The UFC is back in action, returning for the first time in the new year. Fight Island plays host to the event and notably will hold 2,000 fans – a first for the UFC since UFC 248 on March 7, 2020. Another first for the UFC is that this fight will be on ABC – which has never never broadcasted a mixed martial fights. For all the illustrious history of Boxing on ABC, with Muhammad Ali fights being the highlight – this is a big deal for the UFC. Headlining the event is former Featherweight king Max Holloway and contender Calvin Kattar. In what should be an excellent stand -up battle, the winner will enjoy the spoils of being vaulted into the title picture.
UFC on ABC Main Card On ABC/ESPN+ (3 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar – You can argue that Holloway should still be Champion, but he’s not and is presented with one of the killers in the Featherweight division. Kattar is a storm, who has some of the best striking in the UFC. The later the fight goes, the better it seems Kattar gets. That’s due to solid cardio and excellent mid-fight adjustments. Holloway though is as good as it gets. He’s one of the most well rounded fighters, and definitely one of the UFC’s top ten strikers.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Kattar. I’m not entirely confident and I can envision a split decision by fight end’s. However, Kattar is riding into this fight with momentum and confidence on his side. I also tend to believe that Holloway invites being hit too often. At some point, for health and for the sake of swaying the judges – becoming more defensive might help. So with that, give me Kattar to win via split decision.
170 lbs.: Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit – I feel that Brown’s durability is the biggest factor in this fight. I can’t name someone who’s been dropped more by body shots than him. Throw in the chin potentially being a problem now, and it’s only a matter of time before Brown falls at some point in this fight. This is no diss to Brown, as I actually believe his striking technique has improved more than when he was on his seven fight win streak. However, Condit is one of the most durable fighters on the planet. With a battle expected to take place on the feet, give me Condit’s durability and striking to take out Brown via TKO.
170 lbs.: Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Li Jingliang – Ponzinibbio hasn’t fought in over two years, and left off on a knockout victory over Neil Magny for his seventh straight win. Despite the layoff, I believe that his technical striking should carry him to an eight straight victory. Jingliang is very talented and physically one of the strongest fighters at Welterweight. However, Ponzinibbio has solid takedown defense. In his last six fights, he’s fended off eight of the ten attempts – including two against Neil Magny who happened to dominate Jingliang, taking him down four times. Although that MMA math is meaningless, I just feel that Ponzinibbio will keep this fight on the feet, use his range and pick apart Jingliang for a decision victory.
185 lbs.: Alessio Di Chirico vs. Joaquin Buckley – As long as Buckley doesn’t chase the knockout, he should realistically win this fight with relative ease. He’s the better all around fighter and has legit knockout power. Di Chirico is durable, having never been knocked out in his career. However, in the Italian’s last fight against Zac Cumming – he was rocked and nearly put out at the end of the fight. In the end, Buckley is going to have his way on the feet – eventually landing the knockout blow.
185 lbs.: Punahele Soriano vs. Dusko Todorovic – I believe that Todorovic has a bright future, but in this matchup, someone’s 0 has to go. In my opinion, it’s his. I believe that Soriano is the more durable and powerful fighter. Just alone the sheer power of the Hawaiian is going to be a huge factor in this fight. While Todorovic has incredible striking volume, I expect a lower output once Soriano’s power shows it’s teeth. In the end, I see Soriano remaining unbeaten via knockout.
UFC on ABC Prelims Card On ESPN+ (12 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Wu Yanan vs. Joselyne Edwards – Based on very little knowledge of Edwards, I’m going with the UFC experience of Yanan to prevail via decision.
265 lbs.: Carlos Felipe vs. Justin Tafa – While Tafa has knockout power and leg kicks in his arsenal, it’s Felipe who have winning. I just feel that the durability and odd cardio of Felipe is going to carry him in the later rounds – eventually aiding him to a late TKO victory.
170 lbs.: Ramazan Emeev vs. David Zawada – While Emeev keeps on winning, he hasn’t exactly shown the talent he glowed in M-1. For one, the knockout power is no where to be seen. Instead, Emeev has used a wrestling heavy attack to control opponents. While I see that style working here, I must say that Zawada is a solid fighter. He’s well rounded, durable and has good cardio. Expect a closer fight, but with Emeev getting the nod via decision.
135 lbs.: Vanessa Melo vs. Sarah Moras – As long as Moras can apply a heavy dose of grappling, she should realistically win this fight on control time. So with that, I give me ‘Cheesecake’ via decision.
145 lbs.: Jacob Kilburn vs. Austin Lingo – While Kilburn has some pop in his hands, it’s Lingo who boast a well rounded skillset. If things were to get dicey on the feet, Lingo has the ability to get the fight to the ground – where Kilburn isn’t particularly comfortable. So with that, give me Lingo to win via submission.