Ranked bantamweights take the spotlight on Saturday night when Cory Sandhagen and Marlon Moraes headline a 13-fight UFC card from “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates as the event progresses.
Preliminary Card (5:00PM EDT / 1:00AM GST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Main Card (8:00PM EDT / 4:00AM GST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Bout 13: Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) vs. Cory Sandhagen (12-2) (Bantamweight)
Spinning Back Kick Earns Sandhagen Second Round Victory
A spinning back kick from Cory Sandhagen gave him a win in the main event, dropping Marlon Moraes and causing the fight to end shortly after.
The kick dropped Moraes in the second round, with Sandhagen landing punches on the ground before the referee intervened.
Sandhagen said afterwards that spinning kicks were something he learned during quarantine.
“I added that into my game during a weird time,” said Sandhagen in his post-fight interview.
Prior to the stoppage, Sandhagen claimed Moraes had a broken orbital bone, mentioning it mid-fight.
The first round was a close one which saw both fighters target the legs and body with kicks.
The win saw Sandhagen bounce back from a loss to Aljamain Sterling last June.
Sandhagen claimed the win on Saturday positioned him as the challenger to the winner of a possible bout between UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan and Sterling.
Bout 12: Edson Barboza (20-9) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (16-4) (Featherweight)
Barboza Earns First Victory As A Featherweight
Edson Barboza got his first win in featherweight in the co-main event, winning a unanimous decision against Makwan Amirkhani. The fight saw Barboza drop Amirkhani twice in the second round with punches.
The fight had a slow pace of strikes throughout, with Barboza having the edge in that department. Amirkhani scored a takedown in the third round, although they left the position after the ref deemed them inactive.
Barboza ended a three-fight skid with the bout. His most recent fight prior to Saturday was a split decision loss to Dan Ige.
Amirkhani had last competed in July, stopping Danny Henry in the first round with an anaconda choke.
Bout 11: Ben Rothwell (38-12) vs. Marcin Tybura (19-6) (Heavyweight)
Tybura Picks Up Decision Win Over Rothwell
Marcin Tybura continued his 2020 tear on the main card, getting a unanimous decision victory against Ben Rothwell.
Tybura finished the fight strong, landing a takedown and engaging in ground and pound for a few minutes.
Rothwell’s first round was his best, being able to throw and connect with quick combinations of punches.
After the fight, Tybura said he would like a top 10 heavyweight next.
Rothwell last won in May, defeating Ovince St. Preux, who had moved up from light heavyweight for the fight.
Bout 10: Markus Perez (12-3) vs. Dricus Du Plessis (14-2) (Middleweight)
Du Plessis Stops Perez In UFC Debut
Former KSW champ Dricus Du Plessis won his UFC debut on Saturday, stopping Markus Perez in the first round with punches.
A left hook dropped Perez in the fourth minute, with Du Plessis landing follow-up punches until the referee intervened.
Du Plessis was a replacement bout for Perez, filling in for Rodolfo Vieira.
Perez had a good performance before the finish, capitalizing on the hesitation that Du Plessis had.
“There’s always that first fight jitters,” admitted Du Plessis in his post-fight interview.
The fight was the second-straight loss for Perez. His previous bout was in November of 2019, dropping a decision to Wellington Turman.
Bout 9: Tom Aspinall (8-2) vs. Alan Baudot (8-1) (Heavyweight)
Aspinall Earns Fast Win In Return To Cage
Tom Aspinall picked up a quick win on the main card, stopping Alan Baudot with ground and pound in the second minute. Aspinall scored a takedown a minute into the fight, throwing a series of punches from full mount to end the fight.
Baudot stepped in on short notice for the fight, replacing Serghei Spivac. Aspinall wants his fight against Spivac next.
“That’s what I want next for sure,” said Aspinall in his post-fight interview.
Aspinall now has two quick UFC wins, as his promotional debut last July was a brief and explosive win over Jake Collier.
Bout 8: Youssef Zalal (10-2) vs. Ilia Topuria (8-0) (Featherweight)
Topuria Wins UFC Debut, Ends Zalal’s Streak
Tilia Topuria stopped Youssef Zalal’s three-fight streak of UFC wins on the main card, taking a unanimous decision win. The fight was the UFC debut for Topuria. He took the fight on short notice, replacing Seung Woo Choi.
Topuria’s dominance throughout the fight came from his ability to control on the ground and constantly look for submissions.
Topuria remains undefeated through nine fights as a pro.
Bout 7: Tom Breese (11-2) vs. KB Bhullar (8-0) (Middleweight)
Breese Spoils Bhullar’s UFC Debut
Tom Breese returned to the win column to finish the prelims, catching KB Bhullar in the first round with punches. The fight was Bhullar’s UFC debut.
A jab ended the fight in the second minute, as Breese dropped Bhullar with his right hand. Breese landed ground and pound until the referee stopped the fight.
“I train hard. I dedicate my life to this,” said Breese in his post-fight interview.
Breese’s last fight was a loss, being stopped within a round by Brendan Allen last February.
Prior to Saturday, Bhullar was undefeated with eight wins on the regional scene.
Bout 6: Rodrigo Nascimento (8-0) vs. Chris Daukaus (9-3) (Heavyweight)
Daukaus Stops Nascimento Within A Minute
Chris Daukaus got a quick stoppage victory on the prelims, catching Rodrigo Nascimento early with punches.
Shortly after dropping Nascimento with a left hook, Daukaus floored him again with a punch to stop the bout within a minute.
Daukaus made his UFC debut at UFC 252, stopping Parker Porter.
Nascimento last fought in May, defeating Dontale Mayes. With the loss, Nascimento is no longer defeated.
Bout 5: Impa Kasanganay (8-0) vs. Joaquin Buckley (10-3) (Middleweight)
Buckley Lands Rare Walk-Off Spinning Back Kick Knockout
Joaquin Buckley scored a highlight-reel knockout on the prelims, stopping Impa Kasanganay in the second round.
The knockout came from Buckley landing a spinning back kick to the head while Kasanganay had a hold on his other leg.
“I said why not just throw it?” said Buckley in his post-fight interview.
The fight was quickly touted as a “knockout of the year” contender.
“This might be the greatest KO I’ve seen ever,” said commentator and UFC fighter Paul Felder after the fight.
The previous round in the fight saw Buckley charge forward and connect with combinations of strikes.
The fight ended the eight-fight undefeated record of Kasanganay which included his UFC debut last August over Maki Pitolo.
Buckley’s UFC debut came last August, being stopped in the third round by Kevin Holland.
Bout 4: Ali Alqaisi (8-4) vs. Tony Kelley (6-2) (Bantamweight)
Kelley Defeats Alqaisi To Earn First UFC Victory
Tony Kelley earned his first UFC win on the prelims, defeating Ali Alqaisi on the scorecards. Kelley’s best moments in the close battle were on the feet, rocking Alqaisi a couple of times with strikes.
Kelley stunned Alqaisi in the second and third round with a knee to the head in both situations.
Kelley attempted a submission late in the first round, extending an arm of Alqaisi’s for an armbar while holding his head in a choke with his legs.
The fighters got in each other’s faces after the fight concluded, although they seemingly worked out their issues afterwards.
Kelley bounced back from his debut, which saw him lose to Kai Kamaka III.
Alqaisi made his debut last August, losing a decision to Irwin Rivera.
Bout 3: Giga Chikadze (10-2) vs. Omar Morales (10-0) (Featherweight)
Chikadze Ends Undefeated Record of Morales
Giga Chikadze ended the undefeated record of Omar Morales on the prelims, landing solid strikes through three wins to get the scorecard victory.
Throughout all 15 minutes of action Chikadze was able to connect with a high volume of strikes.
Chikadze’s best moment was in the third round, where he landed an overhand left that dropped Morales.
The 10-fight undefeated record of Morales included two UFC wins, including a victory last May over Gabriel Benitez.
Bout 2: Tracy Cortez (7-1) vs. Stephanie Egger (5-1) (Bantamweight)
Cortez Takes Scorecard Victory Over Egger
Tracy Cortez put on a controlling performance on the ground on Saturday, fighting to a unanimous decision victory over Stephanie Egger.
The fight saw Cortez score numerous takedowns, but also have the ability to recover quickly when losing a position. She held an overwhelming amount of control time in the fight.
The best moment for Egger was in the second round, where she rocked Cortez with an upkick from full guard. Cortez was quick to move back into full guard after.
The fight was Egger’s first in the UFC. She took the fight on short notice, replacing Bea Malecki. Egger had previously fought in notable promotions Invicta FC and RIZIN.
Cortez made her UFC debut in November, winning a fight via decision over Vanessa Melo.
Bout 1: Tagir Ulanbekov (12-1) vs. Bruno Silva (10-5-2) (Flyweight)
Ulanbekov Takes UFC Debut Win In Close Battle
A high-paced fight opened the show, as Tagir Ulanbekov took a unanimous decision victory over Bruno Silva. The fight worked a high-pace throughout and saw both fighters have their moments in the striking and grappling.
The fight was the UFC debut for Ulanbekov, who had previously been a champion in regional promotions GFC and Fight Nights Global.
Silva had a good first round, landing good punches and chipping away at the lead leg of Ulanbekov with kicks.
Ulanbekov came back in the second round, scoring numerous takedowns to Silva as well as flurries of punches on the feet.
The final round was a close one, seeing both fighters score takedowns and use clinches to control the fight. The round ended with a chaotic exchange of punches between the two.
Silva has yet to win in the UFC through three fights now.