There is no rest for the wicked as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is right back at it later tonight (Sat., Oct. 10, 2020) to stage UFC Fight Island 5, live from inside Flash Forum on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, streaming exclusively on ESPN+. In the main event, Marlon Moraes will face off against Cory Sandhagen in a pivotal Bantamweight bout. In the co-headlining act, Edson Barboza takes on Makwan Amirkhani in Featherweight action.
Aljamain Sterling still hasn’t received the official notice that he will battle Bantamweight champion Petr Yan, so Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen are eager to throw their names in the championship hat. And with Cody Garbrandt taking his talents down to Flyweight, their upcoming showdown on “Fight Island” could very well be a title eliminator. Moraes is ranked No. 1 in the rankings while Sandhagen is hanging on to the No. 4 spot. Marlon’s track record speaks for itself: former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) champion, 5-1 over his last six, excellent striker and outstanding submission artist. And he’s never in a boring fight since “Magic” is the type of person who simply gets after it with no wasted motion, tight technique and a pace that will tire anyone out.
In Sandhagen, he will be facing a young up-and-coming stud who is ready to stake his claim in a stacked 135-pound division. Marlon dubbed his foe a better version of Dominick Cruz, and there are some similarities. One virtue they share is toughness, which Sandhagen had on full display during his fight against Iuri Alcantara. Indeed, Cory fought his way out of a tight armbar that would’ve had a majority of combatants tapping. Bloodied up and in pain, he bounced back to pull off a technical knockout win (see it here). He did have his seven-fight win streak snapped by Sterling in his last bout, ending his previously perfect run inside the Octagon. Both men are eying a shot at the title and the winner could very well get the next shot after “Funkmaster.”
My lone gripe I have is that I would have preferred to see the matchup between Impa Kasanganay and Joaquin Buckley get a main card spot. Both men can bang and are exciting as all heck once they start throwing. Kasanganay is undefeated so far (8-0, 1-0 UFC), while Buckley is coming off a tough loss to Kevin Holland. Matchmakers could have easily given it more shine instead of Markus Perez vs Dricus du Plessisor or Tom Aspinall vs. Alan Baudot.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
The original plan was to have Edson Barboza face Sodiq Yusuff at this event before Yusuff was forced out for undisclosed reasons. In turn, Makwan Amirkhani stepped in to fill the void. Amirkhani hasn’t exactly lived up to whatever hype he earned after starching Andy Ogle in just eight seconds in his UFC debut. Sure, he’s gone 5-2 since then, but he hasn’t really stood out to separate himself from the pack. A win over a hard-hitting veteran like Barboza could be just what he needs to get a bigger share of the spotlight.
Abu Azaitar was originally set to face Joaquin Buckley before he had to withdraw from the event. He was subsequently replaced by Impa Kasanganay. Also, Seung Woo Choi was forced out of his fight against Youssef Zalal. He was ultimately replaced by UFC rookie, llia Topuria.
And of course, Alejandro Perez tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw from his scheduled bout against Thomas Almeida. In turn, Jonathan Martinez got the call up to face Almeida, though it will not happen until next week’s UFC Fight Island 6 event.
Rodolfo Vieira suffered an injury and was forced to pull out of his fight against Markus Perez. As a result, Perez will now face Dricus du Plessis, the former KSW Welterweight champion.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
It’s going to be a busy night on the undercard portion of the event. Tom Breese will look to get back on track when he takes on UFC newcomer KB Bhullar, whom we will discuss in detail in the post below.
Impa Kasanganay and Joaquin Buckley will throw down in what is sure to be a hard-hitting Middleweight affair. Impa burst onto the scene with a dominant win over Maki Pitolo a few weeks ago, and is looking to ride the wave of that momentum with a fairly quick turnaround against Buckley.
Giga Chikadze is still looking to climb out of the “Prelims,” even after winning five in a row, including his first three inside the Octagon. He will be taking on Omar Morales, who is undefeated at an impressive 10-0, 2-0 under the UFC umbrella.
Also, Tracy Cortez will look to keep her momentum going in search of her eighth-straight win, second inside the Octagon. The “Contender Series” alum is highly-talented and is looking to break out as a star in the women’s Bantamweight division when she faces UFC newcomer, Stephanie Egger.
Dricis du Plessis may be fresh to the UFC, but the man already has a bevy of championship experience, winning not only the KSW 170-pound title, but the EFC Middleweight title, as well. He has won 10 of 11, so Markus Perez — who is coming off a loss — is in for a tough challenge.
KB Bhullar will look to earn his ninth-straight win and remain undefeated (8-0) when he faces longtime veteran, Tom Breese. Bhullar has spent the majority of his career competing on the regional circuit in Canada, primarily under the Unified MMA umbrella. With six stoppage victories on his resume, “The Bengal” knows how to get after it.
Stephanie Egger will look to make a splash in her debut as she attempts to end Tracy Cortez’s win streak. Competing at Featherweight, as well, Egger is a big Bantamweight, which could give Cortez some fits.
Also, Tager Ulanbenkov — winner of three straight, and 12 of 13 overall — will face Bruno Silva in his promotional debut, while Alan Baudot takes on Tom Aspinall. Rounding out the “New Blood” will be llia Topuria, who has won eight straight. What’s even more impressive is the fact that all of his wins are finishes, including seven submissions and one knockout.
To get a more detailed look at all of those matchups click HERE.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Edson Barboza was once considered one of the best Lightweights on the planet, despite the fact that he never got to the big dance. But since 2017 the Brazilian bomber has been on quite a slump, losing five of his last six including his previous three in a row. It’s important to note, though, that he has been taking on the best-of-the-best on a consistent basis, including Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kevin Lee, Paul Felder and Justin Gaethje, just to name a few. His drop down to Featherweight didn’t go as planned after he lost to Dan Ige in a highly-controversial decision. A win over Markwan Amirkhani is of the utmost importance if he wants to hang on to his spot on the roster. Barboza is as exciting as they come, and he can turn it on in the blink of an eye. I expect him to get back on track here. If not, then he and the promotion will have a lot to think about moving forward.
Interest Level: 6 of 10
The Bantamweight division is booming and Moraes and Sandhagen both have something to prove. Moraes is looking to get his second shot at UFC gold while Sandhagen wants the world to know that it’s time for some new faces at the top. Edson Barboza, on the other hand, is looking to get back to his glory days when he was one of the most feared strikers in the game. Don’t get me wrong, “Junior” can still bang but it doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t amount to wins.
Complementing the main- and co-main events is a Heavyweight showdown between “Big” Ben Rothwell and Marcin Tybura. Rothwell has turned it around after a horrid three-fight losing streak, winning two in a row over Stefan Struve and Ovince Saint Preux. Tybura, meanwhile, is also riding a two-fight win streak and is looking to break into the Top 10 with an impressive win over the long-time veteran.
Enjoy the fights!
Full Fight Card:
UFC Fight Island 5 Main Event:
135 lbs.: Marlon Moraes vs. Cory Sandhagen
UFC Fight Island 5 Main Card on ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Makwan Amirkhani
265 lbs.: Ben Rothwell vs. Marcin Tybura
170 lbs.: Dricus Du Plessis vs. Markus Perez
265 lbs.: Tom Aspinall vs. Alan Baudot
145 lbs.: Ilia Topuria vs. Youssef Zalal
UFC Fight Island 5 Prelims Card on ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Tom Breese vs. K.B. Bhullar
265 lbs.: Chris Daukaus vs. Rodrigo Nascimento
185 lbs.: Joaquin Buckley vs. Impa Kasanganay
135 lbs.: Ali Alqaisi vs. Tony Kelley
145 lbs.: Giga Chikadze vs. Omar Morales
135 lbs.: Tracy Cortez vs. Stephanie Egger
125 lbs.: Bruno Silva vs. Tagir Ulanbekov
***Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to drastic change because of the various global quarantine restrictions.***
For more upcoming UFC events in both Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi click here.