A main event with a ton of bad blood and an insane backstory is the headliner on this weekend’s card. Continuing this stacked October with an undercard light on big names but with the potential for some fun fights here are my predictions for the main card of UFC Fight Island 6.
Thomas Almeida vs Jonathan Martinez
5 years ago, Thomas Almeida was a highly thought of prospect in the Bantamweight division coming off of three impressive finishes over the likes of Brad Pickett and Anthony Birchak. Almeida was unfortunate in that he met a surging Cody Garbrandt resulting in a vicious KO in May 2016. Almeida is now coming off of a two-fight losing streak to Jimmie Rivera and Rob Font and looks to bounce back in his return from a 2-year layoff. Jonathon Martinez is coming of off a win over Frankie Saenz in a fight he was widely expected to win coming in far too heavy at 140lbs. Thomas Almeida is a fighter who relies completely on offense and when he wins he tends to get opponents out early partially due to most of his record being against low-level opposition. Arguably his biggest win against, Pickett, was an incredible fight but one that Almeida was supposed to dominate. Yet the older veteran was dropped and had to pull out the finish. While Almeida is the more dangerous offensive striker, Martinez has the more well-rounded MMA game despite having a tendency to underperform in certain fights. Almeida very rarely puts his hand up and lacks solid defense and durability. It’s very possible that Almeida finishes Martinez early in the first round. It’s equally possible that a firefight is ignited in which the more durable chin is the one that comes out on top.
Prediction: Jonathan Martinez 1st Round TKO
Jimmy Crute VS Modestas Bukauskas
Jimmy Crute comes into this fight after an important bounce-back win over Michal Oleksiejczuk despite failing in his major step up fight with Misha Cirkunov in a first-round submission loss. Jimmy Crute has a high-pressure form of fighting, preferring to keep the fight within the boxing and clinching range, implementing his grappling on the opponent. Modestas Bukauskas, a relatively unknown fighter, has effective distance striking and could possibly use his kicking to work at Crute and pick up a decision victory. Fortunately for Crute, his biggest strength seemingly is Bukauskas’ biggest weakness as he tends to struggle with pressure and in past fights has shown some leaky TDD. Unless Bukauskas has rectified this aspect of his game, he is going to struggle against the grappling of Crute and may quickly crumble after a decent opening few minutes.
Prediction: Jimmy Crute 2nd Round Submission
Kaitlyn Chookagian VS Jessica Andrade
Kaitlyn Chookagian has had a somewhat interesting run, often fighting in a lackluster point fighting style that has rallied her a pretty decent resume of names albeit often in controversial decisions. After losing a controversial Split Decision Chookagian went on a two-fight win streak picking up a controversial unanimous decision over Joanne Calderwood and a close but certain win over Jenifer Maia. After losing in a lopsided fight against Valentina Shevchenko, Chookagian put on her most dominant performance against Antonina Shevchenko abandoning her point fighting style in favor of a wrestling-heavy game plan which showed a shocking and more physical side to Chookagian’s skillset.
Jessica Andrade, who is moving up in weight, is a female fighter whose entire style has been defined by her pure aggression, cardio, and physical strength. One of Andrade’s major weaknesses is her defense which often loses her points. In her last fight against Rose Namajunas, Andrade showed more head movement but was merely just moving her head side to side in a crouched stance not being very effective with it. After being out-struck, Andrade had an excellent final round wobbling Namajunas and out landing which may have been in part due to the striking style of Namajunas being very taxing on her cardio. While she lost her offense, it looked good enough to take the fight to a split decision despite most agreeing it was a clear first two rounds for Namajunas. Both Chookagian and Andrade have a high outpoint striking style with Andrade being the more powerful of the two and having both marginally higher output and accuracy. Despite not often doing much damage in her fights, Chookagian seems to be effective in winning the judges over on the night and with the exception of the loss to Bullet, has only ever lost by Split decision making her a difficult fighter to pick against. There is easily a chance Chookagian is true to form and picks up a split however going with the superior output, accuracy, and physical strength Andrade is the safer option in what could very well be the most competitive fight of the night.
Prediction: Jessica Andrade Unanimous Decision
Ciryl Gane VS Ante Delija
At 6-0, the bread and butter of Ciryl Gane is his technical crisp boxing technique, mixed with a solid ground game whenever needed, demonstrated by two submission wins in his last three fights. Cirly Gane in December picked up an impressive unanimous decision win over Tanner Boser who has gone on to look very impressive in his following two fights. Ante Delija comes from an excellent gym and training partners making his UFC debut. Gane seemingly is the more athletic of the two fighters and has the more complete style in addition to being able to move around at a quicker pace than the typical plodding heavy-weight which is what Delija is used to facing thus far in his career. Delija is a big guy and brings in some solid power punching but Gane seems to have the higher ceiling and the more skilled fighter.
Prediction: Cyril Gane Unanimous Decision
Brian Ortega vs Chang Sung Jung ‘The Korean Zombie’
Brian Ortega is coming into this fight after an almost two-year layoff from taking a brutal beating against the then UFC Feather Weight champion Max Holloway. This means there are some unknowns surrounding Ortega and how much he has improved his biggest flaws in both his striking offense and defense and how much ring rust may affect his chances in this fight. One thing Ortega has consistently shown is heart and grit, the ability to be losing a fight or being in troubling moments but pulling out the win usually by grabbing hold of his opponent’s neck. In addition, Ortega has an impressive first-round KO over Frankie Edgar on his resume showing some power in his striking. Against Holloway, Ortega did land some decent shots here and there but the lasting impression is that he was demoralized by Holloway and relied on his toughness to survive as long as he did. Ortega tried to implement some grappling but was completely ineffective against the defense of Holloway, while Ortega wasn’t knocked out its important to remember that Holloway is a volume striker and typically takes time to get a finish therefore Ortega could afford to take the shots he did.
Korean Zombie is another matter, a highly technical striker with genuine knock-out power, Zombie is like Holloway as one of the most formidable strikers Ortega has come up against. Korean Zombie for the longest time was the brawler who could take almost everything his opponents threw but since a loss to Yair Rodriguez in a fight he was winning, Zombie has shown a more defensive mindset with two first-round finishes over Renato Moicano and Frankie Edgar. Both of these men are tough and can take a lot of damage, but Korean Zombie is much the superior technically unless Ortega has secretly had rapid progression in his striking. Korean Zombie is going to be able to capitalize on many of Ortega’s striking attempts with swift and brutal counters. Ortega will likely land some good shots but may lack the consistency to do much lasting damage whereas the accuracy of Zombie could slow Ortega down.
Much of Ortega’s chances come down to him grabbing the neck of Korean Zombie but for this to happen Zombie will need to put himself in a bad spot which is unlikely to occur due to the striking differential. Korean Zombie Is also a formidable grappler with a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and Judo and will likely have enough pedigree to thwart the takedowns of Brian Ortega. Once more, Ortega may have improved his striking during his time away which could make the stand up battle more competitive, but even then, it’s tough to imagine that in just under two years Ortega has reached the level of striking as Korean Zombie, who ultimately is just as good of a technical boxer as Max Holloway but with a lot more pop in his punches.
Prediction: Korean Zombie 3rd Round TKO