It’s been a while, but every UFC title has an owner. This past weekend, Petr Yan claimed the vacant UFC bantamweight crown with a TKO win over Jose Aldo. On Saturday, Deiveson Figueiredo took possession of the flyweight crown with a technical submission win over Joseph Benavidez.
While the first meeting between Figueiredo and Benavidez ended in controversy after Figueiredo came in overweight and scored a knockout win after an accidental headbutt, the result of this fight couldn’t have been clearer with Figueiredo landing multiple knockdowns before he choked Benavidez unconscious in the first round.
In the co-main event, Jack Hermansson bounced back from a TKO loss in September with a 78-second submission win over Kelvin Gastelum.
The other three main card fights were entertaining as well, but the one that stole the show was Ariane Lipski’s nasty kneebar submission win over Luana Carolina.
It was another solid night of fights from Fight Island…
Deiveson Figueiredo: The discrepancy in power between Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez was evident when Figueiredo dropped Benavidez with the first big right hand he threw. With Benavidez stunned, Figueiredo pursued submissions that Benavidez was somehow able to fight off. Figueiredo scored a flash knockdown and then another official knockdown before sinking in a deep rear-naked choke that turned out Benavidez’s lights. If there was doubt about the first meeting between these two, Figueiredo erased those questions on Saturday night.
Jack Hermansson: Hermansson had his four-fight winning streak end in September, but he bounced back in a big way on Saturday when he submitted Kelvin Gastelum via heel hook early in the first round. Hermansson did an excellent job of preventing Gastelum from freeing his leg and latching on for the submission. Hermansson’s impressive win keeps him in the middleweight mix.
Rafael Fiziev: We learned what an empty arena sounds like when someone lands a hard body kick — or multiple hard body kicks — during the matchup between Fiziev and Marc Diakiese. Fiziev’s body kicks were the things of nightmares and his ability to lean back Matrix style to avoid the strikes of Diakiese were jaw dropping. Fiziev has won his past two fights and the 27-year-old is someone to watch, at least in a striking battle.
Ariane Lipski: Lipski earned her seventh first-round finish in one of the nastiest kneebars in memory. With her opponent working a calf slicer, Lipski worked on grabbing Luana Carolina’s free leg. When she did, she straightened that leg and leaned back, which brought a scream of pain from Carolina and an end to the fight. The submission hold was both awesome and horrifying.
Alexandre Pantoja and Askar Askarov: The opening fight of the main card was a barnburner. The scrambles between these two were of the highlight reel variety, especially Pantoja’s. However, the pace of the fight took its toll on Pantoja and he struggled down the stretch. Askarov’s larger gas tank probably earned him the win, but this was an exciting scrap that could have gone either way. It won’t be a surprise to see these two talented fighters meet again. And if they do, it’ll be worth watching.
Roman Dolidze: After his nasty knockout win Dolidze went to the side of the cage where the UFC commentators sat and told them, “it’s not my dream, but it’s my goal.” Dolidze’s low kicks were powerful, but it was his attempted head kick that ended the fight when he caught Khadis Ibragimov with a knee. A solid UFC debut from the now 7-0 light heavyweight.
Grant Dawson: Dawson’s first kick, a calf kick, spun Nad Narimani around and with that Dawson kept unloading that technique throughout the fight. He added a couple nice flying knees as well. Dawson also showed a heavy and active ground game, going for subs, passing guard and staying busy with strikes while he had Narimani on the mat. With a solid lead heading into the final round, Dawson used the last five minutes of the contest to practice his striking skills. A solid performance from Dawson.
Joel Alvarez: Most of Alvarez’s wins heading into his bout against Joe Duffy came via submission. He added another sub on Saturday with a guillotine choke stoppage in the first round. Duffy shot for a takedown and with his head hanging to the side, Alvarez was quick to lock up the choke.
Brett Johns: Johns was not especially happy about his decision victory over Montel Jackson, but he did win and sometimes that’s the most important thing. Johns fought a smart fight. He knew he was at a height and reach disadvantage, so he removed that issue by using his takedowns and clinch game against the cage. He scored 8 takedowns on 19 attempts.
Amir Albazi: Albazi took his fight against Malcolm Gordon on short notice, which with the protocols surrounding COVID-19 on Yas Island, means he didn’t have much prep time for the bantamweight contest. If Albazi was nervous or concerned, he didn’t show it before, during or after the fight. Albazi made quick work of Gordon by scoring the first triangle choke submission of 2020. Albazi was relaxed and confident inside and outside the octagon. It will be interesting to see what he can do with a full camp.
Arman Tsarukyan: Tsarukyan moved his UFC record to 2-1 on Saturday with a dominant win over Davi Ramos. The 23-year-old (23!) Social media was alight with compliments for the young up and comer and the general consensus was that he will be a problem for fighters in the lightweight division. Tsarukyan showed excellent striking. He mixed his targets well and used fast combinations to get inside. He also showed no fear of tangling on the mat with a world class grappler. Tsarukyan fought a smart 15 minutes and if he continues to develop, he will find it hard to find higher ranked opponents to sign to face him inside the octagon.
Sergey Spivak: Spivac was comfortable to play defense and pick his spots against Carlos Felipe in the first round. Spivac did nice work with his jabs as Felipe looped big strikes. The second round followed the same design. In the third round, Spivac’s wrestling and ground strikes earned him a 10-8 score from two judges. This was not the prettiest fight, but it was a smart fight from Spivak.
Joseph Benavidez: Benavidez has been fighting professionally for over 14 years. During that time he’s had multiple shots at WEC/UFC titles. On Saturday Benavidez was likely in a do or die situation. With a loss to Deiveson Figueiredo, Benavidez was not likely to get another title shot. Figueiredo dominated the entire fight and submitted Benavidez late in the first round via rear-naked choke. Benavidez did his best to fight off the submission attempts of his opponent, but Figueiredo was too strong and too determined.
Kelvin Gastelum: Gastelum had one good moment in his matchup against Jack Hermansson and that was when he scored a reversal early in the bout. That was it. He landed 0 significant strikes and Hermansson submitted Gastelum 78 seconds into the bout. The loss was the third consecutive setback for Gastelum.
Luana Carolina: Carolina had the kind of fight no one wants to be part of. She landed two strikes and was submitted by Ariane Lipski with what was a ghastly kneebar. Carolina sat on a stool against the cage while Lipski’s hand was raised in victory. Hopefully she won’t have any lasting damage.
Khadis Ibragimov: Ibragimov a former M-1 Challenge light heavyweight champion joined the UFC with a perfect 8-0 record. Three fights into his UFC career he is 8-3. He had a slow start in his matchup opposite Roman Dolidze and that cost him as he ate a big knee that left him on his hands and knees wondering what had hit him and where he was.
Joe Duffy: The man who was once known as the man who beat Conor McGregor retired after his loss on Saturday night. With his opponent having more than a few guillotine choke wins heading into this matchup, Duffy should have been more aware of his head placement when he went for a takedown. Alas, he was not and he tapped to a guillotine choke 2:25 into the first stanza.
Montel Jackson: Jackson had some success with his striking, but he spent most of his time with his back to the cage or on the mat. With that, he could not use his height and reach advantage.
Malcolm Gordon: Gordon landed five total strikes before Amir Albazi submitted him late in the first round. Not a good night for Gordon in his UFC debut.
Davi Ramos: Ramos had a frustrating night. He could not use his ground skills. He struggled to land his heavy strikes and he was bloodied badly in the third stanza. The unanimous decision setback gave Ramos the first losing skid of his career.
Carlos Felipe: Felipe stood in the center of the cage during intros and beckoned Sergey Spivak forward. When the fight began, Felipe rushed across the cage and…did nothing. Thirty seconds in, Felipe opened up with his striking and it was clear from his looping punches that he wanted to score a knockout. Unfortunately for him, Spivak’s defense was on point. Felipe had more success in the second round with his striking. However, he had no success in the third stanza as he got taken down and dominated on the mat and lost the bout by majority decision with two judges giving Spivak 10-8 scores in the third stanza.
Marc Diakiese: In March 2019 Diakiese ended a three-fight losing skid. Before that tough run, he was 12-0. Diakiese won two fights in a row after that skid. He went back into the losing column on Saturday. Diakiese did not look terrible against Rafael Fiziev, but he was overmatched in the striking department. The hope for the former BAMMA champ is that the loss does not wreck his confidence.
Nad Narimani: Narimani was never really in his fight against Grant Dawson, but that didn’t stop him from hanging tough and making Dawson work for the win. By the end of the fight, Narimani’s leg was tore up from kicks and his face was bloody, but he continued to swing for the fences. Narimani earned himself some tough guy points in the 15-minute scrap.
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