22-4) vs Askar Askarov (11-0-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Fight of the night contender right here. Alexandre Pantoja is a future UFC champion and he comes up against another top prospect in the undefeated Askarov in this one. Pantoja is a tremendous striker who is super dangerous on the mat with submissions, while Askarov is your usual Russian wrestler. Both men will push a fast pace in this bout and they will exchange big punches and plenty of scrambles on the ground. Askarov will need to get the takedown and secure it to use his usual style and get the win, but Pantoja is just so dangerous. He’s a better striker on the feet and if he gets taken down he knows how to move away and create space or dangerous positions of his own. Because of that, I think Pantoja will be able to get the decision but this one could go either way.
PICK – Alexandre Pantoja via Unanimous Decision
Ariane Lipski (12-5) vs Luana Carolina (6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
I’d be lying if I said I knew much about these two ladies, but a quick look at their records, competition and some footage I envisage a kickboxing fight between them. Lipski is a former KSW champion but has struggled in the UFC, losing to Joanne Calderwood and Molly McCann while Carolina has just one fight in the UFC which she won by dismantling Priscila Cachoeira on the feet. Lipski had problems when her opponents opted to grapple with her rather than strike, but Carolina has a similar background to her which likely means this stays on the feet. If it does, Lipski has more experience and a better record so should pick up the win.
PICK – Ariane Lipski via Unanimous Decision
Marc Diakiese (14-3) vs Rafael Fiziev (7-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Another sleeper for fight of the night as two explosive strikers match up in the 155lbs division. Diakiese is a very quick puncher who can throw any type of technique out of nothing with power. He’s also an underrated grappler if this was to get to the ground. Fiziev has two previous fights in the UFC and is 1-1 currently with his win coming against Alex White. This is a fight between two very well rounded fighters, but with one of those two much more experienced under the bright lights. Diakiese probably has the edge everywhere too but it’s the experience factor that is big here. Fiziev has less than 25 mins of cage time in his career while Diakiese has had just over an hour. I think he’ll be able to implement his game plan better and grind out the decision win.
PICK – Marc Diakiese via Unanimous Decision
Jack Hermansson (20-5) vs Kelvin Gastelum (15-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
This is a fight between a very heavy handed striker and a very grapple heavy submission artist. Hermansson is ‘Joker’ by nickname but not by ability as he is incredibly well rounded in all aspects of MMA. He is however yet to pick up any considerable wins in his career. He beat Jacare Souza in his last win but the Brazilian is 40 years old and on his way out. He was mercilessly KO’d by Jared Cannonier and Thiago Santos though and Gastelum carries power in a similar way. Kelvin definitely over-performed in his UFC title shot against Israel Adesanya and underperformed in his loss to Darren Till and his true form falls somewhere between the two. His grappling isn’t horrendous and unless he gets caught by something slick against Hermansson, he should be able to secure a win either by knockout or decision.
PICK – Kelvin Gastelum via Knockout, Round 2
Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) vs Joseph Benavidez (28-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A rematch from UFC Fight Night in February when Benavidez was beaten in yet another title fight in the UFC. Figuereido showed he has tremendous power in his hands in that fight, but Benavidez arguably won the first round using his jab and kicks. Benavidez is a jiu-jitsu expert, hence the nickname ‘Joe-Jitsu’ and his best chances of a win in this fight come on the ground. With that said, the initial fight between the two saw him unsuccessful with both of his takedown attempts before being knocked into the following week. While the accidental headbutt undoubtedly had an effect on the finish, the Brazilian’s weight cut arguably had an outcome on the way the fight went too. He’s all power and very good at defending himself from getting into situations he doesn’t want to be in. At 32 years of age, he’s in his physical prime too and with Benavidez having never been able to win the big one I don’t think it changes here.
PICK – Deiveson Figueiredo via Knockout, Round 2
Let me know your thoughts on the card and if you agree with my picks over on Twitter.