Yesterday (Weds., Jan. 20, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for UFC Fight Island 8. Last night’s show could easily be looked at as a quick appetizer prior to the UFC 257 main course that is fast approaching. The main event of Mike Chiesa vs. Neil Magny did a majority of the work in making the entire thing feel like a UFC event, as a fair portion of names were likely unfamiliar even to dedicated fans.
For a random crop of fights on a mid-week morning, this could have been worse! Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
Chiesa’s Cruise Control
Magny has shown consistently better conditioning than Michael Chiesa throughout their respective careers. After losing the first two rounds, there was a moment where momentum could have shifted. Magny surged forward, Chiesa looked a bit tired, and it was Magny who dictated the clinch position and took down his foe.
It did not last, however. Chiesa wrestled his way back to top position, and from there, the difference was clear. Whenever Chiesa managed to get his weight on Magny — who, to his credit, is a strong scrambler and guard player — he was in complete control. There was no anxiety or excess energy expended.
Chiesa simply flowed. Whatever direction Magny moved to escape, Chiesa would control, allowing gravity to aid him in driving his shoulder through the throat. He forced Magny to work much, much harder than him, and in doing so, he took away Magny’s advantage of a deeper gas tank.
“Maverick” won the fourth and fifth without issue.
An Inspired Performance
Warlley Alves has long been a fighter restrained by mental game more than his skill set. The Brazilian has a reputation as a frontrunner, and his conditioning has left something to be desired in the past.
In this bout, Alves flipped a switch. He came out a man possessed. Immediately, the Brazilian was firing heavy shots, hiding big swings behind a powerful body kick. When he landed in the clinch, Alves did not rest. Instead, he continued ripping power shots, found a spinning backfist, and even tossed his foe to the mat with an overhook throw.
When Lazzez smartly scrambled to his feet, Alves hammered him with not one, not two, but a trio of liver kicks. Lazzez folded over, and Alves scored an incredible stoppage in likely the best performance of his career.
Neither Vinicius Moreira nor Ike Villanueva are amazing Light Heavyweights. Neither man entered the cage with a glowing record inside the Octagon or particularly well-rounded skill set.
Moreira can grapple, and Villanueva can scrap. Whoever managed to dictate which type of fight went down would likely dominate. The 36-year-old “Hurricane” proved himself that guy, stinging Moreira with quick combinations then shuffling away before the Brazilian could fire back.
With no real wrestling or kickboxing to compliment his jiu-jitsu, Moreira’s only real answer to getting touched up was to grow more aggressive. He ended up playing right into Villanueva’s hands, who timed his step forward with a picture-perfect overhand to the jaw.
Lightweight’s Cup Overfloweth
Mike Davis vs. Mason Jones had no right to be such an incredible a fight.
Both Lightweight prospects are unranked, but they did not fight with it. If we look a bit deeper into their histories, their talent is clear. Davis has lost to a pair of very talented men in Sodiq Yusuff and Gilbert Burns, but the Tiger Muay Thai Tryouts winner — that’s a serious accomplishment — has shown nothing but athleticism and skill regardless. Jones, meanwhile, was making his debut on relatively short-notice, but the Welsh striker brought a perfect record and pair of Cage Warriors titles with him.
The two more than delivered. They exchanged heavy shots in extended combinations often, showing craft in their shot selection and toughness in their ability to stay composed throughout the violence. Jones landed a bit more often, but Davis connected harder, which swayed the judges to side with “Beast Boy” after three excellent rounds.
Put either of these two Lightweights in with a top-ranked Lightweight, and they have a real shot — 155-pounds is that good!
- Omari Akhmedov defeats Tom Breese via second-round arm triangle (HIGHLIGHTS): There were a lot of fun grappling exchanges in this fight. Breese was very active with his submission attempts, repeatedly trying to counter Akhmedov’s wrestling with jiu-jitsu. It landed him on his back on a couple occasions, but he did also manage to sweep the Dagestani wrestler. Unfortunately for the Englishman, he went to that well too many times, as a failed calf slicer attempt landed him in a terrible position. Akhmedov pretty much immediately wrapped up the choke, demonstrating the risk of low percentage submissions.
- Ricky Simon defeats Gaetano Pirrello via second-round arm triangle: Simon is a top-ranked Bantamweight, and he faced a replacement opponent. No disrespect to Pirrello, but he was not prepared for the level of physicality and wrestling Simon brought to the table. Simon overwhelmed his defenses with constant takedowns and slams, resulting in the eventual submission.
- Umar Nurmagomedov defeats Sergey Morozov via second-round rear-naked choke (HIGHLIGHTS): It can be difficult keeping track of which Nurmagomedov clan member is known for what, but the Bantamweight is supposedly more of a kicker than wrestler. Well, he certainly can kick fast, but perhaps the Nurmagomedov clan’s standard of constitutes being a good wrestler is a bit unreasonable — Umar looked like a damn good wrestler! He ground his foe down, using the trademark Dagestani handcuff to wear Morozov down and eventually set up the rear naked choke. No one is promising him to be the next Khabib, but Umar Nurmagomedov is no joke!
- Manon Fariot defeat Victoria Leonardo via second-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Women who enter MMA with a fair bit of experience in Muay Thai have a huge advantage over the average WMMA up-and-comer. Fariot just put together her combinations so much more fluidly, firing with power and speed that her opponent simply couldn’t match. Combine that large advantage in technicality with an apparent edge in size and strength, and it wasn’t all that shocking when Fariot set up a sneaky head kick to end the contest.
For complete UFC Fight Island 8: “Chiesa vs. Magny” results and play-by-play, click HERE!