Tag Archives: Joseph Benavidez

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Trevin Jones def Mario Bautista via Knockout, Round 2 (0:47)

Tentative start to the card as Bautista and Jones trade leg kicks and feints to feel each other out for the first minute or so of the bout. Bautista pushes forward with a flurry that Jones avoids and the two clinch up, with Jones controlling the underhooks and landing some nice knees to the thigh. Both fighters exchange body kicks, with Bautista landing a bit cleaner. Jones landing lots of leg kicks from the outside, as Bautista responds with some fast hands with a nice hook in particular. Jones lands a left hand and goes for a takedown as the round ends but Bautista fights it off well. 10-9 Bautista but not much in it.

Bautista comes out with some nice combos once again and Jones goes back to the leg kicks. Both exchange strikes and Jones slips a punch then throws a lead uppercut that drops Bautista! He follows up with some big ground and pound and the referee ends it early! Huge knockout win for Jones!

Uros Medic def Aalon Cruz via Knockout, Round 1 (1:40)

Fast start to the fight from Medic as he walks forward and clips Cruz with a big right hand quickly to the temple! Cruz looks for a takedown but Medic brushes him off and lands a big left hand too, then follows it up with a flying knee. Medic lands a barrage of strikes and the fight goes too long before the referee steps in and ends it! What a debut.

Amanda Lemos def Livinha Souza via Knockout, Round 1 (3:39)

Slow start to the bout as Lemos takes the centre of the cage and backs Souza up against the cage, landing jabs and hard leg kicks. Souza looks wary on the feet early on as Lemos lands a straight right hand that drops her! She goes for the ground and pound but Souza tries to grapple to survive and manages to tie her up. She goes for a heel hook but Lemos avoids it and starts landing huge strikes from the ground once again too. Lemos lands a stinging jab that drops Souza again and a few more strikes sees the referee step in and call it a night. What a performance from Lemos.

Sean Brady def Jake Matthews via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (3:28)

Competitive start to the round with both guys standing in range of the other and exchanging small flurries of punches and leg kicks. Matthews using his range advantage well and throwing his jab nicely, but Brady avoiding it well and landing nice leg kicks. Matthews throws a big right hand that drops Brady but Brady doesn’t seem too hurt and manages to recover into top position after Matthews tried to grab the neck. Brady landing nice short shots from the top and trying to control the posture by holding the neck, but Matthews doing well to avoid too much damage in the final minute as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Matthews.

Brady opens up the round a bit more aggressive, taking the centre and being first with the jabs and short hooks. Matthews eventually takes control once again though and uses his length to start throwing some nice strikes. Brady shoots for the takedown and gets it first time and immediately takes the top position. He tries to work to the back but Matthews defends against the cage as Brady starts working for a guillotine. Good defence from Matthews as Brady continues to work the top mount and starts throwing nasty body strikes while wrapping up the neck. Matthews really struggling to do anything from his back as he gives up the position and Brady starts raining down punches as the round ends. Definite Brady round, 19-19 for me.

Matthews takes the centre early in the final round and tries to land a couple of flurries, but Brady trying to slow him down with some chopping leg kicks again. Brady lands a beautiful counter left hook that drops Matthews to one knee, but he stays patient and stays standing. He fakes a takedown but Matthews sprawls and it allows Brady to jump on his neck to threaten a guillotine. He moves to take the back and takes him against the cage to start throwing nice strikes on the ground and dominant once again. Brady continues to work the position and steps over into a head and arm choke to secure the tap out. Brilliant performance.

Kennedy Nzechukwu def Carlos Ulberg via Knockout, Round 2 (3:19)

Fast start from Ulberg as he hurts Nzechukwu! Ulberg on the back foot but threw some front kicks and a combination of strikes wobbles Nzechukwu but he keeps a high guard and survives the beating for now. Nzehukwu continues to walk forward but Ulberg stays patient and lands some nice leg kicks. Nzechukwu starting to come forward and land strikes of his own and a left hand wobbles Ulberg! Ulberg starts throwing some heavy body shots but Nzechukwu keeps coming forward and both men are trading in the centre now! Ulberg is very tired nowbut still landing the heavier shots as the round ends. 10-9 Ulberg. What a round!

A slower start to the round for Ulberg as he starts picking his shots more and landing jabs nicely. Nice on-two from Nzechukwu lands but both men landing heavy on each other. Big body kick from Ulberg followed with a one-two but there’s an accidental thumb in the eye that causes a short break in the action. Ulberg’s volume is higher but the power has diminished greatly from the opening exchanges and Nzechukwu’s cardio is carrying him through this bout right now. Nasty low kicks from Ulberg and a right hand lands then Nzechukwu lands a HUGE right hand!! Oh my god what a knockout!!! Kennedy Nzechukwu!

Tim Elliott def Jordan Espinosa via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-25)

Fast pace to start this fight with Espinosa flicking out jabs and kicks as Elliott walks him down and applies pressure. A clinch against the cage and Elliott lands some nice knees before they break and Espinosa lands a nice left hook before another clinch against the cage. They separate again and Espinosa throws a big head kick that misses by inches and Elliott is able to take him down and get on his back. Espinosa fighting the hands well as Elliott looks for a rear-naked choke but he gets his back to the cage and is able to avert that threat. Elliott controls the position for the rest of the round and should have that in the books. 10-9 Elliot.

Second round starts exactly as the first ended, with Espinosa throwing a head kick that Elliott ducks and gets the takedown but this time Espinosa is able to get back up to his feet quickly. Elliott pushes the pace and lands a second takedown quickly and stays in the half guard grinding away with short strikes. Elliott starting to suffocate Espinosa with pressure and a great wrestling game, riding the back and looking to sink in a rear-naked choke. Espinosa gets away from it but Elliott is smothering him and beating him up bad as he lands elbows and chokes him with his forearm until the round ends. That’s a 10-8 round, so 20-17 Elliott.

Espinosa opens the round with a flying knee but Elliott catches him with ease and takes the fight down to the ground immediately and starts throwing heavy strikes. Espinosa throwing some elbows from the bottom and cuts Elliott open badly, but he continues to be completely smothered by the top game. Elliott throwing heavy shots and some elbows of his own and then Espinosa throws up an armbar attempt that Elliott avoids and he controls from top position for the rest of the round. Great performance from Elliott.

PRELIMS

Kai Kara-France def Rogerio Bontorin via Knockout, Round 1 (4:55)

Good start to the round from Bontorin as he comes forward and strikes well, with a few leg kicks and some nice right hands. A right cross wobbles Kara-France and Bontorin goes in for a takedown and dumps him down with ease, then takes the back immediately. Bontorin threatening the rear-naked choke straight away and dominating on the back, flowing perfectly with a body triangle locked in but Kara-France is fighting the hands brilliantly to avoid the submission. He finally shakes Bontorin off and they get back to the feet with 30 seconds remaining. Bontorin looks tired but Kara-France comes forward and lands a three punch combo that puts Bontorin out!! Walk off KO!! Wow!!

Askar Askarov def Joseph Benavidez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2. 30-26)

Good competitive start to the fight as Askarov throws some nice front kicks from the lead leg, while Benavidez looks to throw looping hooks. Askarov’s kicks doing damage early on to the mid-section, but Benavidez lands a nice one-two. Askarov keeps it coming and lands a big right hook, then a left hand behind it. Askarov eats a right hand from Benavidez then lands another right hand of his own, before he goes in for the takedown. He closes the distance, wins the scrambles and lifts before taking the back and threatening the submission before the round ends. 10-9 Askarov.

Benavidez comes out strong in the second round, looking to swarm him against the cage with his looping hooks but Askarov takes it and returns fire with his own. Askarov wobbles Benavidez with a right hand and goes right back to the takedown attempts, getting a lift and putting the fight on the ground immediately. Askarov dominating the grappling exchanges, landing short strikes on the ground while taking the back and threatening with choke positions too. Benavidez stays on the ground for the remainder of the round until with five seconds to go Askarov cracks him with a huge right hand on the feet. Huge round for Askarov again. 20-18.

Final round and Askarov staying very patient as Benavidez comes forward knowing he needs a finish. Lovely question mark kick lands flush on the chin of Benavidez but he eats it and comes forward again, moving forward with a head kick of his own that just misses. Right hook from Askarov lands and knocks Benavidez off balance but he gets back up quickly. Head kick again from Askarov is partially blocked by Benavidez but still lands enough to wobble him as we enter the final two minutes. Benavidez throws a big superman punch that lands clean but Askarov eats it and replies with a jab into the final minute. Lots of attempts from Benavidez for big strikes but he’s nowhere near Askarov and this should be a comfortable decision win. 30-27.

Kyler Phillips def Song Yadong via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Positive start for Phillips as he comes with a big right hand earlier then a spinning kick that just misses. Yadong eventually takes the centre and starts throwing some straights but Phillips throws a stunning head kick that lands flush but Yadong just eats it. Amazing. Phillips tries another spin but misses again as Yadong lands with a nice uppercut then misses with a spin kick of his own. Phillips landing first with his jabs and right straights so far but Yadong continues to move forward. Phillips changes levels and goes for a takedown but Yadong scrambles back up to his feet immediately and eats a one-two as the round ends with an exchange against the cage. 10-9 Phillips.

Yadong comes out strong in the second round but Phillips being first again. Phillips slowing down a little from the first round but still landing heavy and as they break from a clinch he throws a beautiful spinning back kick again. Song trying to close the distance and landing big hooks but Phillips doing well to be first and stay out of the way. Nice jab from Phillips knocks Yadong off balance on his way in, then after some back and forth on the feet Phillips slides in for a big takedown and gets it beautifully. Yadong scrambles his way back to the feet once again but he’s starting to look desperate. Big right hand lands from Yadong but the round ends with both men fresh. 20-18 Phillips.

Phillips looks calm as they enter the final round, with Yadong knowing he needs the finish. Phillips shoots for a takedown early but Yadong sprawls quickly and gets up to throw heat straight away. Nice flurry to the body ends with a left hook to the chin, but Phillips moves away and keeps his guard high. Both men exchange a straight right and Yadong is starting to close the distance a bit more and land better shots. Another exchange in the pocket that Yadong wins, but Phillips shoots in for a takedown and for the first time is able to keep him down. Phillips looks to take his back but Yadong reverses and ends up on top in the final minute. The round ends with Yadong on top and Phillips looking for a submission in what should be a Phillips decision win. 29-28.

Dominick Cruz def Casey Kenney via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)

Cruz starts with an immediate takedown attempt that is sprawled on by Kenney but breaks away from the front headlock position and starts landing some leg kicks. Kenney takes the centre and starts backing Cruz up against the cage with both guys exchanging low kicks. Big left hand lands from Cruz but Casey eats it and keeps walking forward, before Kenney throws another strong leg kick. Very back and forth round, I edge it 10-9 to Cruz.

Strong start to the round from Kenney as he lands a big leg kick that drops Cruz to one knee for a second. Cruz rallies with a nice one-two but Kenney starting to get the timing down a bit more and is landing cleaner shots now. Straight left from Kenney lands before two more leg kicks. Cruz lands a nice right hand to the body followed by a straight right to the face, but Kenney keeps coming forward and throws a body kick. Cruz avoids a right hand and charges forward with several clean shots to the face but Kenney takes them and lands two back of his own. Big right hand from Cruz lands but Kenney responds with another leg kick. Left hand from Kenney lands on the chin and then he grabs the neck for a guillotine attempt but Cruz is safe and the round ends. 19-19 but close yet again.

Cruz shoots in for a takedown early on then abandons it and lands a big left hook up top. Shoots back in for a takedown again against the cage, but Kenney looks to defend with a guillotine attempt although Cruz is on the right side to avoid the threat too much. Cruz takes half guard and starts landing some body shots but Kenney then gets up to his feet with ease and they go back to striking. Left hand from Kenney staggers Cruz who then is able to evade an attack and lands a counter right hand. Kenney lands a couple of big hooks but Cruz responds with three big punches of his own as we enter the final 90 seconds. Cruz denies another takedown attempt from Kenney and lands a big knee to the body, then follows up with a one two. Cruz then shoots for a takedown of his own and gets Kenney down and holds him down against the cage to see out the fight. 29-28 Cruz for me, but a great fight.

MAIN CARD

Aleksandar Rakic def Thiago Santos (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Tense opening to the fight as both men throw out feints and feelers but neither committing too much just yet. Santos charges forward with his left hand but Rakic steps back and lands a nice check right hook. A few leg kicks from each guy as Rakic takes the centre, but Santos staying patient on the outside. Big left hand from Santos but it’s blocked well from Rakic and they reset in the middle. Rakic fakes the right hand and Santos throws his left, which he slips and he throws a big head kick but Santos ducks under it. Nice jab from Rakic then a big body kick from Santos lands. 10-9 Rakic but not much action in that one.

Rakic takes the centre immediately as the round starts and lands a nice jab but both men being cautious once again. Rakic faking a level change and Santos threatens with a kick up the middle before trying to close the distance with his left hand but just missing. Rakic clinches up with Santos against the cage and both guys trade knees to the body and thighs. Another action-less round for the most part as we enter the final minute. Santos swings his left hand but misses and Rakic counters with a right hand and the round ends. 20-18 but not the most impressive performance so far.

Santos shoots for a takedown early on in the third round but Rakic is able to hold him off easily and turns the tables to put Santos against the cage. Huge body kick from Santos lands and Rakic tries to grab the leg but it looks like it hurt him a little. They trade leg kicks again before more feinting and missed hooks from both fighters. Rakic goes for a takedown but Santos defends well and starts landing some big elbows to the head. Rakic tries again but it’s defended well and Santos lands some nice knees in the clinch that follows as we enter the final minute. Not much happens in the final minute and it should be a win for Rakic on the scorecards. 30-27 or 29-28.

Islam Makhachev def Drew Dober via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (1:37)

Good start from Dober as he fires in a low kick followed by a jab, before Makhahev shoots for a single leg takedown and gets the fight to the ground immediately. Makhachev in half guard but very heavy on top in a chest to chest position as he goes body head with strikes. Makhachev slides into mount momentarily but Dober gets it back to half guard before he passes into side control. Makhachev tries to slide onto the back of Dober but he manages to move away before Makhachev slides through quickly back into side control. He takes the back and then transitions to an armbar, but runs out of time and Dober survives. 10-9 Makhachev.

Second round once again and Makhachev avoids a big hook before another single leg takedown and trip gets the fight back to the ground. Makhachev is able to tie the legs of Dober up between his own and starts pressuring with his top game again with body strikes. Completely dominant so far from Makhachev in full guard, landing more and more ground and pound with a flush elbow to the face. Round ends with Makhacehv in control, 10-8 round. 20-17.

Dober throws a big left hand that Makhachev slips and then he goes for a bear hug like takedown and gets it. Dober attempts a kimura to defend but Makhachev is able to step over and defend it. As soon as Dober lets go Makhachev slides his shoulder under the chin of Dober and secures the submission out of nowhere! Super impressive performance from Makhachev.

Aljamain Sterling def Petr Yan via Disqualification (Illegal Knee), Round 4 (4:29)

Fast paced start to this fight from Sterling as he moves forward quickly and is right in the face of Yan applying lots of pressure. Constantly touching him and kicking his body and making it really uncomfortable. Body kick attempt from Sterling lands and gets caught by Yan who throws him to the ground. Sterling lands a flying knee and keeps coming forward then gets a takedown himself. Yan is able to get back to the feet then lands a big right hand that drops Sterling! Both fighters keep up the high pace for the rest of the round, super close. 10-9 Sterling but could go either way.

Sterling comes out fast again in the second round and goes for a takedown but Yan is able to defend it well and ends up standing with Sterling on the floor under him. The referee stands them up after some leg kicks from Yan and then Sterling goes in for the takedowns once again, but Yan defends well for the most part. Sterling goes for the takedown against the cage but Yan is defending well as we enter the final minute. Sterling steps away and tries to trip him but it fails and he continues to come forward. Yan ends up behind Sterling and takes him down for the final 15 seconds. 20-18 Sterling for me, but could be 19-19.

Third round and Yan is starting to go for the body a bit more as Sterling starts to slow down. Sterling still touching him with jabs but Yan is taking over now a bit more, landing more shots and seeing everything Sterling is doing. Sterling trying to throw more strikes but he’s considerably tired and the champ is opening up a bit more with some takedowns of his own as well as a few solid right hands. 29-28 either way.

Fourth round and Yan is taking over the fight now. Sterling is shooting in with lazy takedown attempts and Yan is dominating the striking exchanges and landing at will almost. Yan stuffing all the takedown attempts at chopping away at the legs and body of Sterling, controlling the entire pace of the fight. Yan holds Sterling down and throws an illegal knee to the head of Sterling! Oh my goodness. Sterling is out of it right now and the referee calls in the doctor and waves the fight off. Wow. New champion via DQ.

Amanda Nunes def Megan Anderson via Submission, Round 1 (2:03)

Anderson takes the centre of the cage and Nunes takes her time to step forward.. big overhand right lands from Nunes and rocks Anderson immediately. She steps forward and lands two more that drop Anderson. She lands some ground and pound then switches to an armbar and triangle at the same time to force the submission. The best ever.

Jan Blachowicz def Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision (49-45 x2, 49-46)

Composed start to the fight from both fighters as Adesanya looks to get his range with feints while Blachowicz takes his time coming forward. Adesanya throws a few head kicks that are blocked by Blachowicz, who throws a few leg kicks that land and some right hands that miss. A few more leg kicks from each fighter as the fight continues at a relatively slow pace. Adesanya lands a nice body kick but is forced backwards as Blachowicz comes forward with a left straight. Round comes to an end without much action but probably an Adesanya round for pressing the action.

Adesanya comes out with a bit more speed in this round and flicks out his leg kicks well, but Blachowicz starts checking them. Blachowicz fires back with a nice one-two that lands on Adesanya but doesn’t connect quite flush. Adesanya chopping away at the leg of Blachowicz who lands a nice jab to the body and closest the distance and tries to clinch, but Adesanya escapes quickly. Adesanya lands an inadvertant low blow that causes a very short break in the action before a second low blow moments later is also accidental and causes a break. Blachowicz comes forward with a flurry into a clinch pop Adesanya gets out and keeps landing jabs and low kicks. 20-18 Adesanya but not a lot of big moments so far.

Blachowicz comes out harder in the third round and starts blasting some punches that land, then shoots in for a takedown and gets it. He tries to take Adesanya’s back but Izzy slips away and counters with a big left hand that rocks Blachowicz! Adesanya lands a few jabs but stays relatively calm before Blachowicz clinches up with him again against the cage but Adesanya once again pulls away. Both fighters exchange jabs and then Blachowicz lands a nice stiff right straight. Adesanya goes for a body kick that gets caught but nothing comes from it and the round ends. 30-27 Izzy, but could be 29-28.

Fourth round and Adesanya is opening up a bit more now. Some nice jabs and leg kicks land as Blachowicz is still looking for the big hooks and straights. More of the same as the round progresses before Blachowicz shoots for a takedown and gets it. From there on, he controls from half guard and side control and drops big ground and pound strikes and just wears on Adesanya. Jan’s round without a doubt. 39-37 Izzy for me but could be 38-38.

Final round and Blachowicz is breathing very heavily, so Adesanya comes forward with a bit more pace. Lots of jabs and he tries to follow it up with a straight right hand but Blachowicz avoids. Not much urgency from either fighter just yet and Blachowicz blasts a takedown half way through the round. Blachowicz starts hammering away with ground and pound and moves into half guard. He continues to control the round and then moves into mount as it comes to an end to reign down punches. 3-2 either way.. good fight.

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya – Prelims predictions

The biggest and best card of 2021 is finally upon as as a title fight triple header takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Petr Yan will defend his bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling in potentially the best 135lbs title fight ever, before Amanda Nunes returns to the octagon to fight Megan Anderson in a featherweight title fight. The card will be headlined by Israel Adesanya trying to become just the fifth dual-weight simultaneous champion in the companies history as he moves up to light heavyweight to take on Jan Blachowicz.

Elsewhere on the card, Islam Makhachev returns to the octagon to take on Drew Dober while bantamweight great Dominick Cruz headlines the prelims against Casey Kenney in a do-or-die fight for his career on a blockbuster 15 fight card.

Last week at UFC Vegas 20 we had a poor night for predictions going 4/9 on the night, although it was worsened by a majority draw and a dodgy decision too. It moved us to 240/380 (63.16%) with 108 perfect picks (45%) since starting our predictions.

We’ll look to move ahead with a big week this week on a stacked card, breaking the card down into three this week. We’ve already looked at the early prelims here, so move onto the rest of the prelims now.


Rogerio Bontorin (16-2) vs Kai Kara-France (21-9) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A really enticing flyweight bout here between two guys looking to climb the rankings in the UFC. Bontorin lost his only fight in 2020 via decision to Ray Borg, while Kara-France has lost two of his last three to Brandon Moreno and most recently Brandon Royval at UFC 253 with a win over Tyson Nam sandwiched between them.

Bontorin is a fighter who loves to fight wherever the bout goes. He’s a tireless striker and relentless with pressure but probably prefers the fight on the ground where he can fish for submissions as his 11 wins via tap-out show. Kara-France himself is a great striker with good striking defence but also excellent wrestling defence. It’s a traditional grappler vs striker bout, but with both guys willing to enter the other’s world if needs be. Both can hold their own in the other’s strengths and it makes it a competitive bout. Kara-France’s volume is good and defensively he is better, but Bontorin could potentially get the takedown early and throw this all out of the water but I think he gets it done.
PICK – Kai Kara-France via Decision

Joseph Benavidez (28-7) vs Askar Askarov (12-0-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A really super fight in the 125lbs division as Joseph Benavidez returns to the octagon for the first time since being choked unconscious by Deiveson Figueiredo in a title fight on Fight Island, while Askar Askarov looks to remain unbeaten after beating Alexandre Pantoja on the same card.

Benavidez is a sensational fighter and arguably one of the best to never win UFC gold and is coming off consecutive losses for the first time in his illustrious career. Askarov on the other hand is 2-0-1 in the UFC, drawing his debut against Brandon Moreno before defeating Tim Elliot and Pantoja. Benavidez is a tremendous striker with great speed and combinations, with a great ground game and also great defence while Askarov is a great power striker with super technique.

The real question in this fight is whether getting separated from consciousness by Figueiredo twice in five months has a lasting effect on him. I think he’s too experienced to let it and Benavidez’s hand speed should cause him problems but it’s a super close fight.
PICK – Joseph Benavidez via Decision

Song Yadong (16-4-1) vs Kyler Phillips (8-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at bantamweight as the ever-impressive Yadong returns to the octagon to take on ‘Matrix’ on a three-fight win streak. Yadong beat Marlon Vera back in May last year, while Phillips got two wins in 2020 against Gabriel Silva and Cameron Else.

Yadong is a brilliant boxer and at 23 looks as obvious a prospect as you’ll ever see, but he showed in his last two fights that he still has plenty to work on in his game. Phillips is a power striker himself, who’s not quite as technical but is arguably just as solid when it comes to a knockout finish. His gas tank has given him issues in the past and Phillips will look to use his wrestling skills if they become prevalent once again, but I believe Yadong will address those issues in this fight and be able to strike his way to a win.
PICK – Song Yadong via Decision

Dominick Cruz (22-3) vs Casey Kenney (16-2-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The featured prelim bout is a bantamweight banger too as the legendary Dominick Cruz returns to the octagon to take on the impressive prospect in Casey Kenney. Cruz’s last fight was a defeat to Henry Cejudo at UFC 249, with the referee’s decision to stop it still criticised to this day. On the other hand, Kenney went 3-1 in 2020 following up a defeat to Merab Dvalishvili with wins over Louis Smolka, Heili Alateng and then Nathaniel Wood at UFC 254.

Cruz is one of the best ever, with incredible footwork and excellent striking to go with his world class wrestling base. Kenney is a super grappler with a good striking toolbox too, but his gas tank issues have been a big deal in recent bouts. He was visibly tiring in his win over Wood, but that’s a completely different level of fighter compared to what we know Cruz to be. Kenney will march forward and put pressure on Cruz, but ‘The Dominator’ is phenomenal at evading big strikes for the most part and I think he will be able to use that experience to get a win – but it’s entirely dependable on which Cruz turns up.
PICK – Dominick Cruz via Decision

UFC Fight Island: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Serghei Spivac def Carlos Felipe via Majority Decision (29-27 x2, 28-28)

Two young heavyweight bulls step into the Octagon for this one and the Brazilian starts out strong. Felipe lands heavy shots and is coming forward against Spivac, who is looking a little bit gun shy. Felipe lands clean punches for the end of the round and likely takes it 10-9.

Second round sees Spivac go in for the takedown after landing some strikes early on. He starts engaging in the clinch more and landing nice body kicks too, while Felipe continues to step forward and strike hard punches. He’s marking Spivac’s face up with strikes but I think the Moldovan takes the round. 19-19.

Third round and Spivac absolutely dominant. He gets the takedown against the cage early on and lands countless strikes for the full five minutes of the round. Felipe makes barely any attempts to get up and gets beaten down for a 10-8 round. 29-27 Spivac for me.

Arman Tsarukyan def David Ramos via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

An exciting opening round as Ramos and Tsarukyan exchange wild strikes and spinning attacks. Tsarukyan landed a big right overhand that drops Ramos and gets into top position, landing big punches and working patiently for the submission. A big round for Tsarukyan, 10-9.

Second round is even more impressive. Tsarukyan lands some nice strikes and secures the takedown, becoming the first fighter to take Ramos down in the UFC. He’s staying on the outside well and landing perfect counter strikes. Another big round for him and Ramos needs a finish in the final round. 20-18.

Third and final round now and Tsarukyan is putting on a clinic. The movement and counter strikes are superb but the flowing combinations are just stunning. He’s busted Ramos wide open in this round and is landing big right hands and head kicks. Ramos pressuring forward to try and secure a takedown but he’s just not close. He finally gets the fight down with 30 seconds to go and goes for the guillotine but it’s not even close and Tsarukyan will take a very, very impressive win.

PRELIMS

Amir Albazi def Malcolm Gordon via Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 1 (4:42)

A competitive first round between these Flyweights. Albazi had the better of the exchanges on the feet early, landing nice left hooks and a beautiful body kick before he decided to switch it up and go for the single leg takedown. He secured the takedown and and landed a few strikes well. A slick pass into full mount after some elbows and Gordon gives up his back before exploding out and ending up on top. Albazi throws up a triangle choke though, adjusts it and pulls down on the head and Gordon has no option but to tap. Very slick from Albazi and an impressive win.

Brett Johns def Montel Jackson via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A very high level wrestling match in the first round. Johns with his usual aggressive approach with the clinch against the cage but Jackson showing his wrestling stripes too with excellent wrist control. As they break apart towards the end of the round, Jackson lands a huge one-two that drops Johns and he follows it up with some huge elbows in the ground and pound. He looks like he’s trying to finish it but Johns survives. 10-9 Jackson.

Second round begins and once again Johns goes straight for the single leg takedown. Jackson’s long limbs are helping him to relieve Johns’ pressure well with his large frame just getting him out of positions well. In the clinch Jackson lands some nice body shots before a big double leg takedown from Johns gets Jackson down. He takes the back and locks in a body triangle but Jackson is so strong he holds onto one wrist and refuses to let go. He eventually turns away from the body triangle and ends the round in full guard on top, but it’s a Johns round for me. 19-19.

Final round now and Johns once again wastes no time going for the takedown, but Jackson is just so physically strong and fights it well. 3 minutes to go and Johns eventually gets a big takedown away from the cage, although Jackson jumps straight back up. He lands some nice punches and then as Johns goes in for another takedown Jackson lands a big knee that Johns eats before securing another takedown. Once again though, Jackson gets back to his feet quickly. Final 90 seconds and Johns gets another takedown and takes the back before a burst from Jackson. Johns threatens with a guillotine but Jackson escapes and the round ends against the cage. Great fight. 29-28 Johns for me.

Joel Alvarez def Joe Duffy via Submission (Guillotine), Round 1 (2:25)

Fight opens up with both men exchanging big, hard leg kicks. Duffy throws a straight right hand and shoots for a takedown but Alvarez grabs the neck on the way down. He sinks in a deep guillotine, throws the leg over and forces the tap-out. What an upset win!

Grant Dawson def Nad Narimani via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-26, 29-27)

A frenetic pace in the first round as this super exciting match-up lives up to its hype. Hard low kicks from Dawson, and he loses balance on his own kick. Narimani flies in to try and catch him cold and gets caught with a huge flying knee. He secures the takedown from there and proceeds to dominate the rest of the round. Strong ground and pound strikes and eventually takes the back before the end of the round. 10-9 Dawson.

Second round starts with another of those huge flying knees but Narimani eats it and lands a big right hook of his own that unbalances Dawson. A few more strikes exchanged before Dawson secures another big takedown and starts attacking with the ground and pound. Relentless pressure forces Narimani to give up his back and he latches on immediately with the body triangle and goes for the rear naked choke, but Narimani just about survives the round. 20-18 Dawson.

Third and final round sees Dawson showing off his new found striking skills. Teet kicks followed up with brutal calf kicks, head kicks and nice hooks see him dominate the round again as Narimani pushes forward looking for a knockout. He starts landing clean in the final 30 seconds, but Dawson goes straight back to his wrestling game and sees the round out. 30-27 Dawson for me.

Roman Dolidze def Khadis Ibragimov via Knockout (Knee) Round 1, (4:15)

Heavy low kick to start by Dolidze as the two fighters taunt each other trying to engage in a striking fight. Dolidze goes to the mat and starts looking for a grappling game but Ibragimov avoids going to the ground and lands some heavy leg kicks. Referee stands the fight up again and Dolidze throws a big head kick and catches Ibragimov flush on the chin with his knee! He follows up with big punches and this one is all over! Big win for the Georgian debutant.

MAIN CARD

Askar Askarov def Alexandre Pantoja via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Immediate guillotine attempt from Pantoja and it’s in super tight! Askarov pops his head out and ends up on top but Pantoja throws up a triangle and then an armbar all within the opening minute. Askarov now controlling the positions and lands some nice strikes from the guard before wrestling against the cage looking for a takedown. Pantoja rolls through and after a bit more grappling, he eventually takes the back. He locks in a body triangle and is searching for the rear naked choke but the buzzer goes for the end of the round. 10-9 Pantoja but that could have gone either way.

Second round keeps up a super high pace as both men look to strike a little bit more. Askarov closing the distance looking for takedowns but Pantoja is scrambling so, so well. Constant pressure and takedown attempts from Askarov but Pantoja rolls through yet again and ends up trying to take the back again. He ends up on top on the back of Askarov at the end of the round but he can’t flatten him out. 19-19. What a fight.

Pantoja is visibly tiring in this round and Askarov looking to push the pace still with his takedowns. ‘The Cannibal’ has kept this round on the feet though and is landing some nice shots. Askarov goes for a kick and Pantoja catches it and lands a big right hand that drops him! Great defence on the ground from the Russian though and he gets back up immediately More exchanges on the feet but this one comes to an end. Super close three rounds. 29-28 Pantoja for me but can’t complain if it goes the other way.

Ariane Lipski def Luana Carolina via Submission (Knee Bar), Round 1 (1:28)

Lipski comes out and throws two big bombs that get the attention of Carolina early. She throws another one-two and drops Carolina immediately, then launches into the guard of her opponent. Some grappling exchanges leads to Carolina locking up a calf slicer from the bottom but Lipski is sitting up, unhooks the leg and extends a gruesome knee bar over her head. Carolina screams in pain, taps out and this one is over in the first round.

Rafael Fiziev def Marc Diakiese via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Fight begins with some feelers being thrown out by both guys. Diakiese throws a few leg kicks and its responded to with a big body kick by Fiziev. The Russian throws in with a takedown attempt and gets the English fighter down. Good defence by Diakiese and the fight eventually returns to the feet but Fiziev is picking him apart. Another big body kick followed by ripping body punches causes Diakiese to shoot but Fiziev deals well and lands some ground and pound of his own. Both men get back to the feet and Diakiese lands a nice hook but the rounds ends in the Russian’s favour. 10-9 Fiziev.

Another very impressive round for Fiziev who continues to pick apart Diakiese all over the Octagon. No takedown attempts in this round but Fiziev out-striking his opponent using power shots and fantastic punch choice. Superb body kicks echoing throughout the empty arena by Fiziev, as Diakiese tries to push forward. Diakiese throws a head kick but Fiziev dodges it with a matrix-like move. Pure control from Fiziev in Diakiese’s world. 20-18.

Diakiese knows he needs a finish and comes out aggressive, but Fiziev avoiding the big punches and landing with body kicks and punches of his own. Good distance management from Fiziev as he avoids big strikes and lands jabs and kicks. Diakiese pushes forward and lands a huge right hand that rocks Fiziev, but the Russian responds by shaking his head and egging the Brit on to come forward. A few more decent shots lands but Fiziev eats them well and continues to push forward as the round ends. 29-28 Fiziev for me.

Jack Hermansson def Kelvin Gastelum via Submission (Heel Hook), Round 1 (1:18)

Fight starts with both men throwing out feeler kicks and touching the hands to figure out distance. Gastelum steps in and throws a combination but Hermansson ducks and clinches, pushing forward to attempt a takedown. On the way down though Gastelum swings the momentum and reverses the position ending up on top. As he gets up to separate, Hermansson holds onto the foot of Gastelum and locks in a heel hook submission. Gastelum tries to be calm but ‘Joker’ tightens it up and forces the tap. Amazing.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Joseph Benavidez

Fight opens up with Figuieredo taking the centre of the cage with Benavidez looking to bounce around on the outside with leg kicks. Figueiredo lands a huge right hook that connects to the top of the head and drops Benavidez! He jumps on top trying to finish it landing big elbows but Benavidez is fighting it trying to recover. Figueiredo takes the back and locks in a tight rear naked choke but once again Benavidez escapes and manages to get back to the feet. Figueiredo lands two more big shots that drop Benavidez again. He launches another attack of ground and pound with vicious elbows, cutting Benavidez wide open. Benavidez rolls over and Figueiredo takes the back and locks in another super-deep rear naked choke. Benavidez doesn’t tap but goes unconscious and Figueiredo is the NEW flyweight champion of the world.

UFC Fight Island: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2 – Main Card Predictions

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 โ€“ 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.

Top 10 Fighters To Never Win A UFC Title

So.. BT Sport caused a bit of a fuss, didn’t they?

Following on from the midweek Fight Island card, BT Sport compiled a list from each of their analysts of the best fighters to never win a UFC title. They discounted interim titles, which opened the door for several fighters but their picks caused backlash online.

British MMA legend Dan Hardy, who once fought Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title included names such as Kenny Florian and Jon Fitch, while Adam Catterall had Dan Henderson as No.1 on his list.

After seeing these lists and seeing obvious names left out, I felt obliged to compile my own list.

10. Alexander Gustafsson

UFC 232 Weigh-ins : News Photo

The big Swede in his prime was one of the best light-heavyweights we’ve ever seen in the UFC. His elite level boxing saw him KO plenty of opponents, while he was also the first man to ever successfully complete a takedown against Jon Jones. Gustafsson got three shots at the title during his tenure but unfortunately for him came up against two of the best mixed martial artists of all time. He controversially lost to Jon Jones in his first title fight, with many describing that bout as the best UFC title fight ever. He then took on Daniel Cormier following Jones’ stripping of the belt and was outwrestled by an Olympian to a decision loss. He got a final chance against Jones again when Cormier relinquished the 205lbs belt after winning the heavyweight title, but was outclassed and beaten in a TKO loss. In any other generation without Jones and DC around, I’m confident Gustafsson would have reigned supreme for a long time at 205.

9. Alistair Overeem

UFC Fight Night: Weigh-ins : News Photo

A kickboxing legend, Overeem holds the record for most professional fights on his record before receiving a UFC title shot. His only opportunity came against Stipe Miocic in 2016 in his 57th fight, and he was viciously KO’d in the first round. That doesn’t take away from a stunning resumรฉ that has seen the Dutchman take out legends like Brock Lesnar, Fabricio Werdum, Junior Dos Santos, Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Hunt, Vitor Belfort and Frank Mir. He’s unlikely to ever get to the point of title recognition again now at the age of 40 but his career will go down as one of the best in MMA heavyweight history.

8. Joseph Benavidez

The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Benavidez v Cejudo : News Photo

The flyweight legend has been around in the UFC since before the division’s inception back in 2012. He competed for the inaugral title, being beaten by Demetrious Johnson before building his way back up for a rematch just over a year later. He was beaten again by ‘Mighty Mouse’, this time by knockout. He went on a run of 9 wins in his next 10 fights before receiving a third title shot earlier this year, for the strap vacated by Henry Cejudo. A headbutt saw him get cut wide open against Deiveson Figuereido and then quickly knocked-out, meaning he is 0-3 in title fights for the Flyweight belt. He was the last man to defeat Henry Cejudo prior to ‘Triple C’ retiring and will get another chance this weekend on Fight Island to finally claim UFC gold. For now though, he ranks on this list.

7. Jorge Masvidal

UFC 244: Masvidal v Diaz : News Photo

A to Kamaru Usman at UFC 251 means ‘Gamebred’ still has a place on this list. Street Jesus has gained mainstream notoriety in the last year and a half following a crazy run of viral moments, but he has been around for 17 years now. His record in the UFC is very good and he has beaten plenty of world class fighters during his time in the company. He’s obviously most known for his flying knee finish of undefeated Ben Askren, while he has KO’d Donal Cerrone, Darren Till and Nate Diaz too. But his all-round skillset is definitely underrated. He showed his wrestling skill in the defeat to Usman where he stuffed several takedowns, while he also has a submission win over Michael Chiesa. Masvidal is among the best to never win a belt but is on a mission to change that in the near future. If he never succeeds though, he will without doubt be one of the best to never hold a UFC championship.

6. Urijah Faber

UFC 199 Weigh-in : News Photo

The Bantamweight king, who never held Bantamweight gold in the UFC. ‘The California Kid’ came to the UFC having been dominant in the WEC 135lbs division, where he held the title and dominated the division. When he switched allegiances after Zuffa purchased the company, he challenged Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight title as the last man to beat Cruz. He was defeated via decision and when Cruz had to relinquish the title due to persistent injuries, it was Faber who stepped up. In the bout for the vacant title, he was once again beaten though – this time by Renan Barao. Cruz eventually returned and reclaimed his title, which set up a trilogy fight between himself and Faber and the founder of Team Alpha Male once again fell at the final hurdle. Despite never winning the gold, Faber is recognised as one of the best Bantamweight’s of all time and thus deserves his place on this list.

5. Chad Mendes

UFC 189 Weigh-in : News Photo

Maybe a left-field shout, but Mendes for me is in a similar position to Alexander Gustafsson. In his generation had it not been for the best of all time reigning supreme, Mendes would have almost certainly had at least one reign with the championship. His first fight with Jose Aldo came after an 11-0 start to his career but he was knocked out by a brutal knee to the face at the end of the first round. He worked hard and went on another 5 fight win streak to earn a rematch where he took Aldo the full distance in the Fight of the Year in 2014. In that bout, he was outclassed once again but it was at a time where Aldo was literally seen as unbeatable. He’s also remembered for his short-notice fight with Conor McGregor in which he was knocked-out in the second round. What many forget though is that Mendes dominated the first and second round before that KO and with a full fight-camp, it’s very possible we would have seen a different outcome in that fight and the whole Conor McGregor era would have ended before it ever began. Mendes tainted his legacy by failing a drugs test towards the end of his career but he should be remembered for being the best Featherweight to never hold the belt.

4. Nick Diaz

UFC 183: Silva v Diaz : News Photo

The Stockton gangster is far more remembered for his antics outside of the cage than inside of it, but that doesn’t depreciate his skill and ability. The older brother to Nate, Diaz won the Strikeforce and EliteXC welterweight titles before the UFC bought them out. He entered the UFC and beat BJ Penn, before losing to Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight title. He then lost to champion Georges St-Pierre in a title bout before his infamous no contest against Anderson Silva. That was his last fight in the company after USADA banned him for five years for marijuana use and it will always be a question of ‘what if’ for Nick Diaz. His record shows however that he is among the best to do it at welterweight and he can count himself mightily unlucky that he never got to be champion in the UFC at 170lbs.

3. Dustin Poirier

UFC 242: Weigh-ins : News Photo

Two divisions, one title shot and yet he’s never held the gold in the UFC. He started off in the featherweight division and amassed an impressive record of 8-3 at 145lbs before deciding to move up to lightweight. Since his step up in weight and competition, Poirier has lost just twice in 13 fights with impressive knockout wins over the likes of Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje. He held the interim title belt after beating Max Holloway, but was submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov in his only UFC title shot to date last September. He is the best pure boxer in the 155lbs division and has knockout power for days but his ground game is also underrated. 7 submission wins in his career prove that his ground game is up there with the best too and and in any other generation of fighters he’d likely be at the top of the mountain. He just happened to be around in the most stacked division of all time with some of the best fighters of all time. He has time to get there but it’s a tough ask so for now, he has to make do with a place on this list.

2. Yoel Romero

UFC 213 & TUF Finale Open Workouts : News Photo

The Soldier of God. Yoel Romero. How has he never won a UFC title? The Cuban wrestling machine amassed a record of 8-0 when he entered the UFC including wins of Lyoto Machida, Jacare Souza and Chris Weidman. It led him to a UFC title shot against Robert Whittaker, where he lost via a unanimous decision in a close fought fight. He then fought Luke Rockhold for the interim belt, only to miss weight and be ineligible. That didn’t stop him knocking Rockhold out cold and earning a rematch with Whittaker later that year. He then missed weight for that bout too, meaning he was ineligible to win the belt even if he beat the New Zealander and he very nearly did. In another clash that went the full 25 minutes, many believe Romero won the fight where he knocked Whittaker down twice and caused plenty of problems. He had a third title shot against Israel Adesanya earlier this year but really fumbled his chance at the title when he basically refused to strike first, allowing Adesanya to throw leg kicks and get a decision win in one of the most underwhelming fights of both their careers. Romero is now 43 and after fluffing his chance against Adesanya will likely never get another chance to win the belt. A real shame for one of the best to do it at 185lbs.

1. Tony Ferguson

UFC 229: Ferguson v Pettis : News Photo

Not only the best to never win the belt, but he’s never even had a shot at the undisputed belt in his career. ‘El Cucuy’ is one of the most feared fighters ever, dominating the 155lbs division ever since he joined the UFC back in 2011 by winning The Ultimate Fighter. After losing to Michael Johnson in 2012, Ferguson went on a 12-fight win streak, defeating the likes of Donal Cerrone, Edson Barboza, Gleison Tibau, Kevin Lee, Anthony Pettis and Rafael Dos Anjos. He won the interim title when he beat Lee, but never got his earned shot at the undisputed belt as he got injured during fight week. The rise of Conor McGregor didn’t help him, as the Irishman ventured outside of the UFC while being the champion. He continued to win though and was ready for his shot against Khabib Nurmagomedov before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and cancelled that arranged bout for a fifth time. He took on Justin Gaethje on short notice and lost by knockout, meaning he lost his title shot and undefeated streak in a bout he didn’t need to take. He now needs to rebuild to get back into title contention. Much like Dustin Poirier, he has time to do it but with the division as stacked as it is don’t bet against the two of them needing to fight each other on the way to a shot at the top of the mountain. A fearsome striker and dangerous grappler, Ferguson is one of the most complete fighters of all-time and it will be a tragedy if he never gets the opportunity to become undisputed lightweight champion.

Do you agree with my list? Let me know if you think I’ve missed anyone out too.

UFC Fight Island Cards Announced – Early Predictions

UFC have revealed all the fights that will be happening on Fight Island next month.

Dana White appeared on Facebook Live with commentator Jon Anik and revealed the headline fights for each card, as well as the entire undercard for each event too.

Fight Island events will take place on July 11th, July 15th, July 18th and July 25th on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

The organisation had already announced the entire July 11th card for UFC 251, where there will be 3 huge title fights on the main card.

They have now announced the on July 15th, Calvin Kattar will headline the card against Dan Ige in a Featherweight bout. Also on the card will be legendary Frankie Edgar’s Bantamweight debut as he takes on Pedro Munhoz, while Carla Esparza fights Marina Rodriguez. Abdul Razak Alhassan’s bout against Mounir Lazzez and Jared Gordon vs Chris Fishgold round off the main card.

3 days later, the Flyweight division will finally get a new Champion as Joseph Benavidez and Deivison Figuereido meet in a rematch. The two previously fought back in March in a fight for the title that Henry Cejudo had previously vacated, but Figuereido missed weight. That meant that he couldn’t win the belt and he proceeded to KO Benavidez in the second round to leave the division in limbo.

Also on the card, Jack Hermansson will fight former Middleweight contender Kelvin Gastelum while Marc Diakiese will take on Rafael Fiziev in the Lightweight division. Ariane Lipski fights Luana Carolina and Alexandre Pantoja will clash with Askar Askarov in the Flyweight divisions to round off this card.

The following weekend, in the final event on Fight Island, the UFC are pulling no punches.

At middleweight, former champion Robert Whittaker will finally meet Darren Till in a fight with huge title implications. Till beat Gastelum in his middleweight debut and if he can beat Whittaker will surely be next in line for a title shot once Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa have settled their beef. If Whittaker wins though, he could move into a position for a rematch against Adesanya.

Also on the card, two legends will have their trilogy fight. ‘Shogun’ Rua will take on ‘Little’ Antonio Nogueira at light heavyweight, with both fighters currently having a win over the other. Then at heavyweight, Alexander Gustafsson comes out of retirement and moves up in weight to take on the legendary Fabricio Werdum. It will be the Swede’s first fight since he retired in 2019 after a submission defeat to Anthony Smith. ‘Cowboy’ Alex Oliveira will fight against Peter Sobotta and Danny Roberts against Nicolas Dalby rounds off a stacked card.

You can see the full card for each event below thanks to @ESPNMMA’s graphics.

When Kattar takes on Ige, I see it almost as a sacrifice for Kattar to get him to fight. While Dan Ige is supremely talented and by no means a pushover, he’s just not on Kattar’s level and I think ‘The Boston Finisher’ will add to his record and get another KO win on the books.

For the Flyweight title, it’s hard to see anything but a repeat of what happened in March. While Benavidez is a legend in the sport and one of the greatest fighters to never hold a UFC title, Figuereido showed in their first fight that he was powerful enough to knock him out and take the shots of his opponent too. Not much will have changed in just 4 months and I think Figuereido will be aware that he has the power to do so, so may even go for it early. Unfortunately, I think this will be 0-4 for Benavidez in Flyweight title fights.

As Till and Whittaker do battle, many eyes will be locked in – not least champion Israel Adesanya. This could be a genuine contender for fight of the summer with both men taking a striking-first approach to fighting. Both guys have been very vocal on Twitter, although it’s been all in good jest, and neither will want to have to deal with the other man’s taunts following a loss. Till is an excellent counter-striker and his karate stance makes him hard to hit, but Whittaker has tremendous footwork and great kicks which could help him land better. I think this one goes the distance and I’m going to tip my favour towards the Brit.