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Here’s everything that happened at UFC Fight Island 7 last night

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UFC Fight Night: Ponzinibbio v Jingliang Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Last night (Sat., Jan. 16, 2021), UFC returned to “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for UFC Fight Island 7. Thanks in large part to Abu Dhabi’s more stringent COVID-19 protocols and tighter bubble, last night’s event remained relatively unchanged as the weekends without UFC ticked by. As a result, a rock solid main card was bolstered further by an excellent main event, and there was talent throughout the preliminary portion of the night as well.

Let’s take a closer look at the slickest techniques and best performances:

The Best Is Blessed

Holloway just made his case as the best in the world.

Sure, he officially has a pair of losses to Alexander Volkanovski. Debating about the second decision is pointless; the fact of the matter is that Holloway came up short. Yet, despite those defeats, Holloway’s performance last night was so impressive that it’s incredibly hard to deny him as the division’s best.

He was simply otherworldly. Against a fearsome boxer with genuine knockout power, Holloway was never in danger. His foot was on the gas from the first bell, and while Kattar never quite wilted under his pressure, he was certainly forced on the defense. Holloway just threw so many brilliant techniques and dangerous punches at him without any time to adjust that Kattar was never able to get back in the fight.

It was a masterclass.

Return Of ‘The Leech’

Santiago Ponzinibbio was supposed to be the man making his big return last night. After over two years on the sidelines, Ponzinibbio was ravenous to come back in style, promising to utterly destroy Jingliang.

It didn’t happen. Instead, Ponzinibbio was patient — dare I say hesitant? — on the outside, mostly working jabs and low kicks. He was thought to be the sharper man from that range, but Jingliang was actually landing the better shots. His check left hook kept Ponzinibbio from getting to aggressive, while Jingliang scored more often with quick low kicks and lead hand strikes of his own.

Still, it was relatively close. Then, in the closing moments of the first round, Jingliang countered a jab with a lunging left hook, one that crashed perfectly into the point of Ponzinibbio’s chin. “Gente Boa” hit the floor.

Jingliang’s prior circumstances were not quite as devastating, a roughly ten month layoff and ugly loss to Neil Magny, but they still made this big win all the sweeter.

A New Middleweight Knockout Artist

When Punahele Soriano and Dusko Todorovic met in the Octagon, it was a match up of talented, undefeated Middleweight prospects. Both men are likely to have quality UFC careers, but Soriano emerged as a major fighter to watch, likely already worthy of a top 15 challenge after just two UFC fights.

Initially, it was Todorovic who impressed me. Soriano was showing him fast, wide swings, yet Todorovic pretty fearlessly used head movement to avoid the strikes and fire back. He was flowing quite well, reading Soriano and landing some solid shots.

Then, Soriano adjusted. Rather than stepping into his overhand, he began to fire the left as a straight, inching closer to that jawline. In addition, Soriano made more of an effort to close distance before throwing. As a result of those combined adjustments, Soriano’s cross found the chin as his opponent leaned away.

Once Soriano found his range, he did not lose it. Todorovic hung tough through some hellacious punches and tried to recover, but Soriano continued to drop bombs in an accurate, patient fashion. He scored the finish without forcing it, looking far more experienced than his newly minted 8-0 record would suggest.

Additional Thoughts

  • Alessio Di Chirico defeats Joaquin Buckley via first-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS!): Buckley has a problem. There’s a real depth to his boxing game, and his ability to explosively cover distance is great! However, as the consistently shorter man, Buckley is commonly forced to move forward, relying on head movement to avoid punches. That backfired when Di Chirico timed him with a high kick, catching Buckley out of position with a well-timed strike that immediately ended the fight. A huge win for Di Chirico, but this also puts some pressure on Holland to switch up his movement or drop a weight class.
  • Carlos Felipe defeats Justin Tafa via split-decision: Heavyweight brawls can be hit or miss. A fun first round is promised, but will it slow to a clinch-fest in the latter two rounds? In this case at least, the two big men managed to keep the pace fairly high despite a fair amount of body shots ripped by each man. By the third, the bout changed into more of a boxing-style fight, as they pressed forehead-to-forehead, trading mid-section hooks and tight power shots — all in all, a unique and fun preliminary Heavyweight contest!

For complete UFC Fight Island 7: “Holloway vs. Kattar” results and play-by-play, click HERE!