ABU DHABI – Another weekend passes and another amazing night of fights at UFC’s “Fight Island” passes with a few stunning finishes.
Moraes vs. Sandhagen
In the main event, number 1 ranked Bantamweight Marlon Moraes took on the number 4 ranked Cory Sandhagen. Sandhagen was able to quickly establish distance from Moraes and land kicks to the legs and body of Moraes while remaining on the outside and out of Moraes’s reach. In the second round, Sandhagen continued his attack from the outside and landed an unbelievable wheel kick on Moraes that led to the TKO finish.
What’s Next for The Fighters?
The next fight should be Edgar. I can see a world where he waits on the winner of Sterling and Yan or replaces one of them if they have an injury, but I think his best bet is to fight Edgar and become the undeniable #1 contender with a victory.
I would love to see a rematch between Moraes and Aldo and I don’t think there is a better time than now to set that fight up. Moraes is coming off of a loss to a man that is one fight away from a title shot, and Aldo is coming off of a loss to the current champion. Seeing as though their first fight was extremely close and controversial, why not set up the rematch now?
Barboza vs. Amirkhani
In the co-main event, Edson Barboza returned in his second Featherweight bout against Makwan Amirkhani. Barboza was in control early landing nasty leg kicks from the outside, and stiff hooks to the body of Amirkhani. In the second round, Barboza began finding a home for his right hand and dropped Amirkhani twice through the rest of the fight. Along with his outstriking of Amirkhani, Barboza was extremely efficient at defending the takedown and threatening submissions from the sprawl. This great performance from Barboza lead to a Unanimous Decision victory.
What’s Next for The Fighters?
After two impressive fights at 145 under his belt, I think it’s time to have Barboza reach into the higher ranks of the Featherweight division. A fight with Josh Emmett should be next. Depending on Emmett’s recovery from his leg injury sustained in the Burgos fight, it would be a great matchup between him and Barboza. They are both great strikers and this is a fight that was booked before but fell through. If Emmett isn’t going to be back recovered in time, then Sodiq Yuseff is a perfect fight as well. Either way, there are a lot of potential matchups for Barboza right now in the Featherweight division.
He seems to have trouble against the most elite in the division. I think Amirkhani can be a threat at Featherweight, but he has to get over the hump of the top 15. Until then, he’s gonna be sitting right on the outside of that top 15 looking in.
Rothwell vs. Tybura
In this surprisingly high paced Heavyweight bout, we saw the longtime veteran Ben Rothwell drop a Unanimous Decision loss to Marcin Tybura. Rothwell came out with a high pace to start the bout and continued pressuring Tybura with his boxing. Despite dropping the first round to Rothwell, Tybura was able to adjust and make Rothwell pay for his high pace and often ill-advised strikes by staying on the outside and getting very important takedowns when needed.
Perez vs. Du Plessis
In this Middleweight bout, we saw a stunning debut KO by Dricus Du Plessis over the six-fight UFC veteran, Markus Perez. Perez opened the fight with high pressure on the UFC newcomer and it was clear the Du Plessis was jittery and nervous to start. As the fight progressed, Du Plessis started finding his groove and exploding out towards Perez. Perez kept pushing forward and Du Plessis was beginning to land nice counters. In the final exchange, Perez rushed in, Du Plessis threw a right that Perez ducked under, and Du Plessis quickly followed up with a left uppercut that knocked out the UFC Veteran.
Aspinall vs. Baudot
In this premier Heavyweight bout, Aspinall was able to earn himself a quick TKO finish over Baudot. The fight began with them feeling each other out as Aspinall gained ground on Baudot forcing him onto his back foot. As Baudot threw a kick towards Aspinall, Aspinall landed a Jon Jones style oblique kick to the knee of Baudot’s planted leg. This allowed Aspinall to get in close to Baudot, take him down, land right into full mount, and finish the fight with ground-n-pound.
In the opener of the main card, we saw a highly competitive bout between rising star Youssef Zalal and the debuting Illia Topuria. Topuria set the tone early with high output and many submission threats. Zalal was able to respond with his own submission threats later in the bout but it was too little too late as Topuria earned himself a Unanimous Decision victory over Zalal.
Cory Sandhagen def. Marlon Moraes via TKO in Round 2 (1:03)
Edson Barboza def. Makwan Amirkhani via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
Marcin Tybura def. Ben Rothwell via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
Dricus du Plessis def. Markus Perez via TKO in Round 1 (3:22)
Tom Aspinall def. Alan Baudot via TKO in Round 1 (1:35).
Ilia Topuria def. Youssef Zalal via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Tom Breese def. KB Bhullar via KO in Round 1 (1:42)
Chris Daukaus def. Rodrigo Nascimento via KO in Round 1 (0:45)
Joaquin Buckley def. Impa Kasanganay via KO in Round 2 (2:03)
Tony Kelley def. Ali AlQaisi via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Giga Chikadze def. Omar Morales via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Tracy Cortez def. Stephanie Egger via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Tagir Ulanbekov def. Bruno Silva via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)