This Saturday (July 18, 2020), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will continue its stay on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates, for UFC Fight Island 2. Much like Wednesday night’s event, the card is primarily made up of random Europeans who have previously been unable to compete because of COVID-19. However, this card features a title fight in the main event, which definitely raises the stakes. Before Joseph Benavidez and Deiveison Figueiredo battle for the Flyweight crown, let’s break down some main card fights!
Remember, we’ll be back later this week to preview and predict the biggest fights of Saturday’s event.
Lightweight: Marc Diakiese vs. Rafael Fiziev
Best Win for Diakiese? Joseph Duffy For Fisiev? Alex White
Current Streak: Diakiese has won two straight, whereas Fiziev rebounded with a decision win last time out
X-Factor: Diakiese’s athleticism
How these two match up: This should be a firefight!
Diakiese has seen his ups-and-downs inside the Octagon, but he’s been talented the whole time. Diakiese is a serious physical talent with big power and explosive takedowns, and lately he’s just been shredding opponents with his calf kick.
Fiziev is a newer face to UFC’s roster, but “Ataman” is a decorated striker, a master of sports in hand-to-hand combat with a great deal of Muay Thai experience. Training out of Tiger Muay Thai, Fiziev’s takedown defense has held up well in his short MMA career.
Both prospects are just 27 years old.
This is a really tricky bout to analyze. On one hand, Diakiese prefers to strike, and Fiziev is without a doubt the more technical kickboxer. However, that advantage is potentially nullified by Diakiese’s pure power, and his ability to mix in big slam takedowns could knock Fiziev’s confidence down a notch.
Fiziev is still unproven in the Octagon, while Diakiese has been inconsistent. Both men seemingly have considerable long term upside. As for Saturday night, however, I’ll trust Fiziev’s kickboxing experience to help him navigate the calf kick, which really has been the basis for Diakiese’s recent wins.
Prediction: Fiziev via decision
Women’s Flyweight: Ariane Lipski vs. Luana Carolina
Best Win for Lipski? Shiela Gaff For Carolina? Priscila Cachoeira
Current Streak: Both women have won their last bout
X-Factor: Carolina’s wrestling
How these two match up: Hopefully, “Queen Of Violence” and “Dread” live up to their scrapping reputations.
Lipski is a kickboxer, a woman who grew up in Brazil training and fighting Muay Thai. As such, her striking has looked rather sharp in the Octagon, but she is having trouble adjusting to higher-level competition, as noted strikers Joanne Calderwood and Molly McMann both found success simply catching her kicks and taking her down rather than trading. Alternatively, Carolina is just one fight deep into her UFC career, a solid win in which she picked apart Cachoeira rather thoroughly.
Both of these Brazilian women have similar striking backgrounds, which means we’re likely in for caged Muay Thai match. Lipski has faced the higher level of competition, but she’s also struggled as a result. Carolina has yet to run into any problems, but she’s also been fighting a lower level of competition.
I’ll be honest, it’s difficult for me to trust in Lipski after her poor defensive wrestling/grappling showcases in the past. However, Carolina doesn’t seem to be the woman to capitalize on that flaw. Instead, she’ll give the veteran the type of fight she desires, which bodes well for the former KSW champion.
Prediction: Lipski via decision
Flyweight: Alexandre Pantoja vs Askar Askarov
Best Win for Pantoja? Brandon Moreno For Askarov? Tim Elliott
Current Streak: Pantoja won his last bout, whereas Askarov recently won his first UFC bout and is undefeated overall
X-Factor: Can Askarov contain Pantoja?
How these two match up: This should be excellent.
Pantoja has established himself as one of the best Flyweights on the planet, developing some considerable knockout power to go along with his expertise on the mat. He’s stopped his last three victories, and his sole loss in that span came in one of the best fights of 2019 opposite one half of Saturday’s main event in Deiveison Figueiredo.
Askarov is just two fights into his own Octagon career, but the former ACB champion has impressed as well. The Russian “Bullet” is an excellent wrestler, capable of chaining together takedown attempts with ease. He’s also a proven finisher once on the mat, and he showed some surprising pop in his punches opposite Elliott.
This is one of those Flyweight match ups that’s almost guaranteed to be fast-paced and exciting. The potential is very much there for a back-and-forth war that sees both men trade big punches and dominant positions.
For Askarov, the goal should be to collect as much top control time as possible. However, he’s more of a scrambler that capitalizes on transitions than a lock-down-and-control type wrestler. Given Pantoja’s excellent jiu-jitsu, it seems unlikely that the Brazilian will spend too long stuck in his back in one position.
Between the two, Pantoja seems more likely to land a submission and do greater damage with his strikes. It may be close, but expect “Cannibal” to have enough big moments on his side to sway the judges.
Prediction: Pantoja via decision
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Island 2 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC on Fight Island 2: “Figuieredo vs. Benavidez” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.