The main event of UFC Fight Island 5 ended with an explosive finish, which wasn’t a surprise given Marlon Moraes was featured. What was surprising is he was on the receiving end as Cory Sandhagen secured the biggest scalp of his career and allowing himself to deliver realistic callouts of former champions TJ Dillashaw and Frankie Edgar.
Starting with a measured pace that favored Moraes, Sandhagen slowly turned up the heat until it was pretty clear he took the first round. Moraes’ confidence was deflated with a broken orbital from an earlier kick when Sandhagen landed a beautiful spinning back kick that dropped Moraes. A few punches later and Sandhagen had the type of highlight finish that most hope for, but rarely achieve. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t even the best finish of the evening.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the rest of the evening’s action:
- I don’t think anyone is doubting whether Edson Barboza is still a dangerous striker at this point. The Brazilian striker snapped a skid of five losses over six contests, picking apart a durable Makwan Amirkhani over the course of the contest. Barboza called for a high-profile fight next. After the beating he gave Amirkhani, that’s sounds like a wonderful idea.
- It’s rare we get a heavyweight slugfest where the competitors keep swinging over the course of the contest. Ben Rothwell and Marcin Tybura almost did that – Tybura took down Big Ben halfway through the third – resulting in a pleasantly fun scrap. Tybura’s gas tank and takedown proved to be the difference, giving the Pole his third consecutive victory.
- Things weren’t going so well for Dricus Du Plessis in his UFC debut. Markus Perez came out aggressive and looked better than ever. Du Plessis overcame jitters and began throwing back, clipping a ducking Perez with an unorthodox left hand to finish him off in the first.
- It felt like a mismatch between Tom Aspinall and Alan Baudot. It turned out to be exactly that, Aspinall disposing of Baudot in less than two minutes, doing so with some heavy GnP. Aspinall might be the youngster to watch in the ancient heavyweight division.
- Youseff Zalal was looking to go 4-0 in the UFC for 2020. Ilia Topuria was looking to play spoiler in his UFC debut. Topuria handily got his way, coming thisclose to submitting Zalal several times in the first two rounds. Given Zalal was looking like a top prospect at featherweight, the 23-year old Topuria stealing his thunder is one hell of a statement.
- It appears talks of the demise of Tom Breese’s career were premature. Behind the strength of a stiff jab, Breese blasted through the debuting KB Bhullar with ease, requiring less than two minutes to get the job done. Here’s hoping Breese’s anxiety issues are a thing of the past.
- I think it’s time we start taking Chris Daukaus seriously. It took him less than a minute to dispose of Rodrigo Nascimento, a previously unbeaten prospect many had high hopes for. As for Daukaus, that’s two KO’s in the first round in two appearances. The heavyweight might have some flab to him, but he needs to be taken seriously.
- Nobody expected Joaquin Buckley to make a permanent place in MMA history going into the evening. One kick later and he did just that, nailing Impa Kasanganay with a spinning back kick to the face off a caught kick, instantly going viral. Kasanganay was the prospect everyone had eyes on before the fight. Buckley just stole his thunder, and then some. If you haven’t seen it – which I find hard to believe if you’re reading this – go see it NOW!
- Perhaps the most maligned contest going into the event, Tony Kelley and Ali AlQaisi put on a fun show. Both threatened with submissions – including a Kelley armbar that had AlQaisi resembling Stretch Armstrong – and had some fun striking exchanges. In the end, it was Kelley’s advantage in activity that saw him emerge victorious.
- While it was certainly an entertaining scrap, few expected Giga Chikadze to take a decision with the level of comfort he did over Omar Morales. Body kicks appeared to be the primary theme, but a late knockdown of Morales also contributed to Chikadze’s dominant performance. Now 4-0 in the UFC, it’s about time Chikadze gets a clear step up in competition.
- It doesn’t look like Tracy Cortez is going to have any issues at 135, exercising an incredible amount of control time over the larger and more credentialed Stephanie Egger. The memorable moments were few and far between, but it was a clear decision for Cortez.
- Flyweights Bruno Silva and Tagir Ulanbekov kicked off the night right, both leaving everything in the cage at the end of 15 minutes. The contest back-and-forth enough that none of the three rounds went definitively to either fighter, Silva finding a home for a plethora of low kicks and Ulanbekov using his length and wrestling. At the end, the judges gave the nod to Ulanbekov, though Silva had nothing to be ashamed of.