#UFCFightIsland2: No Flukes Here #mmaTweet
First off, apologies for missing last Wednesday’s Aftermath piece. I didn’t see it was so late until it was the day of and work ran me ragged. So, we’re fast forwarding to the second Fight Island card. UFC Fight Island 2 was an insane card filled with some of the best finishes of the year so far. From knee bars to heel hooks to just straight up beat downs, the card delivered. Let’s dive in to this week’s episode of Aftermath.
Askar Askarov Passes Biggest Test
Next opponent for Askar Askarov: Deiveson Figueiredo, Joseph Benavidez
The flyweight division has gone from one of the most stagnant division to one of the most wide open. The division may be without the two best fighters it’s seen, Henry Cejudo and Demetrious Johnson, but now it is absolutely more fun. Tonight’s card showed just how good flyweight can be. Askar Askarov took on Alexandre Pantoja, who is a long time staple of the division. A TUF vet from 2016, Pantoja has fought some of the best in the division. Askarov came off a career best win against Tim Elliott at UFC 246. With a near-perfect 12-0-1 record, Askarov’s win over Pantoja is right in line with a title shot or a title eliminator fight.
Askarov is a wrestling machine. He’s taken all of his opponents to the ground. Pantoja was the closest fight he’s had since joining the UFC discounting the Brandon Moreno split draw. With the newly crowned champ Figueiredo being such a great striker, it would be good to see him face a fighter as talented as Askarov. But that may not be in the cards for the new champ. A title eliminator fight might be in order.
Seeing that Joseph Benavidez is allergic to title fights and will likely never get another shot, Benavidez might be the logical next opponent for Askarov after both fights at UFC Fight Island 2. Benavidez is essentially the flyweight gatekeeper now who possesses incredible skills that would be a great check for Askarov to see if he is ready for the speed of Figueiredo.
Ariane Lipski Gets A Possible Submission of the Year
Next opponent for Ariane Lipski: Antonina Shevchenko, Gillian Robertson
Ariane Lipski had perhaps the best submission of the year. She put on a grappling clinic early on against Luana Carolina at UFC Fight Island 2. If you look at the picture below, Lipski had one of the best knee bars we’ve ever seen. Carolina’s leg straight up in the air, hyper-extended.
Lipski executed a fantastic gameplan that negated Carolina’s reach and standup. She did almost give up her back but Lipski did great going from calf slicer to a full on knee bar. Carolina screamed out in pain and tapped.
While I surmised on My MMA News, that the winner could be fighting for a top 15 fight. Lipski did look fantastic and dominated the fight, Carolina is a much less experienced opponent and Lipski did what she should have done. Her next fight will likely be a top 15 fight. There are still great matchups for Lipski now, however. Antonina Shevchenko is currently ranked 13 and having her and Lipski fight would be good matchmaking. Shevchenko has lost two of her last three, albeit to Roxanne Modafferi and Katlyn Chookagain.
If booking is in the way, however, Lipski could get a fight outside of a ranked opponent. Gillian Robertson is that fight. Robertson is coming off of an awesome rear naked choke win over Courtney Casey at UFC Vegas 3. The two fought in close proximity and after medicals clear up, it could be an interesting matchup to see, grappler versus striker.
Fiziev And Diakise Bang Bro
Next opponent for Rafael Fiziev: Alexander Hernandez, Gregor Gillespie
Rafael Fiziev and Marc Diakise stole the show at UFC Fight Island 2. Not only did the two bring the heat for the fans that weren’t there, they won Fight of the Night as well. Fiziev is a well known Tiger Muay Thai fighter who has made a living off of bringing the nukes to the show, finishing his opponents. The matchmaking with Diakise was flawless. The two did not stop the entire 15 minutes they were in the cage.
Now Fiziev, having beat Diakise, is looking for the next step up in competition. If we’re looking for pure barn-burners, Alexander Hernandez is the fight to make. Hernandez is a firecracker of a fighter and while his gas tank is an issue, the fight with Fiziev would almost be a sure to stay on the feet. It would be an easy $50,000 bonus for Fiziev.
But, if we’re wanting to test Fiziev to be tested, Gregor Gillespie is that test. The wrestling of Gillespie is pretty well known and a matchup between Gillespie and Fiziev would be a classic case of styles make fights. Gillespie was sent to the shadow realm by Kevin Lee with a high kick at UFC 244 in his last fight. He’s likely looking to bounce back now and would be a good tango partner for Fiziev.
Gastelum on a Big Slide
Next opponent for Kelvin Gastelum: Ian Heinisch, Marvin Vettori
Kelvin Gastelum is far removed from his epic war with Israel Adesanya at UFC 236. He bought the now-champion to the deepest waters and looked like the second best fighter in the division. Since that loss, he’s lost two more to Darren Till and now Hermansson. Gastelum decided to keep the fight on the ground and upon trying to exit got his leg tangled up in a trap for Hermansson. Gastelum is a long way away from that wanted rematch with Adesanya, and at this point, I doubt it will ever happen.
Having lost three in a row, it’s unclear what Gastelum could do at this point. All of the fighters ranked ahead of him are trending up. Below him, fighters are already booked. Whats next remains to really be seen. Ian Heinisch is a young and promising prospect who has had tough fights. He broke his first ever two fight skid by winning his last fight Gerald Meerschaert. He is looking to punch his ticket into the elite of the division and Gastelum could be that fight to get him there.
Second bet for Gastelum is Marvin Vettori. Vettori battled Adesanya to his toughest fight before Gastelum. Since then, Vettori has knocked back three wins, two in 2019, and had a rollercoaster of a start to 2020. Vettori and Gastelum could very well be a main event on a ESPN+ card and be a good fight. It’s a chance for Vettori and a winnable fight for Gastelum.
Next opponent for Jack Hermansson: Whittaker/Till loser, Romero/Hall winner
Now that Jack Hermansson is back in the win column after his knockout loss to Jared Cannonier, Hermansson is trending up again. The win over Gastelum gets him a great quality win over a former title challenger. He managed cinch up the ankle lock on Gastelum and secured the second leg finish of the night. He was right in his element against Gastelum on the ground and didn’t mind being there.
Most of middleweight is booked minus Cannonier, but that fight won’t be booked again. This weekend, former champion, Robert Whittaker and Darren Till are scheduled to fight in what’s likely a title eliminator. The loser will be looking for a rebound. With Hermansson wanting to get another quality win, the loser of this fight makes sense to match up with “The Joker.”
If that falls through due to the other wanting extended time off, Hermansson could take on the winner of Yoel Romero and Uriah Hall. Those two are scheduled for a fight in August and that would be another quality win for Hermansson to build his case against the champ, Adesanya, or should he win, Paulo Costa.
UFC Fight Island 2 Shows Fig-Joe B 1 Wasn’t a Fluke
Next fight for Joseph Benavidez: Askar Askarov, Alexandre Pantoja
Not much good can be said out of the rematch gifted to Joseph Benavidez. He had absolutely nothing for Figueiredo the entire round. Put plain and simply, Benavidez got beat up, bad. Not much to really break down except what’s next for JoeB.
After being gifted four shots at the title, it’s highly unlikely that Benavidez will ever get another shot at UFC gold without something like a five fight win streak, cleaning out all other contenders. As mentioned earlier, he could be a stepping stone for up-and-comers like Askar Askarov. The same points still apply for this fight. Benavidez needs a win and Askarov needs to punch his ticket into the top three.
If that’s not the route the UFC takes, Alexandre Pantoja could be a matchup. For some reason, these two have never fought, despite their extended time in the UFC at the top of the promotion. Both coming off losses, Pantoja could use a quality win over someone like Benavidez after getting beat by Askarov. Benavidez, on the other hand, needs to simply find a way to win again.
Next opponent for Deiveson Figueiredo: Brandon Moreno, Alex Perez
UFC Norfolk was no fluke, as proved by new champion Deiveson Figueiredo. Figueiredo went out and made weight and dominated Benavidez even more than before. He’s finally captured UFC gold after being so close last time. Figueiredo showed that flyweights can be fun too. Now, he looks to his first title defense.
I’ve seen Deiveson Figueiredo versus Petr Yan thrown around. While that is an incredible fight, let’s not forget that these two have ample contenders in their division and just recently captured the belts. Let’s let them get work done in their respective divisions before we hold up flyweight and bantamweight again in another Henry Cejudo situation.
So what’s next for Figueiredo? Two fighters stick out as options for the champ. First, Brandon Moreno, who will likely be the number one contender once the rankings on the UFC’s site are updated. Moreno has had blistering performances over some of the division’s best names, including Kai Kara-France and Jussier Formiga in his last two. He is simply the next in line for a title shot and will likely be the next opponent for Figueiredo.
Should that fight not happen for whatever reason, Alex Perez is the next bet. While Benavidez and Pantajoa are ahead of him, coming off of losses will likely take them out of contention. Perez could be fortunate enough to get his shot at the title if Moreno is not ready for a fight.
I know Askarov was floated for Figueiredo earlier, but I think these two are far more likely to happen.