Wednesday, December 8, 2021
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Live analysis and updates from Fight Island

A new featherweight title contender will emerge Wednesday night on “Fight Island.”

Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The card is the second of four consecutive events the UFC has scheduled for Yas Island, which has been dubbed “Fight Island.” The venue will be the recently constructed Flash Forum, inside a safe zone where everyone has been tested multiple times for COVID-19.

Kattar (21-4) comes in as ESPN’s No. 8-ranked featherweight. The Massachusetts native stopped divisional stalwart Jeremy Stephens by second-round TKO (elbow) at UFC 249 on May 9. Kattar, 32, has won three of his past four and five of his past seven fights.

Ige (14-2) is perhaps the hottest fighter in the division not named Alexander Volkanovski, who is the champion. The Hawaii native has won six straight and has not lost since his UFC debut in 2018 to Julio Arce. Ige, 28, is coming off a split decision win over Edson Barboza in May.

“A win over Dan Ige puts me one step closer to ultimately becoming champion of the UFC in the featherweight division,” Kattar said. “That’s my goal, to bring that belt back home to Boston.”

In the co-main event, Tim Elliott and Ryan Benoit will try to get back to winning ways in the flyweight division. The always-exciting Elliott (15-11-1) has dropped three straight. Benoit (10-6) is coming off a split decision loss to Alateng Heili in what was Benoit’s first fight in more than two years.

Also on the card, contenders Jimmie Rivera and Cody Stamann will meet in a featherweight bout, though both fight primarily at bantamweight. Plus, exciting heavyweight Todd Duffee fights for just the second time since 2015 and welterweight prospect Abdul Razak Alhassan returns after nearly two years away following his acquittal in a sexual assault case.


Fight in progress:

Welterweight: Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-1, 4-1 UFC, -300) vs. Mounir Lazzez (9-1, 0-0 UFC, +260)


Results:

Middleweight: Khamzat Chimaev (7-0, 1-0 UFC) defeats John Phillips (22-10, 1-4 UFC) by second-round submission

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0:49

Khamzat Chimaev dominates John Phillips on the mat in Round 2 to pull out a submission via D’Arce choke at UFC Fight Night.

Chimsaev arrived for his UFC debut as an undefeated fighter. He walked out of the Octagon with his record still unblemished, having raised eyebrows with as domineering a performance as a fighter can have.

He finished Phillips with a slick D’Arce choke at 1:12 of Round 2 after softening up the Welshman with an unrelenting ground-and-pound for all but a few seconds of the fight.

Chimaev, who is of Chechen descent and has lived in Sweden from a young age, came out with an immediate head kick, then ducked under and took the fight to the canvas. From there he controlled Phillips the rest of the way, immobilizing his legs with a Khabib Nurmagomedov-style lockdown and throwing rights and lefts with abandon. By the end of Round 1, Chimaev had a 72-1 striking advantage.

It got no better for Phillips in the second round. Chimaev got a takedown 12 seconds in, continued his beatdown, then ended it with the submission.

Philips is a resilient one. The 35-year-old Welshman, who fights out of SBG gym in Dublin, lost his first three UFC fights but kept coming back for more. He finally got a win last September, and what a win it was. He knocked out Alen Amedovski in 14 seconds. But he took a fall once again this time.

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Men’s featherweight: Lerone Murphy (9-0-1, 1-0-1 UFC) defeats Ricardo Ramos (14-3, 5-2 UFC) by first-round TKO

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Lerone Murphy unleashes a vicious stretch of ground-and-pound late in the first round on Ricardo Ramos to pick up a win on Fight Island at UFC Fight Night.

Murphy proved his UFC debut was no fluke.

The British featherweight blasted Ramos with hard ground-and-pound for a TKO at 4:18 of the first round. After being swept initially by Ramos, Murphy countered and got back into top position and rained down some brutal punches.

Initially, it looked like Ramos would have his way. He was throwing flashy spin kicks and briefly got Murphy’s back. Murphy went for a takedown and Ramos slickly swept and got into side control. That did not last long. Murphy exploded his way up to his feet, got Ramos down and landed some impressive strikes — including a big elbow — from the top with Ramos prone. Murphy described his blows from that position as “like a sledge.”

Murphy, 28, fought to a surprising draw with the very tough Zubaira Tukhugov, the longtime teammate of Khabib Nurmagomedov, in his UFC debut at UFC 242 last September. Murphy, an England native, remained undefeated and appears to be a legitimate prospect in the featherweight division.

Ramos, 24, was on a two-fight winning streak coming in. The Brazil native has five UFC wins after starting in the promotion when he was just 21 years old in 2017.

“I wanted to prove that I belong here in the UFC,” Murphy said. “I plan to spend the rest of my career in the UFC, climb to the top, get into that top 15 and obviously one day be champion. I’m just going to go back, heal up for a month and then get back to training and grow and grow. That’s all I want to do, grow.”

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Light heavyweight: Modestas Bukauskas (11-2, 1-0 UFC) defeats Andreas Michailidis (12-4, 0-1 UFC) by first-round TKO

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Modestas Bukauskas repeatedly lands elbows to Andreas Michailidis’ head at the end of Round 1, and the ref calls the end to the bout.

Michailidis tried to make an impression on the judges with a late takedown in Round 1 of this meeting of light heavyweights making their UFC debuts. But Bukauskas made the judges unnecessary.

For nearly five minutes, it was a good back-and-forth fight on the feet, with Michailidis’ footwork presenting a problem for the aggressive attack of Bukauskas. Then, with seconds to go in the round, Michailidis went for a takedown. Bukauskas defended it and began dropping elbows to the side of the head. When the horn sounded and the assault ended, Michailidis dropped forward on his hands and knees.

Michailidis eventually sat, but when he leaned back the cage door was open and he nearly fell over. The ref waved off the fight.

Bukauskas, a native of Lithuania who trains in England, has won seven in a row. The 26-year-old is a former Cage Warriors light heavyweight champ.

Michailidis, who is 31 and fighting out Athens, came in having won seven of his past eight.

“I feel absolutely amazing. I’ve been visualizing this moment,” Bukauskas said. “Visualizing the finish, writing it on my board and everything like that, for it finally to come to fruition in the cage is absolutely amazing, to be part of such a historic event as well, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. This is a great way to introduce myself to the UFC, but I’m only going to keep getting better and keep putting on better performances.

“I knew once those shots were landing that they were going to be hard because in my last fight in Cage Warriors I finished the guy with the exact same finish. Even when I went with the guy to the medical room, he was completely dazed and confused, so I wish for a speedy recovery for my opponent. I would have liked to finish it in a different way because I was just starting to feel my range, and I had a bit of a leg injury coming into the fight, so it was a little bit more difficult to show more of myself, but to come out there and see those elbows and land them, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

— Wagenheim


Men’s featherweight: Jared Gordon (16-4, 4-3 UFC) defeats Chris Fishgold (18-4-1, 1-3 UFC) by unanimous decision

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Jared “Flash” Gordon beats Chris Fishgold with UFC commentator and lightweight Paul Felder, who left the desk to work the fight.

A hellish few weeks was worth it for Gordon.

After his fiancée and all his corner people tested positive for COVID-19, Gordon made the trek all the way to Abu Dhabi alone. While there, he dealt with a false positive for the coronavirus. The trials and tribulations all paid off with a dominant unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26) over Fishgold in Gordon’s return to the featherweight division.

With Gordon not having any corners with him, he asked UFC lightweight and broadcast analyst Paul Felder to corner him. Felder, Gordon’s longtime friend, left his position as color commentator temporarily to back his pal for the bout.

Fishgold had an early takedown in the first, but once Gordon got up he landed his own takedown and ended up in top position. That’s how the next two rounds went, too. Gordon took Fishgold down and landed ground-and-pound in the second. In the third, he got Fishgold down again and landed hard punches to the sides of Fishgold’s head. Gordon was close to finishing, but Fishgold survived to the end of the bout.

Gordon landed 241 total strikes, which was the fourth most landed in a single fight in UFC featherweight history, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Gordon, 31, picked up his second win in three fights. The New York native had dropped three of four coming in. Fishgold, a 28-year-old England native, has dropped three of his past four bouts. Fishgold missed weight Tuesday by three pounds.

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Women’s flyweight: Liana Jojua (7-3, 0-1 UFC) defeats Diana Belbita (13-5, 0-1 UFC) by first-round armbar

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Liana Jojua gets Diana Belbita into an armbar and forces her to submit in the first round.

Jojua withstood an early onslaught and methodically worked her way to an armbar finish at 2:23 of Round 1 in a meeting of young flyweights. Jojua is 25, Belbita a year younger.

Belbita, a Romanian fighting out of Canada, came out aggressively, moving forward behind punches, then trapped Jojua in a clinch. But when the fight went to the canvas, Jojua, a Georgian, immediately set up the submission. She got it for her first UFC win.

These fighters had followed similar paths to the big show. Jojua lost her promotional debut last September after riding in on a five-fight winning streak. Belbita had won four in a row before she dropped her first UFC bout in October.

“I think submission, not armbar, but any submission will do, but armbar is my favorite submission and I make do,” Jojua said. “I didn’t think I would make this in the first round, I think one or two rounds, but she took me down and I finish. I’m very happy because I haven’t won in two years, it’s very hard for me. This is my first UFC win and fight at the new weight. I felt very good, but the weight cut is very hard for me, it’s very crazy for me. But then I think it will become easier for me because it won’t be new for me and only having one month for the fight was a little bit short notice.

“I don’t know when I want to fight next, I haven’t thought about it. I think I want to go to new camps, make a visa for America. I want to go to America and train there and then I will think about fighting. Right now it’s very hard for training, if I don’t change camps, it’s not good for me.”

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Men’s bantamweight: Jack Shore (13-0, 2-0 UFC) defeats Aaron Phillips (12-4, 0-3 UFC) by second-round rear-naked choke

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Jack Shore submits Aaron Phillips early in the second round of their bout in the prelims of UFC Fight Night at Fight Island.

The UFC has a legitimate prospect from the United Kingdom on its hands.

Shore stopped Phillips with a rear-naked choke at 2:29 of the second round to open the UFC’s second card on Yas Island. Shore was able to take Phillips down in the opening seconds of the second round, take Phillips’ back and then lock in the choke.

Shore dominated just about every second of the fight with his wrestling and grappling. He pressed Phillips against the cage in the first round, landed punches from the turtle position and then blasted Phillips with some hard knees in the clinch.

Shore, 25, has 12 stoppages in 13 career victories and eight of those stoppages are submissions. The Wales native is now 2-0 in the UFC. Shore is a former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion.

“I’m gonna keep the finish rate high,” Shore said. “People pay to see finishes.”

Phillips, 30, had his five-fight winning streak snapped. The Louisiana resident was making his first appearance in the UFC since 2014.

“It’s been a tough fight week with the quarantine in London for two days, flight to Abu Dhabi, stuck in the hotel room for two days here, the weather, the sleeping pattern, the change of opponents, but it is what it is, as fighters we’ve got to learn to deal with adversity,” Shore said. “Other than a sloppy start to the first round, I can’t complain, second-round finish — I’m a happy man. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I’m one of those guys, I want to go out there and win every second of every round of every fight. I’ll probably go back and watch it on the TV or on my phone and I’ll have a different view like I always do. I just felt a little bit sloppy starting off, but once I got in my rhythm and loosened up, I got the job done.

“I want to keep getting better between fights. I want to bring a better version of myself to every single fight; I don’t want to be that guy who is fighting every month. Give me a month or two now to improve my skill set and it’d be great to come back to the Octagon. October or November time, perfect. I’d like to come back to Abu Dhabi as well, I didn’t get to see much of this beautiful place, been stuck in the hotel for a week cutting weight, so I’d love to come back here for a trip and have a look about and enjoy it a little bit more too.”

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Still to come:

Men’s featherweight: Calvin Kattar (21-4, 5-2 UFC, -280) vs. Dan Ige (14-2, 6-1 UFC, +240)

Men’s flyweight: Tim Elliott (16-11-1, 4-9 UFC, -145) vs. Ryan Benoit (10-6, 3-4 UFC, +125)

Men’s featherweight: Jimmie Rivera (22-4, 6-3 UFC, -145) vs. Cody Stamann (19-2-1, 5-1-1 UFC, +125)

Women’s flyweight: Molly McCann (10-2, 3-1 UFC, -140) vs. Taila Santos (15-1, 0-1 UFC, +120)

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