Two events down, two more to go on Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) “Fight Island,” located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Next up is UFC Fight Island 2, which will feature a Flyweight championship rematch between Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez, as they run it back one more time for the vacant division strap. In the co-headlining act, Kelvin Gastelum and Jack Hermansson will throw down in a pivotal Middleweight showdown.
Deiveson Figueiredo should, in all reality, be the current UFC Flyweight champion after knocking out Joseph Benavidez earlier this year at UFC Fight Night 169. But since “Daico” missed weight before the title fight he had to go home without a belt and endure the guilt of a scale fail in the biggest fight of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career. What he did go home with, though, is unwarranted bragging rights. That’s according to Benavidez, who claimed that Brazilian media outlets reached out to him days after the loss to inform him that Figueiredo was proudly celebrating the accidental head-butt that occurred in round two, which helped him score the technical knockout (TKO) win a few moments later (see it again here). All that did was turn “Joe Jitsu’s” frustration into anger, as the talented 125-pounder now has more incentive to not only get revenge but put some hurt on the Brazilian bomber. While one can understand Benavidez’s mixed bag of emotions, it would behoove him to keep them under control come fight night to avoid letting his anger get the best of him. That said, Joe is as professional as they come, and that is unlikely to happen.
For Figueiredo, he now has to be on top of his game more than ever since he will be facing a highly-motivated foe who desperately wants to see him in pain. Furthermore, this will be Joseph’s fourth attempt at trying to win a UFC title, and since it could very well be his last, there is no doubt that he will come out aggressive and determined to finally achieve his championship dreams. To that point, Figueiredo also wants to fulfill his destiny after coming ever-so-close last February, so he has plenty of incentive and motivation of his own to get the win. Not to mention, he desperately wants a win with no drama or controversy attached to prove once and for all that he is top dog at 125 pounds under the UFC banner.
The main card could have perhaps used one more big marquee matchup. While the main and co-main event bouts are stellar, I would have loved to see the promotion add a couple more veterans mixing it up. Then again, we don’t know all of the behind-the-scenes details, as matchmakers could have very well reached out and been turned down by several fighters who may not be too interested in fighting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Alan Patrick was set to face Marc Diakiese in a Lightweight showdown at this event, but after he had to bow out for an undisclosed reason he was replaced by Rafael Fiziev. Also, after Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov – Khabib Nuramgomedov’s father – passed away as a result of COVID-19 complications, Tagir Ulanbekov bowed out of his scheduled showdown against Aleksander Doskalchuk. Abdulmanap was one of Tagir’s trainers. A few days later, Doskalchuk pulled out the event altogether for undisclosed reasons. That prompted the promotion to recruit Malcolm Gordon and Amir Albazi to throw down at Flyweight on short notice.
No injuries reported for this event. We were in danger of losing the main event after it was revealed that Figueiredo had tested positive for COVID-19. A few days later, a second test came out negative, giving him the green light to compete.
Light Heavyweight contender, Roman Dolidze, will look to remain undefeated (6-0) when he brings his talents to the Octagon for the first time to face off against Khadis Ibragimov, who is looking to snap his two-fight losing streak. Dolidze will be coming off a 19-month layoff due to injury, which stalled his plans for his original UFC debut date. Roman is a finisher, winning his first three fights via submission, and his last three via knockout, so he is looking to make a big statement in his long-awaited debut.
Winner of four straight, Malcom Gordon got the late call up to fight for UFC after a fight between Tagir Ulanbekov and Aleksander Doskalchuk was scratched. With four straight finishes under his belt, Gordon will look to keep that streak going when he takes on fellow newcomer, Amir Albazi. Amir has won 12 of his first 13 fights, with his lone loss coming against former UFC contender and former Titan FC 125-pound champion, Jose Torres. Amir has two fights under the Bellator MMA umbrella so he isn’t a stranger to the big stage. That being said, he will still likely be a bit relieved knowing that his opponent will also be experiencing UFC jitters.
Unbeaten big man, Carlos Felipe, will look to collect his ninth straight win in his Octagon debut when he takes on Sergey Spivak, who is coming off a tough loss to Marcin Tybura. Spivak is just 1-2 inside the Octagon, so he needs a win here to hang on to his UFC career. It won’t be the easiest of tasks, as Felipe can crack hard, with six of his wins coming by way of knockout.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The undercard of this event isn’t anything to get overly excited about. But we do have a couple of well-known names looking to make an impact and in some cases, turn things around. Joe Duffy is one of those men who is looking to right his ship after suffering two straight defeats. He will face off against fairly-unknown, Joel Alvarez, who is 1-1 so far inside the Octagon. He scored an impressive technical knockout win over Danilo Bulardo in his last fight, which was over a year ago. A victory over Duffy – especially an impressive finish – could get him a bigger share of the spotlight.
Grant Dawson, meanwhile, will look to keep his momentum alive as he attempts to collect his sixth straight win — fourth inside the Octagon — when he takes on Nad Narimani, who suffered the first loss of his UFC career in his last contest against Mike Grundy.
Brett Johns was once considered one of the most promising contenders to come out of Titan FC where he ruled the Bantamweight division. After jumping out to three straight wins inside the Octagon, he then dropped back-to-back defeats to Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz, two of the best in the business. He did get back on track against Tony Gravely, so he will now attempt to get consecutive wins for the first time in a long time when he takes on Montel Jackson, winner of three straight.
Davi Ramos will also look to get back on the winner’s podium after having his four-fight win streak shattered by wrestling powerhouse, Islam Makhachev, at UFC 242. It won’t get any easier for him against Arman Tsarukyan, who knows a thing or three about mauling his opponents to obtain a win.
To get a more detailed look at these and the rest of the undercard action click here.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Kelvin Gastelum has had a rough stretch as of late, losing two straight. Of course, those defeats came against current UFC Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, and top division contender, Darren Till. Still, while losing to these two fighters isn’t anything to be ashamed of, a loss, after all, is a loss. With two straight defeats, Kelvin can’t afford to fall deeper down a hole by losing three in a row. And things won’t get much easier when he faces Jack Hermansson in the co-headliner.
Always the undersized man in the fight — especially at 185 pounds — Kelvin will once again have the unfortunate disadvantage of facing the bigger man, as “The Joker” has a few inches on him in height and reach. Still, Gastelum has shown to be a pretty good boxer, and knows how to get inside to nullify the reach disadvantage. That will be a challenge, though, as Hermansson isn’t opposed to getting a tight grip on his opponents, drag them down, and force them to tap. He can also strike with the best of them, so Gastelum has his work cut out for him (and then some) in Abu Dhabi.
Interest Level: 6.5 of 10
It’s an okay card, but far from great. Again, not to beat a dead horse, but the promotion did pretty good in its first trip to “Fight Island” with four fight cards in two weeks. The intrigue here is whether or not Deiveson Figueiredo can replicate his knockout performance against Benavidez without the aide of an accidental clash of heads. For Benavidez, it truly is do-or-die, as this could very well be his last chance to win a UFC title after three failed attempts prior. He won’t be done with a loss, far from it, but he will find himself in limbo when it comes to his championship dreams. Staying at 125 pounds almost assures Benavidez that he will have to reel off several impressive wins in a row to be considered again. He can always move back up to Bantamweight, but that division is as stacked as ever at the moment.
With a win over Gastelum, Hermansson could very well put himself in a great position to face the winner of Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa, if and when the fight gets made. For Gastelum, a title fight is the furthest thing from his mind since he is simply trying to get a win to stop the bleeding of his current skid.
In further main card action, Marc Diakiese will look to score his third straight win when he takes on late replacement, Rafael Fiziev, who is 1-1 inside the Octagon. Diakiese was once considered a rising star with championship potential before three straight losses took the wind out of his sails. A win here gets him his first three-fight win streak inside the Octagon, as well as the confidence to take on bigger and more difficult challenges moving forward.
Had it not been for his loss to the aforementioned Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 240, Alexandre Pantoja could have very well been the man facing Benavidez for the 125-pound title. But the past is the past and Pantoja will look to earn his second straight victory when he challenges Askar Askarov to kick off the main card. And it’s a tough task, to say the least, as Askarov has proven to be a tough draw, starting off his career winning 11 of his 12 fights, with his lone blemish being a draw against Brandon Moreno in late 2019.
And finally, Luana Carolina will look to remain undefeated (6-0, 1-0 UFC) as she returns from a lengthy layoff after discovering she had a spinal fracture. She hasn’t competed in 14 months, so she is eager to get back into the swing of things in order to keep climbing the 125-pound ladder. Standing in her way is Ariane Lipski, who is just 1-2 so far in her UFC career after a stellar run that saw her win nine straight fights from 2015 to 2018. She did bounce back nicely against Isabela de Padua after dropping her first two efforts inside the eight-sided cage, but a win over Carolina would really give her a shot of confidence moving forward.
Enjoy the fights!
Full Fight Card:
UFC Fight Island 2 Main Event On ESPN+:
125 lbs. Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez for vacant flyweight title
UFC Fight Island 2 Main Card On ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Jack Hermansson
155 lbs.: Marc Diakiese vs. Rafael Fiziev
125 lbs.: Luana Carolina vs. Ariane Lipski
125 lbs.: Askar Askarov vs. Alexandre Pantoja
UFC Fight Island 2 ‘Prelims’ Undercard On ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Roman Dolidze vs. Khadis Ibragimov
150 lbs.: Grant Dawson vs. Nad Narimani (catchweight)
155 lbs.: Joel Alvarez vs. Joe Duffy
135 lbs.: Montel Jackson vs. Brett Johns
135 lbs.: Malcolm Gordon vs. Amir Albazi
155 lbs.: Davi Ramos vs. Arman Tsarukyan
265 lbs.: Carlos Felipe vs. Serghei Spivac
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Island 2 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.
For more upcoming UFC events click here.