Once again, Fight Island will produce a lot of new fighters that are making their promotional debut.
Last time, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) arrived on the scene with a bang, earning two wins within 10 days of his debut.
I don’t see any newcomers that are in Chimaev’s league as far as talent or impact this time, but there definitely will be several fighters that can be mainstays in the UFC and challenge in divisions that need some new talent.
I’ll take a look at all the fighters arriving on Fight Island and look at their potential impact, both immediate and long term.
Cameron Else (10-4) vs. Kyler Phillips (7-1)
Else is definitely interesting. He’s fought in Cage Warriors, BAMMA, and Bellator, and he’s won six in a row. He also has a win over Cage Warriors star Paddy Pimblett (15-3). The problem is, that win over Pimblett was seven years ago. The record of his last five opponents at the time of their fights are 3-14, 0-1, 4-0, 0-0, 1-1, and 0-0. That’s not great.
Kyler Phillips is a fellow prospect here. I expect the 29-year-old Else to have trouble in this one, but it should be an exciting scrap.
Jordan Williams (9-3) vs. Nassourdine Imavov (8-2)
Jordan Williams is finally getting his chance on the UFC roster after three Contender Series fights. Williams is 29 years old, and I’m not sure he is the best prospect. I would compare him to a Dan Ige. He’s going to work his butt off (despite his diabetic condition that he brought to light on Contender Series), and he’s going to win some fights. I’m not sure he will be any more than that because of his size issues, but he’s going to be a guy that brings it every time out. I’m interested to watch him.
Imavov is a 24-year-old Russian prospect. He’s 8-2 and the winner of five straight. He was 21 when he suffered his last loss, so I’m not sure how much stock you can put into it. His nickname is ‘Russian Sniper’ and he has submission and decision wins. This will be an interesting match up.
Is Imavov too good for Williams, or can Williams out-work him? I’m excited to see it.
Tagir Ulanbekov (12-1) vs. Bruno Silva (10-5-2)
Ulanbekov seems like a promising prospect. He’s 12-1 at flyweight with eight finishes. He has submissions and knockouts, so there are levels to his game. He is the No. 1 ranked Russian and Central Asian flyweight prospect, according to fight database Tapology. Despite not really fighting in great promotions, he has most of his wins over guys with good records.
Bruno Silva isn’t great, so this fight probably won’t tell us much about the Russian.
Dricus Du Plessis (14-2) vs. Markus Perez (12-3)
I liken Markus Perez to the former WWE wrestler Santino Marella. Perez has a gimmick with The Joker face paint. His weigh-ins are fun, but when he gets in the Octagon, you kind of realize that he is there to put over someone that’s better.
Du Plessis is a kickboxing-based fighter with 14 wins and 14 finishes. A former KSW and two-weight EFC champion, he seems pretty lethal. I would put my money on Du Plessis being the guy everyone is talking about out of these new prospects. Perez is there to put him over.
Mateusz Gamrot (17-0) vs. TBD
As I’ve said before about Gamrot, I’m not super impressed with what I’ve seen from him. In his trilogy match against Norman Parke (28-7-1), he was very deliberate. He jabbed him and jabbed him, and eventually, the damage was enough to stop the fight. I want to see a prospect that goes for the kill when they have someone hurt. I’m taking a wait-and-see approach on Gamrot.
Gamrot’s fight against Magomed Mustafaev (14-3) fell through, and a replacement has not been named.
Mark Striegl (18-2) vs. Said Nurmagomedov (13-2)
I’m actually a fan of Striegl’s chances here. I believe that Said is the least polished of the Khabib Nurmagomedov circle. His claim to fame was beating a fizzled prospect in 12-6 Justin Scoggins. He beat a guy in Ricardo Ramos (14-3) that is lost on his feet and lost to Raoni Barcelos (15-1) and Magomed Bibulatov (16-2), the only two good fighters he’s competed against.
I think Striegl will use his Muay Thai here and will not get body kicked like Ramos. His win over Kai Kara-France (21-8) continues to hold more and more weight.
Umar Nurmagomedov (12-0) vs. Sergey Morozov (16-3)
I feel like Umar is another guy living by his last name. I wasn’t impressed by his PFL win last August over Sidemar Honorio (13-7). He’s a decision machine and not really all that exciting. It took him five fights before he fought someone with more than two wins.
I do like Morozov, on the other hand. One of his losses is to Movsar Evloev (13-0), who is a killer. He has five straight wins since that loss almost three years ago and three are finishes. He has clearly made improvements fighting in M-1.
I’m excited to see Morozov here.
Miranda Maverick (7-2) vs. Liana Jouja (8-3)
Miranda Maverick is coming off a win over Pearl Gonzalez (10-4) in Invicta FC, so that is a nice feather in her cap. She has six total wins by submission, so that is a clear strength. This seems like a bit of a setup. Jouja is definitely a marketable fighter, but the level of competition between these two isn’t close.
They are showcasing Maverick here and I want to see if she can take advantage of it.
Shavkat Rakhmonov (12-0) vs. Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos (22-7)
This is one where we should really see what the newcomer has to offer.
Rakhmonov has 12 wins and 12 finishes, but what kind of competition have they been again? Well, most of them have good records, but they haven’t been in the best promotions.
Zaleski is no joke and once upon a time, he was a prospect. We should know in short order whether the 25-year-old from Kazakhstan is the real deal, or not. He’ll have to earn it against the Brazilian.
Phil Hawes (8-2) vs. Jacob Malkoun (4-0)
When I looked at Phil Hawes for his Contender Series fight, I noted the caliber of competition. He’s fought a lot of good fighters dating back to his days at Iowa Central Community College as a teammate of Jon Jones (26-1-1) and Colby Covington (16-2). He lost to UFC veteran Julian Marquez (7-2), TUF winner Andrew Sanchez (12-5), and PFL champion Louis Taylor (18-4-1), and I don’t believe those are marks against him.
Malkoun is undefeated on the Australian regional scene, and he hasn’t fought in a year. I’m not sure the level of competition is comparable. Unless there is something I’m missing, I believe Hawes will be a big favorite again.