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UFC Fight Island 7 start time, who is fighting today at 'Holloway vs Kattar'

UFC Fight Night Holloway v Kattar: Weigh-Ins Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

After a four-week break, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is ready to hop back on the saddle to stage UFC Fight Island 7 later today (Sat., Jan. 16, 2021) inside Etihad Arena on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The event will feature a Featherweight bout between former division champion, Max Holloway, taking on Calvin Kattar. In the co-headlining act, long-time veterans Carlos Condit and Matt Brown will finally get the opportunity to throw down inside the Octagon.

What’s Hot:

Max Holloway is trying his hardest to get back to a title fight after losing to Alexander Volkanovski in back-to-back championship bouts. Before then, he has to win at least one more fight, and his next challenge is a tough one because Calvin Kattar is one of the toughest draws at 145 pounds. Kattar has won two straight against Jeremy Stephens and Dan Ige, giving him four wins in his last five outings. His lone loss during that stint came against Zabit Magomedsharipov, one of the very best Featherweight fighters on the planet.

Kattar is longing for his first shot at a UFC title and a win over Holloway will surely put him there. Of course, before either Holloway or Kattar get a championship shot, Brian Ortega will get to face “The Great” next. But first, “The Boston Finisher” and “Blessed” will go to war on “Fight Island” in what is sure-to-be an all out standup war. Both men have a decent ground game, but their bread-and-butter is on the feet and I fully expect 25 minutes of non-stop action since Kattar hasn’t been stopped in 12 years, while “Blessed” has gone eight years without being knocked out or submitted. It’s a tossup to pick a winner, but do not be surprised to see an upset here. On the flip side of that coin, Holloway is coming of two straight losses, so the hunger to get back on track with a big win isn’t lacking.

What’s Not:

The lineup isn’t a bad way to start off the new year, but I would have liked to see the promotion try to find a higher-ranked fighter for Santiago Ponzinibbio. I get it, Li Jingliang was a late replacement, but even a fight against Muslim Salikhov was a bit of a head scratcher. Ponzinibbio has won seven in a row and is one of the hottest 170-pound fighters in the world, but perhaps his near two-year hiatus had plenty to do with the fights he is getting at the moment. Plus, since he has been out for so long he is no longer ranked.

Original Card vs Actual Card:

Tim Elliott and Jordan Espinoza were set to throw down on this card before Espinoza tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the fight was moved to UFC 259. After Anthony Hernandez also tested positive for COVID-19, his fight against Rodolfo Vieira was moved to UFC 258. Julianna Pena and Sara McMann were set to scrap at this event but it was eventually pushed back a week later to UFC 257 on Jan. 23.

A scheduled bout between Brian Kelleher and Ricky Simon was also scratched after “Boom” tested positive for COVID-19. Bethe Correia was set to take part in her retirement fight against Wu Yanan but was forced to withdraw to undergo emergency appendectomy. As a result, Joselyne Edwards took her place in what will be her UFC debut. After one of Mike Grundy’s teammates tested positive for COVID-19, the British brawler was forced out of his fight against Nik Lentz. “The Carny” will now face Movsar Evloev at UFC 257. And finally, a fight between Omari Akhmedov and Tom Breese was pushed back a few days to UFC Fight Island 8, also as a result of COVID-19.

Injuries:

Christian Aguilera was forced out of his fight against Warlley Alves with an undisclosed injury. Alves will now face Mounir Lazzez at UFC Fight Island 8 on Weds., Jan. 20, 2021.

New Blood:

Joselyne Edwards got a late call up to face Wu Yanan after Bethe Correia was forced out with appendicitis. Winning eight of her last nine, the former King of the Cage women’s Bantamweight champion is a nice addition to UFC’s 135-pound division. No disrespect to Yanan, but she is just 1-2 in her three UFC bouts and I fully expect Edwards to shine here.

How The ‘Prelims’ Look:

The underbelly of the event was set to be headlined by a Middleweight bout between Phil Hawes and Nassourdine Imavov before the fight was scratched last minute for undisclosed reasons. It’s a shame, too, because it was a great matchup since Hawes is on a five-fight win streak and made good on his UFC debut by scoring an 18-second knockout win over Jacob Malkoun at UFC 254. Imavov, on the other hand, has won six straight and also made a successful UFC debut last October.

In Heavyweight action, Justin Tafa and Carlos Felipe will collide in what is sure-to-be a hard-hitting affair. And there will be heavy hits galore, as they have a combined 10 knockouts wins to their credit with Tafa winning all four of his bouts via strikes.

David Zawada will look for his second straight win when he takes on Ramazan Emeev, who is also looking for back-to-back wins. Emeev has been flying under the radar despite earning an impressive 4-1 mark during his UFC stint, so another win could get him a bit more public relations love.

Jacob Kilburn and Austin Lingo both threw up duds in their respective UFC debuts, and now the Featherweight scrappers will face off against one another to see who can pick up his first win inside the Octagon.

Who Needs A Win Badly:

Interestingly enough, the two people that desperately need wins are facing off against one another. Sarah Moras has lost four of her last five including her most recent fight against Sijara Eubanks. Moras has been under UFC contract for six years now and hasn’t been able to make a big move. Her recent skid isn’t doing her any favors and if she drops one more it could be the end for her inside the Octagon. As far as her opponent is concerned, Vanessa Melo has gone 0-3 in her first three attempts inside the Octagon, which isn’t a good look on her resume since she came in on a five-fight win streak. The loser here could easily be on her way out.

Interest Level: 6.5 of 10

It’s a decent card and we will likely get to see the rise of a new Featherweight title contender, though either Holloway or Kattar will have to wait a while for their potential shot at the strap since a fight between Volkanovski and Ortega isn't finalized yet.

In the co-main event, a long-awaited bout between Matt Brown and Carlos Condit will finally go down. While it may be a few years too late, it isn’t for a lack of trying because the two have been booked to fight several times before and injuries have always interfered. Condit snapped his five-fight losing streak in his last fight against Court McGee, giving fight fans a small glimpse of the “Natural Born Killer” of old. Brown, meanwhile, is coming off a tough knockout loss to Miguel Baeza, ending his two fight win streak. In their primes, Condit and Brown were two of the most entertaining fighters on the planet. And while they’re a little older, the two are still hanging in there and should provide fans with an exciting fight.

In further main card action, Joaquin Buckley will look to continue his ascension up the 185-pound mountain when he faces off against Alessio Di Chirico. Buckley has been staying busy with this being his third fight in four months. After scoring one of the best knockouts ever against Impa Kasanganay (see it again here), he followed it up with another great knockout win over Jordan Wright at UFC 255. While he will be facing a struggling fighter in Di Chirico — who has lost three straight — the Italian-born slugger has never lost a fight via knockout. In fact, his lone stoppage loss was via submission three years ago which means he is one tough nut to crack.

Let’s dive into the Ponzinibbio vs Jingliang bout a bit more. Santiago will make his long-awaited return after over two years on the sidelines. And despite winning seven straight, “Gente Boa” will look to remind the rest of the division that he is still a force to be reckoned with. In Jingliang, he will be facing a determined fighter who is looking to bounce back after coming up short against Neil Magny in his last bout. He has been fighting for the promotion since 2014 and despite going 7-2 in his last nine outings he hasn’t been able to get over the hump. A win over Ponzinibbio will be huge for his career.

Kicking off the main card will be a Middleweight bout between Punahele Soriano and Dusko Todorovic. Soriano is undefeated at 7-0 and made a splash in his UFC debut by knocking out Oskar Piechota via first round knockout at UFC 245. Todorovic is also undefeated at 10-0 and also impressed in his UFC debut by knocking out Dequan Townsend last October. It’s a great fight between two rising 185-pound contenders who earned their shot at the big leagues via the “Contender Series.”

Enjoy the fights!

Full Fight Card:

UFC Fight Island 7 Main Event On ABC/ESPN+:

145 lbs.: Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar

UFC Fight Island 7 Main Card On ABC/ESPN+ (3 p.m. ET):

170 lbs.: Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit
170 lbs.: Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Li Jingliang
185 lbs.: Alessio Di Chirico vs. Joaquin Buckley
185 lbs.: Punahele Soriano vs. Dusko Todorovic

UFC Fight Island 7 Prelims Card On ESPN+ (12 p.m. ET):

185 lbs.: Phil Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov CANCELED
135 lbs.: Wu Yanan vs. Joselyne Edwards
265 lbs.: Carlos Felipe vs. Justin Tafa
170 lbs.: Ramazan Emeev vs. David Zawada
135 lbs.: Vanessa Melo vs. Sarah Moras
145 lbs.: Jacob Kilburn vs. Austin Lingo

***Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to drastic change because of the various global quarantine restrictions.***

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Island 7 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ABC and ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Island 7 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For more upcoming UFC events in both Abu Dhabi and Las Vegas click here.

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