Shogun Rua – Paul Craig 2 targeted for UFC 255

Shogun Rua

Looks like UFC 255 is going to get a key rematch in the light heavyweight division. Per ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (27-11-1) will be taking on Paul Craig (13-4-1) in November.

At the time of their rematch, it would be almost a year to the date from when they previously met at UFC Fight Night 164. In their first fight, the two men fought to a split draw.

Key UFC light heavyweight rematch

Both of these men rank just inside the top 15 of the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. Craig comes in at 15th while Shogun comes in at 14th. A win for either man would likely get them a shot against someone in or close to the top ten.

Shogun is coming off of a split decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC Fight Island 3. The fight was the final chapter in the two Brazilians’ trilogy. Shogun won all three fights, but the final one was razor close.

The fight was back and forth with Shogun getting rocked a few times. Despite this, he was able to do enough to earn the decision victory on two of the judges scorecards. Shogun is definitely nearing the end of the line in his historic career.

Earlier that evening, Craig fought and defeated Gadzhimurad Antigulov. Craig was able to secure the win via his signature triangle choke. The win was Craig’s seventh career win by triangle choke.

Both men are in very interesting spots in their UFC careers. For Shogun, it appears he’s only a couple of fights away from retirement. I don’t see another title run in him despite the fact that he’s 5-1-1 over the last five years.

For Craig, he needs that signature name that’ll get him back on track. He was once 9-0, but has gone 4-4-1 in his last nine fights. A win over Shogun would be two in a row and would get him closer to the top ten in the division.

Herb Dean draws unfair criticism at UFC Vegas 5

I said this in my article last week, but I believe that Herb Dean is one of if not the best referee in the UFC. There is a reason the man has been the official for so many massive events.

Dan Hardy criticized Dean for a late stoppage back at UFC Fight Island 3. The two men had some verbal back and forth. Dana White came out last week and said that situations like that could never happen again.

Herb Dean found himself at the center of more controversy after UFC Vegas 5. In the main event, Derek Brunson almost finished Edmen Shahbazyan at the end of the second round.

Shahbazyan took some massive shots and Dean came close to stopping the fight. His decision to proceed drew criticism.

How I saw UFC Vegas 5

There was a lot of criticism thrown Dean’s way, but I truly believe that he made the right call last night. I fall more in line with what Michael Bisping had to say after UFC.

There were a lot of people that said Shahbazyan was out near the end of the second round. I’ve watched the tape multiple times and he was not out. He was exhausted and taking some big shots, but he wasn’t out.

Immediately after the round ended Shahbazyan got up and went to his corner. You could tell he was hurt, but he had a full minute to recover. We’ve seen fighters in the past go from being nearly finished at the end of the round to winning the fight.

Shahbazyan did look a little out of it so Dean called in the doctor just to get a second opinion on his ability to continue. The doctor approved it and the fight continued.

Of course, Brunson stormed forward and took Shahbazyan straight to the ground. After landing just two shots, Dean called a stop to the action. The stoppage was great in my opinion. Shahbazyan was not ready to continue, but I think it was okay to send him out for the third.

I understand it’s the flavor of the month to bash Herb Dean. Yes, he made a bad call at UFC Fight Island 3. However, are we just going to ignore his history as one of the best refs in MMA history?

Dean unfortunately is going to find himself under the microscope every time he refs a UFC contest for the foreseeable future. It shouldn’t be that way, but unfortunately it’s the world we live in.

 

UFC: Dana White on the Herb Dean – Dan Hardy situation: “That can never happen here again”

UFC, Dana White

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the referee drama from UFC Fight Island 3. Veteran official, Herb Dean, had words with former fighter and current UFC commentator, Dan Hardy.

The verbal confrontation came after Dean was slow to stop a fight. On the broadcast you could hear Hardy yell out, “Stop the fight! That’s twice now…” referring to another stoppage from earlier in the evening.

Today at the UFC Vegas 5 pre-fight media scrum, Dana White was asked about his opinion on the matter.

“We love Dan. Dan got emotional. The problem is with this setup, it’s a lot easier to do. It’s a lot easier to interact with everybody, from the fighters to the refs to the media and everybody. If you work for me in any capacity and you approach a referee or judge or an official, I will fire you that night on the spot. That can never happen here again,” White said.

UFC’s Firm Warning

Dana White and the UFC are not playing games when it comes to this. White has been very vocal in the past about fighters’ interactions with the referees.

If you need an example of how the UFC handles these kind of situations, just ask Jason High who was cut after he shoved an official after a fight. Of course, that situation was much different, but you get how serious the promotion takes these matters.

Dan Hardy has received a ton of support from the MMA community for standing up in that situation. However, White is coming from the perspective that you have to be professional no matter how strongly you feel.

The UFC does not play games when it comes to this kind of thing. I think this was a good reminder, but it’s also something that would have never taken place had we been in a normal non-COVID world.

Everyone will move on from this in the end. Dean will continue to officiate and Hardy will continue to commentate. They are both great at what they do, and this doesn’t change that. Just a heat of the moment thing that we will all move on from. You can view White’s full pre-fight press conference below.

Darren Till tore his MCL at UFC Fight Island 3

Top UFC middleweight Darren Till suffered a tear of his MCL in his fight with Robert Whittaker last weekend at UFC Fight Island 3.

During the middle rounds, Till could be heard telling his corner that his knee was gone. He told his corner that he had no bounce. Till said in the post-fight press conference that he believe he tore his ACL.

Till’s head coach told ESPN today that The Gorilla tore his MCL. “Torn MCL, doctors are amazed he was able to stand up for the last three rounds. . . He is in a cast for six weeks then we’ll reassess, hopefully it will start to knit while immobilized,” Till’s coach said.

What’s next for the UFC’s Till?

The fight at UFC Fight Island 3 was razor close with Whittaker. It’s pretty astonishing how well Till fought considering he couldn’t really plant much on that knee.

Till fought fantastic and I actually scored the fight for Till including giving him the final two rounds. Even in a loss, Till proved that he is one of the very best in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

Obviously it’s going to take some time for Till to heal. We don’t have an exact timeline on when he’s coming back. Once he returns, there are a couple of options that I have in mind for his next contest.

One option is he could fight the winner of Edmen Shahbazyan and Derek Brunson who fight this weekend. Another option is he could fight the winner of the Yoel Romero – Uriah Hall matchup that takes place later in August.

If those are not options for the UFC another great option would be fighting the loser of the Adesanya – Costa title fight in September. No matter what, Till needs a top level opponent whenever he’s healthy and ready to go. Who do you think the Gorilla should fight next?

UFC: What to make of the Herb Dean situation

This past weekend at UFC Fight Island 3, there was a moment of controversy involving veteran official Herb Dean. Dean was referring a fight between Francisco Trinaldo and Jai Herbert when the following happened.

What does the UFC do?

As you can see, Trinaldo completely floored Herbert for the KO. However, Dean didn’t stop the fight. Trinaldo hesitated before throwing a couple of shots that forced Dean to step in.

Former UFC fighter and commentator Dan Hardy can be heard screaming, “Stop the fight! That’s two times now!”

Let’s be clear, Herb Dean is one of if not the best official in MMA, but the stoppage was bad. Herbert was clearly out and the fight wasn’t stopped. Everyone knew he was out, but Dean saw him somewhat defending so he let it go a little. Dean offered his explanation via Instagram.

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There has been a ton of back and forth following this officiating call. It’s one thing when a fight gets stopped too early, but it’s another to have it stopped too late.

Dean is a human just like the rest of us so he’s bound to make a mistake. The explanation to me was a little far fetched. It would have been better if he just admitted the mistake from UFC Fight Island 3.

Hardy confronted Dean following fight. You can hear Hardy yell out to Dean, “I’ll do my job, now you do yours.”

Bottom line, it was a bad mistake. The fight was stopped late and Herbert took a couple of shots he didn’t need to. The UFC is said to be investigating the situation.

Four fights to make after UFC Fight Island 3

UFC, Dana White

The UFC hosted it’s fourth and final event from Final Island last night, and the card completely delivered from top to bottom. After the card was over, it’s always time to start pondering what’s next. Here are four fights that should be made following last night.

Robert Whittaker vs Winner of Adesanya/Costa

This is one of the easier ones when you think about it. The former UFC middleweight champion looked very impressive last night defeating world class striker, Darren Till.

Whittaker was hurt very early in the fight, but went on to win three of the next four rounds on his way to a unanimous decision. Whittaker improved to 10-1 since moving to the middleweight division.

Bobby Knuckles lost his title to Israel Adesanya back in October of last year at UFC 243. Getting a win over a guy like Till puts him right back in the top contender status.

If you look at the middleweight division, there really is not another fight for Whittaker. I expect Bobby Knuckles to sit back and watch the September title fight with Adesanya and Paulo Costa.

Whoever wins that fight will likely get a fight with Whittaker in early 2021 or even perhaps by the end of this year.

Fabricio Werdum vs Ryan Bader

I know you might be thinking, “Why is a Bellator matchup in a UFC article?” Well it’s no secret that last night was the last fight on Fabricio Werdum‘s current contract.

The former champion has made it known that he’s interested in moving on from the UFC. The logical next step for Werdum would be to move to Bellator.

Bellator has a history of pushing UFC vets straight to the top when they jump ship. I expect Werdum to get the same treatment given his resume. The heavyweight division in Bellator is not very strong.

With that, Werdum could go right into a title shot in Bellator. He poses some interesting problems for Ryan Bader. If the Werdum that fought last night shows up, it’s not out of the question that he becomes the Bellator heavyweight champion this year.

Carla Esparza vs Jessica Andrade

Carla Esparza was able to capture her fourth consecutive win last night at UFC Fight Island 3 defeating Marina Rodriguez. With that win, Esparza looks to be ready to challenge one of the divisions best.

In looking at the logical next opponents for her, there are only two opponents that make sense from a divisional standpoint and that’s Tatiana Suarez and Jessica Andrade.

Suarez just finished Esparza two years ago so I can’t see the UFC making that fight. Andrade is coming off of a close loss to Rose Namajunas back at UFC 251.

This fight would pair two former champions against each other as both look to get back to the top. Andrade has lost two in a row, but they were to the two best women in the world. Esparza needs a win over someone like Andrade to prove she’s still one of the very best.

Khamzat Chimaev vs Top 15 UFC opponent

For all of the fighters that took part in Fight Island, the one that UFC fans should be the most excited about is Khamzat Chimaev. The guy is an absolute monster. His dominance can be illustrated with one tweet.

Chimaev resembles a larger version of the UFC’s lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“Borz” is a frightening matchup for anyone in the welterweight division. He’s so exciting because unlike some wrestlers who just take their opponents down, Chimaev is constantly looking to “Smash” his opponents.

Seeing how polished he is already, I would not be surprised to see him fast-tracked. Chimaev’s wrestling base can allow him to move quicker than some prospects would in the UFC.

Perhaps a good fight for Chimaev would be taking on the winner of next week’s Randy Brown – Vicente Luque fight. Either way, Chimaev is going to get a quick turnaround. I expect to see Borz fight one or even two more times before 2021.

 

UFC Fight Island 3 Recap: Robert Whittaker squeaks by Darren Till in entertaining scrap

The UFC hosted their fourth and final fight card from Fight Island tonight. In the main event of the evening, middleweights Robert Whittaker (20-5) and Darren Till (18-2-1) went head-to-head. The card was filled with action from start to finish.

Whittaker takes first step back to UFC gold

The main event of the evening was going to likely determine who would face the winner of the Israel Adesanya – Paulo Costa UFC title fight in September. Former champion Robert Whittaker took on Darren “The Gorilla” Till.

As the first round began, Till charged in and was met with a sharp shot from Whittaker. Whittaker also landed a stiff jab after that. Till seemed extremely aggressive early on. Both men charged at each other and Whittaker was floored by a clean elbow from Till.

Till started finding a home for his crisp left hand after he hurt Whittaker. Whittaker began reaching with his shots which is what hurt him in the Adesanya fight. Till pressed Whittaker back late in the first continuing to land shots.

Whittaker’s confidence seemed to be shaken a bit in the first. However, late in the round, Whittaker seemed to get his legs back and get more comfortable in the exchanges. Great opening round for Till.

Both men came out very light on their feet to start the second round. Whittaker landed a massive left hook as Till was off balanced. Whittaker seemed much fresher and confident early in the second.

Bobby Knuckles stormed forward with an overhand right that floored Till about a minute into the round. Bobby Knuckles landed some good elbows from top position. Till looked to be trying to regain his composure from the bottom.

Till was able to get back to his feet with about two minutes left in the round. Whittaker started peppering Till’s lead leg with solid kicks. Till seemed tentative still trying to regain some confidence. Dominant second round for the former UFC champ.

Both men touched gloves to start the third round, and then Whittaker landed another big leg kick. The two seemed to be a little more patient. Till kept looking for the left while Whittaker kept looking to blitz.

Neither man was landing anything clean for the majority of the third round. They would throw big shots from distance, but neither were connecting. An uneventful round, but I lean Whittaker in the third.

Entering the main event rounds, Whittaker seemed to have a little more bounce in his step. Till was able to step in with a big left hand early on. Whittaker continued to throw big calf kicks which seemed to be bothering Till.

Till landed a few big shots which seemed to wobble Whittaker momentarily. However, Whittaker seemed to get his legs back underneath him very quickly. The two men resumed trying to read each other after the big exchange.

Till began finding his left more in the fourth round. Whittaker tried for a couple of takedowns late in the round, but wasn’t able to land either. A close round four, but I lean Till due to the bigger shots.

Both men seemed to have good bounce to start the fifth. Till landed a big shot in the first exchange. Whittaker again tried for a takedown, but was unsuccessful. Till looked very aggressive to start the fifth round.

Till landed a solid 1-2 at the two minute mark in the round. Whittaker continued to look for calf kicks throughout the round. Whittaker looked for another takedown, but again, it was unsuccessful. Till landed another crisp left after Whittaker shot.

Till landed a massive elbow with about a minute left in the round which opened a massive gash on Whittaker. Whittaker was able to land a couple of takedowns late, but Till continued to bounce right back up. Close round, but I give Till the final round due to damage.

A razor close fight, but I lean Till 48-47. After the close fight, the judges were unanimous giving the fight to Whittaker (48-47, 48-47, 48-47).

Shogun completes the sweep against Little Nog

The co-main event of the evening featured a battle of Brazilian legends as former UFC light heavyweight champion Shogun Rua (27-11-1) took on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-10) for the third time.

As the first round began, both men tentatively took the center just feeling the other out. Nogueira circled the outside as Shogun started to pepper Nogueira’s leg with kicks. Shogun pressed forward to engage a clinch about two minutes into the round.

After little action, Shogun backed away with about half of the round remaining. Nogueira landed a massive left as the two began to strike. Both men really began to open up about four minutes into the round.

Nogueira began to press forward after he sensed that he was getting the better of the exchanges. Nogueira landed three massive lefts that wobbled Shogun. Shogun shot in and secured a late takedown before the bell. Close round that I gave to Nogueira.

Shogun opened the second round very aggressive pushing forward. Shogun landed a couple of big kicks to open the round. Nogueira seemed very patient looking to land his left hand. Everytime the former UFC champion stormed in, Nogueira was looking to counter with a left.

Nogueira stormed forward with big shots which forced another shot from Shogun. Shogun slipped which allowed Nogueira to end up on the top. Shogun was able to get back to his feet with two minutes left in the round.

Nogueira was getting clipped a little more in this round compared to the first. Shogun was doing a good job of slipping and countering the aggressive Nogueira attacks. A close round two, but due to the top control, I lean Nogueira.

The final round started with Shogun moving forward. Shogun landed a massive leg kick that buckled Nogueira early in the third. Neither man landed anything significant after that until about the halfway mark.

Shogun landed a big body kick and continued to stalk Nogueira. After that kick, the two men began to trade big shots. Shogun was able to land a couple of really good straight shots that backed Nogueira against the cage. He transitioned that into a takedown.

Shogun controlled the remainder of the round from the top position. To me, the clearest round to score of the fight. I gave the final round to Shogun but the fight to Nogueira 29-28. The judges were split but gave the fight to Shogun (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

Werdum subs Gustafsson early in the first

The fifth fight of the main card featured the heavyweight debut of Alexander Gustafsson (18-7). In his debut he was taking on former UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1).

Gustafsson started the first round very light on his feet. Werdum landed a massive leg kick in the opening seconds which Gus acknowledged. Gustafsson landed a good combination, but Werdum shot in for the takedown.

After initially missing on it, Werdum tripped Gustafsson and got his back immediately. Werdum tried for the rear-naked choke, but Werdum immediately transitioned to an arm bar. The ground wizard got Gustafsson to tap very early in the first. Very impressive from the former heavyweight champion.

Carla Esparza edges Marina Rodriguez

The fourth fight of the main card featured a strawweight contest between former UFC champ, Carla Esparza (16-6) and Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2). A win for either lady would get them close to a shot at the strawweight title.

To start the first round, Rodriguez was really heavy on her front leg expecting a shot from Esparza. After Rodriguez through a couple of big shots, Esparza shot in for a takedown and secured it.

Esparza had really heavy top control in the first. She did a very good job of picking and choosing spots to posture up and land good shots. Rodriguez did land a massive elbow from the bottom which cut Esparza.

Esparza made the odd decision to try to go for an ankle lock which resulted in her being on the bottom. Rodriguez landed some good shots before Esparza got back to her feet. Rodriguez landed some good shots before Esparza shot in for another takedown at the end of the first. Close round that I’d give to Rodriguez due to the damage.

As the second round started, Rodriguez appeared to be stalking Esparza. She didn’t look comfortable at all on the feet. Esparza shot in for a takedown two minutes into the round, and she was able to get Rodriguez down.

Esparza was able to land some pretty good shots from the ground after the takedown. Just like she did in the first, Esparza went for another bizarre leg lock. It resulted in her just taking massive shots from Rodriguez. Close round due to a massive flurry at the end, but I lean Esparza.

The final round started with Rodriguez continuing to stalk Esparza. Esparza tried for some sloppy shots early as Rodriguez landed some decent shots. About halfway through the round, Esparza was able to land a takedown.

The rest of the round consisted of solid top control for Esparza. Esparza landed some decent shots, but Rodriguez did really nothing in the final round. She was able to get up for a second before being taken right back down.

Nothing desirable in this fight, but I lean Esparza 29-28. The judges gave Esparza the fight by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).

Craig triangles Antigulov in the first

The third fight of the evening featured a UFC light heavyweight contest between Paul Craig (12-4-1) and Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-6).

Craig immediately ran across the octagon to meet Antigulov. About thirty seconds into the round, Antigulov was able to secure a takedown. Craig tried to secure a guillotine, but he was unsuccessful.

However, about a minute later, Craig through up a triangle choke. Antigulov threw some bombs to try to get out of it, but he was in massive trouble. After Antigulov fought hard for a few seconds, Craig locked in the choke deeper.

Craig was able to secure the tap from Antigulov and get the win via triangle choke. Antigulov fought hard, but Craig was too much from that position. Great win for the Scottish fighter.

Oliveira kicks his way past Peter Sobotta

The second fight of the main card featured “Cowboy” Alex Oliveira (21-8-1, 2 NC) taking on German standout, Peter Sobotta (17-6-1).

Both men immediately took the center of the octagon looking to strike. Oliveira landed a massive body kick to start the striking. Sobotta answered with a big kick of his own about a minute into the round.

Oliveira hurt Sobotta bad with a front kick right to the liver about two minutes into the round. Sobotta was able to land a few shots to keep Oliveira off of him. Both men had some decent exchanges late in the round.

Sobotta appeared to have injured his arm blocking a kick late in the round. Decent first round that goes to Oliveira.

As the second round started, Sobotta shot in for a takedown. Oliveira was able to defend the takedown, but it appeared that Sobotta was switching up his strategy. Oliveira was able to land some elbows in the clinch which cut Sobotta.

The two men separated and Oliveira immediately landed a big body kick. Oliveira was looking extremely crisp on the feet. About halfway through the round one of Oliveira’s kicks went low which caused a break in the action.

Once the action resumed, Oliveira continued to look to land kicks. In the final minute, Oliveira extended his hands which poked Sobotta in the eye which caused another break. After they continued the fight, Oliveira landed a massive right hand that floored Sobotta at the end of the first. 2-0 for Oliveira after two rounds.

As the final round started, Oliveira continued to look aggressive in the striking. Sobotta shot in for another takedown, but he wasn’t able to get Oliveira down. About halfway through the round, Oliveira hurt Sobotta again with a body kick.

Sobotta just seemed extremely uncomfortable in the striking exchanges. He would throw shots, but he was throwing from Oliveira’s range. Oliveira continued to land some decent kicks as the final round came to a close.

Great performance for Oliveira who takes it 30-27 on my scorecard. The judges agreed unanimously giving the fight to Cowboy Oliveira (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Khamzat Chimaev wins second UFC fight in 10 days

The opening fight of the main card featured dominant wrestling sensation Khamzat Chimaev (8-0) taking on UFC newcomer, Rhys McKee (10-3-1). Chimaev was looking for his second win on Fight Island.

Within five seconds of the first round, Chimaev immediately shot in for a takedown. Chimaev carried McKee over to his own corner to clearly hear instructions from his corner. Chimaev was able to get the mount position within 20 seconds of having top position.

McKee kept trying to explode out of the position, but Chimaev’s top control was incredibly impressive. Chimaev was just relentless with his ground and pound. With two minutes left in the round, the striking numbers were 43-0 for Chimaev.

Chimaev postured up and started raining down monster shots. The referee mercifully stopped the fight at 3:09 of the first round. There is no question that Chimaev will be a top contender in the welterweight division before long.

UFC Fight Island 3 Final Takeaways

The UFC closed it’s first stint on Fight Island this evening. Bobby Knuckles closes out Fight Island with a big win over Darren Till. Whittaker will now likely be next in line for a shot at the middleweight crown.

The last month has been filled with exciting fights and incredible story lines. Now, the UFC will come back stateside with a massive schedule in August.

UFC Fight Island 3 Preview: Whittaker and Till look to cement top contender status

The UFC will be hosting it’s last event on Fight Island in the month of July tomorrow night on Yas Island. The main event features former UFC middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker (20-5), and former title challenger, Darren Till (18-2-1).

The UFC has put forward a card that ties the record for the most fights on a single card with 15. The main card that kicks off at 8:00 ET features seven fights.

For this fight card, we are going to break down the top four fights of the evening. The UFC is leaving Fight Island with a bang.

Whittaker and Till battle for the next UFC title shot

The main event of the evening will likely determine who will get the winner of the Israel Adesanya – Paulo Costa fight as Robert Whittaker takes on Darren Till.

Whittaker could not have drawn up a better start to his middleweight career after leaving the UFC‘s welterweight division. Whittaker moved up and promptly went 9-0 capturing the middleweight title.

Bobby Knuckles combines elite striking and speed with incredible toughness and determination. He is susceptible to getting rocked but one of his trademarks is his heart to fight through it.

He was able to fight through it against Yoel Romero, but it finally caught up to him against Adesanya. Stylebender was able to finish Whittaker in the second round of their fight.

This is a massive fight for Whittaker as he looks to try to climb back towards the UFC middleweight title.

Darren Till was being built up as the next superstar just a couple of years ago. The UFC fast-tracked him to a title shot against Tyron Woodley.

That shot came back at UFC 228. The English born Till was actually the massive fan favorite at the Dallas event. However, Woodley put an end to the run with a second round submission victory.

Immediately following that loss, Till was knocked out by Jorge Masvidal prompting his move to the middleweight division.

Till made his UFC middleweight debut against Kelvin Gastelum back in November. In a fight that left a lot to be desired, Till walked away with a decision victory.

Till’s elite Muy Thai skills have brought him to the dance. He has a great way of closing distance very quickly and he’s got power that catches people off guard.

I’m expecting this fight to be contested on the feet, but I’m not sure it’s going to be as action packed as some want. I think this fight will start slow, but will pick up in the middle rounds.

Once they really get going, I think Bobby Knuckles is going to catch Till was something big. I expect Till to have big moments because he is an elite striker, but I think Whittaker is just on a higher level overall as a fighter.

Prediction: Robert Whittaker by TKO – Round 4

Shogun Rua vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

The co-main event of the evening features a contest between two legends of the sport from Brazil as Shogun Rua (26-11-1) takes on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-9).

Nogueira enters this fight just after turning 44-years old. We haven’t seen Nogueira since UFC 237 where he was knocked out by Ryan Spann. Nogueira has been dealing with a nagging back injury.

Nogueira throughout his career has been known for his crisp boxing and his elite skills on the ground. He has very good pop in his shots, and is deceptively accurate with his strikes.

The problem is that we really don’t know what kind of Nogueira we are going to see. He didn’t look great in his last fight, and he’s been dealing with back issues. Combine that with his age and there are a ton of question marks.

Shogun Rua has fought just six times in the last five years. However, he has gone 4-1-1 in those six fights with wins over Corey Anderson and Nogueira.

Shogun is a former UFC light heavyweight champion who is also nearing the end of his career. He has been known in his career for his solid overall game and his spurts that often catch fighters off guard.

Shogun has made a career on rocking or finishing opponents with sudden spurts that fighters are not ready for. In his last contest, Shogun fought to a draw with Paul Craig.

These two men have fought each other twice, and Shogun has won both. With all of the question marks surrounding Nogueira, I don’t see how the result will change in this third fight.

Prediction: Shogun Rua by TKO – Round 2

Alexander Gustaffson vs Fabricio Werdum

The fifth fight on the main card features former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1) welcoming Alexander Gustaffson (18-6) to the heavyweight division.

Just a few years ago, people were making the argument that Werdum was the greatest heavyweight in history. Those talks of course coming after wins over guys like Fedor Emelianenko and Cain Velasquez.

Of course, Werdum would go on to be knocked out and lose his heavyweight title to Stipe Miocic which halted those talks. Since that loss, Werdum has gone 3-3.

Werdum showed off improved striking a few years ago to go with his world class ground game. Werdum might be the best Jiu Jitsu practitioner in heavyweight history. However, Werdum looked horrendous in his last fight where he lost to Alexey Oleynik.

Alexander Gustaffson will be making his heavyweight debut tomorrow night. Gustaffson retired just over a year ago after he lost to Anthony Smith in Sweden.

Of course that retirement was short-lived. Gustaffson is one of the better fighters over the last few years who hasn’t won a UFC title. He’s fought for the title three times, coming up short each time. Two of those fights were razor close.

Gustaffson has built his career on his elite boxing skills, good footwork, and solid takedown defense. All of these are going to give him an advantage tomorrow night.

For Werdum to win this fight, he’s going to have to get the fight to the ground. There is no way that Werdum can win a stand up fight with Alexander Gustaffson. Werdum looked slow in his last fight, and he doesn’t have great takedowns.

I believe that for those reasons, the fight is going to stay on the feet. I fully expect Gustaffson to light Werdum up in this contest. Not 100% convinced he’s going to get a finish, but I don’t see this fight being close.

Prediction: Alexander Gustaffson by TKO – Round 3

Marina Rodriguez vs Carla Esparza

The fourth fight on the main card features a matchup between two top ten UFC strawweights in Carla Esparza (16-6) and Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2).

Esparza burst onto the UFC scene back in 2014 when she became the promotions first strawweight champion. Since winning the title, Esparza has gone 6-4 in the UFC.

The good news for Esparza is the fact that she’s on a three fight winning streak. Esparza has some of the best wrestling in the division. She has decent striking, but it’s mainly used as a way to setup her dynamic wrestling attack.

Marina Rodriguez is one of the brighter prospects in the strawweight division. While she’s actually older than Esparza, many consider her to be more of a prospect given her experience.

She’s fought four times in the UFC to a record of 2-0-2. Her last fight she fought to a draw with Cynthia Calvillo. Rodriguez has really good striking and good pop for the division.

She also does a really good job at striking at a high volume. Her cardio does hinder her later in fights and her wrestling defense is not great which could hurt her in this matchup.

The first round is going to decide the fight for me. If Esparza can come right out and take Rodriguez down, she’s going to march to a decision victory. However, if Rodriguez can keep it standing for a while, I can’t see her getting beat by Esparza.

This fight is going to be very close. I believe that Esparza will win the third round, but I think Rodriguez’s striking will also gain her a round. This is going to be a split decision that I think will go to Rodriguez with her high striking output.

Prediction: Marina Rodriguez by Split Decision

UFC Fight Island 3 Outlook

The UFC is leaving Fight Island with a massive card. The card has former champions and top contenders up and down the card. A record 15 fights will have fight fans glued to their TVs tomorrow night.