On the bright side of going (2-4) this past Wednesday night for UFC on ESPN: Kattar vs. Ige, I have left myself a nice size room for improvement, and we witnessed some incredible UFC debuts. Picking up where we left off earlier this week, on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi, the UFC returns tonight with a title fight in the men’s flyweight division.
Starting the main card — broadcast on ESPN+ — Alexandre Pantoja (22-4) squares off against, Askar Askarov (11-0-1) in a flyweight bout. Pantoja is currently ranked No. 4 in the division, he takes on the undefeated Russian, Askarov, who is currently ranked No. 7 at 125 pounds. I am picking the upset. Askarov by decision.
Sticking with the flyweight division, this time for the women, Ariane Lipski (12-5) takes on Luana Carolina (6-1) in an all Brazilian matchup. Lipski has the more accomplished striking pedigree. Carolina is coming back from a long layoff while recovering from a spinal injury. Both ladies are looking to make it two in a row for the promotion. Lipski by decision.
Up next in the men’s lightweight division Marc Diakiese (14-3) does battle with Rafael Fiziev (7-1), Diakiese is a dynamic striker who tends to underperform in my opinion, he is (5-3) in the UFC. Fiziev is (1-1) for the promotion, including a TKO loss to Magomed Mustafaev in his debut. Diakiese is looking to make it three in a row, and I think it will be so. Diakiese by decision.
This co-main main event features a scrap in the middleweight division, Jack Hermansson (20-5) faces Kelvin Gastelum (16-5-1). Hermansson, ranked No. 6 is looking to inch closer to a title shot with a win over the No. 7 ranked winner of The Ultimate Fighter 17, Gastelum. Jared Cannonier stopped Hermansson in his last outing. A motivated Gastelum is a scary thing, and he won’t drop three in a row in the UFC. Gastelum by TKO.
In the main event, a rematch in the men’s flyweight division for the crown vacated by Henry Cejudo. Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) looks to prove that his second-round knockout over Joseph Benavidez (28-6), in their first fight was no fluke. Figueiredo failed to make championship weight in their first go-round and was not eligible to win the belt. He solved that problem this time and will be the new featherweight king by the end of the night. Figueiredo via TKO or submission.