Our final card of Fight Island was a banger, through and through. We had no shortage of stunning KOs or submissions and incredible displays of talent and prospects!
Afterwards, we’re stuck asking ourselves… what’s next for the victors? Well I’m here to try to play matchmaker for our main card winners and see what fights could (and should) be on the horizon!
Robert Whittaker vs. Jack Hermansson
“The Reaper” battered Darren Till over twenty five minutes, scoring a knockdown and numerous takedowns en route to the 48-47 scorecards. This keeps him notched right at the top of the division by taking out a top contender, though it doesn’t get him a shot back at his belt just yet. Seeing as Jared Cannonier is held up over injury, Jack Hermansson has the perfect timing and divisional status to give the winner of this bout the chance to fight for the title against Adesanya (or Costa).
Mauricio Rua vs. Jimmy Crute (LHW)
Shogun Rua and Lil Nog closed out their trilogy in the same way it started, brutally and violently. Shogun got the nod in the split decision, which seems all well and good considering he is the one still trying to continue their legacy. Rua is nearing the end of his career but he still has the drive and clear capacity to compete, so I say Jimmy Crute looks good for him. The Aussie prospect was ranked earlier in the year and gives the veteran an avenue back towards the title, if that is still where his interests lie.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Walt Harris (HW)
Werdum ended Gustafsson’s Heavyweight debut with relative ease, submitting the Swede in the very first round. Unfortunately for us UFC fans, Werdum stated that this is his last fight in the promotion. If he is to continue, I think Walt Harris is a winnable fight for the veteran that also gives him the opportunity to push up the rankings.
Carla Esparza vs. Claudia Gadelha (SW)
Although it was incredibly close, Carla Esparza emerged victorious over Marina Rodriguez. She took an incredible level of punishment with her face being sliced to shreds by the elbows of Rodriguez, but nonetheless was able to impose her grappling when she needed it the most. She has been a staple of the division since being the first champion, but now riding a four-fight win streak gets her all that much closer to the title. With a number of fighters at the top end of the SW division sidelined or already tied up (Ansaroff, Suarez), the only fitting match is Claudia Gadelha, who recently beat Angela Hill to extend her win streak to two.
Paul Craig vs. Devin Clark (LHW)
Craig capitalized on this showing, forcing fellow submission expert Gadzhimurad Antigulov to tap to a triangle choke in the first round. This is a great win for Craig, who is now undefeated in his last three fights. He looks to be just outside the rankings picture and could earn a shot at that number with a match against Devin Clark, who was most recently seen in his FOTN effort with Alonzo Menifield.
Alex Oliveira vs. Lyman Good (WW)
Alex Oliveira extended his winning streak to two by outworking Peter Sobotta in decision. He showed off the best version of his devastating kicks, as well as addressing his prior gas tank issues with additional patience. Oliveira has been a fan favorite for a long time now, so I feel like a matchup against power puncher Lyman Good would be a real fun one. Good is coming off a split decision loss to Belal Muhammad just weeks ago and looks to be on a similar timeline to Oliveira.
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Warlley Alves (WW)
Chimaev set the record for quickest turnaround between victories with another utter domination, not absorbing a single strike until the late first round ground and pound finish. “Borz” is a top prospect with real star power behind him, as well as an incredible arsenal of skills. Although he will likely have issues finding opponents, the nature of his victories sets him up for a bump in competition. I think Warlley Alves is a great fit, as he has the grappling pedigree to allow us to see some of Khamzat’s striking and veteran ship to be a true test for the up and comer.
The Octagon is heading back to the fight capital of the world in Las Vegas next weekend, with another Middleweight matchup between Derek Brunson and streaking finisher Edmen Shahbazyan. Look out for our main card and prelims picks coming later this week!