This weekend (Sat., Oct. 3, 2020), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will continue its stay at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with UFC Fight Island 4. After powerful earth quakes, aftershocks are quite common, though sometimes they are barely perceptible. Such is the case of UFC Fight Island 4, which features very few particularly attractive bouts and lots of Wikipedia-less competitors just a week after the star-studded night of UFC 253.
Still, every fight fan worth their salt knows sometimes unheralded events make for spectacular viewing. Let’s take a closer look at some main card fights:
Heavyweight: Yorgan De Castro vs. Carlos Felipe
Best Win for De Castro? Justin Tafa For Felipe? Sandro Bezerra
Current Streak: Both men lost their last bout
X-Factor: Neither man is particularly proven
How these two match up: This is just a couple big boys with big power.
De Castro is a deceptive fighter. In terms of appearance, he looks like many of the other Heavyweights who are not quite 6’ tall ... take that as you will. However, De Castro is deceptively quick, times counters well, and can throw a mean low kick. Until he injured his foot opposite Greg Hardy, he was really socking up the former football star.
Felipe’s UFC debut was not the most exciting of the year. He and Sergei Spivac spent a lot of time in stalemates along the fence, at least until Felipe tired enough to surrender the takedown. Outside of the Octagon, the Brazilian has been more impressive, picking up some stoppage wins and competing in boxing as well.
This is a Heavyweight fight between inexperienced prospects, so all bets are automatically off. That generalization aside, however, De Castro just seems better. He appears more athletic and more powerful, and that low kick! It’s always risky to kick for the bigger lads — no one wants to get blasted on one leg — but the Cape Verdean athlete does such a nice job of dipping his head off the center line and just ripping into the thigh.
There’s a chance Felipe’s size and height are enough to decide the fight, but I like the “Contender Series” veteran to chop him down.
Prediction: De Castro via knockout
Women’s Bantamweight: Germaine de Randamie vs. Julianna Pena
Best Win for de Randamie? Holly Holm For Pena? Cat Zingano
Current Streak: “GDR” lost her last bout in a title fight with Amanda Nunes, whereas Pena enters having won her last bout
X-Factor: Pena has fought just once in three years
How these two match up: This is as pure a striker vs. grappler match up as modern day UFC will allow.
It’s easy to forget that “The Iron Lady” is a former UFC champion with some quality wins on her record. She’s an absolutely excellent striker with a long and decorated background in professional Muay Thai, but the 36-year-old veteran has yet to really figure out the whole defensive wrestling aspect.
Meanwhile, Pena is tough as nails and experienced on the mat. Her striking remains rough-around-the-edges, but that rarely stops “The Venezuelan Vixen” from imposing her will and grinding opponents down.
There are two distinct ways for this bout to go. On one hand, de Randamie could absolutely dominate — see her fights with Ladd or Pennington, in which takedowns were denied and pain was delivered. For the other alternative, watch de Randamie stand tall without any adjustment while Nunes repeatedly manhandled her for 25 minutes.
Pena does not seem to be growing much as a fighter, but the style match up is far in her favor. She eats punches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and has yet to be finished, gutting through tough moments to score takedowns anyway. Unless de Randamie lands the PERFECT shot and sleeps her cold — which is possible given Pena’s face-forward approach — the takedown will eventually come, and it’s domination from there.
Prediction: Pena via submission
Middleweight: Tom Breese vs. K.B. Bhullar
Best Win for Breese? Keita Nakamura For Bhullar? Matt Dwyer
Current Streak: Breese came up short last time out, while Bhullar makes his UFC debut at 8-0
X-Factor: Breese is a tough opponent for a UFC debut
How these two match up: This is a step up in competition for Bhullar.
At one point, Breese was widely considered one of Europe’s best prospects, and he began his UFC career with three straight wins. Since then, he’s struggled to find consistency, both in making it to the Octagon and in his actual bouts. When on his game, however, Breese is a sharp striker with a very solid ground game. Meanwhile, the first thing that stands out about Canada’s Bhullar is his size. He’s quite tall and lanky at 6’4”, and unsurprisingly, his game is one of distance kickboxing and dangerous strangles.
It’s hard to have faith in Breese right now. He has won just two fights in the last four years, and while he seems large enough for 185 lbs., being much bigger than his opposition was a significant part of his advantage at Welterweight. He may have knocked out Dan Kelly, but can he handle a fellow up-and-comer with range on him?
Similarly, it’s hard to be too confident in Bhullar either. “The Bengal” has handled his regional opposition as one would hope, but he’s also never fought anyone nearly as accomplished as Breese. It’s a massive jump in competition, and until a prospect successfully sticks said acrobatics, hesitancy is warranted.
Though the range may give him trouble, I’ll predict Breese to land the more powerful shots across 15 minutes.
Prediction: Tom Breese via decision
Middleweight: Dequan Townsend vs. Dusko Todorovic
Best Win for Townsend? Muhammed Abdullah For Todorovic? Michelle Pereira
Current Streak: Townsend is winless in three trips to the Octagon, while Todorovic debuts at 9-0
X-Factor: UFC jitters for Todorovic?
How these two match up: It’s time to find out if we have a bonafide prospect on our hands.
Townsend is a longtime veteran with a few quality wins sprinkled throughout his record. He’s tricky and opportunistic on both the feet and mat, able to find a home for good counter punches or lock up the occasional choke. However, he can find himself falling behind on the scorecards in pursuit of the finish.
A “Contender Series” pick up and Serbia’s top-ranked Middleweight, Todorovic has actually beaten a rather high level of competition prior to his signing. All but one of his bouts have finished inside the distance, as Todorovic pushes a hard and physical pace whether standing, in the clinch, or on the mat.
In his “Contender Series” bout, Todorovic put on a very workmanlike performance to win the decision, grinding his opponent along the fence for the majority of three rounds and working his dirty boxing effectively. That seems like precisely the type of lower output, limited opportunity fight in which Townsend loses a decision, forever waiting for that single counter or high kick to slip through.
“The Tarantula” has not yet put on a performance proving himself UFC caliber, so it’s hard not to side with the talented 26-year-old Serbian.
Prediction: Todorovic via 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.