Fight Island plays host once again to the UFC this weekend as we see Cory Sandhagen face off against Marlon Moraes in the main event. The card contains numerous rising stars but also hosts veterans such as Edson Barboza and Ben Rothwell. While the main event will get the most attention and rightly so, there are plenty of other fights worth keeping an eye on. We preview the main event and some of the other key fights below.
UFC Fight Night Betting Picks
Marlon Moraes vs Cory Sandhagen
Both these men are always entertaining, but this matchup is intriguing in the sense that both men’s strengths play into their opponents’ weaknesses. Marlon Moraes returns for the first time since beating Jose Aldo in a controversial decision. That followed the great disappointment of his title fight loss to Henry Cejudo. Against Cejudo he showcased his black belt muay thai early before his cardio shortcomings ultimately failed him in the second round. I have no doubt if Moraes could stay at 70% of his first-round ability for the duration of the fight he would be a UFC champion but sadly for him that is not the case. His fast twitch muscle fibres see him fall off sharply but he will have every chance to finish Sandhagen early.
Sandhagen’s greatest asset is his durability and toughness. Although often stumbled, knocked down and even mounted, Sandhagen fights through adversity better than most and has a well-rounded game that has seen him rack up an impressive 12-2 record in his professional career. In his last fight he was finished in just over a minute by Aljamain Sterling but that is nothing to be ashamed of. I do, however, like the chances of Moraes to get the early finish on Sandhagen and I like even more that he is currently the underdog. Moraes also might be far enough ahead on the judge’s scorecards that if it does go the distance, he may even score an unlikely decision victory.
Giga Chikadze vs Omar Morales
For some reason the 10-2 Chikadze is the underdog on the back of two solid decision victories. Granted Morales is the toughest test for Chikadze to date but there aren’t many in the Featherweight division who I would back to beat Chikadze in a purely stand up fight and that is exactly what I expect this to be. Morales has a perfect 10-0 professional record and was ultra-impressive in his Contender Series flogging of Harvey Park and subsequent victories over Don Hyung Ma and Gabriel Benitez. Chikadze though is a well-rounded striker and should get the victory once again by decision in what should be an entertaining striking bout contested at mostly kicking range.
Bruno Silva vs Tagir Ulanbekov
While the odds aren’t anything to write home about, expect Tagir Ulanbekov to make a statement in his UFC debut. His opponent Bruno Silva lost his last fight in what was a competitive decision loss to David Dvorak, and he has quite a good submission game. However, Ulanbekov’s elite wrestling should render that submission threat mute as he has the wrestling ability to trouble the elite fighters of the Flyweight division. Ulanbekov also in the past year has developed adequate striking that complements his wrestling game and continues to look greatly improved every time he steps out to fight. He is the latest star to come out of Russia and although most wouldn’t have heard of him so far, expect that to change after he makes a dominant UFC debut.
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