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UFC Fight Island 7: Holloway vs. Kattar results and post-fight analysis

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Mookie Alexander recaps and analyzes UFC FIGHT ISLAND 7, the first UFC show of 2021.

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Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

What a statement making performance by Max Holloway.

The former UFC featherweight champion wants his belt back and with the way he took apart Calvin Kattar in the main event of UFC FIGHT ISLAND 7, I certainly think he should be at the front of the line to face the Alex Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega winner. That was a savage beatdown and the fact that Kattar withstood that onslaught of terrifying offense for as long as he did was both a credit to him and awful by both Kattar’s corner and Herb Dean for letting him take more punishment than necessary.

For god’s sake Holloway landed 445 (!!!) significant strikes and that is not an exaggeration. He was literally talking to Daniel Cormier mid-fight and telling him he’s the best boxer in the UFC while Kattar is futilely trying to mount a miracle comeback. Holloway was in a zone with his striking, shot selection, head movement, and footwork that left Kattar flummoxed and at a disadvantage from the start. Kattar had his moments but Holloway didn’t care and he took his best shots whereas Kattar was just rendered a bloody mess. That needed to be stopped in the 4th round and it didn’t need to see a 5th just because Kattar made it the distance. He took 50+ more head shots in that round.

Holloway was sublime and he had Calvin’s body thoroughly smashed up while the head was bleeding and treated like a tetherball. Don’t write this man off just because of his recent 1-3 stretch (which could’ve easily been 2-2). “Blessed” turned in one of the most lopsided showings we have ever seen to the tune of 50-43, 50-43, and 50-42.

All in all, what a great main card debut on ABC, and what a way to have fans back in the UFC for the first time in 10 months. For any new or curious fans of the sport who wanted to catch some MMA on network TV instead of behind the ESPN+ paywall, the five televised fights delivered. Here’s to a lot of main cards providing that much action throughout 2021.

Main Card

  • Carlos Condit’s possible final UFC fight of his career was a successful one. Two wins in a row for the former WEC champion as he bested Matt Brown in a grueling but clear-cut unanimous decision. Brown got the early takedown and you feared that Condit would once again just lose by being outwrestled, but he was active off of his back, strung together some solid combinations, and capitalized on “The Immortal” gassing out after the first round. When Brown’s takedowns faltered, Condit’s grappling and superior cardio took over. Perhaps not as violent as this fight would’ve been in 2013 but nevertheless good viewing, and if Brown does retire after this one then he’s given it his all and I’ll miss watching his fights. Also I’ll miss all of the jokes that he looks like Luke Thomas.
  • The violence continued with Li Jingliang’s rude welcome back to the Octagon for Santiago Ponzinibbio. That seven-fight winning streak went kaput thanks to a monstrous left hand as The Ponz was pulling back. The Argentine was down and out. What an impressive showing by Jingliang, who got the better of the exchanges throughout that round before the spectacular finish.
  • If I told you that Joaquin Buckley vs. Alessio Di Chirico would end in a vicious head kick KO then you’d assume Buckley did some highlight-reel move again, right? Wrong! It was the Italian middleweight who walloped Buckley and put him out in the opening round. WOW! What a way to snap a three-fight losing streak! Buckley has now either delivered a wicked KO or been brutally knocked out in all four UFC appearances.
  • In a battle between two Contender Series prospects, Punahele Soriano knocked Dusko Todorovic’s block off one too many times for my liking. Todorovic could not stop the Soriano’s left hand for the life of him, so the southpaw just kept bludgeoning him until Herb Dean decided the fourth knockdown was enough punishment. That was a hell of a performance by the Hawaiian, who picked up the first finish of the 2021 UFC slate.

Prelims

  • Jocelyn Edwards came in on short notice for Bethe Correia and really took the fight to Wu Yanan. The Panamanian bantamweight really impressed with her strength and ground game, not to mention she was landing some solid strikes with her stand-up as well. Edwards gets the debut win and she’s definitely worth following for however long her UFC career lasts because if nothing else, she’s aggressive and entertaining.
  • Unranked heavyweights either produce dross or excitement and thankfully Justin Tafa and Carlos Felipe gave us the latter. Tafa took the early round and was battering Felipe with leg and body kicks, but Felipe rocked Tafa with a hard right hand in the second frame to really turn things around. I thought Tafa did enough to win the third but those two big boys just went swangin’ and bangin’ and obviously two judges saw that in Felipe’s favor. Fun scrap!
  • Welterweight Ramazan Emeev edged out David Zawada in a compelling, competitive split decision that really was that hard to call. Emeev of course relied on his takedowns and grappling, whereas Zawada was damaging Emeev with leg kicks and he was able to briefly get to mount before losing position in the final round.
  • Hooooooly shit was Sarah Moras vs. Vanessa Melo bad to watch. Moras threw a ton of strikes and landed nothing of consequence, all while giving us the “kiya” yell. Melo wasn’t much better but she had the more damaging shots and therefore deserved the win. That was terrible and may end up holding up as one of the worst fights of 2021 even with 40+ shows to go.
  • Featherweight Austin Lingo kicked off the 2021 schedule by beating up a tough but outmatched Jacob Kilburn by shutout unanimous decision. Credit to Kilburn for enduring that punishment but when Lingo was at his freshest he was landing whatever he wanted in the opening round.