The event takes place at Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.In the main event, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (16-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) takes on short-notice challenger Jorge Masvidal (35-13 MMA, 12-6 UFC). In the co-main event, featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski (21-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) puts his title on the line for the first time against former champ Max Holloway (21-5 MMA, 17-5 UFC), whom he beat to win the title in 2019.
In the third title fight on the main card, Petr Yan (14-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) meets former featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo (28-6 MMA, 10-5 UFC) for the vacant bantamweight title
Martin Day vs. Davey Grant
The first fight in the history of “Fight Island” is underway. What a wild journey we’ve been a part of over these past few months – all leading to this. Grant opens up with a pair of calf kicks. Those are becoming a big weapon for so many fighters recently. Grant tries a stepping side kick to the midsection of Day, who throws a high kick in response. Grant lands another low kick. The cage is looking big tonight. It’s a noticeable difference from the UFC Apex. Grant lands a combination. Day lands a body kick. An overhand left from Grant connects. Both fighters swing and miss.
Day tries some spinning stuff (a kick). No dice. Day floors Grant with a counter right punch. Grant recovers quickly but Day is on top of him. Day is in Grant’s guard. Grant, working from the bottom, gets up to his feet. Both fighters are back in the center. Grant throws a high kick, which Day blocks. Grant shoots for a double leg takedown – and he gets it. Grant is in a postured half guard on top. Day pushes him back into his full guard. Day grabs hold of Grant’s leg, in an effort to get up. Grant lands a few ground-and-pound shots. Day pushes Grant off him, right as the round ends. 10-9 Grant, despite the knockdown.
Day comes out aggressive. He listened to his corner, who told him he needs a finish to win. Grant circles out of danger and lands a combination. Grant shoots for a single leg. Day slides out of harm’s way but eats a left hand. Synchronized jabs land. Day rips the body with a hook. He looks like the fresher fighter here, two minutes into the final round. Grant connects with a two-punch combination. Grant throws a hammerfist-elbow hybrid. He threw a similar strike in Round 1. Day connects with a combination. Both fighters land. They’re trading. This has been a great fight to kick off things off. Ohhhhh. Grant floors Day with a left hand. Day hits the mat, laying like a starfish on the canvas. He’s out cold. What a knockout by Davey Grant!
Result: Davey Grant def. Martin Day via knockout (punch) – Round 3, 2:38
Vanessa Melo vs. Karol Rosa
Both fighters trade early. Rosa tries a jumping push kick to the stomach. It’s only been 45 seconds, but Rosa already looks a step ahead. She’s much more comfortable in the pocket. Rosa peppers in the inside leg of Melo with kicks. Rosa stumbles off balance backward. Not sure what happened there. That was weird. Anyway, they’re back exchanging.
Rosa lands a combination and circles away. Rosa tries another hopping kick. They’re landing, but I’m not sure their effectiveness. Rosa slips again. That was Charlie Brown-esque. Back to her feet, Rosa returns to dictating the pace. Melo hasn’t been able to get much of anything going. Rosa shoots for a takedown and promptly gets it. Rosa is working in Melo’s guard but isn’t really doing anything substantial. The round ends. 10-9 Rosa.
Melo comes to the center quickly and eats a jab. Both fighters are missing a lot early in Round 3. Another leaping knee attempt by Rosa. Melo and Rosa trade leg kicks. A jumping knee from Rosa lands to the midsection of Melo. An outside leg kick lands for Melo. Moments later, Rosa lands two quick, short punches. Melo is fighting with an upped sense of urgency. This is probably the best effort she’s put forward tonight. Rosa grabs hold of Melo and pushes her against the cage for the remainder of the round. The buzzer sounds.
Result: Karol Rosa def. Vanessa Melo via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
Raulian Paiva vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
A touch of gloves and we’re off. Worth noting Paiva missed weight by three pounds yesterday. Zhumagulov doesn’t seem to be fazed. He came out strong. Zhumagulov leaps in with a hard right hand. It just missed. Zhumagulov blocks a high kick. Paiva lands an inside leg kick as Zhumagulov charges in. Paiva tries another high kick. I wonder if that was a big part of his gameplan for this one. He’s thrown quite a few. Paiva rips the body of Zhumagulov with a kick.
Zhumagulov rips Paiva’s body with a punch. That looked borderline low. Paiva’s size advantage is becoming a major factor here. Zhumagulov is coming up short (no pun intended). Both fighters exchange wildly. It seems like they missed on pretty much everything. Paiva ties Zhumagulov up briefly. Paiva continues to target Zhumagulov’s body with kicks. Zhumagulov tries to take down Paiva. Paiva stumbles backward and falls – but he regains himself before Zhumagulov can get on top. With about 10 seconds left in the round, Zhumagulov shoots again. The two fighters briefly stumble to the mat, but get up right before the bell. 10-9 Paiva.
Zhumagulov opens with an outside leg kick. Paiva returns with a high kick which hits Zhumagulov’s shoulder. Both fighters land simultaneously. Paiva’s punch appeared to land harder. Zhumagulov taps another outside leg kick. Paiva feints and Zhumagulov bites. Paiva tries to capitalize, but Zhumagulov scurries away. Paiva connects on a hard body kick. Zhumagulov lands a right hand. Zhumagulov shoots for a takedown and gets it. The fight only remains on the ground for a second or two. Paiva pops back to his feet. Zhumagulov lands another leg kick. Zhumagulov and Paiva clinch. Paiva walks Zhumagulov back to the fence. They separate. A left-hand lands for Paiva. That may have been his best punch of the fight. They clinch and separate. With approximately one minute left on the clock, Paiva throws a low kick. Crack. That one landed right on the cup of Zhumagulov, who screams out in pain. Mannnnn.
That didn’t look good. Zhumagulov is writhing in pain on the mat. Leon Roberts calls timeout. Zhumagulov is still writing. Paiva is complaining. Roberts calls the doctor in. That kick was a split the uprights directly. Ouch. After a couple minutes regaining himself, Zhumagulov signals he’s ready to go. The action resumes. Paiva throws a right hand and Zhumagulov shoots for a takedown. They spin to the mat, scramble up, and square off back in the center. Zhumaglov lands a low leg kick. This could be anyone’s fight. Zhumagulov shoots again. Paiva stuffs him. Another shot from Zhumagulov is unsuccessful. With seconds left in the fight, Paiva lands a knee to the groin of Zhumagulov. The time expires before referee Roberts is able to call a timeout. The horn sounds. Zhumagulov clutches his groin area again.
Result: Raulian Paiva def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-2)
Maxim Grishin vs. Marcin Tybura
It took Maxim Grishin 12 years to clock time in the UFC cage but here he is. Both fighters throwing kicks early. Nothing has landed yet. Grishin connects on an outside leg kick. Grishin throws a high kick. Tybura catches it and goes for a takedown. Grishin fends off the attempt and they’re back in the center. A loud leg kick lands for Grishin. The two fighters clinch and Tybura backs Grishin against the fence. They separate but Tybura goes back to the clinch seconds later. He’s pushing Grishin against the fence again. Grishin turns Tybura around. They separate and now Tybura is walking down Grishin, who is circling around him. Tybura lands an outside leg kick, then charges in again. Tybura back to pushing Grishin against the cage. Tybura shoots for the takedown and gets it. The round ends with Tybura tying Grishin up against the fence. The horn sounds. 10-9 Tybura.
Grishin comes out with a sequence of low push kicks, trying to keep Tybura at bay. Grishin lands a straight right hand. Tybura bounds forward. Grishin dives away. Tybura shoots again. If there was a crowd, they would likely be booing right now. Tybura is low on a single. He uses it to spin to the back. Tybura finally gets a takedown.
There are three minutes left in the round and Tybura is in Grishin’s guard. Tybura moves to half guard. Grishin rolls and Tybura works to his back. Tybura locks in the body triangle, with Grishin posted up on one hand. That’s a big man squeezing Grishin’s midsection. Tybura softens up Grishin with some punches. Grishin is leaking. The round ends with Tybura on top. 30-27 Tybura.
Roman Bogatov vs. Leonardo Santos
A touch of gloves and we’re off. Bogatov slips on a kick and Santos attacks with a series of haymaker punches. Bogatov avoids danger and circles away. Santos pumping the jab. Bogatov eating the jab. Bogatov comes flying in with a bizarre spinning attack in which no strikes were fully thrown. Santos connects on a right hand. Bogatov pokes Santos in the eye when gauging distance on a combination. A timeout is called. The doctor examines Santos’ eye.
He gives his blessing and the action resumes. Santos and Bogatov clinch. Santos drags Bogatov to the mat. Santos is on Bogatov’s back. Bogatov stands up and scrambles out of Santos’ clutches. Bogatov goes on the attack but isn’t able to connect. Santos turns Bogatov around with a leg kick. Bogatov lands a leg kick and ducks out of Santos’ combination. Santos connects on a combination. “Nope,” says Bogatov, shaking his head at the notion that hurt him at all. Santos cracks Bogatov in the body. Bogatov comes in aggressively. Santos catches him and drags him to the canvas. The round ends. 10-9 Santos.
Bogatov is sucking wind before the round starts. In the opening seconds, Bogatov shoots for a takedown. Pushing Santos against the fence, Bogatov lands a hard knee to the cup of Santos. Goddard calls a timeout and Santos crumples to the mat. There’s been a healthy population of fouls on Fight Island thus far. Santos is laying on his back, grimacing. Whether justified or not, Bogatov is getting the rest he needs. The doctor is in the cage now, kneeling over the writhing Santos. This doesn’t look great. Santos is now sitting up. Goddard says something to Santos, who then gets to his feet and walks to the fence. The action resumes. Bogatov shoots for a single leg. Santos displays phenomenal balance. Bogatov, once again, almost gets Santos down – but Santos refuses to go down. Moments later, Bogatov lands another knee to the cup.
This is brutal. UFC Fight Island is healthily inhabited by groin strikes, apparently. Goddard gives another warning but doesn’t take a point. This round feels like it’s gone on for six hours. Santos doesn’t need as much time to recover and the action resumes. Bogatov comes flying at Santos and shoots for another takedown. This one, he gets. Bogatov controlling Santos, who tries to get to his feet. As Santos is perched on two knees, Bogatov throws an illegal knee that connects squarely on Santos’ head. You’ve got to be kidding me. This is crazy. Bogatov doesn’t play by the rules. On queue, Bogatov is scolded for talking to his corner. Goddard takes TWO points for the illegal knee. The fight resumes – again. Bogatov – again – comes out flying. He knows he needs a finish. He’s flinging punches at Santos. Bogatov pushes Santos against the fence, separates, and starts flinging again. Bogatov lands an uppercut and the two fighters tumble to the canvas. The fight ends – seemingly three hours after it began.
Result: Leonardo Santos def. Roman Bogatov via unanimous decision (29-26, 29-26, 29-26)
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Danny Henry
The UFC quickly zips to the next fight after how long that last one took. This featherweight fight is underway. Both fighters are cautious early, unwilling to waste movement. Henry tries a jumping switch kick, which cracks on the elbow of Amirkhani. Most of the offense through the first half of the round has been just that – Henry throwing kicks, which are blocked by Amrikhani. Finally, Amirkhani sees an opening. “Mr. Finland” leaps with a knee into a takedown, which he gets. Now seeking a choke, Amirkhani rolls Henry. Amirkhani has an anaconda choke. This looks tight. Henry is circling like the hands on a clock. Roberts is checking on Henry. He’s asleep! Roberts waives off the fight. All class, Amirkhani sets Henry’s head down calmly and raises his opponent’s legs in an effort to get the blood back to his brain. That was quick! Nice performance by Amirkhani.
Result: Makwan Amirkhani def. Danny Henry via technical submission (anaconda choke) – Round 1, 3:15
Muslim Salikhov vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
I cannot wait for this one. Both fighters come out orthodox. Salikhov lands a leg kick. A Dos Santos hits the arm of Salikhov. Dos Santos misses on a punch but follows it up with a body kick. Salikhov lands a counter punch. A hard, leaping left-hand lands for dos Santos. There it is. We’ve got spins. Salikhov misses on a wheel kick. Dos Santos throws an absolute bomb of an overhand right, which whiffs. Salikhov is lucky. That one brought the heat. Dos Santos lands a leg kick.
Salikhov lands a spinning back kick to the stomach. Dos Santos tries a wheel kick. It misses. Salikhov tries a spinning back kick to the head. It’s blocked. Spin-for-spin. I love it. Salikhov lands a hard left hook. Dos Santos shoots for a takedown. Salikhov stuffs him. They clinch in the center. They break. Dos Santos rocks Salikhov with about 20 seconds left. Salikhov stumbles backward. Dos Santos chases him down, but Salikhov takes him down. Dos Santos rolls Salikhov and lands on top. He lands a few ground-and-pound punches before the round ends. I think he stole the round with that last flurry. 10-9 dos Santos.
Both corners tell their fighters they’ve won both rounds. Salikhov connects on an overhand right. A hard spinning back kick connects for Salikhov, which causes dos Santos to tighten up. That looked like it hurt. If dos Santos is hurt, he’s doing a good job hiding it. He just threw a wild capoeira kick, proving his nickname to be apt. Salikhov’s back has all sorts of scratches on it. This is quite the fight. Dos Santos throwing lunging haymakers. They miss. Dos Santos lands a hard right. Salikhov returns with a right of his own. Both fighters land punches in an exchange. Dos Santos is circling around Salikhov, who’s walking the Brazilian down. I really think Salikhov needs a finish here if he wants to win. He’s not out of this by any means. He’s waiting for the right opportunity, though – and he doesn’t have time to wait. The horn sounds. That was a fun technical battle right there.
Result: Muslim Salikhov def. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Jiri Prochazka
A touch of gloves and our featured prelims are underway. Oezdemir lands a shot to the body. Prochazka grimaces. I can’t tell if that was showboating or if that hurt. Prochazka is taunting Oezdemir, sticking his chin out, with his hands down. Oezdemir comes dashing in, trying to take advantage. Prochazka lands two hard punches, which send Oezdemir backward. This is bizarre. Prochazka talking to Oezdemir, doing all sorts of weird gesticulations and showboats. Prochazka pretends an Oezdemir leg kick hurts. Oezdemir tags him with a series of punches to the head.
Prochazka almost went down but remained on his feet. Oezdemir chases Prochazka around. Prochazka lands a combination. Both men have redness on their face. Prochazka has zero consistency in his movement. It’s herky-jerky, with all sorts of pauses and hand movements. He keeps grabbing his wrist. I’m not sure if that’s a distraction or what. Oezdemir lands a right hand. Oezdemir connects on a counter left as Prochazka dashes in. Oezdemir lands on a combination that sends Prochazka backward. The output in this fight is bananas – an absolute slugfest. There’s a zero percent chance they keep this up for three rounds, by the way. They’re both tiring rapidly. Oezdemir clinches Prochazka against the fence. The round ends. Well, that was fun for all sorts of reasons. 10-9 Oezdemir.
Prochazka lands a jab, followed by a leg kick. Prochazka wobbles Oezdemir with a high kick. Oezdemir somewhat caught it, but still is hurt. Prochazka is rushing him. OHHHH. Prochazka flattens Oezdemir with a brutal right hand. He’s out cold. Walk-off knockout. What. A. Debut. Holy smokes.
Amanda Ribas vs. Paige VanZant
VanZant is emotional on the walkout. Win or lose, she’ll enter free agency after this fight. It’s quite possible this is the final time we see her in the promotion. Bruce Buffer announces “We are live from UFC Fight Island,” which is definitely strange to hear. Anyway, there’s a touch of gloves and we’re off. Ribas stalking VanZant early.
The two fighters tie up and Ribas tosses VanZant to the ground. In a side control headlock position, Ribas is squeezing on VanZant. There’s blood coming from somewhere. I can’t tell whose blood it is. Looks like it’s maybe coming from Ribas’ nose, spilling all over VanZant as they’re on the ground. Ribas is attacking an arm. She’s going for an armbar. VanZant tries to roll, but Ribas blocks it. There’s the tap! Ribas keeps her win streak alive and VanZant enters free agency on a loss.
Result: Amanda Ribas def. Paige VanZant via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 2:21
Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas
Here we go – a rematch 14 months in the making. Andrade misses on a leg kick. Namajunas sticks a jab. Andrade lands on a leg kick. Andrade using a tremendous amount of head movement early. Andrade lands an inside leg kick. Namajunas connects on a one-two combination. Namajunas throws another combination, but Andrade’s head movement avoids them. Left-right-left-right, Andrade (almost exaggeratingly so) bobs here head side to side.
Namajunas connects on an overhand right. Andrade keeps pressing forward. She lands a combination. Namajunas connects on a punch. Andrade is looking good here on the attack, but Namajunas is holding her own in the countering department. It’s forward, forward, forward for Andrade. She’s fearless. Andrade throws a flying knee. It didn’t appear to connect. Andrade is bleeding out of her nose. Andrade charges in and they clinch. Namajunas lands a knee to the midsection, which separates the Brazilian from her. Andrade shoots for a takedown and Namajunas lands another knee. This round is close. Andrade made some good adjustments in between fights. This is playing out nearly as lopsidedly as their first fight. The round ends. 10-9 Namajunas.
Both corners tell their fighters that they’re up 2-0 entering the third. I think it’s safe to say Namajunas’ corner is accurate. Andrade rips a body shot in the opening seconds. Andrade connects on a looping left hand. Namajunas ducks out of the next combination. Andrade bobbing and weaving. Andrade connects on an uppercut, followed by an overhand right. Namajunas is busted open. There’s blood gushing from her nose. Andrade tags Namajunas. In the follow-up exchange, Andrade connects with another brain-rattling punch. Namajunas falls forward into Andrade, who hip tosses Namajunas to the mat. Namajunas recovers and threatens a submission. Andrade stands the fight up. They separate. There’s 90 seconds left in the round.
Namajunas connects on a hard two-punch combination. Andrade hurls a power punch, which connects square on Namajunas’ jaw. Namajunas hangs tough. Namajunas’ face is all sorts of swollen. Andrade is having a great round – but does she need a finish? Namajunas looks tired. Her punches are labored. Namajunas shoots for a takedown and gets it. Andrade reverses, however, and lands on top. The fighters get back to their feet and Andrade connects big. Namajunas returns. The fight ends. That was an awesome one. That might be the “Fight of the Night”.
Result: Rose Namajunas def. Jessica Andrade via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo
No “Run This Town” for Jose Aldo. That might be the biggest story of the evening. Anyway, the action begins with a touch of gloves. Yan lands an inside leg kick. Aldo tries a punch to the body but misses. Yan lands a jab. Aldo lands a hard outside leg kick. Yan responds with leg kick of his own. Yan cranks Aldo with a bigtime punch. Aldo was wobbled but recovered quickly. Yan jabs the body. A hard Aldo leg kick knocks Yan straight off his feet. Yan scrambles to his feet and is met by an Aldo body shot. Yan responds with a hard combination to the head. Both fighters are in the orthodox stance.
Referee Leon Roberts warns Yan about his fingers being extended. Aldo winds up and misses on another leg kick. Yan tries a high kick but it’s blocked. Aldo lands a body kick, followed by a straight right hand. Aldo is pumping the jab. Yan punches Aldo in the body. Yan whiffs on a combination. Aldo lands another hard outside leg kick, which gets a slight reaction out of Yan. Moments later, Yan lands a hard right hand. Aldo shoots for a takedown. Yan rolls out of it. Yan is on top of Aldo, perched up in a squatting position. Yan complains about Aldo holding his gloves. Roberts warns Aldo. Yan begins landing big shots on Aldo, who grimaces and covers up. Something hurt him. It was a shot to the body, I believe. Aldo survives and shoves Yan off him but he was hurt. The horn sounds. 10-9 Yan.
Yan opens up with a massive combination which hurts Aldo. Yan pounces and lands ground-and-pound. Aldo survives, but Yan is in half guard. Yan sneaks into the crucifix and connects on a series of short punches – short, but loud. Aldo is fighting to get up but Yan is all over him. Aldo briefly breaks the crucifix but Yan brings him back there. Yan mounts Aldo. This doesn’t look good for “The King of Rio.” Referee Roberts gives a handful of warnings but Aldo moves just enough. Aldo is battered and bloodied. He’s leaking. Yan is wailing on him. Roberts is giving Aldo a million warnings. There has to be a stoppage here soon. Aldo is too tough for his own good – and that’s it. There’s the stoppage. Yan wins in Round 5 by ground-and-pound. Petr Yan is the UFC bantamweight champion.