So far so good for the UFC as Fight Island has been an absolute success from start to right now, with the final card right around the corner. The UFC saved the best till last with this one, treating us to 15 fights on this card, 8 on the prelims, and 7 on the main card! In this, I’ll be previewing the first 4 fights on the main card.
Khamzat Chimaev vs Rhys McKee – Welterweight Bout
Khamzat Chimaev entered the octagon for the first time, just a week and a half ago at UFC Fight Island 1 and seriously impressed UFC fans with his dominant win over John Phillips, where he choked the prospect out in the 2nd round. He’s set to make a historic turnaround for this fight card and is set to break all sorts of records. Khamzat is a dominant wrestler, talents that we only see form the best of the best, and that was at a higher weight class.
Rhys McKee makes his UFC debut in this fight and he has his hands full with a fighter like Khamzat. Rhys comes into the fight with a 10-2 record and impressed a lot of the MMA community with his short stint in Cage Warriors. Rhys is mainly a striker, having 7 KO/TKO wins to his name but he has a few submission wins, one via a guillotine, something Khamzat will have to be wary of when shooting for the takedown.
This is going to be a really fun fight to watch, Khamzat took the MMA community by storm when he made his debut a week and a half ago and, if he wins tonight, he may end up as one of the fastest risers in UFC history. Rhys will be a tough fight for Khamzat, especially given it’ll be a huge scalp to have in his UFC debut, but with how impressive Khamzat was at an unnatural weight class last time out, he’s just going to be too good for Rhys.
Alex Oliveira vs Peter Sobotta – Welterweight Bout
Next up on the main card is another welterweight fight, this time between Alex Oliveira and Peter Sobotta. Alex Oliveira is a UFC veteran, facing the likes of Donald Cerrone, Gunnar Nelson, Gilbert Burns and others. Oliveira hit a slump in late 2018-2019 as he lost 3 on the bounce, however, he bounced back in his last fight, in March, against Max Griffin.
Peter Sobotta has been in the UFC on two separate occasions, his first being a 3 fight losing streak and then he came back to the UFC in 2014, with his last fight coming in 2018, a loss against now top contender Leon Edwards. It’ll be interesting to see where Sobotta is at with his fight game, given he hasn’t fought in over 2 years.
This should be fun, but it all comes down to how Sobotta is, in terms of skill level, given he hasn’t fought in over 2 years. I’m picking Oliveira, I think he’s better than how he performed in 2019 and will start going on a rise once again.
Paul Craig vs Gadzhimurad Antigulov – Light Heavyweight Bout
Up next on the main card is a light heavyweight fight between Paul Craig and Gadzhimurad Antigulov. Paul Craig has always promised a lot since he debuted in the UFC since 2016 but never truly achieved what people thought he could. He’s undefeated in his last 2 fights, drawing with Mauricio Rua last time out. Craig is a submission specialist who loves taking guys down on to the ground and forcing them to tap.
Gadzhimurad Antigulov entered the UFC with a lot of hype around him, and showed why when he won his first fights in the UFC. However, he’s lost the last two fights and has struggled to implement his submission skillset to his last few fights. Tonight gives him a great chance to prove himself as a submission specialist against someone like Craig.
For me, I feel like Craig will take this fight, given he has the momentum heading into the fight and has shown a better quality of fighting at this level in the UFC, compared to Antigulov.
#7 Carla Esparza vs #9 Marina Rodriguez – Women’s Strawweight Bout
For the last fight of this preview, we have a women’s strawweight bout between two ranked fighters in Carla Esparza and Marina Rodriguez. Carla Esparza has been really impressive since making her UFC debut back in 2014 when she beat Rose Namajunas at the Ultimate Fighter Final. She’s won her last three fights via decision, her last being a split decision win over Michelle Waterson in May 2020. She’s a win grinder type, who loves to take the fight to the last bell and win by the judges’ scorecards but I feel she needs to start finishing some fights if she’s to be a true title contender.
Marina Rodriguez is the 9th ranked contender at strawweight and has impressed across her career, having a pro record of 12-0-2. She’s a great striker who possesses KO power in her punches but can easily grind out wins via decision if she needs to. She’s undefeated in her career but has 2 wins and 2 draws in the UFC, she will need a win here if she wants to get her name into the top 5 contenders.
This one is going to be an interesting fight, given both fighters are used to pulling out decision wins and trying to just simply control the fight against their opponents. Marina has the better KO power but Esparza has a real threatening feel in that octagon and that’s why I think she’ll be able to pull out the decision win.
Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports