UFC: Marlon Moraes – Cory Sandhagen to headline October 10th Fight Night

The UFC is planning on having a big time bantamweight fight headline their fight night on October 10th. According to multiple reports, Magic Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) will be taking on Cory Sandhagen (12-2).

What does the mean for UFC’s title pictures?

Originally, it was being reported that the UFC was trying to book Moraes with former champion, Cody Garbrandt. However, Garbrandt recently told Ariel Helwani that he was wanting to drop to flyweight to take on the champion, Deiveson Figueiredo.

With the UFC moving to book Moraes/Sandhagen, it looks like the writing is on the wall with a couple of title fights. One being the title fight between Garbrandt and Firgueiredo while the other title fight will be Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling.

Dana White has been hesitant to say that Sterling was next for Yan after Yan won the title at UFC 251. However, with all other top contenders booked, it appears that the UFC will be making Yan – Sterling after all.

Moraes – Sandhagen

Now back to this fight. This is a fantastic matchup in the bantamweight division. I’m a little surprised that the UFC is having Sandhagen fight a guy like Moraes after he was steamrolled by Sterling in the first round.

I was thinking maybe a guy like Jimmie Rivera could have been next for Sandhagen. Either way, it’s a big time fight for the division. A win for either of these guys might put them in line for a title shot next.

Moraes was in a weird spot after his last fight. He beat Jose Aldo, but the court of public opinion gave Aldo the win. Even the UFC gave Aldo a title shot over Moraes. The former title challenger will look to cement his top contender status with a win over Sandhagen.

The UFC‘s bantamweight division is on fire right now. The weight class is filled with tremendous talent and they have budding superstars. This will be a division to keep your eyes on moving forward.

UFC: How about Cody Garbrandt as Deiveson Figueiredo’s first challenger?

This weekend, the UFC crowned a new flyweight champion in Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) after he destroyed Joseph Benavidez at UFC Fight Island 2.

Figueiredo proved to the world that he’s the best flyweight, but there is not really a clear next challenger for his title. I suggested Askar Askarov (12-0-1) following his win, but ESPN’s Brett Okamoto had another interesting thought.

UFC Flyweight Heating Up?

At first this might be completely out of left field. The former UFC bantamweight champion dropping down to flyweight just after a successful return to bantamweight?

However, Cody Garbrandt (12-3) has talked about a potential move to flyweight for years. He openly talked about wanting to drop down and fight Mighty Mouse Johnson when he was the flyweight king.

The UFC is currently targeting Marlon Moraes-Cody Garbrandt for an event in October. However, if the UFC calls Garbrandt with a title shot at 125, he might back out of the Moraes fight.

Figueiredo is going to be a tough challenge for anyone currently at flyweight. He has great ground skills, very good power, and he’s very long for the division. However, Garbrandt would pose interesting challenges.

“No Love” might be the fastest puncher in the UFC. His boxing is very crisp and powerful. It would be interesting to see Figueiredo try to deal with the challenges that Garbrandt would provide.

I really don’t think that Garbrandt would have trouble making the weight. Bantamweight does not seem like a difficult cut for him at all. I think he’d make it easier than TJ Dillashaw did.

We don’t know what the UFC will do with Figueiredo yet, but Garbrandt would definitely be a sexy option for the promotion. If Garbrandt were to win, he could always try for a double champ status down the road.

Three fights to make after UFC Fight Island 1 and 2

UFC

The UFC held it’s second and third events from Fight Island this week and the fights didn’t disappoint. The promotion is already going to be in matchmaking mode after the two cards.

With that in-mind, let’s dive into four fights that the UFC should look to make following the two Fight Island fight nights from this past week.

Calvin Kattar vs Max Holloway

Calvin Kattar (22-4) came out this week on the UFC‘s Fight Island and put on a clean boxing display against Dan Ige. Kattar proved he was one of the best at 145.

With this win, Kattar appears to be just one win away from a title shot. With that, who should the UFC give him next?

Everyone who is ranked above is tentatively booked for their next fights. Only two are not and that is the champion and Max Holloway (21-6).

Holloway and Kattar would be the perfect fight for the UFC to make assuming that Holloway is staying at featherweight. The former champion just proved he’s still at the very top of the heap even in a loss to Alexander Volkanovski.

This would be Kattar’s true test to see if he’s title shot ready. If Kattar fights and beats Max Holloway, you cannot the deny the man of a title shot.

If Holloway bounces back and beats Kattar, you can start to try to angle for his third shot at the champion Volkanovski.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Askar Askarov

Last night, we crowned a new flyweight champion in Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) who stopped Joseph Benavidez for the second consecutive time.

When he did it back in February, he didn’t get the UFC title due to missing weight. However, there was no controversy last night as Figueiredo ran through Benavidez on his way to the title.

Another fighter who looked incredibly impressive last night was Askar Askarov (12-0-1). Admittedly, I didn’t pick Askarov to beat Alexandre Pantoja, but he proved me wrong.

With a win over Panoja, I think that the undefeated Russian should be next in line to fight Figueiredo for the UFC flyweight championship.

Russian MMA is on fire right now with two active champions in the UFC. Askarov could make a push to become the third, then at featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov could be right behind.

I will say it’s going to take a herculean effort to wrestle the flyweight title away from Figueiredo. Figueiredo looks like he can be Brazil’s next great male UFC champion. He looks poised to potentially dominate the division for a while.

Jack Hermansson vs Romero/Hall winner

Jack Hermansson (21-5) made extremely quick work of Kelvin Gastelum last night at UFC Fight Island 2. The Joker submitted Gastelum in just 78 seconds of their fight.

Hermansson is now 5-1 in his last six fights in the UFC. There’s not really a clear path for his next fight, but I think I see a potential matchup coming after the month of August.

Yoel Romero (13-5) and Uriah Hall (15-9) are scheduled to fight next month. I think Hermansson could face the winner of that matchup.

In all likelihood, the winner of Whittaker/Till will get the next title shot, and I can’t see the UFC remaking Hermansson/Cannonier right now. Yoel Romero would be the next step up for Hermansson.

Hermansson is getting closer to a title shot. He’s going to need one or two wins coming against someone in or near the top five to make it happen. A win over Romero/Hall would get him halfway there.

The UFC’s week ahead

The UFC is going to be firing on all cylinders this week. Dana White said this week that he was hoping to get the UFC‘s schedule through October/November done by Friday. We should see some big news this week coming from the promotion.

 

UFC Fight Island 2 Preview: Figueiredo and Benavidez battle for the flyweight title

The UFC will be hosting their third event from Fight Island tomorrow night. In the main event, the vacant flyweight title is on the line between Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) and Joseph Benavidez (28-6). Let’s dive into the main card and break it down.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Joseph Benavidez for the UFC flyweight title

The main event of the evening will crown a new UFC flyweight champion (we think). This is take two between Figueiredo and Benavidez.

The two men fought in February for the vacant title, but due to Figueiredo missing weight, only Benavidez could have walked away champion. Figueiredo won that fight by second round knockout.

Benavidez has had one of the better careers for a fighter to have never won UFC gold. If you look at his resume, his losses have only come against the highest levels of competition. He even has a win over “Triple C” Henry Cejudo on his resume.

Benavidez has great speed, great chokes, good wrestling, and puts a pace on guys. He’s incredibly fun to watch, but he also is very hittable.

In the first fight between these two, Benavidez took some really good shots in the first round from Figueiredo. In the second round, an accidental headbutt opened a massive gash which distracted Benavidez. Shortly after he was looking up at the lights.

Figueiredo won the fight convincingly, but again, due to missing weight he didn’t walk out with the UFC title. He believes that he’s an uncrowned champion.

Figueiredo is the best flyweight in the UFC right now in my opinion. He’s extremely long for the division, and he has very good power. He’s really good wherever the fight goes to be honest.

Figueiredo’s biggest problem is and will always be his weight. He is a very big guy for this division. The biggest question is, will Figueiredo make weight?

If he makes weight, I think he’s going to walk out of Fight Island a champion. While Benavidez is really good and I think there’s desperation because this will be his last title shot, I just think Figueiredo is better.

Benavidez’s only path to victory is if Figueiredo completely gasses before the third round leading to a Benavidez decision. I think Figueiredo wins this one the exact same way he won the first fight.

Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo by TKO – Round 2

Kelvin Gastelum vs Jack Hermansson

In the co-main event of the evening. UFC middleweights Kelvin Gastelum (15-5, 1 NC) and Jack Hermansson (20-5) are expected to deliver an action packed fight.

Gastelum comes into this fight on a two fight losing streak, but he’s faced the best in the division. He went to war with the current champion, Israel Adesanya, and actually had some really bright spots in that fight.

Gastelum has very good speed and very crisp boxing for this division. In reality, Gastelum should be a welterweight, but he’s never shown the discipline to make the weight. For that reason, he’s undersized, but he does use to that to an advantage with speed.

If this fight is 100% contested in stand up range, you have to feel good about Gastelum’s chances. He’s got really good speed, and he possesses the power to put someone to sleep.

Jack Hermansson is just an awkward fighter. He has effective stand up, but he’s at his best whenever he can clinch up his opponents and take the fight to the ground.

Hermansson looked like he was just one win away in his last fight from a title shot, but he was stopped in the second round by Jared Cannonier.

Hermansson’s path to victory in this one is going to be to try to clinch, tire out, and takedown Kelvin Gastelum. If he’s able to make this a dirty fight, he’s got the clear advantage in my opinion.

I see two outcomes in this one. The first has the fight completely staying in striking range where Gastelum finishes the fight. The other is Gastelum has his moments, but Hermansson is able to lean on him/take him down enough to get a decision.

Ultimately, I’m leaning towards the second one right now. I think Hermansson is going to do a fantastic job of using his size and strength in this one. Now, don’t be shocked if Gastelum catches Hermansson coming in with something big. However, I think Hermansson will be able to do just enough to squeak out a win here.

Prediction: Jack Hermansson by Split Decision

Marc Diakiese vs Rafael Fiziev

If you’re looking for a fight on the card where the two fighters are going to stand and trade, look no further. UFC lightweights Marc Diakiese (14-3) and Rafael Fiziev (7-1) is a fight that might just earn both a nice $50,000 bonus.

Diakiese comes into this fight on a two fight winning streak after losing three consecutive fights. He has drastically turned his career around after a real rough stretch between July 2017 and July 2018.

Diakiese has really good speed, flashy striking, and he’s shown in his last couple of fights that he’s got pretty good takedowns. Overall, Diakiese is someone who’s very entertaining and has the skills to back it up.

Fiziev is a little bit of a question mark for some fans. He came into the UFC undefeated, but he lost his debut in less than 90 seconds. He did bounce back against Alex White last October.

Fiziev is the kind of guy who wants to stand and trade. Coming into this fight, six of Fiziev’s seven wins have all come by knockout. He’s got a pretty aggressive style that he’s going to have to use in this one.

Diakiese is not at his best when he’s getting pressured. Fiziev is going to have to pressure him a lot in this one. However, I think Diakiese is on a higher level at this stage in their careers.

I think the speed and accuracy behind Diakiese’s striking is going to give Fiziev pause when he tries to come in. Fiziev will land his shots, but Diakiese is going to take this one due to the speed and accuracy behind his shots. Maybe expect a takedown or two as well.

Prediction: Marc Diakiese by Unanimous Decision

Ariane Lipski vs Luana Carolina

The second fight on the main card pairs up two UFC flyweights as Ariane Lipski (12-5) takes on Luana Carolina (6-1).

Lipski had a decent amount of hype behind her when she made her UFC debut back in 2019. She was really successful in KSW as champion. It has not been smooth sailing so far.

Lipski has decent overall skills, but she finds herself 1-2 in her first three fights with the promotion. She has decent striking, she has good top control, but she really struggles if she’s taken down by someone with good top control.

Standing across from her is Luana Carolina. Carolina won her debut last year after she appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil back in 2018.

The odds on this fight are close because the skill sets of both ladies is very similar. Lipski has fought much tougher competition at this stage in her career. I’m not 100% sure what to expect from Carolina.

I don’t think either woman is going to come out and completely dominate the other. You’ll see some back-and-forth on the feet where each fighter has their moments. I think if Lipski is able to get this fight down, she’ll have a pretty decent advantage on the ground.

In the end, I believe that Lipski is going to find a little more success than Carolina as the fight goes on. It’s not going to be a runaway decision, but I think Lipski does enough to get it done.

Prediction: Ariane Lipski by Unanimous Decision

Alexandre Pantoja vs Askar Askarov

UFC Fight Island 2’s main card kicks off with a fight I’ve been looking forward to that pairs flyweights Alexandre Pantoja (22-4) and Askar Askarov (11-0-1).

With the flyweight title being contested in the main event, you might be looking at the title eliminator in this opening fight.

There might not be a hotter spot in the world for MMA right now than Russia. The UFC has two Russian champions, and two top contenders that are one win away from a title shot in their divisions. Askarov is one of those contenders.

Askarov has really elite ground skills. There are no questions as to what he wants to do in this fight. He’s coming off of a good win against Tim Elliott back in January after fighting to a draw with Brandon Moreno in his UFC debut.

Askarov will try to use his striking to setup his takedowns. Again, it’s not hard to figure out what the game plan is for the Russian.

Pantoja is one of the best in the world at flyweight. He’s so good wherever the fight goes and he’s coming into this fight 4-1 in his last five fights.

His only loss is to the man who’s challenging for the title in the main event, Deiveson Figueiredo. Outside of that, he’s coming off back to back knockout wins.

If you’re Pantoja, you like this matchup because he has multiple ways to win. He has the power to knockout Askarov on the feet and he’s got good enough ground skills to hold his own if the fight goes there.

I really like Askarov as a prospect for this division, but I’m just not sold that he’s going to beat Panoja who’s proven he’s one of the best in the UFC. I’m going to go with Pantoja in this one.

Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja by Unanimous Decision

UFC Fight Island 2 Outlook

The UFC‘s third card on Fight Island is a good one. There are some solid fights up and down there card, and we might crown a new champion (depending on weight). It should be a good night of fights for UFC fans everywhere.

UFC: Deiveson Figueiredo tests positive for COVID-19, Fight Island title fight in trouble

It’s inevitable, but COVID-19 is rearing it’s ugly head again in the UFC world. It was reported this evening that UFC flyweight title contender, Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1), has tested positive for COVID-19.

Another UFC title fight in trouble

One week ago tonight, Gilbert Burns saw his title shot go up in flames. Now, fellow Brazilian Figueiredo could see the same happen to his. Figueiredo apparently had COVID-19 two months ago, but has since recovered. His management team is hoping that the test is a false positive. He will retake the test tomorrow with the hope that he tests negative.

If Figueiredo is able to test negative, his UFC title fight against Joseph Benavidez (28-6) will likely go on. Back in February, the two men fought for the vacant UFC flyweight championship. Figueiredo missed weight so the only person that could have walked out of the fight with the title is Benavidez. Figueiredo went on to win the fight by second round knockout. The UFC decided to move forward with rebooking the two for Fight Island. They are currently scheduled to headline the UFC‘s July 18th card next Saturday night.

Other Options?

There are other top flyweight contenders on the card that could step-up if Figueiredo tests positive again. Top Russian prospect Askar Askarov (11-0-1) and Alexandre Pantoja (22-4) are scheduled to fight on the same card. I wrote about this being an under the radar matchup for fight fans on Fight Island. If Figueiredo cannot make the fight, look for the UFC to try to move one of these guys up the card to keep the title fight together.