The expectations were at UFC Fight Island 6 for Brian Ortega and the Korean Zombie. It wasn’t quite the back-and-forth affair many were expecting, but I think it is safe to say expectations were met. Ortega, known for opportunistically finding a hole and exploiting it after losing most of the contest, was in charge the entire time. It was obvious he spent the 22 months in between fights honing his skills, looking better than ever as he controlled distance and timed his offense like never before. The highlight was a spinning elbow in the second that put the Zombie on the mat, but the action continued for all five rounds, every round going in favor of Ortega. Zombie hung in there, displaying the durability that has made him a legendary figure, but he never looked completely comfortable after the second round. Make no mistake, Ortega’s upcoming contest with Alex Volkanovski — whenever it takes place — will be fireworks.
As for the rest of the action….
- Jessica Andrade made a statement in the direction of Valentina Shevchenko, obliterating former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian with an assault on her body. Chookagian couldn’t hide the pain from an Andrade right hand and Andrade went where Chookagian was hurting until the referee stepped in. Shevchenko has to take care of business with Jennifer Maia, but Andrade, a former strawweight champion, looks like she could be the first serious challenger for Shevchenko’s belt.
- In a clash of light heavyweight prospects, Jimmy Crute delivered a brutal right hand to knock Modestas Bukauskas silly, only to immediately sit down with an arm around him after the referee waived off the contest. Crute rarely comes to mind when people talk about rising light heavyweight prospects. This performance should reconcile that.
- Like a fine wine, James Krause gets better with age. Using his length and knowledge of distance, Krause avoided the takedowns of Claudio Silva and picked apart the dangerous Silva. Even more impressive, he did so after an early kick from Silva compromised Krause’s knee. And to think, Krause concentrates more on coaching than fighting these days….
- The evolution from fringe-prospect to bonafide action fighter in the increasingly deep bantamweight division for Jonathan Martinez. He hurt the returning Thomas Almeida several times with a hard left, showing improved boxing to compliment his already dangerous kicking game. On the flip side, even though it was a fun performance, the bloom is completely off the rose for Almeida.
- The debut of the highly-hyped Mateusz Gamrot was spoiled by Guram Kutateladze, but it wasn’t because Gamrot crapped the bed. Kutateladze brought it, catching the longtime KSW champion off-guard and giving him the first loss of his career. Expect both of these men to make waves in the near-future.
- The upward trajectory continues for Gillian Robertson. After a close opening round, Robertson maintained her aggression and wore down Poliana Botelho, dominating the last two rounds. It’s easy to forget Robertson is still just 25-years old.
- The low-light of the night saw Jun Yong Park dominate John Phillips in one of the most lopsided fights in UFC history. While Park deserves credit for an intelligent performance, the referee should have stopped it long before the final bell and Phillips solidifies his status as one of the worst fighters in modern UFC history, having lost in the exact same manner against Khamzat Chimaev three months ago.
- Though the decision could have gone either way – the margin for victory was razor thin – Fares Ziam took home a unanimous decision victory over Jamie Mullarkey on the strength of his early striking and scrambling ability. Regardless of how you saw the decision, it was an entertaining scrap from the two youngsters.
- Gadzhimurad Antigulov had no one to blame but himself when the referee stepped in and awarded Maxim Grishin the victory. The rules state intelligent defense. Covering up and eating punches isn’t intelligent defense, even if Antigulov looked like he could keep fighting. Aside from that, the contest was uneventful as Grishin picked up his first UFC victory.
- Said Nurmagomedov made a violent statement to open the event, blasting a debuting Mark Striegl into oblivion after the newcomer overcommitted to a takedown. Nurmagomedov finished the job with some vicious GnP, proving worthy of his lofty name.
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