The third UFC event at Fight Island went off without a hitch Saturday evening. The main event included Deiveson Figueiredo going up against Joseph Benavidez in a flyweight bout. Meanwhile, Jack Hermansson put his 20-5 record to the test against Kelvin Gastelum in the co-main event.
Though, there was a lot more to look at here than those two fights. Primarily, Ariane Lipski and Grant Dawson put up brilliant performances in their matches.
These are among the biggest winners and losers from UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi Saturday night.
Winner: Askar Askarov remains undefeated
The flyweight fighter headed into UFC’s action Saturday night in Abu Dhabi as a +170 underdog against Alexandre Pantoja despite being undefeated. In what was the closest bout of the evening, the Russian came out on top via decision by the score of 29-28.
It was a heck of a first fight in the main event with Askarov moving to 12-0-1 in his professional career and 2-0-1 in the UFC. While he landed less blows than his counterpart, Askarov did hit on more significant strikes than Pantoja. That’s what led to the decision from the judges.
Loser: Luana Carolina loses first UFC fight
This is not the way Carolina wanted to see her second fight in the UFC go. “Dread” was a heavy favorite over Ariane Lipski in their flyweight bout. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, her night ended after less than two minutes in the first round.
That’s a near-fatal flaw right there from Lipski. Once she was pinned via the knee bar, it became clear that the woman was going to tap out. It ended in ugly fashion. Legs are not supposed to bend in that direction. It also led to Carolina’s first UFC loss in two bouts. Back to the drawing board.
Winner: Grant Dawson with dominating performance
This 26-year-old young man is going to be an absolute force in the lightweight division. Nad Narimani found that out first hand Saturday evening in Abu Dhabi. Dawson earned a unanimous decision victory after five rounds, completely dominating his opponent in every possible way.
Dawson landed 136 strikes including 53 significant blows. That’s compared to 57 and 31 from Narimani. Dawson also took down his counterpart six times compared to zero. This all led to Dawson’s fourth win in as many UFC fights and moves his career record to 16-1. Not bad for a day’s work.
Loser: Alexandre Pantoja with a rare defeat
Boasting a 22-4 record and coming off an early knockout of Matt Schnell in his last bout, Pantoja was a heavy favorite to take out Askar Askarov Saturday night. It would have probably led to the Brazilian taking part in UFC 252 next month.
It was not to be. The closest fight of the night resulted in Askarov losing by decision, 29-28. He did look pretty darn well in the Octagon, but just couldn’t land as many significant strikes as his counterpart. He also took down Askarov just one time in three rounds. That was the difference.
Winner: Rafael Fiziev with second UFC win
After losing to Magomed Mustafaev in his last UFC bout back in April of 2019, the 27-year-old Fiziev was in need of a rebound performance against Marc Diakiese Saturday night. While the bout did go the distance, it seemed rather clear throughout that Fiziev would come out on top.
The story here might have been the Kyrgyzstan native going full “Matrix” in fending off a potentially violent kick from Diakiese. However, he dominated his counterpart throughout the evening. That included Fiziev landing 10 more significant strikes. We could very well see the young man in the lightweight rankings once they are released next week.
Loser: Kelvin Gastelum with early defeat
Despite having lost each of his past two fights following a UFC 224 win over Ronaldo Souza, Gastelum was favored to take out Jack Hermansson Saturday night. That was absolutely foolish. Dude was submitted less than 90 seconds in the fight. It was a brutal scene for the Arizona native.
The 28-year-old Gastelum has now lost three consecutive fights and moves to 15-6 in his career. One now has to wonder how much he’ll be featured moving forward by Dana White and Co.
Winner: Jack Hermansson rebounds after rare loss
A battle between two top-seven fighters in the middleweight division. A bout that’s usually reserved for a bigger stage. The co-main event. Hermansson coming in as a slight underdog against Gastelum. A fight that was expected to go the distance. None of that happened. Rather, the Swede took out Gastelum via submission.
That is all sorts of crazy right there. As you can see, Hermansson was absolutely pumped up after the victory. He now moves to 21-5 in his career and could potentially be in line for UFC 252 next month.
Loser: Joseph Benavidez with second consecutive defeat
It was billed as a rematch of UFC Fight Night 169 back in February. Benavidez wanted to exact revenge after losing to Deiveson Figueiredo. That did not come close to happening. Figueiredo took Benavidez out with a rear-naked choke hold late in Round 1, winning by technical knockout.
By virtue of this loss, the 35-year-old Benavidez is unlikely to be featured by the UFC again in his career. One also now has to wonder what is in store for the California native moving forward.
Winner: Ariane Lipski is an absolute force
Just wow. “The Queen of Violence” more than lived up to that nickname during Saturday’s fight against Luana Carolina. Within less than two minutes of Round 1, Lipski submitted Carolina via a filthy knee bar. It really was something to behold in the Octagon.
This represents Lipski’ second consecutive win after losing her initial two UFC fights. It also has her on the verge of ascending the women’s flyweight rankings. This Brazilian native is going to be an absolute force moving forward. That’s for sure.
Winner: Deiveson Figueiredo, new flyweight champion
Violent. That’s the best way to describe Figueiredo’s performance against Benavidez Saturday evening at Fight Island. He earned a technical knockout late in the first round via a rear-naked choke hold, one of the hardest moves in the MMA world.
This represented Figueiredo’s second consecutive victory over Benavidez and earned him the title as the new flyweight champion. One now has to wonder if he could now be looking at a match against Brandon Moreno some time next month.