UFC’s time on “Fight Island” is a hectic and short appearance, as the promotion only has four events scheduled for the location currently. The second of those events from Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates is on Wednesday, as the promotion holds a “Fight Night” event on television.
Headlining the 11-fight card is a five-round featherweight matchup between Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige. Here’s a preview of what’s to come on Wednesday night.
Prelims (7:00PM EDT / 3:00AM GST) (ESPN / TSN 5)
On Tuesday, news broke that the prelims were cut down by a fight. A matchup between Kenneth Bergh and Jorge Gonzalez was removed from the card after Bergh struggled with “weight management issues.”
Bout 1: Aaron Phillips (12-3) vs. Jack Shore (12-0) (Bantamweight)
The opening fight of the show sees Jack Shore take on short-notice opponent Aaron Phillips. Phillips is a great example of how some people recently have benefited off of being willing to take a fight under unfavorable circumstances. This fight is the return to the UFC for Phillips, who has won five consecutive bouts on the regional scene. With the exit of Shore’s original opponent, Anderson dos Santos, Phillips rose to the occasion and now has another shot on the big stage.
He faces nothing short of a tough challenger in Shore. The former Cage Warriors Bantamweight Champion made his UFC debut last September, defeating Nohelin Hernandez with a rear naked choke in the third round.
Bout 2: Liana Jojua (7-3) vs. Diana Belbita (13-5) (Flyweight)
Liana Jojua and Diana Belbita will search for their first UFC win on the prelims. Jojua made her debut last September, however, she was finished in the third round by Sarah Moras. Belbita has a similar story, as her debut was a loss to Molly McCann, who won via decision over her in their October bout.
Bout 3: Jared Gordon (15-4) vs. Chris Fishgold (18-3-1) (Featherweight)
Featherweights Jared Gordon and Chris Fishgold will clash on the main card. Fishgold’s short UFC run has seen the English fighter struggle to find his footing. His debut, albeit against a tough opponent in Calvin Kattar, was a first round loss. Following a win of Daniel Teymur, Fishgold lost again, being finished by Makwan Amirkhani. Attempting to even his UFC record, Fishgold will return from over a year of a layoff in this bout.
Gordon has attained three wins and three losses since his 2017 debut. His last fight was a loss to Charles Oliveira, being stopped in the second minute with punches.
On Tuesday, Fishgold came in three pounds over the non-championship featherweight limit. He was fined 20 percent of his fight purse due to this.
Bout 4: Modestas Bukauskas (10-2) vs. Andreas Michailidis (12-3) (Light Heavyweight)
Former Cage Warriors Light Heavyweight Champion Modestas Bukauskas will step into the UFC for the first time on Wednesday, fighting Andreas Michailidis, who will also be in his promotional debut. Bukauskas was originally meant to face Vinicius Moreira, but after Moreira tested positive for COVID-19 he needed a new opponent. Michailidis, a 15-fight pro took the short notice booking. Michailidis fought twice recently, defeating Marcel Fortuna and Arymarcel Santos.
Bukauskas comes into the fight on a six-fight streak of wins, all being finishes. The last decision fight by Bukauskas was his first, not only that, it was his first fight back in 2015.
Bout 5: Ricardo Ramos (14-2) vs. Lerone Murphy (8-0-1) (Featherweight)
In his UFC debut last September, Lerone Murphy didn’t have a satisfying entrance. Going 15 minutes with Zubaira Tukhugov, Murphy settled with a split draw. Albeit still undefeated, Murphy has yet to get his first UFC win. He will try again on Wednesday when he battles with Ricardo Ramos. Ramos has put together a good resume since his 2017 UFC debut. Having earned five wins in total and one loss in the UFC, Ramos currently has a two-fight winning streak. His most recent win was a November rear naked choke stoppage against previously undefeated Eduardo Garagorri.
Bout 6: John Phillips (22-9) vs. Khamzat Chimaev (6-0) (Middleweight)
Finishing off the prelims, undefeated Swedish fighter Khamzaat Chimaev will make his UFC debut against John Phillips. Phillips was first booked to face Dusko Todorovic before he withdrew. Phillips had a rough start in the UFC, losing his first three fights. He has turned things around lately though, as his fourth go in the big leagues saw him stop Alen Amedovski with an overhand left in the first few seconds of competition. The former BAMMA Middleweight Champion looks to build off of his first UFC win.
Chimaev’s short six-fight career has mostly taken place in MMA promotion Brave CF. He won twice in 2019 with two finish wins.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 6:00AM GST) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 7: Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-1) vs. Mounir Lazzez (9-1) (Welterweight)
Starting off the main card is a welterweight matchup between Abdul Razak Alhassan and Mounir Lazzez. The fight is Alhassan’s return to competition after a near two-year layoff. In 2018, Alhassan was indicted on a sexual assault charge put forward by two women. The case carried through to 2020, where courts found him not guilty.
“I have so much anger … At some point I have to put it behind me, because if I keep this anger in me it will keep destroying me,” said Alhassan reflecting on his case in his pre-fight press conference on Monday.
Before his time off, Alhassan had three consecutive wins in the UFC, all being stoppages in the first round. His opponent, Lazzez, will be making his UFC debut. His last fight was in February where he beat Arber Murati in the first minute with strikes
Bout 8: Molly McCann (10-2) vs. Taila Santos (15-1) (Flyweight)
Rising flyweight Molly McCann will continue her UFC campaign on Wednesday when facing the returning Taila Santos. McCann debut in 2018 with a loss to Gillian Robertson. After that, McCann picked up three decision wins. She was meant to fight Ashlee Evans-Smith in March, but COVID-19 cancelled those plans.
Santos will be coming off of a year-and-a-half layoff, with her UFC debut being a split decision loss to Mara Romero Borella.
Bout 9: Jimmie Rivera (22-4) vs. Cody Stamann (19-2-1) (Featherweight)
Moving up to featherweight, Jimmie Rivera will face Cody Stamann on the main card. Rivera’s last few fights were losses, including the most recent one against now-UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan. Stamann is a challenge for Rivera given his recent fights. Stamann has won five of his seven UFC fights, going to a draw in one of them as well. His most recent fight was a quick one, defeating Brian Kelleher by decision in June.
Bout 10: Tim Elliott (15-11-1) vs. Ryan Benoit (10-6) (Flyweight)
The co-main event is an interesting one, as criteria for most second-last fights is not really met. The matchup sees Tim Elliott and Ryan Benoit battle. The fighters are both coming off of losses, or in Elliott’s case he’s coming off a trio of losses.
Benoit last fought in December, dropping a decision to Alatengheili. He was meant to fight Tyson Nam in June, but he withdrew. Elliott’s last loss was to newcomer Brandon Royval who caught him with a triangle choke in the second round.
Bout 11: Calvin Kattar (21-4) vs. Dan Ige (14-2) (Featherweight)
The main event of the evening is one that gives Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige the chance to move up in the featherweight division. This week’s UFC.com rankings has Kattar ranked sixth in the 145-pound division, with Ige lower in the 10 spot.
Kattar’s last fight was on UFC’s in May return show, dropping Jeremy Stephens in the second round with an elbow to the head. His fight before was a decision loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov.
Ige’s frequent amount of professional fights means the featherweight has been able to string together a series of six wins dating back to just 2018. His most recent win was his biggest win yet, getting a split decision of Edson Barboza.
UFC will return again later in the week, as Deiveson Figueiredo will fight Joseph Benavidez in a rematch for the vacant UFC Flyweight Championship.