Two top women’s Bantamweight strikers duke it out on “Fight Island” this Saturday (Oct. 3, 2020) from inside Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, when former champ Holly Holm faces destructive up-and-comer Irene Aldana in the latest main event. Meanwhile, 130 pounds north, Yorgan de Castro and Carlos Felipe attempt to rebound from career-first defeats, while prospect Tom Breese takes on unbeaten late replacement K.B. Bhullar at Middleweight.
Three more UFC Fight Island 4 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to be dissected (check out the first batch here). Pass me the scalpel, would you?
170 lbs.: Carlos Condit vs. Court McGee
Once among the most feared Welterweights on the planet, Carlos Condit (30-13) now finds himself winless since 2015. His current five-fight losing streak includes submission losses to Demian Maia, Alex Oliveira and Michael Chiesa.
This will be the first fight for “The Natural-Born Killer” since Dec. 2018.
Now a decade removed from his Cinderella run on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11, Court McGee (20-9) enters the cage just 1-4 in his last five bouts. Though he took a decision over Alex Garcia in 2018, he’s since fallen to fellow TUF veteran Dhiego Lima and fast-rising prospect Sean Brady.
He stands three inches shorter than Condit at 5’11.”
The phrase that comes to mind here is “diminishing returns.” Condit’s insistence on fighting from his back in lieu of developing a complete wrestling game hasn’t paid dividends in years, and McGee’s straightforward pressure game has proven ineffective at the highest levels. Neither of them will ever even sniff contention again, but I do think McGee has enough left in the tank to win this one, as “The Natural-Born Killer” has given up 13 takedowns in his past three fights.
Condit’s myriad striking advantages won’t be all that useful when “The Crusher” is constantly getting in on his hips and muscling him to the mat. And for all that his guard is “dangerous,” he hasn’t actually submitted anyone in 12.5 years. McGee has underperformed in the past, notably failing to use his wrestling against Lima, but so long as he stays focused on the grind, he’ll rack up enough clinch and top control time to secure a victory.
Prediction: McGee via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Kyler Phillips vs. Cameron Else
A 46-second knockout on “Contender Series” sent Kyler Phillips (7-1) to TUF 27, where he dropped a decision to Brad Katona in the opening round. After narrowly falling to top Bantamweight Victor Henry and scoring a knockout in LFA, he returned from injury to beat Gabriel Silva in his February UFC debut.
All five of his stoppage wins have come in the first round.
Cameron Else (10-4) — a protege of Donald Cerrone — has gone past the first round just twice as a professional. He presently rides a six-fight win streak, all but one coming in 90 seconds or less.
He steps in for Danaa Batgerel on little more than one week’s notice.
Outside of his 2013 submission of Paddy Pimblett, Else’s record is almost entirely fluff. That win streak only features one fighter with a winning record, and the way he got mauled in his two knockout losses bode ill against a striker of Phillips’ caliber. To make matters worse for “Camchida,” Phillips held his own against Silva’s wrestling, suggesting that the Brit’s grappling won’t be enough to bail him out.
Else’s only real chance of victory lies in Phillips slipping, getting clipped, or taking an ill-advised shot to open himself up for the latter’s strong front choke arsenal. That’s quite a bit less likely than “Matrix” just taking his head off in the first two minutes.
Prediction: Phillips via first-round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Josh Culibao vs. Charles Jourdain
Josh Culibao (8-1) scored several regional titles in his native Australia before moving up to Lightweight on short notice to meet Jalin Turner in February. “The Tarantula’s” size proved too much, resulting in a second-round defeat.
He’ll have one inch of height and four inches of reach on “Air” Charles Jourdain (10-3).
After a competitive loss to Des Green in his Octagon debut, Jourdain returned to Featherweight to violently upset Doo Ho Choi in a “Fight of the Night”-winning effort. Six months later, he took on Andre Fili, fighting his way to a narrow split decision loss.
All of his wins have come inside the distance, seven of them by form of knockout.
I can’t say I understand why Culibao is the biggest underdog on the entire card. He looked bad against Turner, sure, but Turner’s a gigantic Lightweight. He should fare much better against Jourdain, who while dangerous is still very limited. Culibao figures to have enough striking skills to hold his own on the feet, especially with the reach advantage, and might have the takedown skills to exploit Jourdain’s underwhelming wrestling.
This is a shot in the dark, I’ll admit, and Jourdain could very well just smash Culibao and make me look stupid. That said, I genuinely believe that Culibao has the skills to pull off the upset.In fact, he cruises to victory behind a stiff jab and the occasional takedowns.
Prediction: Culibao via unanimous decision
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Island 4 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 10:30 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Island 4: “Holm vs. Aldana” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.