Nathaniel Wood (16-4) Vs John Castaneda (17-4)
Ahh, UFCFightIsland3 is here and we are starting off in the bantamweight division. Nathaniel Wood was on a 3 fight win streak riding high on the cusp of top 15. Unfortunately, he ran into John Dodson and in the third round got clipped and TKO’d. He’s going to be facing John “Sexy Mexi” Castaneda a Contender Series alumni and Combate fighter. This is a last minute fight for the debuting fighter and I think this is a tall task to handle in your first fight. Nathaniel Wood should piece him up at range, get him tired and shoot for the take-down and eventually get the rear naked choke. Castaneda leaves himself open to get hit and accepts take-downs so it’s just a recipe for disaster.
Ramazan Emeev (18-4) Vs Niklas Stolze (12-3)
This fight is kind of like the first fight of the night instead it’s in the Welterweight division. Ramazan Emeev was on a 3-fight win streak leading up to his last fight against Anthony “Rocco” Martin. Sadly, for the Russian fighter he lost a unanimous decision and is back to the drawing board. He’s facing another debuting fighter Niklas Stolze who is on a 4-fight win streak outside of the UFC. This fight is also going to be a short replacement fight Stolze is taking the fight on 2 weeks’ notice. Stolze is no slouch in the striking department and could give Emeev some trouble on the feet. Sadly, Ramadan Emeev doesn’t mind getting take-downs and winning minutes on the scorecards and that’s what I fully expect him to do probably unanimously.
Bethe Correia (11-4-1) Vs Pannie Kianzad (12-5)
Take this breakdown with a grain of salt because I can’t predict WMMA fights correctly. Pannie Kianzad has had a rough start to her UFC career dropping her first two fights to Macy Chiasson & Julia Avila. She finally got into the win column her 3rd fight where she beat Jessica Rose-Clark by unanimous decision. Across from Pannie is Bethe Correia who has been fighting in the UFC since 2013. Bethe has fought The Who’s who in the women’s division. Her last fight was her best performance since 2016 where she beat Sijara Eubanks on all 3 scorecards. Both fighters have less than 4 knockouts on their resume and I’m fully expecting a decision here. Pannie Kianzad isn’t afraid to let her hands go and will most likely outwork Bethe for all 3 rounds. She’s going to have a 4-inch reach advantage here and she’s going to hit her all night. She just can’t get sucked into a brawl, she’s got to be calm cool and collected just win the rounds and get by with another unanimous decision victory.
Raphael Pessoa (10-1) Vs Tanner Boser (18-6-1)
Another late replacement fight this time it comes in the Heavyweight division. Raphael Pessoa is facing the fan favorite Tanner “The Bulldozer” Boser who’s making the fast turnaround coming off of his very impressive KO performance over Philipe Lin’s the PFL Light Heavyweight tournament winner. Raphael Pessoa is 1-1 since joining the UFC losing by submission to Ciryl Gane & winning a boring fight against Jeff Hughes. Even though Tanner Boser is making the fast turnaround he went 15 mins with Ciryl Gane and I know for a fact Pessoa isn’t going to pose a threat like that. I expect Tanner Boser to out strike him use his range, kick his legs, and cruise to a unanimous decision maybe even KO. A heavyweight with a gas tank like his and looking to improve every fight is someone I can get behind.
Movsar Evloev (12-0) Vs Mike Grundy (12-1)
This is my featured prelims of the night. I can’t wait to see Mike Grundy back in the cage. Darren Tills teammate & personal friend is coming off a knockout win against the tough Nad Narimani. His first TKO/KO win in his career. He’s facing a very tough test though in the smothering Movsar Evolev. Mike Grundy entered the UFC as the highest credentialed English wrestler ever winning Gold in the Commonwealth games which is sort of like a type of Olympics. Movsar Evolev is the better MMA grappler and submission artist but other than that they have a lot of similarities. The odds like Movsar to win this and it definitely makes sense because he doesn’t lose a step every fight, but I haven’t seen him fight someone like Mike Grundy who has the ability to get the finish on the feet and can defend the takedowns. I’m going with the Englishman to upset the Russian. I think he’s going to land the harder strikes and stop the takedowns in the later rounds. I’m going Grundy 29-28 split decision victory.
Jake Collier (11-4) Vs Tom Aspinall (7-2)
I like to call this next fight a welcome to the Big show fight. Why do I call it that you ask? Because Tom Aspinall is a huge heavyweight & another one of Darren Tills teammate he’s on a 3 fight win streak including 3 stoppages. He’s facing Jake Collier who hasn’t fought since 2017 and I thought retired. Something tells me Jake Collier is low on some money and needs to support his family during the Pandemic. I could be wrong but fighting at heavyweight when you fought the majority of your career at MW/LHW shows that you’re not willing to cut weight. Aspinall should come in here showcase his skills and win by KO in the first round. The only thing that worries me is Jake Collier could choose to wrestle here and Aspinall’s only loss came to his lack of take-down defense. Hopefully he’s cleaned that up and gets it done.
Nickolas Dalby (18-3-1) Vs Jessie Ronson (21-10)
Like DJ Khaled says “another one”. We got another last-minute replacement fighter in Jesse Ronson, he is stepping up on short notice for this fight and retuning to the UFC for the first time in over 5 years! Nickolas Dalby is coming off a controversial but unanimous decision victory where he had to use all of his tools. Jesse Ronson last fight ended in a submission victory and he is now looking to get his first win in the UFC. Nicklas Dalby is known to start slow and put it together late and if he was facing Danny Roberts, I would have picked against him. Dalby is going to be the much bigger fighter and I don’t think Jesse Ronson is going to be able to put Dalby away with any shots. I expect another close fight here and the fighting odds are off. I can’t trust Jesse Ronson I think it’ll be a close fight, but Dalby will score more points and use his kickboxing to give Ronson another UFC loss.
Franscisco Trinaldo (25-7) Vs Jai Herbert (10-1)
Talk about being fed to the wolves in your UFC debut! Jai Herbert is a former cage warriors champion and was originally slated to fight Marc Diakese before Covid cancelled the fight. He’s now fighting the ageless wonder Fransisco Trinaldo in the featured prelim. Jai Herbert is the longer fighter and has a pretty good reach advantage here. The only thing is his takedown defense is not the best. He’s open for takedowns when pressed against the cage and Trinaldo should definitely look to exploit that here. Trinaldo is on a 2-fight win streak with back to back unanimous decision victories. If he wants to secure the win easy, he’ll use his ground game and pressure the debuting fighter and get the victory. If he is stupid and falls in love with his hands like some people do, he might end up on the wrong end of a highlight finish. Basically, it’s Francisco Trinaldo’s fight to lose and I think he’s too smart of a veteran to let that happen.
Khamzat Chimaev (7-0) Vs Rhys McKee (10-2-1)
Khamzat Chimaev is coming off a dominating UFC debut where he gained fans and popularity. So much popularity that Dana White booked him again 10 days later against the debuting Rhys McKee. Chimaev is going to win this however he wants he’s going to be significantly bigger than his opponent. Rhys McKee is a lightweight fighting at welterweight against a middleweight fighting at welterweight haha. It’s going to be bad but I do like the lightweight addition after McKee is sacrificed here.
Alex Oliveira (21-8-1) Vs Peter Sobatta (17-6-1)
The second fight off the main card is a battle of seasoned veterans. Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira is facing Peter Sobotta whose last loss was to Top 3 Welterweight Leon Edwards. I can see both paths to victory for each fighter here it’s going to be a good fight. Cowboy Oliveira was coming off a 3-fight losing streak to Mike Perry, Gunnar Nelson, and Nicolas Dalby. Whereas, Peter Sobatta hasn’t fought in almost 2.5. I like Peter Sobatta here I feel like Alex Oliveira is Lowkey on a decline and even though he won his last fight it’s not like he looked good doing it. I expect him to be overaggressive and get taking down and get subbed. The only thing that worries me is Peter Sobatta hasn’t fought in quite some time so he could get blasted out of the water with a uppercut or some shit. I’m going with the underdog though to get the submission and upset Alex Oliveira.
Paul Craig (12-4) Vs Ghadzimurad Antigulov (20-6)
This is BY FAR the hardest fight to pick on the entire card. Paul Craig has had one of the most interesting careers he’s wildly inconsistent but has great submissions. Ghadzimurad Antigulov was a force to be reckon with before joining the UFC Brass finishing everyone. He’s now 2-2 losing to Ion Cutelaba & Michal Oleksiejczuk but winning against Marcos Rodrigo De Lima & Joachim Christiansen. Paul Craig on the other hand is 4-4-1 but he’s beating absolutely nobody except a last-minute Hail Mary sub against Magomed Ankalaev. The highlight of Paul Craig’s career so far is his draw with the legendary Shogun Rua. Don’t expect this fight to go to the scorecards both fighters either get the stoppage or get stopped themselves. Both fighters have terrible chins and I almost want to say Paul Craig has the better chance of winning this fight. Antigulov is known for his slick submissions but I feel it’s very hard for him to come in here and submit Paul Craig. So, if the fight stays standing I have to go with Craig and if it hits the ground I think his BJJ is better than Antigulov’s.
Carla Esparza (16-6) Vs Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2)
Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza has been winning these veteran vs prospect fights for quite some time. Granted they were all by the hair on her chin. Marina Rodriguez is a dominant striker who has wins over Tecia Torres, Jessica Aguilar, and 2 draws against Randa Markos & Cynthia Cavillo. Carla Esparza was the first ever strawweight champion in the UFC. In her last 3 fights she has beaten Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson, and Virna Jandiroba. I don’t ever predict these female fights correctly so let me give it a shot. Marina Rodriguez is going to have the advantage if this fight plays out predominantly on the feet. If Carla Esparza wants to win, she’s going to have to worry about the striking stay defensive and get her take downs her bread and butter. If Esparza can’t get the fight to the ground Rodriguez is going to pick her apart for all 3 rounds. I think Carla Esparza derails another prospect and gives Marina Rodriguez her first L using her experience, wrestling, and sneaky grappling.
Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1) Vs Alexander Gustaffson (18-6)
How this fight isn’t the co-main event is beyond me. Alexander Gustaffson surprisingly retired after he was submitted by Anthony Smith his last fight. He’s coming out of retirement and trying his hand at Heavyweight and his first fight is against the fossilized Fabricio Werdum. Alexander Gustaffson at heavyweight is interesting I’m curious to see what he looks come fight night when all his weight is back from the weight cut. Werdum the last time he was out he fought Alexey Olenik after his 2-year suspension from USADA. he didn’t look ANYTHING like the Werdum before the suspension he was slow and getting pieced up by Olenik. The only difference in that fight than this one is a big one though. Werdum couldn’t use his coveted grappling against Alexey because that would have been playing into “The Boa Constrictor’s” game. This fight he’s either going to get blasted out of the water courtesy of Gus’s boxing or I could see him pulling off the upset getting the fight to the ground taking Gus’s back and getting the submission. Anytime Alexander Gustafsson gets taking down he looks like a fish out of water at least against Anthony Smith & Jon Jones that was the case. So, I got Gus, but I might play Werdum by Sub!
Shogun Rua (26-11-1) Vs A. Nogueira (23-9)
Well we get a trilogy I’m sure not more than 30% of MMA fans care about. Shogun is 2-0 against Antonio Nogueira and is most likely going to be 3-0. Both fighters are legends of the sport Nogueira is coming off a knockout loss to Ryan Spann. This is a retirement fight for Nogueira he said it himself Nog was supposed to fight November of last year but was forced to withdraw due to injury. This fight was originally booked for May 9th until corona came around and messed it all up. I don’t think there is too much to breakdown personally. Shogun just had a good fight with Paul Craig, before that he beat Tyson Pedro, Gian Villante, and Corey Anderson. His only loss was a first round knockout from Anthony Smith which you can’t really blame him imagine what Smith would do to Nogueira. Shogun is the more active fighter and has more left in the tank than Nog. Shogun should win this and go 3-0 against the Nog brother he just gotta worry about some random knockout blow because both of their chins are dust.
Darren Till (18-2-1) Vs Robert Whittaker (20-5)
The Main Event of the evening Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker and Darren “The Gorilla” Till will meet in the octagon for a battle of fisticuffs! Robert Whittaker in his last 3 fights has faced Romero twice and Israel Adesanya. That’s murders row in the middleweight division he might have taken too much damage to return to form. Darren Till tried his hand at the welterweight division and I think the pushed him way to fast personally but hey they’re basically doing the same thing here. This fight is going to be incredible if Robert Whittaker is like the original Whittaker who fought Yoel Romero the first time than he should have a field day here honestly. What worries me is Israel Adesanya dropped him in the first round and dropped him again in the second round and ultimately got the finish. Same with the Romero fight he was knocked down twice there. Darren Till is such a defensive liability he just leaves his chin on the center and too high up for my liking. Both fighters have had problems with durability. Robert Whittaker could come out looking to wrestle to avoid being hit by the power strikes Till throws when he does throw them. Interesting stat Darren Till hasn’t eclipsed 50 significant strikes in ANY of his 10 UFC fights. Fighting Robert Whittaker, you’re going to have to match his output and that will be interesting to see how Till does. I truly can’t confidently pick anyone because A, Whittaker might have absolutely no chin now or B, Till might still be a defensive liability. I’m going to have to say I give Robert Whittaker the advantage because he’s got wrestling, he can fall back on and he’s been in there with the best in the middleweight division but that could be a downfall who the hell knows! It’s going to be a banger and I CAN’T WAIT!