The UFC is back in action on Fight Island. In fact, this is the week before the ‘week’ if you catch my drift – If you didn’t, I’m referring to UFC 254. Anyways, headlining the event is two contenders in the Featherweight division, whom seemingly have a title shot on the line with a victory – as The Korean Zombie and Brian Ortega lock horns. In what has been a long road to get to this fight, it feels good that it’s actually going down. These are two of the very best the Featherweight division has to offer. At any moment, both men can finish each other, which makes this a must watch fight!
UFC Fight Island 6 Main Card ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Brian Ortega vs. Chan Sung Jung – It’s been nearly two years since Brian Ortega last fought. A fight in which he absorbed 290 strikes, and it took a doctor to halt the action. With injuries in between the layoff, the former title challenger and submission ace is back in action. As for the Korean Zombie, this will be his first fight of 2020. TKZ enters this fight on a two fight win streak and is on the cusp of a title shot should he win. With one of the more well rounded abilities, TKZ has already racked up six UFC victories – all which have come via stoppage.
As for a prediction, I have TKZ. I believe that while Ortega is a good striker, his defense is as poor as can be. I understand his durability and chin are among the best, but being the punching bag doesn’t always help you win fights. While he can snatch a submission at any second, TKZ is such a good grappler that I believe he can escape or shrug off any attempts to grappler. On the feet, TKZ is excellent. He’s power, volume, durability, a chin, cardio, pace, etc… In other words, he’s the complete package a real nightmare matchup for anyone. I’ll say it now, TKZ wins this fight via TKO and his title fight against Alexander Volkanovski via stoppage too.
125 lbs.: Jessica Andrade vs. Katlyn Chookagian – After losing to Rose Namajunas in the rematch, Jessica Andrade has moved up to Flyweight. Out of the gate, she get’s one of the best in the division, Katlyn Chookagian. Coming off the performance of her career, Chookagian looks to have turned a corner in her climb back to a title shot. With newfound wrestling abilities, Chookagian looks to be in her best form. As for a prediction though, I have Andrade. Despite the big disadvantages in height and reach, the sheer volume, power and strength of Andrade are undeniable. While I expect Chookagian to stick to the outside and land strikes, I do see Andrade chasing her down and getting inside the pocket. From there, she will score and land the more significant strikes. Andrade could also mix in takedowns, as Chookagains iffy takdown defense is there for the pickings. In the end, I see Andrade winning via decision.
205 lbs.: Modestas Bukauskas vs. Jimmy Crute – Unless Modestas Bukauskas can blitz Jimmy Crute in the opening round, I don’t see his avenues of winning increasing the longer the fight goes. Crute is well rounded and physically strong. With heavy hands on the feet and grappling chops, Crute is comfortable wherever this fight goes. In my opinion, Crute has a bright future at Light Heavyweight and I don’t see the train ending here. So with that, give me Crute winning via TKO.
145 lbs.: Thomas Almeida vs. Jonathan Martinez – At one point, Thomas Almeida was the hottest thing since slice bread. Cody Garbrandt would halt that momentum and subsequently Almeida would lose two of his next three fights. It’s been over a two year layoff for Almeida, but I believe the time off sided his longevity in the sport. While Jonathan Martinez is a good striker, he’s shown to be outpointed by better strikers like Andre Ewell and Andre Soukhamthath. Considering Almeida is better than both of them, give me Almeida to return in style via TKO.
170 lbs.: Claudio Silva vs. James Krause – I feel like James Krause is doing a detriment to his career in a way. I mean, he’s a well rounded and solid fighter at Welterweight. If he can get in a groove on the feet, he’s a hard out for anyone. However, his willingness to jump in on short notice puts him at a disadvantage. Against Trevin Giles, it was apparent his cardio wasn’t there due to having no camp. While Krause enters this fight on more notice than that, I’m not expecting those cardio issues not be there again. Against someone like Claudia Silva, that’s going to spell trouble. The later this fight goes, the more likely Silva submits Krause. In fact, that’s my prediction.
UFC Fight Island 6 Prelims Card ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Mateusz Gamrot vs. Guram Kutateladze – As much as I believe Guram Kutateladze is UFC caliber and will have success inside the octagon – this isn’t a fight he wins. Mateusz Gamrot is the complete package, entering this fight undefeated and as the first ever simultaneous champion (Featherweight and Lightweight) for KSW. Well rounded and training at American Top Team, the ceiling for Gamrot seems to be that of a contender in a stacked Lightweight division. Given Kutateladze is tough as nails, I don’t see a finish here, but a Gamrot decision victory.
125 lbs.: Poliana Botelho vs. Gillian Robertson – This should be a fun fight, in which there’s two ways I see it going. One, Gillian Robertson struggles to get this fight to the mat and Poliana Botelho takes over on feet for a decision victory. Two, Robertson succeeds in getting the fight to the mat and eventually locks up a submission. In my opinion, give me the latter. Botelho might boost an 88% takedown in the UFC, but the majority of it stems from one fight – where she stuffed Pearl Gonzalaez on all fifteen takedown attempts. Against Cynthia Calvillo, Botelho was taken down twice in three attempts and submitted in the first round. I predict the same – Robertson wins via submission.
185 lbs.: Yong Jin Park vs. John Phillips – Unless John Phillips magically fixed his glaring weakness of no takedown defense, then all he’s got like every other fight – is a puncher’s chance. Given Yong Jin Park is coming off a victory in which he landed five takedowns, I feel like I see where this is going. So with that, give me Park via decision.
205 lbs.: Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Maxim Grishin – Of Gadzhimurad Antigulov’s twenty seven professional fights, only once has he been to the scorecards. To go further, twenty four of those twenty seven fights have ended inside round one – sixteen of which ended in two minutes or less. In other words, this fight is only going one round. Due to Antigulov’s style and lack of durability, there is no way I’m siding with him. If he can’t get this fight to mat on the first few attempts, it’s practically over. Also, Maxim Grishin can crack and is very durable – only being finished once in the last eight years. So with that, give me Grishin via TKO in round one.
135 lbs.: Said Nurmagomedov vs. Mark Striegl – The odds on this fight seem a little too crazy. Not to say Said Nurmagomedov shouldn’t be favored, but I don’t see this as a blowout. Nurmagomedov definitely is the better overall fighter and has a definite striking edge. However, Mark Striegl is a noted grinder. He’s physically strong, has good wrestling and is a submission hunter. Of Striegl’s eighteen wins, fourteen come via submission – eight of which come via rear-naked choke. As for a prediction, if this fight stays on the feet, Nurmagomedov should get the nod. However, should this fight be strictly a grappling match, I can see Nurmagomedov tiring and Striegl catching him. Anyways, it’s a close fight, but I’ve Nurmagomedov to edge this out via decision
155 lbs.: Jamie Mullarkey vs. Fares Ziam – While Fares Ziam is a dangerous kickboxer, his UFC debut showed that he can be neutralized by grappling. Jamie Mullarkey prefers to strike, finishing eight of twelve wins via knockout. However, in Mullarkey’s UFC debut against Brad Riddell, he mixed in a few takedowns – showing he can adapt if needed. As for this fight, I expect Mullarkey to mix his striking with takedowns – ultimately winning this fight via decision.