The UFC is back for our viewing pleasure LIVE from the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, UAE for Fight Island 2 this evening. The action starts up at 5pm est with the Prelim bouts on ESPN and ESPN+. The Main card will begin at 8pm est exclusively on ESPN+. The main event will feature a title rematch for the vacant belt in the Flyweight division as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Joseph Benavidez. The co-main event of the evening will profile fighters in the Middleweight division as Jack Hermansson battles Kelvin Gastellum. Let’s take a look at the fight card, and I’ll offer up a preview of the fights, and throw in some predictions (7-4 record on Wednesday. Must improve!).
Main Card (8pm, ESPN+)
Flyweight Championship Bout
“Dues Da Guerra” Deiveson Figueiredo vs. “Beefcake” Joseph Benavidez)
Odds: Figueiredo (-230) Benavidez (+180)
Before we begin, “Beefcake”…..Really Joe? Did your wife Megan Olivi give you that nickname? Ha! Anyway, Let’s dive into the main event!
The rematch we’ve all been waiting for, right? Deiveson Figueiredo returns to the octagon to face Joseph Benavidez in a rematch from their February bout. Figueiredo dismantled Benavidez in the 2nd round via knockout, but wasn’t awarded the vacant title because he missed weight by 2.5 lbs for the fight. What a costly time to have missed weight for the first time in his career. Figueiredo wants to prove that February wasn’t a fluke, and put an exclamation point on his performance tonight at Fight Island.
“Man, I’m ready to knock him out again. But, what I really want to do is submit him. That’s what I trained for.”
On the other side of the octagon is a man who seeks revenge! Joseph Benavidez is out for blood this time around. Word circulated through media outlets about Figueiredo bragging about a head butt during the first fight that led to his victory. Joe was furious, and is carrying that disgust into tonight’s fight.
“Fighting is hurting people, but it makes me want to hurt him…I want you to hurt. I want you to feel dizzy when you get up everyday and not know if your concussions are going to go away. I want you to freaking cry and be embarrassed and all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, that’s a different feeling for this fight. Typically, I don’t have that towards an opponent.”
Needless to say, Benavidez has no love lost for his opponent tonight, and wants to pound him into the ground. The drama is there, the hype for this fight is alive, and this should be a fantastic fight!
Prediction: Figueiredo via KO, 3rd Round
“The Joker” Jack Hermansson vs. Kelvin Gastellum
Odds: Gastellum (-112) Hermansson (-112)
The co-main event of the evening features 2 middleweights on the cusp of the top 5 rankings in the division. Jack Hermansson is coming off a knockout loss to Jared Cannonier, but is still ranked 6th in the division. “The Joker” hasn’t fought in 10 months, but is excited to get back in the cage for a chance to propel himself into the top of the division. Hermansson ranks as the 2nd Middleweight in significant strikes per minute at a clip of 5.13. While Jack likes to strike, once he locks in the guillotine, it’s lights out for his opponent.
Standing opposite “The Joker” is Kelvin Gastellum. He’s experiencing the first losing streak of his career. Gastellum is hoping to turn things around after decision losses to Darren Till, and Israel Adesanya, which was for the vacant Middleweight title. Kelvin will hope to avoid the judges scorecards this time around, and finish the fight inside 15 minutes.
Prediction: Hermansson via submission, 2nd Round
“Bonecrusher” Marc Diakiese vs. “Ataman” Rafael Fiziev
Odds: Diakiese (-170) Fiziev (+135)
The Lightweights take over the octagon in this battle. Alan Patrick was forced to withdraw, so Marc Diakiese gets a different opponent in Rafael Fiziev. Marc Diakiese is surging after a 3 fight losing streak by winning his last 2 fights via unanimous decision. Diakiese enjoys going the distance as 50% of his wins come by way of the judge’s scorecards. Diakiese is looking to enter the top 15 rankings in the lightweight division if he can get past Fiziev.
Rafael Fiziev enters this fight with a 1-1 UFC record. He’s coming off a unanimous decision victory over Alex White back in October. Fiziev has 5 wins via knockout, and is ready to make a name for himself in the lightweight division. This is a classic striker/striker matchup. The excitement will be at a high level for this fight!
Prediction: Diakiese via Unanimous Decision
Women’s Flyweight Bout
“The Violence Queen” Ariane Lipski vs. Luana “Dread” Carolina
Odds: Lipski (-125) Carolina (+100)
These are finally going to throw down in the cage after many chances. The corona virus has forced cancellations of 2 scheduled fights between them. Both fighters haven’t stepped in the octagon since last November. They’re both coming off unanimous decision wins in their last fight, and hope to build some momentum for themselves in the flyweight division. This will be an entertaining fight as both ladies love to stand and trade jabs.
Prediction: Lipski via KO, 2nd Round
“The Cannibal” Alexandre Pantoja vs. Askar “Bullet” Askarov
Odds: Pantoja (-195) Askarov (+155)
Kicking off the main card will be a pair of Flyweight combatants ranked in the top 10 of the division. Alexandre Pantoja (4) is looking to build off a knockout victory over Mat Schnell his last time in the cage. He averages 4.58 significant strikes per minute, and will attempt to keep the fight on their feet with his crazy fighting technique. Pantoja is currently 6-2 in the UFC promotion, and has won 4 of his last 5 fights. The only blemish in that time frame was a loss to Deiveson Figueiredo. A dominant win tonight over Askarov could launch him into a title shot down the road in 2020.
The “Bullet” Askar Askarov (7) enters the octagon as an undefeated fighter as a professional. He’s currently 1-0-1 in the UFC promotion. In his debut, Askarov battled to a decision draw with Brandon Moreno. The next time in the cage, he grinded out an unanimous decsion victory over veteran, Tim Elliott. Tonight, The “Bullet” would love for nothing other than taking the fight to the ground where he flourishes. However, Pantoja can be tough to get on the mat. While Askarov may not be known for his striking ability, he does have a 48% significant striking accuracy, even better than Pantoja (47%). This will be an interesting battle, and one with a lot on the line, a potential title opportunity. Go to war gentlemen!
Prediction: Pantoja via Unanimous Decision
PRELIM CARD (5PM, ESPN)
- Light Heavyweight Bout: Roman Dolidaze vs. Khadis Ibragimov
- 150lb Catchweight Bout: Grant Dawson vs. Nad Narimani
- Lightweight Bout: Joe Duffy vs. Joel Alvarez
- Bantamweight Bout: Brett Johns vs. Montel Jackson
- Flyweight Bout: Malcolm Gordon vs. Amir Albazi
- Featherweight Bout: Davi Ramos vs. Arman Tsarukyan
- Heavyweight Bout: Carlos Felipe vs. Serghei Spivac
Odds brought to you by PointsBet.