Fight Island I & II

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By Dan Rebain – Staff Writer

Due to COVID-19 the UFC has moved its operations to a private island in Abu Dhabi where all fights have taken place. The UFC’s official Fight Island 1 & 2, taking place over this past week, did not disappoint. Each card has been filled with entertaining matchups and title bouts that keep the fans coming back for more…

Fight Island 1

Prelims

Jack Shore (13-0) def Aaron Phillips (12-4) via R2 Submission (Rear Naked Choke)

Liana Jojua (8-3) def Diana Belbita (13-6) via R1 Submission (Armbar)

Jared Gordon (16-4) def Chris Fishgold (18-4-1) via Unanimous Decision (30-26 30-26 30-26)

Notable Other Fights

Modestas Bukauskas (11-2) def Andreas Michailidis (12-4) via R1 TKO (Elbows)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Former Light Heavyweight champion at Cage Warriors in England, Modestas Bukauskas had some major hype surrounding his name as he entered his debut in the UFC and lived up to it. After five minutes of spirited action at UFC on ESPN 13, Bukauskas landed a series of brutal lateral elbows as Michailidis shot for a takedown. In a weird sort of event as the first-round horn sounded, referee Dan Movaheti ordered Michailidis back to his corner, but the fighter stayed on his knees looking dazed. Then as Michailidis tried to right himself, he fell backward into the apron as the UFC crew opened the cage door, and Movaheti called the fight, giving Bukauskas the TKO stoppage at the 5:00 mark of the first frame. “Those shots were clean,” said Bukauskas after the win. Even Dana White chimed in on the refs performance, “I think that was a good stop by the ref.” Michailidis suffers his first UFC loss and sees a three-fight streak on the international circuit snapped, while Bukauskas has won seven straight.

Lerone Murphy (9-0-1) def Ricardo Ramos (14-3) via R1 TKO (Punches)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Lerone Murphy is lucky to even be alive as even before his MMA career he was shot in the neck back in his native Manchester and was given the nickname miracle. You think you would not want to fight a guy with the same nickname as I do not know Jesus. But Ricardo Ramos did not see the warning signs. After an evenly contested start, Murphy ducked a Ramos attempt at a spinning back elbow and turned it into a takedown. And while Ramos’ ground game is his strength, Murphy was not fazed. Murphy landed an elbow after they hit the mat and might have momentarily put Ramos out, but was brought back after the next shot that landed. With that moment, Murphy went for the kill and kept on landing devastating blows and the ref eventually stepped in. With the TKO win, it kept Murphy undefeated in the UFC at 1-0-1 and marked Murphy’s sixth career first-round stoppage.    

Khamzat Chimav (7-0) def John Phillips (22-10) via R2 Submission (D’arce Choke) 

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Khamzat Chimaev showed why he is regarded as one to watch with a sensational octagon debut even with only having just six fights to his name. He stepped in on short notice, moved up a weight class and took on an opponent with significantly more MMA experience in John Phillips, none of those factors deterred him inside the cage. The 26-year-old from Dagestan, which some say he is a bigger Khabib, landed solid strikes on the feet, then proceeded to dominate on the mat. For one and half rounds Chimaev pounded Phillips and eventually got him in a D’arce which Phillips had to tap to. “I’m going to be champion of this division (welterweight),” Chimaev. “I will smash them.” Chimaev with taking no damage has accepted another fight this week against Rhys McKee (10-2-1) and to be honest we could see more of the same from his first fight Saturday night.

Main Card

Mounir Lazzez (10-1) def Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-2) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Mounir Lazzez is a name to remember after his UFC debut. Dana White tells the story on how Lazzez got this fight. “This kid came up to me at my son’s birthday lunch and said you got to see this guy; you need to give him a chance.” And a chance he gave Lazzez against a scary dude in Abdul Razak Alhassan, who had not fought in two years. At first it looked like White’s gamble was not going to pay off. Alhassan looked to let out all his frustration in the opening minute of the fight as he came after Lazzez with pure aggression. Once he pushed Lazzez across the fence, Alhassan opened with a huge barrage of punches that looked like a combination that would have put most welterweights to sleep. Instead, Lazzez absorbed the shots and came back at Alhassan with a smile on his face. Lazzez did start to connect with some knees to the body and a slick standing elbow strike that continuously found a home on Alhassan’s chin, but Alhassan took that first round. In the end of the first round it seemed like Alhassan was gassed and conditioning was beginning to fade, which allowed Lazzez to begin mixing up his combinations in the second and third rounds. Even in the few moments when the fight hit the ground, Lazzez showed off a strong grappling game as he kept Alhassan underneath him while constantly looking to advance his position. Alhassan after that first flurry in the first round could not muster enough energy to do anything in the second and third round which led to Dana White’s guy Lazzez to walk away with an eye-opening win. I guess if you got a fighter that you think should be in the UFC, just walk up to Dana White while he is at lunch.

Taila Santos (16-1) def #15 Molly McCann (10-3) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

The 27-year-old Brazilian, Taila Santos needed a rebound to a loss in her UFC debut but she needed to go through feisty English prospect Molly McCann. McCann like in every one of her fights came out fast but this time it did not work in her favor as she walked into a firing attack by Taila Santos. The pair kept a high pace and exchanged on the feet multiple times. But once it got into the clinch Taila connected with some brutal knees, but the Liverpool native was all for it. Eventually though, Santos successfully got her first takedown and was grinding from the top. It was more of the same on the second as they continued that pace in the 2nd. But Santos was able to take down McCann once again and she hit McCann with some mean elbows that left a huge mouse under her right eye. Heading into the third McCann needed a finish but Santos was able to answer every shot and shot back harder and took McCann down once again ultimately ending the fight. Santos absolutely dominated McCann in this fight and showed why she could be a potential danger to the champ Valentina Shevchenko in the future. For McCann this ends her three-fight winning streak, and for Santos it is her first UFC win.   

#8 Jimmie Rivera (23-4) def #9 Cody Stamann (19-3-1) via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

With an opening fight on the main card on Fight Island, both Jimmie Rivera and Cody Stamann could not say no when Dana White called them. The two bantamweight contenders, who took this fight on short notice up a weight class at featherweight, put in a hard-nosed 15 minutes of action. Both fighters who are almost replicas of one another, clearly respected each other’s fighting abilities, which led to the action playing out at a cautious pace. But Rivera stuck out. He had a quicker step and that led to him landing his strikes with a bit more impact. And when they landed, they landed like sledgehammers against some concrete, except the concrete was Stamann’s face. Rivera even dropped Stamann after a leg kick when he lit his body up with a vicious body shot. But Stamann who lost his brother before his last victory was not going out that easy and was able to recover. The fight played out like this for basically the rest of the fight; Stamann hanging in there but never quite able to land anything of significance, as Rivera was just too quick on his feet and was always able to escape danger. Rivera came closest to a finish with a tight third round guillotine, but Stamann escaped and hung on until the final horn. Rivera snapped a two-fight losing streak with his 17th career decision win. Stamann, just six weeks removed from that emotional win over Brian Kelleher just after the death of his younger brother, lost for the first time in his past four fights.

#13 Tim Elliott (17-11-1) def Ryan Benoit (10-7) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Coming into their Fight Island fight, both Tim Elliott (5-9) and Ryan Benoit (3-5) have had up and down careers in the UFC. But both came to fight, and they put on a show in the Co-Main Event. Elliott opened the fight with his trademark awkward movements, and it seemed to trouble Benoit a bit. After the feeling out process though, Benoit landed the first big strike with a slapping head kick and was able to find his groove after. In round 2 Benoit continued what he did in the first until Elliott locked in a guillotine choke that, while not successful, resulted in him establishing top position. But Benoit would scramble into a heel hook that visibly hurt Elliott for several seconds. In the third it was 1-1, anyone’s fight, and Elliott came out with the pressure. He had major success until he grabbed his hand, looking like he was trying to relocate his finger or fingers.  Elliott stayed sharp, despite throwing only one hand. Benoit did though make a late push of his own, closing an entertaining and competitive three-round affair. The judges at the end of the day saw and gave the win to Elliott as he had overcome some adversity to snap his three-fight losing skid. “My hand was numb, and I looked down and my two middle fingers were doing a Y away from each other,” Elliott said of his injury in his post-fight interview with Jon Anik. “They popped back in and now I don’t feel any pain and they feel good.” The win was Elliott’s first since December 2017.

#6 Calvin Kattar (22-4) def vs. #10 Dan Ige (14-3) via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

In the Main Event of Fight Island #1 we were handed an intriguing matchup between Calvin Katter and Dan Ige, both on the radar of the champ Alexander Volkanovski. Katter coming in had won three of his last four only losing to #1 contender Zabit Magomedsharipov and Ige had won six straight, something had to give. Kattar walked down Ige right from the jump. Moving forward often his most effective shot against Ige early was his punishing body shots to set up overhand follow-ups. Ige on the other hand was at his most effective countering but a surge in the closing seconds by Kattar likely sealed the round in his favor. Ige’s came out better in the second as that was his best round. His best moment of the fight came when he used a big body shot to set up a brutal left which likely re-broke Kattar’s nose, which he broke in his last win over Jeremy Stephens. Ige throughout the round continued to land damaging shots and his biggest enemy was the horn ending the round and most likely ending any momentum Ige had. Katter used the third to gain back that momentum and even though it was a rather non-eventual round Katter was back in the fight. In the fourth and fifth rounds, Kattar’s gained some extra steam and his power became the story. With him landing these power shots it stopped Ige from throwing his combo’s he was landing in the first and second just so he would not be picked up by Katter in the pocket and settled for single shots. With this Kattar was all over Ige, out landing Ige and giving him a 23-7 and 27-11 edge in significant strikes in the fourth and fifth rounds. Katter almost got the finish he wanted as he dropped Ige and dished out ground and pound trying to end the fight until the final horn. Katter got the win after putting on a clinic in the last two rounds and now is possibly one win away from a potential title shot in the future with a two fight winning streak.

Fight Island 2

Prelims

Sergey Spivak (11-2) def Carlos Felipe (8-1) via Majority Decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)

Arman Tsarukyan (15-2) def Davi Ramos (10-4) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)  

Amir Albazi (13-1) def Malcolm Gordon (12-4) via R1 Submission (Triangle Choke)

Brett Johns (17-2) def Montel Jackson (9-2) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)  

Grant Dawson (16-1) def Nad Narimani (12-4) via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 30-27, 30-26)  

Notable Other Fights

Joel Álvarez (17-2) def Joe Duffy (16-5) via R1 Submission (Guillotine Choke)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Joe Duffy coming into this fight had lost two straight and was looking to rebound his career in a positive way with a win. But for him, this fight had the opposite effect on his career. This fight did not take long to end, as Duffy went for a takedown on Joel Alvarez but got caught between Alvarez’s arm. Alvarez closed that arm and put Duffy into a serious Guillotine and Duffy had to tap. Kind of a bad idea to try to take someone down when Alvarez has all 17 of his career wins by stoppage, including 15 by submission. With the loss Duffy announced that he would be retiring, “Thank you all so much for all your messages of support all week. I have been blessed on this journey in MMA and am truly grateful for every experience.” Duffy dropped his third fight-in-a-row while Alvarez has won two straight.    

Roman Dolidze (7-0) def Khadis Ibragimov (8-3) via R1 TKO (Kick)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Roman Dolidze was another undefeated prospect with not many fights under his belt, but that did not matter in the end. In his debut in the UFC he made quite the first impression against Khadis Ibragimov. From the start of the fight, Dolidze was ready for a striking battle and he made his first real impact after checking a kick from Ibragimov that showed him he was here to fight. As the first round continued, Dolidze was all smiles putting Ibragimov into his range as he kept on peppering Ibragimov continuously. Then with less than a minute left in the first round, Dolidze perfectly timed a kick just as Ibragimov was lowering his head that put him down and after some ground shot Ibragimov was out and so was the fight. “I’m very happy,” Dolidze said after his win. “He was a good opponent, tough opponent. I do not like when someone looked at me like he did yesterday. This was a big mistake.” Dolidze could have his nickname in the “Human Highlight Reel” as he is now 7-0 and all his fights ending in KO or someone tapping out.

Main Card

Askar Askarov (12-0-1) def Alexandre Pantoja (22-5) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

The first Flyweight fight of the night was contested between Askar Askarov and Alexandre Pantoja which gave the fans an interesting opening fight to the Main Card Saturday night. This fight would be a grappling showcase as it took less than 30 seconds for the pair to lock up. Pantoja had the first submission attempt with a guillotine choke, then even had a shot at an armbar, but Askarov was able to escape both attempts. Askarov did manage to control Pantoja for a good amount against the fence. But Pantoja eventually found Askarov’s back, where he stayed for the rest of the round. The second was more of the same following the first but this time Pantoja had to defend takedowns from Askarov. Both physically tired heading into the third, but both fighters were craving for that win. Pantoja struck first when he dropped Askarov. Pantoja dove on top but was too tired to even land any follow-up damage. Askarov eventually got back up to his feet, and that kickstarted the most prolonged striking exchanges of the fight to the final horn. After three of the closest contested rounds in which neither man could build a definitive advantage, Askarov was awarded the win unanimously, as he is just the next Dagestan fighter to stay undefeated.

Ariane Lipski (13-5) def Luana Carolina (6-2) R1 Submission (Kneebar) 

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Ariane Lipski lived up to her nickname as “The Queen of Violence” with her latest win. After her opponent slipped to the ground, Lipski looked to land some strikes on the mat, but Carolina was quick to counter with a heel hook attempt early in round 1. Lipski was able to secure a knee bar from top position in a somewhat north south position up against the fence and it was just nasty to watch. The knee bar had her opponent Luana Carolina just screaming in pain and all of us watching were just grabbing at our knees as we could just feel the pain. “I feel great,” Lipski said with a smile on her face after notching her second UFC win. “I’ve been training since February, so I was very, very prepared. I really wanted the KO, but I was very confident in my jiu-jitsu.” Lipski with this impressive win showed us all that she has what it takes to be a future contender at 125 pounds following her now two wins in-a-row.

Rafael Fiziev (8-1) def Marc Diakiese (14-4) via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Rafael Fiziev is backing up the hype that surrounded him when he first arrived in the UFC. In what would be a standup war with Marc Diakiese, Fiziev showcased brutal body kicks combined with some eye-popping defense that helped him secure the victory after three rounds. Diakiese was supposed to be the better of the two on the feet with his flashy striking style but that was not the case. Fiziev made better on the strikes he landed, making a bigger impact on the feet. He even avoided Diakiese’s “flashy” strikes by just emulating the matrix, ducking, and dodging out of the way with incredible dexterity. The whole fight Fiziev abused Diakiese’s midsection with his kicks and each time his shin connected with Diakiese’s ribs, it would echo throughout the empty Yas Island arena. Fiziev was winning and you could tell he was just inviting Diakiese to step into exchanges with him. Diakiese finally started to connect with more accuracy as he upped his output and looked for the finish before the final horn but could not find it. With the win Fiziev has won two straight after a KO loss in his debut. For Diakiese it snapped his two-fight winning streak after losing three in-a-row.

#6 Jack Hermansson (21-5) def #7 Kelvin Gastelum (16-6) via R1 Submission (Heel Hook)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Jack Hermansson pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career when he submitted Kelvin Gastelum. Coming off a KO loss to possible #1 contender Jared Cannonier last September, Hermansson needed to come back with a bang. He did just that, winning in just 78 seconds of the very first round. Gastelum came out as always looking to bring the fight to his opponent which forced Hermannson onto his back foot. Hermansson countered, clinched up to attempt a takedown, but then got himself tossed to the mat by Gastelum. But that is where the tide turned for Hermansson. As Gastelum attempted to stand up, Hermansson grabbed his leg and rolled into the heel hook and adjusted the position against an overly calm Gastelum. Gastelum tapped so save his ankle from breaking, giving Hermansson one of the biggest wins of his career, putting him back into the top 5 of the Lightweight division. Hermansson after the victory already had his eyes set on the future, he wants the winner of the July 25 headliner between former champ Robert Whittaker and Darren Till. “I should fight the winner of that fight,” Hermansson said. “I’m going to fight the winner of the fight.” With the loss Gastelum has now lost three in-a-row, losing to current champ Israel Adesanya, Darren Till and now Hermansson. 

#1 Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) def #2 Joseph Benavidez (28-7) via R1 Submission (Rear Naked Choke)

Source: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC

Due to missed weight by Deiveson Figueiredo, and an accidental headbutt in their first fight, Dana White rescheduled a rematch between Joseph Benavidez and Figueiredo. There was a scare that almost stopped this fight. Figueiredo tested positive for COVID-19 before flying out to Fight Island, but after testing negative multiple times in Las Vegas and on Yas Island, they concluded it was a false positive. So, the rematch was on and in their rematch Figueiredo left no questions of who the best 125-pounder in the world is. Figueiredo wasted no time, nearly ending things as soon as the fight began as he dropped Benavidez with a right hook to the temple, going around Benavidez’s guard. Figueiredo would drop Benavidez two more times in the round. After the third knockdown, Figueiredo went in for the kill, securing one of the nastiest rear-naked chokes you will see, cranking Benavidez’s body all while taking the rest of the air out of Benavidez’s body. Benavidez, the fighter he is passed out rather than tap out. With Benavidez’s eyes staring into the camera as the ref stopped the fight, it was the first submission loss of his career. This marks Figueiredo’s third straight victory with this being his 16th career finish as well. For Benavidez, he has lost his second straight fight. Of his seven career losses, five were in fights for major championships; this was probably his last shot at UFC gold in his career at the age of 35. “I feel really good. I worked hard for this. I knew my time would come, and this is my time. I am going to be an active champion,” Figueiredo said through a translator post-fight. Expect Figueiredo to be back again soon.

50k Fight of the Night:

Fight Island 1- Abdul Razak Alhassan* vs Mounir Lazzez 

* Alhassen not eligible due to missed weight 

Fight Island 2- Marc Diakiese vs Rafael Fiziev

50k Performance Bonus: 

Fight Island 1- Lerone Murphy, Khamzat Chimaev, Modestas Bukauskas

Fight Island 2 – Ariane Lipski, Deiveson Figueiredo

Next Event

UFC will be back on Fight Island this Saturday, the 25th and comes with a banger of a fight. UFC Fight Island 3 features former Lightweight champion Robert Whittaker vs England’s hopeful contender Darren Till. Prelims start at 5pm with the main card beginning at 8pm all on ESPN/ESPN+ 

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

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