clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Diggin’ Deep on UFC Fight Island: Holm vs. Aldana - Prelims preview

Get all the essentials of the early contests from Fight Island, featuring former interim champion Carlos Condit looking to get back on the winning track against TUF winner Court McGee.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

How the mighty have fallen. It would once have been blasphemous to see the name of Carlos Condit on the prelims of a card. Now, most would rather not see him on a fight card whatsoever, given he hasn’t won a fight since 2015. Whether this proves to be his final opportunity to remain on the UFC roster hasn’t been stated, but there’s reason to believe this could be the last time we see the last WEC welterweight champion in the confines of the UFC. If he has some magic left in him, it could very well be worth tuning into the UFC Fight Island 4 prelims, though I would venture to say Kyler Phillips and Casey Kenney are names that could be worth remembering for the near future.

Carlos Condit vs. Court McGee, Welterweight

Once upon a time, this pairing wouldn’t be as depressing as it is now. Sure, McGee never reached the levels of achievement Condit did – he never came close – but he was a tireless scrapper who was damn near impossible to put away. It would have been fun to see what Condit would have to resort to in order to put McGee away. Now? These two are coming up in Diego Sanchez territory: depression begins to set in when I see their names on a card.

Due to the heights he reached as UFC interim champion, Condit’s fall has been far more notable. The preeminent definition of violence in his prime, Condit secured a lowly two decision victories out of the 30 wins on his ledger. Willing to throw any and every thing at his opponent, he came to be a favorite of the MMA masses, the only thing preventing Condit from being a full blown superstar was his refusal to allow anything other than his work inside the cage speak for him. Unfortunately for fight fans, that man hasn’t been seen since his all-time epic against Robbie Lawler to open 2016. Condit has been reluctant to pull the trigger, much less throw the high risk strikes that were once an all too familiar part of his repertoire. The Natural Born Killer doesn’t appear to have his heart into fighting any more.

The same could be said about McGee. The former TUF winner was an entertaining pressure fighter with a tendency to pile up the volume. Ever since he was finished by Santiago Ponzinibbio – the first time he’d been finished in his career – McGee has been reluctant to throw fisticuffs. Instead, he’s relied on pushing his opponent against the fence in hopes of securing a takedown, doing so with very little success. McGee isn’t willing to take a punch any longer.

Condit is still willing to take a punch at this point, giving him an advantage in the striking, even if his heart isn’t into it. The lone saving grace for McGee would be that Condit has never been adept at stopping takedowns. He’s always been able to make up for that by being an excellent scrambler who is tough to hold down, but he’s been caught in submissions in three of his last four contests. Of course, all of those that caught him were more dangerous grapplers than McGee. There’s no reason to feel confident picking either combatant in this contest, but if McGee can’t put Condit away – and I don’t think he can – I don’t think he’ll be able to match his volume. Condit via decision

  • I’m surprised there hasn’t been more buzz around Kyler Phillips. A 25-year old with a combat background stretching back to his pre-teen years, he’s developed into a plus athlete with a well-rounded attack. There’s holes in his boxing, but a consistent jab has developed and he’s helped to supplement his holes with a diverse kicking attack. Plus, his willingness to throw leaping and spinning attacks at any point tends to keep the opposition on their toes. Phillips has had issues remaining effective late into contests, but he remained sharp into the third in his UFC debut against Gabriel Silva. That remains an area that needs to be addressed by Cameron Else. Else is similar to Phillips in that he’s willing to throw a high-risk strike on a whim, helping explain his series of early finishes. However, while it’s impressive on paper that Else has secured all of his wins in the first round, it also means he’s never won a fight that went beyond the first. Plus, his recent level of competition has been mediocre at best. Though neither are defensive savants, Else’s holes are bigger. Plus, Else is taking this contest on short notice and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t struggle with the weight cut given he’s a BIG bantamweight. Phillips via submission of RD2
  • Though he came into the organization with no fanfare, Charles Jourdain looks like he’s going to be an action-fighting staple for a long time. Being from Canada gives him a little extra leeway – the UFC wants to keep a certain amount of them on roster for whenever they end up going back to Canada – but he’s got the skillset that he shouldn’t require the additional protection. It’s the discipline that’s the problem. Regardless, Jourdain’s exciting nature is also one of the things that makes him must-see-TV. He’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. He’s gets an opportunity for another highlight against Joshua Culibao, an Aussie who debuted at a weight class above his natural one. Culibao is a fine athlete, excellent fundamentals, with little inclination to go to the mat. That’s music to Jourdain’s ears as his high risk, high reward style has its best chance of paying off if he can keep the fight standing. If Culibao was a more finished product, I might be willing to pick the youngster to pull off the upset. Unfortunately for him, I have greater faith in Jourdain finding a flying knee or a spinning attack to end Culibao’s night earlier than he’d like. Jourdain via KO of RD2
  • The UFC put some promotion behind Jordan Williams on his third appearance of DWCS. He responded with a perfect performance, catching Gregory Rodrigues with a hard right against the fence and demonstrating impeccable killer instinct. Third time proved to be the charm. No one ever doubted Williams’ striking prowess; he’s always been a talented boxer with good combinations. His issue has been his gas tank and tendency to be outmuscled given his smaller frame for middleweight. Fortunately for him, he won’t have that issue with Nassourdine Imavov, a former welterweight himself. However, even though Imavov isn’t known for his physicality, that doesn’t mean that his frame won’t cause problems; he’s 6’3”. Imavov appears to have more power in his fists that Williams, a hell of a compliment. He also lives up to his nickname of the Russian Sniper: he throws most of his shots one at a time. While Imavov throws quite a few shots, he doesn’t throw volume at the same level of the Williams. I’m more comfortable picking the greater volume striker in this contest. Williams via decision
  • There aren’t very many on the roster who are roughly the same size as Loma Lookboonmee, but it looks like the UFC found one with whom to match up the undersized strawweight with in Jinh Yu Frey. Aside from that, there isn’t a lot they have in common. Lookboonmee has a very extensive Muay Thai background whose wheelhouse – the clinch – has been hampered by her being at a major size disadvantage. That hardly means she hasn’t found any success in close quarters, but she hasn’t been the buzzsaw she was in in her previous career. On the flip side, Frey will look to take the contest to the mat, though it isn’t because she has nothing to offer on the feet. She has some decent power, but tends to be outworked due to her hesitancy to let her fists fly. Frey hasn’t been able to secure many submissions over the course of her career, finding more success with her fists on the ground. The path is there for her to win as Lookboonmee’s strategy on the mat is complete avoidance, but I don’t trust Frey to get the fight on her turf enough to secure a W. Lookboonmee via decision
  • Normally, I think the UFC matchmakers do a fantastic job. Fighters of a similar level are usually paired up with great frequency, helping to establish a firm hierarchy. When there is a mismatch, it can usually be attributed to a late injury replacement. This is one of those rare occasions I’m scratching my head. No disrespect to Heili Alateng intended; he does have a 2-0 UFC record, but his wins over Danaa Batgerel and Ryan Benoit don’t come anywhere close to Casey Kenney’s wins over Ray Borg and Louis Smolka. In Alateng’s defense, his simplistic striking heavily reliant on 1-2’s with the occasional takedown can be difficult to stop even when you know it’s coming if executed properly. It’s not perfect, but Alateng’s execution has been pretty damned good. However, Kenney is one of the best scrappers on the roster at this point. He can be taken down, but he won’t stay down. It isn’t very difficult to hit him, but he’ll most likely hit you back. He’s never been finished either. Some people have an innate ability to succeed beyond their abilities. Kenney is one of those. I’d be shocked if he falls short to Alateng. Kenney via submission of RD2
  • It’s been over two years since we’ve seen Luigi Vendramini, meaning the 24-year old could be a vastly different fighter since we last saw him. The issue there is there isn’t a lot of footage on him and his lone UFC contest saw him fighting out of his natural weight class against Elizu Zaleski dos Santos. He showed some grappling chops against dos Santos and some power on the regional scene, but he never beat anyone of note before making it to the UFC. In fact, he mostly crushed cans. It’s been almost as long since we’ve seen Jessin Ayari, but at least we have enough footage of Ayari to have a decent feel for the German. Having spent most of his career at welterweight, Ayari is going to have a significant size advantage. However, he’s unlikely to use it in his wrestling or grappling as he’s shown very little inclination to go to the mat voluntarily. Despite that, he’s a sniper on the feet who has used his length well from the outside. It should be enough to disperse of the smaller Vendramini. Ayari via decision

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bloody Elbow Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your MMA and UFC news from Bloody Elbow