Max’s Fight Night Predictions – 7/11

Max’s All Time Predictions – 33-56

The second event on Fight Island helped the world cure their hump day blues with mid-week violence. 22 fighters shed their blood and sweat in the cage Wednesday, and here I am – much to the burden of my sleep schedule – breaking down what I think is next for all 22 fighters in their UFC journey. Let’s jump in:

Jack Shore – Davey Grant

Young grappling sensation Jack Shore (12-0 Career, 2-0 UFC) looked ice cold in his effortless submission victory on Wednesday. He’s on a hot streak, clearly belongs in the UFC and potentially very marketable.

I think he’s ready for a gritty exciting opponent for his third fight in the octagon. Davey Grant (12-4 Career, 3-3 UFC) had a spectacular win at UFC 251 and can give Shore his first journeyman type of opponent.

Aaron Phillips – Geraldo De Freitas

No shame in Louisiana native Aaron Phillips (12-4 Career, 0-1 UFC) dropping his octagon debut to Shore. Making a debut on fight island is a tough go, and I’m certain the UFC will keep him around.

My suggestion is Brazilian prospect Geraldo De Freitas (12-5 Career, 1-1 UFC). De Freitas is coming off of a tough loss, has a little bit of experience but shares coming off a loss with Phillips. A good test for either fighter to get back in the win column.

Liana Jojua – Hannah Goldy

Coming in as an underdog, getting taken down and landing a violent submission in the first round, Liana Jojua (8-3 Career, 1-1 UFC) earned her first win in the UFC and looked awesome doing so. Jojua is fresh in her UFC tenure, and should probably match up with a fighter in a similar situation.

Hannah Goldy (5-1 Career, 0-1 UFC) came in to the UFC with lots of hype and an undefeated record. She did not win in her UFC debut vs Miranda Granger, and coming off of that loss, fighting another talented prospect could be a good fit.

Diana Belbita – Shana Dobson 

Things were looking up for Diana Belbita (13-5 Career, 0-2 UFC) early in her fight with Jojua, until a tremendous armbar from guard ended her night early. Belbita looked as if she broke her arm after the fight, so she may be on the shelf for a bit. Belbita is now 0-2 in her UFC run, and her next bout will likely be one she will need to win to stay on the UFC roster.

I think the best benchmark for her in that respect is Shana Dobson (3-4 Career, 0-3 UFC). The Texas native came into the UFC 3-1 before dropping three straight fights. Both in a tough spot, Belbita vs Dobson could be an early fight on a card where the loser gets cut from the organization.

Jared Gordon – Chas Skelly

Losing three of his last four fights, not many would have predicted that Queens native Jared Gordon (16-4 Career, 3-3 UFC) would have put on the destructive performance that he did against Chris Fishgold, especially using his ground and pound the way he did.

The fight wasn’t even close, and certainly the biggest win of his career in the most dominant fashion. With his personal issues pushed aside in victory, he is looking to reinvent himself at 145 lbs.

For that reason I like him against Chas Skelly (18-3, 1 NC Career, 7-3, 1 NC UFC). Skelly was red hot before 2017, but after the strange no contest vs Bobby Moffett he got a win under his belt. Gordon vs Skelly would be fireworks.

Chris Fishgold – Kyle Nelson

A real tough go for celebrated prospect Chris Fishgold (18-4-1 Career, 1-3 UFC). He entered the UFC as the pride of the Cage Warriors organization, but against tough competition has struggled in the octagon. Not only did he miss weight Wednesday, he was outgrappled and bludgeoned for three rounds.

Where does he go from here? He needs a win, and he needs to look REAL good to impress UFC brass next time out. I think Canadian featherweight Kyle Nelson (12-3 Career, 1-2 UFC) is a good fit. Nelson just won his first fight in the UFC, and is well rounded enough to make a fight interesting against the grapple heavy Fishgold.

Modestas Bukauskas and Andreas Michailidis – Immediate Rematch

Well, the referees on fight island have been a real fucking treat haven’t they? At the end of the first round, Modestas Bukauskas (10-2 Career, 1-0 UFC) hit Andreas Michailidis (12-4 Career, 0-1 UFC) with a barrage of elbows before the horn went off. 

When the referee checked on Michailidis at the end of the round, he went to lean on the cage, not knowing the cage door was open, causing him to stumble. This caused the referee to believe he was too hurt to continue and the fight was stopped.

Paul Felder kept ranting on how as a fighter you always need to be aware of the cage and can’t fall out. I think this is more of a freak circumstance, and we should run the fight back again.

Lerone Murphy – Winner of Movsar Evloev vs Mike Grundy on July 25th.

Lerone Murphy (9-0-1, 1-0-1 UFC) took no prisoners on Wednesday, smashing Ramos bf taking him down and aggressively ground and pounded to victory against a real submission artist. Murphy is a real threat at 145 lbs, and his future is beyond bright.

I wanted him to rematch Zubaira Tukhugov, but he is already booked at UFC 253. There is a fun battle between Movsar Evloev and Mike Grundy in the Fight Island closing show on July 25th. A win from Evloev would set up a prospect war of epic proportions.

Ricardo Ramos – Matt Sayles

I would have thought that if Murphy would have taken down Ricardo Ramos (14-3 Career, 5-2 UFC) early in the fight, Ramos would be an immediate threat to submit him. It did not go Ramos way, and now he is back to the drawing board in his UFC journey.

I think Matt Sayles (8-3 Career, 1-2 UFC) would be a rebound fight that will give him a challenge. Sayles is a big, aggressive featherweight but have struggled with great grapplers, which I’m sure Ramos believes he can exploit.

Khamzat Chimaev – Punahele Soriano 

Khamzat Chimaev (6-0 Career, 1-0 UFC) put on an opening performance that could not have gone better. The effortlesss ground onslaught reminded me of a young Khabib Nurmagomedov, and his hype train is going to keep chugging along.

Apparently he is interested in fighting at his more natural weight class of 170, but he is clearly a monster at 185 and I think he should stay up and see what he can accomplish. Punahele Soriano (7-0 Career, 1-0 UFC) also is undefeated with one win in the UFC, and his takedown defense would test Chimaev a bit more. Book it.

John Phillips – Rematch with Jack Marshman

With five fights under his belt in the UFC now, John Phillips (22-10, 1 NC Career, 1-4 UFC) is in a tough spot in his career. Winning one of five is never a spectacular place to be in the worlds premier fight organization, but I think with his KO power and entertainment against fellow strikers, he has a place in this league to earn fight of the night honors.

Last March in the UK, he lost a nail biter in a war with fellow Welshman Jack Marshman (23-9 Career, 3-4 UFC), and it was wildly entertaining. Marshman is also coming off a loss to hot young fighter in Edmen Shabazyan, so why not let these two throw down again?

Mounir Lazzez – Mike Perry

In what was bar none the most shocking moment of the night, Tunisian prospect Mounir Lazzez (9-1 Career, 1-0 UFC) dominated in his bout where he was heavily underdogged. A spectacular coming out party took place, and a new star is born.

In his post fight interview with Jon Anik, he called out Mike Perry (14-6 Career, 5-6 UFC) for his next bout. Perry was involved in a criminal assault incident recently after his win over Mickey Gall, but if they can book it, I say give Lazzez whoever he damn well pleases.

Abdul Razak Alhassan – Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone

I was stunned that Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-2 Career, 3-2 UFC) did not make a huge statement on Fight Island since his two year layoff. Even after the loss, I feel that his early rush style makes for great entertainment and he’s far from done in his UFC tenure.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-15 Career, 23-12 UFC) seems like the perfect opponent who will stand in front of him and go to war. With Cowboy on a four fight losing streak, knocking off a talent like Alhassan should be something that interests him.

Taila Santos – Winner of Ariane Lipski vs Luana Carolina on Saturday

Coming into her fight on Wednesday, Taila Santos (16-1 Career, 1-1 UFC) was coming off of her first loss, having fans wondering if her hype was more of a fluke. She could not have proven critics anymore wrong after her decimation of Molly McCann. Her first UFC win rebounding off her first loss, it leveraged her career back in a positive direction.

Even though McCann was ranked, I’m not about throwing Santos to the wolves yet. I love the idea of her fighting the winner of Lipski vs Carolina this Saturday, a dominant win over that victor would assure here a top flight opponent.

Molly McCann – Justine Kish

A traditionally gritty and unwavering fighter, Molly McCann (10-3 Career, 3-2 UFC) was outclassed in her Fight Island performance, by a prospect level fighter nevertheless. McCann was on a three fight win streak and it was snapped in what I saw to be unconventional fashion.

I’d like to see her against a fighter like Justine Kish (7-2 Career, 3-2 UFC). Kish is back in the winners column following her win over Lucie Pudilova in January. McCann and Kish will be a bloodbath, and do great things for either fighter in terms of momentum if they win.

Jimmie Rivera – Cory Sandhagen

When you see a fighter only has one win his last four fights, the natural assumption is that the fighter is in danger of losing their job or not  what they once were. However, Jimmie Rivera (22-4 Career, 6-3 UFC had three losses against the best three fighters at 135 lbs. after his one sided victory against Stamann, he established that he is among the top 5 bantamweights in the world.

With Petr Yan taking the vacant crown and presumably fighting Aljamain Sterling, Id expect him to fight Cory Sandhagen (12-2 Career, 5-1 UFC) next. Sandhagen is still a top dog after his loss to Sterling, and a Rivera win in this fight would likely put him one away from a title shot.

Cody Stamann – Merab Dvalishvili 

Cody Stamann (19-2-1 Career, 5-1-1 UFC) has had a tough summer to say the least. Following his younger brother’s death, Stamann was able to muster a one-sided win over Brian Kelleher. Things did not go his way on short notice Wednesday, and was taken out by a spectacular Jimmie Rivera.

Stamann has trouble getting marquee attention because his style isn’t fan friendly, but make no mistake he is a world class bantamweight. Merab Dvalishvili (11-4 Career, 4-2 UFC) started slow in the UFC but is now surging on a 4-fight win streak. This crossroads puts these two in a perfect place for each other, with the winner establishing their contender status. 

Tim Elliott and Ryan Benoit – Immediate Rematch

I probably call for immediate rematches more than the average fight fan, but if I had to die on a hill for any fight Wednesday to have an immediate rematch it would be the slugfest between Tim Elliott (16-11-1 Career, 5-9 UFC) and Ryan Benoit (10-7 Career, 3-5 UFC).

There is this unwritten mantra among Fight fans that an immediate rematch should only be reserved for either controversial outcomes, or long reigning champions losing their title in a major upset. I like those two elements accounted for, but I would like to expand it.

Listen, with Elliott and Benoit’s UFC records and recent history, no one is screaming for either fighter to be next in line for a crack at the winner of Saturday’s main event for a flyweight title next. They’re both in a position where they are not surging contenders, but their entertainment value and talent keep them in the UFC.

Not to mention,  this was a fan favorite bout that ended in a close fight. If you don’t match them up again, who would you rather see? Both men fight some European standout in his debut? A top 10 flyweight way over their head? I say let the bruisers battle It out again, their wallets and the fans joy will thank the UFC later.

Calvin Kattar – Winner of Zabit Magomedsharipov vs Yair Rodríguez in a title eliminator 

Top featherweight Calvin Kattar (22-4 Career, 6-2 UFC) made a big statement as Wednesday’s headliner, neutralizing and punishing Dan Ige for a clear cut decision win. In my preview, I said he would have to go way above and beyond expectations to earn a shot at a title immediately. While he looked spectacular, a strong decision over a strong fighter isn’t enough. He needs one more big one.

Next month, top contenders Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1 Career, 6-0 UFC) will scrap with Yair Rodríguez (13-2, 1 NC Career, 8-1, 1 NC UFC) in one of the most anticipated fights of the year. To me, there is no bigger fit for a 5 round battle than the winner of this fight vs Kattar.

Magomedsharipov will be a favorite over Rodríguez, and he holds a victory over Kattar. Keep in mind that even though Kattar lost on the scorecards, he was surging late in the fight, and many predicted that if it was a 5 round fight as opposed to a three round fight, it would be a whole different story.

If the UFC follows my recommendation of Volkanovski vs. Holloway 3, run a Kattar title eliminator fight on the same card! Set’s up an organic title defense which will be certain to be a fun matchup.

Dan Ige – Shane Burgos

Dan Ige (14-3 Career, 6-2 UFC) had a tough night at the office Wednesday. The tough Hawaiian grappling specialist struggled to get his game plan in action, losing the fight and taking some serious damage home with him.

Trust me, Ige should be far from counted out in his career after a loss like this. Kattar is an anchored top 5 talent in the world, and Ige has shown fight in and fight out he can compete with and beat some of the worlds best. He’s turning 29 in a few weeks, and has his futures still ahead of him.

I think an appropriate matchup would be fellow 29 year old who is in a similar career position, The Bronx’s own Shane Burgos (13-2 Career, 6-2 UFC).

Not only are they the same age, they are both coming off decision losses to top ranked featherweights, and have the same UFC record. A classic striker vs grappler matchup would help either fighter propel their name and ranking with a victory.