Tag Archives: Fight Island

UFC 257 Fallout: Poirier smokes McGregor, Chandler shocks everyone

The first pay-per-view of the year lived up to the hype, as Dustin Poirier knocked out Conor McGregor in the second round of their UFC 257 rematch.

The lightweight contenders were matched up in order to figure out who would be the next challenger for the 155lbs championship, with Khabib Nurmagomedov’s future unclear.

It was a wonderful performance from Poirier, as he implemented a game plan to smother the early power of McGregor before smashing him with calf kicks to stop his movement. After getting a takedown early in the first round and exchanging in the pockets, Poirier’s leg kick really damaged McGregor and in the second round the boxing exchanges were easier.

He hurt him with some big shots and while McGregor fired back with great accuracy, the difference in durability between their first fight and now was evident – Poirier could take the power now. He went to work with big combos against the cage, before a short right hook landed flush on the nose and dropped McGregor. He landed two more while Conor was down, but the fight was already done and the referee waved it off.

It was a showing that really emphasised the coming of age ‘Diamond’ has had since that first fight at featherweight in 2014. He has now won 11 of 14 fights at lightweight, with arguably the best CV of fighters on his record of anyone else in the division – including the champion Nurmagomedov.

His next fight will almost certainly be for the title now, although Dana White announced after the fight that the chances of a Khabib return from retirement are “not looking so positive.”

That means that he will likely fight either Charles Oliveira or Michael Chandler for the vacant belt later this year, after the latter’s successful debut in the co-main event.

Chandler took on number six ranked Dan Hooker and applied pressure from the opening second of the fight. As they circled, Hooker looked nervous and barring a few tame leg kicks didn’t throw any strikes. Chandler threw two long jabs to the body before a huge left hook landed flush on the chin and dropped him. He landed a barrage of shots before the referee stepped in and looked powerful to make an impression on all the eyes tuning in for the card.

It was a big eye opener for many, as his pressure seemed to freeze Hooker and has put the rest of the division on notice.

White commented in the post-fight press conference that Poirier vs Hooker for the vacant title makes the most sense if Khabib doesn’t return, although Poirier “guaranteed” that he would not be fighting Chandler in his next fight as he doesn’t feel he’s earned a title shot in the promotion just yet.

As for McGregor, he vowed to return later this year as he needs the activity and hopes for a rematch with Poirier to settle their trilogy at some point in the future.

What this performance showed though was that right now, Dustin Poirier is the best active lightweight in the world. Paid in full.

UFC Fight Island 8 Fallout: Chiesa dominates, calls out Covington

The second of UFC’s triple header to open the year lived up to the hype, with Michael Chiesa taking all the headlines at UFC Fight Island 8.

‘Maverick’ main evented the card in a contender clash with Neil Magny, as both men looked to make it four wins in a row on Fight Island in place of the rescheduled Leon Edwards/Khamzat Chimaev clash.

It was a fight that was razor close on paper with both guys at their best in the top position on the ground, but with Chiesa having the edge in submissions and Magny in striking. What occurred was a lopsided bout, with Chiesa outscrambling Magny at every turn and completely dominating from the top position for a unanimous 49-46 win.

It was a mightily impressive performance from the 33-year-old, who stays undefeated since moving up to welterweight. He now has back-to-back maulings of Rafael Dos Anjos and Magny and after his win on Fight Island he moved to call out number one ranked Colby Covington.

Covington is coming off a dominant win over former champion Tyron Woodley back in September and his only defeat since 2015 came in his title shot against Kamaru Usman. While many are hopeful that Covington will face off with former friend Jorge Masvidal next, there have been problems getting that fight agreed.

Dana White confirmed that the UFC wanted to make it happen, but there has been no movement on that front recently and with Chiesa looking to put a run together for his own title shot, it’s something White could look into.

In his post-fight press conference, he explained his reasons for wanting the fight and revealed he doesn’t believe it’s a fight he’s supposed to win.

He’s the worst match up for me. Stylistically, that guy should beat me on any given Sunday. From a physical stand point, from a mental warfare stand point, there’s not a lot of boxes you can check that favour me in that fight, but how can I say want to be the champion if I don’t want to fight the best guys?

Sometimes the best guys are the ones that are toughest for you stylistically, so I look at the top five and I think that’s the hardest fight for me. We’ll see what happens, and if I come up short I come up short, but if I want to be the best I’ve got to fight the best.

The bout would be great fun, but I can’t help but feel he’s probably looking too high up the ladder right now. Chiesa was ranked at number eight before this win and beat the man ranked below him, so while he should rise he won’t fly up.

A fight against Demian Maia would be fun, but the person he should be looking at is Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.

Thompson just obliterated Geoff Neal in December and moved up into the top five himself. But with Edwards already booked with Chimaev and the UFC’s plan to book Covington and Masvidal together, this could be a great match up of styles to cement either as a top five contender as we move through 2021.

UFC Fight Island 8: Chiesa vs Magny – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Manon Fiorot def Victoria Leonardo via Knockout, Round 2 (4:08)

Fiorot starts the fight with her standard side kick to maintain distance, while Leonardo is trying to throw punches in bunches early. Fiorot lands two more side kicks to the body and then lands a big head kick! Fiorot pushes forward and lands a big one-two that snaps Leonardo’s head back, but she eats it and continues to come forward. Clinch attempt but Fiorot is physically stronger and using knees well. Fiorot explodes with a big one-two again and rocks Leonardo! Fiorot charges forward looking to finish and lands two more shots but Leonardo moves away and avoids the big wheel kick attempt. Clinch against the cage and Fiorot lands a big elbow on the break. Big round for Fiorot. 10-9.

Better second round start from Leonardo, as she avoids the big strikes early but she’s throwing her own strikes from way too far out. Fiorot lands a nice body kick before Leonardo shoots for a takedown, but good defence from Fiorot to keep it standing. A few more clashes between the two before Fiorot gets Leonardo against the cage and gets a takedown of her own. She lands a couple of strikes on the ground before getting back up and making the referee stand them up. Fiorot lands a big head kick and Leonardo is hurt! She turns up the pressure and lands big punches as Leonardo covers up and the referee steps in and stops it! Hugely impressive performance.

Umar Nurmagomedov def Sergey Morozov via Submission (Rear naked choke), Round 2 (3:39)

A cagey start to this fight as Nurmagomedov comes out bouncing and throwing kicks, while Morozov looks to land a big overhand right. Bit of a stalemate on the feet so Umar shoots for a takedown and gets him down to the ground. He looks to take the back and stabs his hooks in, but Morozov scrambles and keeps rolling around before eventually breaking free. Back on the feet again and Umar lands a nice question mark kick before ducking an overhand right and getting another takedown. He takes Morozov’s back quickly but the buzzer goes to end the round. 10-9 Nurmagomedov.

Second round starts and Umar lands a huge head kick immediately that wobbles Morozov! Umar goes for the finish against the cage with big shots, but Morozov comes away and eventually shakes the cobwebs away. Another head kick attempt is blocked but then a big body kick lands from Umar. Umar throws a jab and shoots straight behind it with a perfect takedown, before transitioning to the back again. He finally is able to hold the position at the second time of asking and eventually lands a few shots before sinking in a lovely rear naked choke and putting Morozov to sleep! What a performance.

Mike Davis def Mason Jones via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Great start to the fight for both men as Davis shows his kicking game, while Jones is looking to land combos early. Davis lands a big body shot and a strong leg kick, while Jones continues to come forward. Blind kick from Jones and Davis makes him pay with a takedown. A couple of strikes on the ground before Jones gets back to the feet. Jones starts landing some nice punches to the body and head, which makes Davis look twice and shoot for another takedown to slow it down. Jones gets back up again quickly and lands a nice left hand but Davis retaliates with a strike of his own. Jones turning the pace up on Davis with combos and knees but then Davis takes him down again. Jones gets back up and eats a huge flying knee right on the buzzer! 10-9 Jones but very close round.

Davis lands a big leg kick early in the second round that drops Jones, but again he gets back up to his feet quickly. Nice combinations from Jones are landing as Davis drops his hands but then Davis returns fire with a big straight right hand. Both men throw elbows that just miss, before a big calf kick again from Jones. Jones’ pace is excellent and Davis’ cardio is starting to let him down here. Big body shot from Jones again but Davis is significantly tiring now. Final minute and Jones throws a big leg kick again as Davis looks to avoid. Big right hand from Davis lands and knocks the mouth piece out of Jones’ mouth, then lands another big one two and a head kick but Jones catches it and ends the round on top. 20-18 Jones.

Final round and still a strong pace to this fight. Davis lands a big right hand but Jones eats it again and continues to come forward. Davis landing shots at a cleaner rate right now but Jones continues to come forward and attack the body and legs. Jones shoots in for a takedown against the cage but defended well by Davis and then he lands a big right hand on the break. Big knee from Davis lands again as we enter the final minute, but Jones is still coming forward with power and aggression. Takedown attempt from Davis but Jones defends well as the two exchange shots against the cage for the buzzer. What a fight. 29-28 Jones but could well be the other way around too.

PRELIMS

Francisco Figueiredo def Jerome Rivera via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very interesting start to this fight as both men stand at range and exchange body kicks and leg kicks before clinching up against the cage. Nice exchange in the centre before a sweep and takedown from Figueiredo sees him end up on top. Some nice ground and pound from the top by Figueiredo before he gets back to his feet and lets Rivera back up. A few exchanges but nothing big and the round ends with a takedown attempt from Rivera being stuffed. 10-9 Figueiredo.

Second round starts with a takedown from Figueiredo again as he ends up on top, but Rivera is very active from his back throwing elbows, short strikes and trying to use his length to create distance. Figueiredo doing really well to stay square on the hips though and is keeping position to great effect. Rivera using his long legs really well to stop Figueiredo passing guard and not taking too much damage before getting back up to his feet. Figueiredo too strong in a clinch and breaks away before landing a really nice pull left straight counter. Round ends with another clinch, but Figueiredo looks good right now. 20-18.

Final round and once again Figueiredo is getting on the inside and able to secure a takedown, although Rivera gets back to his feet well this time. Good combination of strikes from Rivera land at a distance but then he steps in again and Figueiredo is able to clinch up against the cage. Rivera switches the position and looks for a takedown but Figueiredo defends it really well before they eventually break away. Rivera starting to up the pace and throw more strikes and he’s starting to land. Big takedown from Rivera at the end of the round but Figueiredo gets back up quickly and gets a takedown of his own on the buzzer to seal what should be a win.

Dalcha Lungiambula def Markus Perez via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fast paced start to this fight as Perez looks to work the body of Lungiambula, who explodes with a combination that forces Perez all the way across the cage. Dalcha shoots for a takedown and lifts Perez into the air before slamming him down and ending in half guard. Perez threatens with a guillotine but Lungiambula stays patient, get out of it and look to land big shots. Perez threatens with submissions off his back and eventually gets back to his feet for the end of the round. 10-9 Dalcha but tough to score.

Perez looking to land body shots early in the second, but Dalcha lands a big body shot and charges to get the fight to the ground again. He ends up behind Perez, landing nice ground and pound strikes but Perez takes a kimura grip to threaten. The fight goes back down and Perez is so close to locking up the kimura but Dalcha uses brute strength to defend and end up back on top in a controlling position. Nice ground and pound strikes from Lungiambula have opened up a huge cut on Perez’s head and that’s his round. 20-18 Dalcha.

Fast start to round three as Perez comes out with kicks while Dalcha looks to counter by just taking his head off with wild hooks. Perez engages in a clinch against the cage but Dalcha is too strong and controls the position, before the two break. Dalcha throws a nice combination that just misses but Perez lands a straight left clean on the chin that staggers Dalcha. Perez keeps trying to get the fight down against the cage but Dalcha is too strong and is able to stay standing into the final minute. Both men throw knees against the cage and an accidental low blow causes a pause with 15 seconds to go and Perez lands a big spin kick with seconds to go but it’s not going to be enough. 29-28 Dalcha for me.

Su Mudaerji def Zarrukh Adashev via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Fun start to this one as Adashev looks to start fast with big looping strikes, but Su using his range well to stay away. Nice leg kicks land from Su and quickly force Adashev to switch stance. Nice head kick from Su lands but is partially blocked from Adashev, who returns first with a big one-two that misses. Jab from Su lands but Adashev lands a bit left hook counter, although he barely flinches at it. 10-9 Su but Adashev is active.

Adashev comes out quick again in the second round and lands a nice double-jab right hand clean. Su continues to use the inside leg kick and his range well, with a double jab of his own too. Spin kick attempt from Su misses and Adashev takes the back, landing some big shots to the face before they break. Su lands a big leg kick and just avoids the left hook coming back at him before a straight right while taking the centre of the octagon. Adashev lands a right hand that wobbles Su but he recovers quickly and shakes his head to say it didn’t hurt. Adashev charges forward and Su steps back and lands a big check hook that drops him! He follows it with a jab that drops him again but Adashev avoids any more significant damage before the end of the round. 20-18 Su.

Head kick lands for Su to open the final round but Adashev seems to have shaken off the cobwebs. Adashev eating leg kicks and can’t get into the rang of Su now, who seems to have figured out the way to victory now. Su keeping his hands low and throws a big wheel kick but hits fresh air. Nice one-two from Adashev but Su maintains the centre and throws a nice side kick to the body. Final 90 seconds of the fight and Su continues to stay out of range while just picking jabs and landing nice kicks. Adashev pushing forward into the final minute but Su avoidig all strikes with great footwork to take a decision win.

Ricky Simon def Gaetano Pirrello via Submission (Arm triangle choke), Round 2 (4:00)

Good start to the fight by Simon, who feints changing levels and lands nice strikes before eventually shooting for the takedown and getting the fight to the ground. Pirrello scrambles back to his feet but Simon keeps a body lock and engages in the clinch against the cage. Change of levels and Simon lifts Pirrello before slamming him down to the mat. Pirrello tries to get back up but Simon consistently dragging him back down and taking the back. Pirrello escapes but again Simon drops levels for another takedown. Dominant opening round. 10-9.

Second round and Pirrello tries to strike from distance, but Simon changes levels and shoots. Pirrello throws a huge knee that lands flush but Simon eats it and eventually finishes the takedown. More top control from Simon, with every time Pirrello gets up to his feet Simon just puts him back on his back. It’s a vintage Simon performance as he gets another takedown against the cage and lands straight into mount. Simon immediately sinks up an arm-triangle choke and gets the tap-out win. Beautiful performance.

MAIN CARD

Omari Akhmedov def Tom Breese via Submission (Arm triangle choke), Round 2 (1:41)

Fast start to this one with Akhmedov throwing bombs early with Breese looking to counter, before Akhmedov shoots in with a takedown early. Breese catches him in a guillotine on the way down though and it looks tight, but the Russian gets his head out and starts landing good shots from top position. Huge bombs from Akhmedov from the guard have Breese in big trouble as he attempts an armbar to escape, but he’s just eating shots from Akhmedov. Breese manages to scramble back to his feet with a heel hook attempt and then takes Akhmedov’s back and almost gets the choke, but Akhmedov defends well before the buzzer goes. 10-9 Akhmedov.

Second round and Akhmedov goes straight for the takedown again, but Breese is able to tilt him and ends up on the bottom but with a calf slicer submission. Akhmedov remains calm and eventually gets out, putting himself into mount. He immediately attacks for an arm triangle submission and after a bit of a wait, Breese has no choice but to tap out. Excellent performance from Akhmedov.

Lerone Murphy def Douglas Silva de Andrade via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Good start to this one for Murphy as he takes the centre of the cage and uses his range to land nice calf kicks. He’s throwing in straight lines and connecting out of range, attacking the body well. Andrade trying to fire back with leg kicks of his own but Murphy checks it and fires back with a big right hand of his own. Two more right hands land for Murphy but Andrade fires back with a nice body kick. Andrade comes forward with a combo that ends in a high kick, but Murphy blocks it all and moves away. Andrade looks for a takedown but Murphy defends well and responds with a knee before a leg kick as the round ends. 10-9 Murphy.

Murphy opens the round throwing a leg kick and Andrade is hurt bad. Murphy throws a head kick but Andrade catches it and forces him down to the ground and quickly transitions to the back, but Murphy scrambles up to his feet very quickly. Another big leg kick from Murphy and the two end up clinching against the cage. Andrade gets it down and ends up in mount but again Murphy escapes and lands a nasty body shot on Andrade. Andrade comes forward and lands a big body shot of his own, while Murphy continues to attack the leg and throw long one-twos. Murphy catches a kick and lands a big right hand flush on the chin but Andrade eats it. Another huge leg kick and Andrade is in trouble as the round ends. 20-18 Murphy.

Murphy nice and aggressive in this final round, attacking the leg again. Andrade knows he needs the knockout and comes forward with a big right-left hook combo that lands hard and wobbles Murphy! Spinning back kick to the body but Murphy clinches up, before a low blow causes a pause in the action. Andrade lands two big hooks again and Murphy looks hurt, but he’s using footwork well to move away. Big right straight lands for Murphy and Andrade comes forward again, but Murphy changes levels and looks for a takedown as we enter the final minute. Murphy gets it down and scrambles to end up on top and looks to just control for the final 30 seconds for a big decision win. 29-28.

Matt Schnell def Tyson Nam via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Cagey start from both fighters in this one as Schnell looks to stand with Nam, who is throwing low kicks with his right hand behind it as usual. Good head movement from Schnell to avoid any damage early on, as both guys doing a lot of feinting but nothing heavy landing. Nam lands a big counter right hand out of nowhere but Schnell eats it and continues to stand and trade in the centre as the round ends. 10-9 Schnell.

Much better second round from Nam so far as he starts landing his left jab a bit more, but Schnell is firing back with good boxing. Nam’s face is bloody and red from the strikes he’s taking, but Schnell’s power isn’t causing him too much of a problem. Nam coming forward and lands a big left hook but Schnell is still there and doing well with his left jab too. Schnell goes for a kick but Nam counters with a right overhand. Nam throws a big windmill right that Schnell side-steps that sums up the fight so far as the round ends. 20-18 Schnell.

Nam looking more aggressive in the final round, knowing he needs a finish to win this fight. Schnell continuing with his volume, winning him the fight right now with the jab and short combinations. Nam forcing the fight right now with his big punches, but Schnell is either avoiding them or eating the shots. He’s landing first almost every time too, making Nam’s striking game look basic. Nam more active in this round and landing more but Schnell should take the decision win.

Viviane Araujo def Roxanne Modafferi via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Great start to the fight for Araujo as she uses her range excellently and picks Modafferi off with her jab. Nice one-two down the pipe lands and immediately causes swelling under the eye of Modafferi. Modafferi continues to come forward but hasn’t looked for a level change once and is getting picked off. She charges forward and Araujo steps back and lands a big right hand that drops her. Big right hook again wobbles Modafferi but she keeps coming forward before finally clinching and pushing her to the cage looking for a takedown, but Araujo reverses the position, takes her back and sinks in a rear-naked choke but the buzzer saves her. 10-9 Araujo.

More great striking from Araujo once again, picking Modafferi off at will with her jab and right straight. Modafferi shoots in for a takedown attempt but again Araujo defends it easily and transitions to the back before breaking to start striking again. Big right hand from Araujo lands but then Modafferi lands a right hand of her own that wobbles Araujo! She charges forward but Araujo recovers quickly and avoids. Araujo ducks a strike and shoots for a takedown to end the round on top, landing elbows and cuts Modafferi open. 20-18 Araujo.

Final round and Araujo starts flowing with her striking, with big combinations landing clean. Modafferi trying to come forward for a takedown but Araujo reverses the position and ends up in side control. Modafferi gets back to her feet and lands some big puches while Araujo moves backwards to avoid, but Araujo fires back with shots of her own. Araujo breaks away and shoots for a takedown to see out the remainder of the round in top control. 30-27 Araujo, pretty easy night’s work.

Ike Villanueva def Vinicius Moreira via Knockout, Round 2 (0:39)

Villanueva comes out throwing flurries to the head, but Moreira covers upwell with a high guard and throws back with a leg kick. Villanueva goes to the head a few more times but once his shots get blocked again, he starts attacking the body well. Villanueva goes for another flurry against the high guard and lands a couple of flush right hands around the guard. Another body shot from Villanueva before Moreira throws a big superman punch that lands. Body kick from Moreira gets caught and a straight right follows behind it for Villanueva as the round ends. 10-9 Ike.

Second round is more of the same early on, with Moreira covering up to not get hit. He swings a punch of his own and Villanueva counters with a huge right hook that lands on the chin and puts him out cold. One punch KO!! Goodnight!

Warlley Alves def Mounir Lazzez via Knockout, Round 1 (2:35)

Alves comes flying out of the blocks and lands some big shots before clinching up against the cage early. Alves very aggressive throwing short elbows, before a spinning back fist lands clean. They clinch again and Alves throws Lazzez onto the ground with a beautiful judo throw but Lazzez gets back to his feet quickly. Lazzez throws a spinning elbow of his own, before Alves breaks and throws three huge body kicks in a row and drops Lazzez! He gets on top and rains down punches and the referee stops the fight! What a win for Warlley Alves!

Michael Chiesa def Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)

Fast start to the round from Magny as he takes the centre and looks to use his range early. A few strike exchanges before a clinch in the centre allows Chiesa to trip Magny in the centre of the cage and work from top position. Chiesa tries to pass half guard and attack a kimura but Magny defends well and the rest of the round passes with Chiesa on top. 10-9 Maverick.

Chiesa starts the second round and immediately goes for the body lock and trip again, but Magny defends well and they clinch against the cage again. After a war of attrition Chiesa eventually drags him down, but Magny is able to get back to his feet quickly. Magny goes for his own takedown but falls backwards and ends up on the bottom once again. Chiesa lands some big elbows on the ground and looks to pass half guard again. More elbows from Chiesa as Magny is trying to prevent the pass, but another dominant round from Chiesa. 20-18.

Faster start in round three for Magny as he comes out with flurries of strikes and looks to get the fight to the ground. He eventually drags Chiesa down and looks to take the back, but Chiesa is able to defend well, stand and they break apart. Chiesa lands a nice left straight and shoots for the takedown again, but Magny defends, reverses and clinches against the cage well. They scramble to the ground and Chiesa ends up in full mount, and sees the round out on top. Tough to score that one. 29-28 Chiesa.

Fourth round and Chiesa comes out with a big strike and then an immediate takedown early on in the centre. Lots of attempts to pass the half guard but Magny defending well and Chiesa maintaining top position. Chiesa looks to move to a kimura, but Magny scrambles and gets an inverted triangle but Chiesa remains patient and eventually gets out of it before riding out the round on top once again. 39-37, maybe 40-36. Easy for Chiesa.

Final round and it’s more of the same. An absolute clinic from Chiesa in the grappling to waltz to a dominant, one sided victory. Very impressive.

UFC Fight Island 8: Chiesa vs Magny – Main Card Predictions

After a banging start to 2021, the UFC moves swiftly onto their second event of the year with a midweek card headlined by welterweights Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny.

Originally supposed to be headlined by Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev, that fight fell apart for a second time when Chimaev withdrew due to complications from COVID-19. The fight has now been rescheduled for March 13, Chiesa and Magny have the chance to take the limelight at 170lbs.

On a 14 fight card, there will be six on the main card which means eight prelim fights to break down and predict.

At UFC Fight Island 7, we managed to correctly predict 6/10 with four perfect picks to take our lifetime totals to 200/313 (63.9%) with 89 perfect picks (44.5%).

We already predicted the prelims here, so lets improve our record with the main card now.

MAIN CARD

Lerone Murphy (9-0-1) vs Douglas Silva de Andrade (26-3 1NC) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

England’s own Lerone Murphy returns to Fight Island to take on UFC veteran Douglas Silva de Andrade in the featherweight division.

Murphy got a very impressive knockout win against Ricardo Ramos last time out, while Andrade’s last fight saw him beat Renan Barao in November 2019. Murphy has power in his hands but is a very good wrestler too, which is the kryptonite to Andrade if there ever was one. He was well beaten on the ground by Petr Yan of all people in his last defeat.

Murphy has the power advantage on the feet and the advantage on the ground if he chooses to take it there, so he should get a pretty comfortable win here.
PICK – Lerone Murphy via Knockout, Round 2

Matt Schnell (14-5) vs Tyson Nam (20-11-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun clash in the flyweight division as high level grappler Matt Schnell takes on Tyson Nam.

Schnell was on a four-fight win streak before losing his last fight to Alexandre Pantoja via first round knockout, while Nam was close to being cut before two big knockout wins brought him back from the brink against Zarrukh Adashev in June and Jerome Rivera in September.

Nam is a great counter striker with solid power, while Schnell is a fantastic jiu-jitsu practitioner. His issue though is that he likes to stand and bang sometimes, which is just asking for trouble. If he can stay at range and use his grappling game, plus having a good weigh-in, Schnell should get the win.
PICK – Matt Schnell via Decision

Roxanne Modafferi (25-17) vs Viviane Araujo (9-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Arguably the most un-aesthetically please fighter of all time in Roxanne Modafferi returns to take on Viviane Araujo in the women’s flyweight division.

Modafferi has alternated wins and losses in her last nine fights, going 5-4 including a win last time out against Andrea Lee. Araujo has won six of her last seven fights, losing only to Jessica Eye in December 2019 before beating Montana De La Rosa in September via decision.

‘The Happy Warrior’ loves a dirty boxing fight, punching her way into range before looking to get the fight to the ground with her good top control. Araujo on the other hand is a powerful one punch fighter with good kicks and submission skills. On paper, it should be Araujo all the way but Modafferi has a habit of upsetting the odds. I’m still going to back the favourite, but don’t be shocked if it goes the other way.
PICK – Viviane Araujo via Decision

Ike Villanueva (17-11) vs Vinicius Moreira (9-4) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

This fight really doesn’t have any business taking place in the UFC in 2021, as Ike Villanueva takes on Vinicius Moreira.

Villaneueva is a striker with power in his hands but rubbish on his back. Vinicius Moreira is a “submission specialist” who is pretty rubbish on his feet. Villanueva has lost his last two in a row and Moreira has lost his last three.

If it stays on the feet, Villanueva gets a knockout win. If it goes to the ground, Moreira wins by submission. My guess is Villanueva clips him and keeps his spot on the UFC roster.
PICK – Ike Villanueva via Knockout, Round 1

Warlley Alves (14-4) vs Mounir Lazzez (10-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fight that probably should never be the co-main event of any UFC card, but a chance nonetheless for the UFC to show off prospect Mounir Lazzez to the world.

Warlley Alves is an all-rounder, with tidy striking and a great jiu-jitsu game who hasn’t fought since a 2019 defeat to Randy Brown. Lazzez won his debut on Fight Island in July with a really impressive decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan, where he showed tremendous striking but also a really good chin. He’s got a good wrestling game if needs be to and he should be able to get a highlight knockout in this one for me.
PICK – Mounir Lazzez via Knockout, Round 2

Michael Chiesa (17-4) vs Neil Magny (24-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A wonderful main event tops off what is a bit of a meh card as welterweight contenders Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny meet.

Chiesa is a grappling wizard with three wins in a row at 170lbs since moving up from lightweight, submitting Carlos Condit before earning decision wins over Diego Sanchez and Rafael Dos Anjos. Magny is a wrestling machine with powerful striking, who has beaten all of Jingliang Li, Anthony Rocco Martin and most recently Robbie Lawler by decision in his last three.

Magny’s cardio is his greatest strength in this fight but he also has the striking advantage in this one too. Chiesa will know that when the fight hits the ground, whether he’s on top or on the bottom he is a threat but he’d rather be on top. His wrestling isn’t good enough to get Magny down though so he’ll need sweeps to get there, but Magny’s top game is very good. It should be a great, evenly contested match up but I think Magny’s cardio pulls him towards a decision win.
PICK – Neil Magny via Decision

UFC Fight Island 8: Chiesa vs Magny – Prelims Predictions

After a banging start to 2021, the UFC moves swiftly onto their second event of the year with a midweek card headlined by welterweights Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny.

Originally supposed to be headlined by Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev, that fight fell apart for a second time when Chimaev withdrew due to complications from COVID-19. The fight has now been rescheduled for March 13, Chiesa and Magny have the chance to take the limelight at 170lbs.

On a 14 fight card, there will be six on the main card which means eight prelim fights to break down and predict.

At UFC Fight Island 7, we managed to correctly predict 6/10 with four perfect picks to take our lifetime totals to 200/313 (63.9%) with 89 perfect picks (44.5%).

Lets see if we can improve on that here, starting with these eight prelim bouts.

PRELIMS

Victoria Leonardo (8-3) vs Manon Fiorot (5-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A double UFC debut in the women’s flyweight division as grappler ‘Fury’ Leonardo takes on knockout artist ‘The Beast’ Fiorot.

Leonardo’s only knockout win in her career came in her last bout on Dana White’s Contender Series back in November, while Fiorot got a knockout win herself in her November bout at UAE Warriors. Fiorot is a great kickboxer with good karate skills too and loves a good push kick. Leonardo may look to use those opportunities for a takedown but her wrestling isn’t the strongest. Florot will maintain range and pick her shots, and she possesses good power and accuracy. She should be able to potentially get a finish, but at the very least she should get the win.
PICK – Manon Fiorot via Knockout, Round 2

Umar Nurmagomedov (12-0) vs Sergey Morozov (16-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun fight in the most fun division in the UFC right now as the cousin of Khabib makes his UFC debut against Morozov where both men fight for the first time since 2019.

Nurmagomedov is an excellent grappler with top submission skills, winning five of his 12 fights via tap out. Morozov on the other hand is a great striker with fantastic kicks and a good overhand right, who is a very good counter puncher. It’s a battle of styles in reality but one is by far superior at implementing the style and this one should be quite one sided.
PICK – Umar Nurmagomedov via Decision

Mike Davis (8-2) vs Mason Jones (10-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A sneaky contender for fight of the night in this one as two top prospects clash in the lightweight division.

Mike Davis is a super well rounded fighter, who has fought some of the top guys in the UFC already. He lost to Gilbert Burns on short notice and Sodiq Yussuf on the Contender Series, but has won every other fight on his resume by stoppage. Mason Jones is an undefeated Cage Warriors champion, who is a fantastic boxer with good knockout power and submissions too.

Both guys will likely trade in the pocket in this one and they match up really well, but the advantage goes to Davis in the power department. If they’re to land bigger shots, Davis is more likely to get the KO and if that doesn’t happen he should be able to wrestle too for a tight decision win.
PICK – Mike Davis via Decision

Francisco Figueiredo (11-3-1) vs Jerome Rivera (10-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The brother of the flyweight champion makes his UFC debut when he takes on someone looking to earn their first UFC win at the second attempt.

Figueiredo is very similar to his brother Deiveson in terms of skillset, with good striking and excellent submission skills too. He lacks the overwhelming power in his hands and the incredible reaction time though. Rivera came into the UFC for a short notice bout against Tyson Nam in September 2020, but was starched in the second round and beaten.

Figueiredo has the striking advantage, wrestling advantage and speed advantage but has never fought at 125lbs before. So long as the weight cut goes well, he should win this one.
PICK – Francisco Figueiredo via Knockout, Round 2

Dalcha Lungiambula (10-2) vs Markus Perez (12-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Dalcha ‘Champ’ finally gets a UFC bout again after two cancellations when he takes on Markus Perez on short notice in the middleweight division.

‘Champ’ has previously fought at 205lbs, where he was beaten by Magomed Ankalaev before his 185lbs debut were halted twice by Karl Roberson withdrawing meaning he missed 2020 entirely. Markus Perez is coming into this one with four defeats in his last six, including each of his last two against Wellington Turman and debutant Dricus Du Plessis on Fight Island in October.

Perez is a bit of a jack of all trades but does nothing that well and if he walks into Lungiambula the way he did Du Plessis, he’s going to sleep again. ‘Champ’ has the cardio, striking and power to end this early.
PICK – Dalcha Lungiambula via Knockout, Round 1

Su Mudaerji (12-4) vs Zarrukh Adashev (3-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

So this one is the definition of a fighter being fed to the wolves.

China’s Su Mudaerji has won 11 of his 13 victories by knockout and is a great striker, as he showed when he knocked out Malcolm Gordon back in November in just 44 seconds. Adashev on the other hand is 3-2 and got starched by Tyson Nam back in June in his last fight in just 32 seconds. He’s a polished striker himself and is a natural flyweight which is positive, but this is just too big a step up right now.

Mudaerji will come out hard and fast and if he lands flush, everything points towards a highlight reel finish.
PICK – Su Mudaerji via Knockout, Round 1

Ricky Simon (16-3) vs Gaetano Pirrello (15-5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A name known to UFC fans already in Ricky Simon takes on debutant Gaetano Pirrello in what should be a fun fight in the bantamweight division.

Simon was the comeback fight for the legendary Urijah Faber back in 2019 and got knocked out in the first round, before dropping a decision to Rob Font later that year. He bounced back with a win over Ray Borg in May 2020, while Pirrello hasn’t fought since October 2019 when he got a first round knockout.

Pirrello is a brawler but isn’t the best technical striker and isn’t a great grappler. Simon is a tidy striker but prefers to grapple so he should be able to wrestle his way to a wide decision win.
PICK – Ricky Simon via Decision

Omari Akhmedov (20-5-1) vs Tom Breese (12-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fight that got pushed back by a few days, Omari Akhmedov finally steps in the cage with Tom Breese in the middleweight division.

Breese won his last fight via first round knockout against KB Bhullar on Fight Island in October, while Akhmedov saw a three fight win streak snapped by Chris Weidman in August. Breese is a great striker, who is very aggressive with great power. He struggles off his back though, which is exactly where Akhmedov will want this fight to take place. Akhmedov has a poor gas tank though as we saw against Weidman, while Breese can go at a decent pace for the full 15 minutes.

It’s all about if Breese can keep the fight standing or not in honesty. I’m not sure he does and Akhmedov gets two rounds ahead before dropping the third in a tight decision win.
PICK – Omari Akhmedov via Decision

UFC Fight Island 7 Fallout: Holloway turns in best performance ever

The UFC kicked off 2021 with a big bang as UFC Fight Island 7 delivered a spectacular card.

Ten fights on the night saw three first round knockouts and seven decisions but the fights were largely a fun watch, especially in the main event.

‘Blessed’ Max Holloway stepped into the octagon to take on Calvin Kattar in the headline fight and turned in the single greatest individual performance I’ve ever seen, as he battered Kattar with a 50-42 scorecard for two judges.

Holloway was explosive from the jump, landing spin kicks, body shots, jabs and straight punches, all while mostly avoiding the power of Kattar to prove he was in fact the better boxer of the two.

He blew Kattar out of the water for the entire five rounds, landing an incredible 445 significant strikes throughout the night including a record 141 strikes in round four alone.

It was a reminder to fans who may have believed that Holloway was past it following three defeats in his last four bouts, but it was also a warning to the champion Alexander Volkanovski.

After back-to-back losses against Volkanovski, the Australian had hoped to have washed his hands of Holloway and the title picture. Many believed Holloway won their second encounter and this performance was evidence that despite not having gold wrapped around his waist right now, he is still the best 145lber in the world, maybe ever.

With Volkanovski set to defend his title against Brian Ortega at UFC 260 in March, it’s evident that the winner will be taking on Max Holloway once again in their following fight.

Elsewhere on the card, Joaquin Buckley’s hype train was brought to a screeching halt with a violent head kick knockout by Alessio Di Chirico. The middleweight division continues to build in strength and depth, and after his first win since 2018 he will now look to build some momentum and hopefully work his way into the rankings this year having once been seen as Italy’s best chance at a UFC belt.

Santiago Ponzinibbio found out the hard way that the welterweight division has moved on without him, as he was knocked unconscious by the left hand of Jingliang Li in the first round of their fight too.

Ponzinibbio looked gun shy and hesitant during the opening exchanges, throwing only 18 strikes in the opening round before being knocked out with 35 seconds remaining. Li now has seven stoppages in the UFC and with four wins in his last five he will be looking to break into the rankings with his next fight.

Ponzinibbio will need to re-evaluate after over two years out and then such a timid display, it’s possible that the division’s elite have left him behind.

UFC Fight Island 7: Holloway vs Kattar – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Austin Lingo def Jacob Kilburn via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)

A fast start to the night as Lingo steps forward and takes the centre of the cage early and lets his right hand fly. Some big shots land clean and Kilburn goes down hurt, but he gets back up quickly. Lingo lands some nice left hooks around the guard to keep Kilburn shaky on the feet. Kilburn shoots for a takedown against the cage and is able to recover his senses. The jab is landing clean and Lingo is in control of the round. 10-9 Lingo.

Lingo comes out hard again and lands a few nice shots early, but Kilburn changes levels early and lands a takedown for the first time in the fight. Lingo is able to create space and kick him off almost instantly though and the fight goes back to the feet. Lingo lands a nice left straight that snaps Kilburn’s head back but he is doing well to circle and threaten with takedowns in this round. Kilburn gets another takedown but Lingo once again escapes back to the feet immediately, then gets a takedown of his own against the cage before he allows Kilburn back up as the round ends. 20-18 Lingo.

Kilburn comes out for the final round and showing good energy, throwing nice combinations and attempting the takedown again. In the scramble Kilburn goes for a judo throw and gets it but ends up on the bottom with a kimura grip. Lingo stays patient on top and eventually escapes back to the feet and starts striking on the feet again, landing his jab well. Lingo counters a low-kick with a beautiful one-two as Kilburn goes for a lazy single leg takedown. Big right hand again from Lingo lands inside the final minute as the round comes to a close for what should be a comfortable Lingo decision win. 30-27 Lingo.

PRELIMS

Vanessa Melo def Sarah Moras via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Slow start to this one as Melo takes the centre of the octagon and Moras continually circles, flicking out the jab. There’s more noise coming from the octagon than the stands right now as Moras channels her inner Maria Sharapova every time she throws a strike. Melo starts cutting her off instead of just following, but the pattern remains the same as Moras flicks the jab and Melo looks for a power right hand. Nice one-two lands from Moras but a bit of a non-event this round. 10-9 Moras, I guess?

Another slow start to the round but Melo lands the biggest shot of the round with a left hook that knocks Moras’ mouthpiece out. Moras bleeding from the mouth now and Melo continuing to stalk her around the octagon, and Moras’ circling has significantly slowed now. Moras shoots for a takedown inside the final 30 seconds but Melo defends it perfectly and the round ends. Probably even going into the final round, 19-19.

Pattern of the fight is established by now, but Moras has thrown some leg kicks early on. More circling, more jabs and more straight rights from Melo that are just missing. Nice leg kicks land again and more jabs from Moras but there is no urgency really from either fighter as we enter the final minute. Bit of a flurry from both ladies in the final ten seconds but that was a fight I won’t be watching back again. 29-28 Moras for me.

Ramazan Emeev def David Zawada via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29 x2)

Competitive start to this fight as Zawada looks to take the centre of the cage and keep Emeev on the back foot. Emeev throws a beautiful right hand that instantly causes some swelling under Zawada’s eye. Zawada starts throwing some nice leg kicks and Emeev then starts shooting for the takedown and gets it. Zawada gets back up quickly but Emeev puts him back down again quickly and starts to land some nice ground and pound. Zawada eventually gets back up towards the end of the round but Emeev lands some huge strikes on the way up that rocks him! Emeev round for me. 10-9.

Early leg kick from Zawada in the second round and Emeev wobbles instantly, which forces him straight into the takedown attempt. He gets the fight down early on and Zawada accepts the full guard position, with Emeev landing some nice strikes from the top before Emeev explodes back up. Big one-two from Emeev lands clean but Zawada responds with two leg kicks and Emeev is struggling now. Another two takedown attempts from Emeev denied by Zawada as the round comes to a close. Close but Zawada’s for me. 19-19

Final round opens up with a beautiful takedown immediately from Emeev, as he tries to push Zawada towards the cage. Zawada very aggressive off his back, landing strikes and attempting submissions but Emeev very confident and calm to avoid and land some strikes of his own. Zawada gets the fight back to the feet and then gets a single leg of his own and ends up in side control. Emeev tries to scramble up to his feet but Zawada is able to move into full mount! Emeev escapes by giving his back and then reversing before both men get back to the feet for the final 90 seconds. Left hook from Emeev lands and it staggers Zawada but they stay standing in the centre of the cage. Final punch of the fight is a big right hand from Emeev, in what should be a decision win for him. 29-28 Emeev.

Carlos Felipe def Justin Tafa via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Pretty slow fight early on with Felipe throwing jabs and feelers while Tafa looks to counter everything. A few leg kicks from Tafa land and then he rips a body kick too that lands clean. Felipe starts to load up his right hand but is missing a lot and Tafa looks very calm, firing a big left hand down the pipe. 10-9 Tafa after the first.

Big body kick lands to open the round from Tafa, but Felipe fires back with some big right hands to the body and follows up with some hooks. Felipe looks for a single leg but Tafa avoids it easily then lands a lovely left hook to the body before a left uppercut through the guard. Another big left body kick from Tafa and Felipe fires back with a right hook that misses wildly. Tafa throws a kick but Felipe comes forward and throws some big combinations that land clean and hurt Tafa! Shots to the body and Tafa is in pain and clinches to survive. Big right hand lands again and a big uppercut has Tafa wobbled but he fires back with a big shot of his own as the two engage when the round ends. 19-19, what a round!

A bit more of a tentative start to the final round as Felipe looks to up the pace once again. Both heavyweights are going forehead to forehead and swinging combinations to the head and body. Felipe misses with a straight right hand and Tafa changes levels to look for the takedown. They clinch against the cage, throwing body shots at each other before Felipe reverses the position and steps away from the cage. Tafa goes for a big trip and both men fall to the ground. Final 30 seconds and both men stand toe to toe and swing to bring the crowd to their feet! What a fight! 29-28 Felipe but could go either way.

Joselyne Edwards def Wu Yanan via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Very intense and impressive first round as Wu Yanan looks to take the fight to the ground early but Edwards stays calm on her back. Suddenly Edwards switches her hips and looks for an armbar and Wu is in trouble! She defends well but the position is locked in for a good few minutes before Wu finally manages to escape before a scramble sees Edwards back on top for the end of the round. 10-9 Edwards.

Wu comes out in the second round more aggressive and lands lots of stabbing body kicks to keep Edwards away. Nice strikes land and Edwards looks hesitant now, but a big elbow lands and seemingly wakes her up. She starts charging forward and lands some big shots, forcing Wu to shoot for the takedown again but as they hit the floor Edwards reverses the position and starts landing big ground and pound. Edwards’ combos are causing problems for Wu and the round comes to an end. 20-18 Edwards in her debut.

Final round and it’s more of the same, as Edwards lands great kicks and powerful combinations but Wu keeps coming forward. Wu starting to pressure Edwards against the cage but Edwards staying very calm and responding with explosive power of her own. Final minute of the fight and Edwards still has gas in the tank and is coming forward now with aggression and speed. She fails with a takedown attempt at the buzzer but should have enough in the bank to get the win here. 30-27.

MAIN CARD

Punahele Soriano def Dusko Todorovic via Knockout, Round 1 (4:48)

Fun start to the main card as Todorovic and Soriano immediately trade bombs early on. Todorovic seems to be a bit quicker so far, landing nice jabs and using excellent head movement to evade the big shots of Soriano. Soriano throws a big head kick that Todorovic avoids by leaning back, before Soriano lands a big left hand. Soriano continues to march forward and lands a huge left hand that drops Todorovic! He looks to finish but Dusko tries to recover and grapple, but Soriano gets the referee to stand it up. Another big left hand against the cage and Todorovic is down again and without a mouth guard! The referee pauses the fight to get the mouth guard before Soriano steps forward and drops him again with a big left hand!! It’s all over! What a knockout!

Alessio Di Chirico def Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 1 (2:12)

Buckley comes out quickly with lunging strikes and lots of power, as Di Chirico looks to use kicks to maintain distance. Buckley with some body attacks but Di Chirico is keeping his range well and lands a nice right hand of his own. The two clash in the centre and Di Chirico throws a big head kick that knocks Buckley out cold!! It’s over!! WOW!

Jingliang Li def Santiago Ponzinibbio via Knockout, Round 1 (4:25)

Cagey start to this one with both men respecting each other’s power and speed early on as they put out feelers together. Li is constantly moving, throwing some nice leg kicks but Ponzinibbio checks one or two of them. Lots of leg kicks from Li as Ponzinibbio is struggling to figure out the range right now. Li throws a right hand, left hook combo and Ponzinibbio IS OUT COLD!!! OH MY GOD!! WOW!!

Carlos Condit def Matt Brown via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Interesting start to the fight as Condit comes out with elbows and straight shots, while Brown parries and throws some leg kicks. Brown shoots for a takedown and gets it against the cage, but scrapes his head against the cage on the way down that cuts him open. Brown controls the position on the ground and lands some good strikes, but Condit keeps moving and eventually is able to switch the position and ends the round on top. 10-9 Brown.

Second round starts faster and Brown continues to step forward. Both charge at the same time and Brown lands a sharp elbow straight down the middle that rocks Condit! He gets his wits about him and lands a strong body kick that has Brown breathing heavy. Condit steps forward with a combo but Brown avoids and then Condit with a flying leg sweep takedown to end up on top. Nice ground and pound from Condit in the top position. He looks to pass into a crucifix position but Brown defending well and the round ends. 19-19 going into the final round.

Final round starts with a big cup shot from Condit that pauses the fight again. Nice combo attempts from Condit before Brown shoots for the takedown against the cage. Condit is able to reverse the position and ends up on Brown’s back landing nice ground and pound and looking for a rear-naked choke but Brown continues to defend. Both men get back to their feet and Condit looks to dump Brown down again but he reverses and ends the round in top position with both guys trading blows. Great fight, 29-28 Condit for me.

Max Holloway def Calvin Kattar via Unanimous Decision (50-43 x2, 50-42)

Holloway comes out busy in the opening round with jabs, low kicks, straights and body shots as he looks to ascertain his dominance early on. Holloway throws a nice combo as Kattar is still trying to adjust his range. Nice jab from Kattar immediately reddens the face of Holloway, and then another one lands for good measure. Significant speed difference right now between Holloway and Kattar, with ‘Blessed’ dominating the exchanges. Spinning back kick to the body lands followed by a straight right by Holloway. First round was a clinic. 10-9 Holloway.

Fast start to the second round from Holloway again as he just constantly throws strikes and keeps it moving. More combos from Holloway land flush but Kattar eats it and keeps walking forward. Nice straight right from Kattar lands flush on the chin but Holloway doesn’t flinch and keeps coming. Nice strike from Holloway drops Kattar, but he gets back up quickly before Holloway can react. Another nice right hand from Kattar but Holloway keeps coming forward. Kattar throws a body kick but Holloway catches it and drops Kattar with a right hand. Huge elbow from Holloway rocks Kattar but he stays on his feet. Holloway pouring it on looking for the finish and lands two more huge elbows. Big head kick wobbles Kattar again and as Holloway charges the buzzer goes. Wow. 20-17 Holloway.

‘Blessed’ comes out quickly again in the third with good strikes and combos. Another big combo from Holloway forces Kattar to clinch but Holloway steps away again. Holloway swings for the elbow again but misses and Kattar replies with a massive uppercut! Big right hand again from Kattar forces Holloway backwards but he steps forward again and lands more combos. Big one-twos land again, Kattar wobbling every time he gets hit clean. Holloway is reading Kattar’s shots, slipping them, showboating and then firing back with his own. This in an unbelievable performance. 30-26 Holloway.

More of the same in this fourth round as Holloway is showing no signs of slowing up. Nice body shots from Holloway are starting to hurt Kattar bad. Big elbow from Holloway again and Kattar is rocked against the cage. Holloway throwing body shots, knees, elbows, straights, uppercuts and all sorts as Kattar just refuses to hit the floor. Body kicks, head kicks, leg kicks and more violent elbows from Holloway but the round goes the full five minutes. Unbelievable performance from Holloway. 40-34.

Final round and Holloway is picking Kattar apart. More punches, more body shots, more kicks and now he’s talking to Kattar. He side steps a Kattar right hand and screams at the commentary desk that he’s the best boxer in the UFC then dodges another punch without even looking. More shots as he continues to showboat for the most one-sided main event I may have ever seen. 50-42 Holloway.

UFC Fight Island 7: Holloway vs Kattar – Main Card Predictions

The UFC is finally back after a month away and kicks off on Fight Island with an absolute belter headlined by Max Holloway taking on Calvin Kattar in the featherweight division.

Both men are looking to make a case for the next title shot with a win, and are accompanied on the card by two legends in Carlos Condit and Matt Brown in the co-main event. Knockout of the year winner Joaquin Buckley also returns to action on the main card, taking on Alessio Di Chirico.

Last time out we had a great ending to the year, correctly predicting 9/11 fights with FIVE perfect picks. Those results mean that since starting our predictions in June 2020, we are 194/303 (63.36%) with 85 perfect picks (43.81%).

We’ll look to improve that record and having already predicted the six prelim fights, we move to the main card here.

MAIN CARD

Punahele Soriano (7-0) vs Dusko Todorovic (10-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Two unbeaten studs go head to head in the middleweight division in the main card opener. Soriano won his UFC debut in December 2019 with a big knockout win, while Todorovic stopped Dequan Townsend in October in his own debut.

Soriano is a decent wrestler, who uses those skills to throw big shots with his hands and take people’s heads off. Todorovic is very similar, but better when it comes to the striking game. If his opponent looks to defend the strikes, he takes the opportunity to land a takedown and control from the top with ground and pound.

It’s a really well matched up fight and while neither have got huge wins in the UFC on their resumรฉ, Todorovic seems to have a slight edge in the striking and a bigger edge in the overall grappling so I expect he’ll take the decision win.
PICK – Dusko Todorovic via Decision

Joaquin Buckley (12-3) vs Alessio Di Chirico (12-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Arguably the fighter who made the biggest impression among MMA fans from the unknown in 2020, Joaquin Buckley returns to the octagon to take on a fighter on a three-fight losing streak at middleweight.

Buckley went 2-1 in the UFC last year, and showed a fantastic striking game that saw him walk opponents down and fire off heavy shots. His chin was tested and failed against Kevin Holland, but stood well against Impa Kasanganay and Jordan Wright. Di Chirico is well rounded and enjoys the clinch aspect of the fight, but he’s out-gunned everywhere for me here.

‘New Mansa’ wants to start the year with a bang and I think he does it early in this one.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 1

Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3) vs Jingliang Li (17-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A return to the octagon for one of the highest rated welterweights in the company, as he steps into the cage for the first time since November 2018 to take on Jingliang Li.

Ponzinibbio is on a seven fight win streak, beating Neil Magny most recently, while Li lost his last fight in March 2020 to none other than Neil Magny. Ponzinibbio is a stunning striker who’s had so many injuries to his hands that we don’t know how this fight goes anymore. Li is a striker himself and has eight knockout wins in his career, but he is not on the level of a 100% Ponzinibbio.

Overhand strikes and powerful calf kicks, partnered up with super fast combinations is a devastating spell for Li. He’s never been knocked out, but he was dropped twice by Jake Matthews and if Ponzinibbio lands flush it could be night night.
PICK – Santiago Ponzinibbio via Decision

Carlos Condit (31-13) vs Matt Brown (22-17) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Co-main event time between two legendary welterweights. Carlos Condit was at one point considered the uncrowned champion, but had lost five in a row prior to his most recent fight – a win over Court McGee back in October. Brown has lost three of his last five, including his most recent fight when he got knocked out by Miguel Baeza.

Condit prefers to strike but is more than confident when it comes to grappling, while Brown leans more the opposite way. Stylistically the fight etches towards Condit, who has double digit wins in both knockouts and submissions throughout his career.

Both men are at the end of their careers in reality and the fight could go either way, but considering Brown’s last four defeats have all come via stoppage I think Condit gets it done with a submission following a knockdown.
PICK – Carlos Condit via Submission, Round 2

Max Holloway (21-6) vs Calvin Kattar (22-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Two of the best featherweights on the planet clash in what could very easily have been a title fight. Holloway is coming off two consecutive losses to champ Alex Volkanovski, although the most recent was very controversial, while Kattar was able to defeat Dan Ige on Fight Island in July in his first main event.

Both men are exceptional boxers and this fight will almost certainly take place exclusively on the feet, with Holloway using his footwork, jab and speed while Kattar looks to use his excellent jab and powerful hooks. Kattar is without doubt the more powerful fighter, but ‘Blessed’ has never been knocked down in his UFC career. He has out-struck every opponent he’s fought in recent memory barring Dustin Poirier during his brief stint at lightweight.

This is my pick for fight of the night and I think Holloway will be able to get it done. Kattar has never fought anyone as good as Holloway and won, while ‘Blessed’ has dispatched of fighters better than Kattar in the past with relative ease. Holloway will pick Kattar off as we go through five rounds and ease to a decision win.
PICK – Max Holloway via Decision

UFC Fight Island 7: Holloway vs Kattar – Prelims Predictions

The UFC is finally back after a month away and kicks off on Fight Island with an absolute belter headlined by Max Holloway taking on Calvin Kattar in the featherweight division.

Both men are looking to make a case for the next title shot with a win, and are accompanied on the card by two legends in Carlos Condit and Matt Brown in the co-main event. Knockout of the year winner Joaquin Buckley also returns to action on the main card, taking on Alessio Di Chirico.

Last time out we had a great ending to the year, correctly predicting 9/11 fights with FIVE perfect picks. Those results mean that since starting our predictions in June 2020, we are 194/303 (63.36%) with 85 perfect picks (43.81%).

We’ll look to improve that record here, starting with the six prelim fights.

PRELIMS

Jacob Kilburn (8-3) vs Austin Lingo (7-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A featherweight bout between two relative youngsters who lost their UFC debuts last time out. Kilburn was beaten by Billy Quarantillo way back in December 2019 in his last fight, while Lingo was beaten by Youssef Zalal back in February 2020 at UFC 247.

Kilburn’s poor ground game got wildly exposed by Quarantillo in that fight, so he’ll be delighted to be matched with a striker like Lingo. The issue for him though, is Lingo is better at it than he is. He finishes fights for fun, with five first round stoppages including four in under a minute.

Lingo has a reach advantage but he prefers to fight in the pocket and that’s where he’ll likely get clipped early and finished.
PICK – Austin Lingo via Knockout, Round 1

Sarah Moras (6-7) vs Vanessa Melo (10-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

These two women are arguably fighting for their future in the UFC after a string of defeats in recent times. Sarah Moras has lost four of her last five stretching back to 2018, with her only win coming over Liana Jojua in September 2019. Melo on the other hand has lost her last three straight, most recently to Karol Rosa on Fight Island in July 2020.

Moras has good submission skills but no wrestling to get the fight down to the ground, while Melo is a striker who barely throws any strikes which explains their lowly position among the division’s pecking order.

It’s a fight that you won’t be too annoyed at missing in an all likelihood, but I think Moras’ ground game is clear enough and she puts out enough volume that she gets a decision win quite comfortably.
PICK – Sarah Moras via Decision

David Zawada (17-5) vs Ramazan Emeev (19-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fun match up in the welterweight division as two very skilled fighters go head to head here. Zawada won his last fight, submitting Abubakar Nurmagomedov in November 2019, while Emeev picked up a win on Fight Island in July 2020 last time out against Nicklas Stolze.

Zawada is a skilful striker who has submission skills, as he showed by winning via tapout from his back last time out while Emeev is as wrestle heavy as they come in the UFC. He will look to get you to the ground as quickly as possible and then essentially glue his chest to yours. Your only way of winning is to stop the takedown, and history suggests Zawada will struggle to do so.

Emeev will close the distance quickly and shoot, then control the bout on the ground until the clock runs down for a one-sided decision win.
PICK – Ramazan Emeev via Decision

Carlos Felipe (9-1) vs Justin Tafa (4-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big boys are in town on Fight Island as these two behemoths meet in the middle of the octagon. Carlos Felipe made a return after three years away with a decision defeat to Sergey Spivak on Fight Island in July 2020, before bouncing back with a win over Yorgan De Castro in October. Tafa made his UFC debut against De Castro, getting knocked out in October 2019 before bouncing back with a knockout win over Juan Adams in February 2020 in his last fight.

Both men are brawlers but Felipe has a bit more about him, with body attacks and great cardio to go with it. Tafa had some good takedowns in his pre-octagon career, but he’s only had five professional fights so it’s tough to go with him for his one-punch power against someone who is more well rounded.

Felipe should be able to move and land strikes enough to earn himself a decision win, so long as his rather durable chin can stay away from any of Tafa’s violent strikes.
PICK – Carlos Felipe via Decision

Wu Yanan (11-3) vs Joselyne Edwards (9-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fight that has been put together on short notice as Joselyne Edwards steps in to make her UFC debut in place of Bethe Correia against Wu Yanan. Yanan hasn’t fought since August 2019, when she lost to Mizuki Inoue, while Edwards won her last bout in July 2020 via knockout.

Yanan and Edwards are both aggressive strikers who have their own deficiencies on the ground but both also carry good power. Edwards mixes in kicks with her punches well, but Yanan is a bit more volume heavy and should probably out-work Edwards. That said though, Edwards is more physical and I think that as long as her cardio holds up then she could get an upset win here.
PICK – Joselyne Edwards via Decision

Phil Hawes (9-2) vs Nassourdine Imavov (9-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The featured prelim bout will see someone’s winning streak end as Hawes and Imavov go to war at 185lbs. Hawes has won each of his last five fights, including an 18 second knockout on his UFC debut at UFC 254, while Imavov has won each of his last six including his UFC debut against Jordan Williams in October.

Hawes is a violent counter striker who is very physical in his approach, while Imavov is a bit more of a rounded fighter. His issue is that when he’s out-gunned on the feet he tends to use his wrestling, but Hawes is the better wrestler here. Imavov has good footwork but with a range and power deficit, Hawes should be able to get the victory here.
PICK – Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 2

Max Holloway fighting to maintain contender status

As the UFC gear up for the first event of the calendar year, Max Holloway is preparing for his first non-title fight since 2016.

After winning the interim featherweight title against Anthony Pettis at UFC 206, ‘Blessed’ went on to defeat Jose Aldo twice and Brian Ortega in featherweight title fights too. Then came a brief move up to lightweight, where he fought Dustin Poirier in an interim title fight at 155lbs.

That fight seemingly started the end of the ‘Blessed’ era, with his cloak of invincibility pierced. He was well beaten in that fight by unanimous decision, with the power and size of Poirier proving too much to overcome.

He then returned to his natural featherweight division to defend his crown against Frankie Edgar, which he did in expert fashion. The performance was so good, it made it look like the previous defeat was simply down to the fact it wasn’t his natural weight class.

Then came fights against Alexander Volkanovski.

Holloway had established a catchphrase by this point that rung true in everyone’s ears; “to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and the best is Blessed.”

But when he came up against the Australian, that went out of the window. In their first fight he was comfortably beaten once more, with Volkanovski too powerful and too fast, chopping away at his lead leg and staying away from the striking war that Holloway wanted.

The rematch was a totally different fight, with Holloway dominating the opening two rounds using his reach well and beating the new champion to the punch. Despite a top performance, Volkanovski fought back in the final three rounds and managed to earn himself a split decision win in a controversial outcome.

It means now that the Hawaiian, who was once seen as the greatest featherweight of all time, has lost three of his last four bouts.

Now as he prepares to enter the octagon againt Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Island 7, he needs to get it back. That cloak of invincibility is pierced, but it’s not destroyed. He is still one of the very best mixed martial artists in the world and can beat anyone on his day.

It hasn’t been his day much recently, but the level of performance has still been there for the most part. Against Kattar though, he will be facing similar challenges as he did as a champion.

A hungry contender looking to make the step up, knowing that a win over the great Max Holloway puts them into title contention no matter how it comes.

Holloway is now among that chasing back, but with consecutive losses to his name he needs this win more than ever before. Another defeat will see him slump down the rankings and to many he will become just an after-thought.

At just 29-years-old, he is still in the absolute prime years but having been around for so long it’s possible that the mileage is catching him up.

To shut those haters down and end those thought processes, Holloway needs a win. Not just to prove to himself and others that he’s still one of the best, but to stay relevant in the conversation at the top of the featherweight division.