Fight of the Night: Mike Davis vs Mason Jones | ($50K bonus to both fighters)
Performance of the Night: Umar Nurmagomedov vs Sergey Morozov | ($50K bonus to Nurmagomedov)
Performance of the Night: Warlley Alves vs Mounir Lazzez | ($50K bonus to Alves)
CATEGORIES: BLAZING, LUKEWARM, CHILLY, COLD AS ICE
The 2021 UFC campaign is off to an absolutely blazing start, one that may even rival the legendary pace Max Holloway put on display in his record-shattering victory against Boston’s Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Island 7.
As of writing these words, we are officially 24 fights-deep into the new year. The results of UFC Fight Island 8 proved that the #1 MMA promotion in world harbors young technicians that can put on an MMA masterclass across three-rounds, hungry phenoms who pack dynamite in every punch and kick, and grizzled veterans who are determined to keep their place in line and ward off the young bucks vying for their spot.
Let’s get in to it.
Manon Fiorot def. Victoria Leonardo (TKO Round 2 – Head Kick & Punches)
Generally speaking, the BLAZING category is reserved for the most dominant performance of the night with both context and fight-stakes taken into consideration. UFC Fight Island 8 showcased two-fighters who earned that honor in my opinion, and the former UAE Warriors Women’s Flyweight champion Manon “The Beast” Fiorot (MMA 6-1-0, UFC 1-0-0) is one of them.
Fiorot, who is now 1-0 in her UFC tenure, represented her home country of France with flying colors with the kickboxing masterclass she put on display against Victoria Leonardo (MMA 8-4-0, UFC 0-1), who also made her UFC debut on Wednesday.
What’s most impressive is the striking arsenal Fiorot possesses. Some fighters find a few combinations and a rhythm that works and they stick to it and tend to not deviate. Fiorot cut off the cage, feinted her powerful right cross to set up beautiful high kicks, strung 4+ punch combinations together, and delivered slicing elbows in the clinch at an overall 53% clip (53/100 significant strikes landed)
Suffice it to say, it was only a matter of time that referee Lukasz Bosacki pulled Fioriot off of Leonardo with 52 seconds left in the second round – “The Beast” was in the middle of a 16-punch combination after all.
Michael Chiesa def. Neil Magny (49-46 x 3)
This win marks four-in-a-row for Michael “Maverick” Chiesa (MMA 18-4-0, UFC 11-4-0), and boy was it a dominant one. First and foremost, Neil Magny (MMA 24-9-0, UFC 17-7-0) is by no means a pushover. Including this fight result, Magny has lost only five times since 2015 (that’s a span of fourteen fights). This bit of context is why Chiesa earned his spot in the BLAZING category though he landed just 24 (!) significant strikes on Wednesday.
How does one go about landing less than 30 significant strikes and still win unanimously 49-46 on all three judges scorecards you ask?
It’s all about the wrasslin’ baby!
If you asked yourself the aforementioned rhetorical question above, you must not keep up with Chiesa’s career. That’s okay, that what I’m here for – “Maverick” has landed 283 significant strikes and 36 takedowns in 15 UFC fights since his debut in 2012. That’s an average of roughly 19 significant strikes and 2.5 takedowns landed per fight. And that’s the key to the performance we witnessed against Neil Magny.
Former UFC double-champ and now commentator, Daniel Cormier, said it best during Chiesa’s ring-walk:
“I absolutely love Michael Chiesa’s fashion. With the pants tucked into the socks and the sweat-top hoody tucked into the sweatpants…Michael Chiesa’s a grinder. That’s how grinder’s dress. This guy will go after you. He will chase you down, drag you to the floor, and make you grapple with him. Once you’re grappling with [him] and you’re in his world you’re constantly in danger, you’re constantly under attack.”
Including this bout, Neil Magny averages 50 significant strikes landed in his 13 UFC fights that have done the distance (win or lose). Against Chiesa on Wednesday he was kept to a career low 12 significant strikes – his second lowest amount is 29 significant strikes landed against Tim Means back in their 2014 matchup.
Need I say more?
Viviane Araujo def. Roxanne Modafferi (30-27 x 2, 30-26)
Viviane Araujo (MMA 10-2-0, UFC 4-1-0) notched the best performance of her UFC career against Roxanne Modafferi (MMA 25-19-0, UFC 3-4-0) at UFC Fight Island 8. Araujo was one of only two Blue Corner fighters to claim victory on Wednesday, as the Red Corner fighters won twelve of the fourteen slated bouts.
Though Araujo opened as a heavy betting favorite at -365, she still managed to surpass fan expectations while posting her career best in significant strikes landed and takedowns with 86 and 4 respectively.
Modafferi, considered by many a gatekeeper of sorts in the women’s flyweight division, has made takedowns and control time her bread and butter in the UFC. Her “real” UFC run began on November 3rd, 2018 when she lost a unanimous decision against Sijara Eubanks on the Cormier vs Lewis undercard.
Including that bout, Modafferi has landed 11 takedowns across 7 fights. She landed 0 takedowns against Araujo, and more surprisingly, was taken down 4 times by the Brazilian (which is the most Modafferi has allowed in a bout since she entered the UFC).
This performance spoke volumes for Viviane Araujo and I anticipate her becoming a true player in the top-five of the women’s Flyweight division. Let’s not forget that the Flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko, has no real opponent to truly challenge her top-seeding at the moment.
Former Strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (MMA 21-8-0, UFC 12-6-0) and Flyweight contender Joanne Calderwood (MMA 14-5-0, UFC 6-5-0) are the only one’s that come to mind right now and even those names are a stretch.
Watch out for Viviane Araujo, folks.
Mike Davis def. Mason Jones (29-28 x 3)
Entering UFC Fight Island 8, Mike “Beast Boy” Davis (MMA 9-2-0, UFC 2-1-0) was considered as a dark horse of sorts by the MMA media. The former Island Fights Lightweight champion had his work cut out for him standing across the cage from the undefeated former Cage Warriors Lightweight and Welterweight champion Mason “The Dragon” Jones (MMA 10-1-0, UFC 0-1-0).
If you’re a casual fan (not meant in a derogatory sense) of MMA, it would be easy to expect that an undefeated double-champ in any promotion would come into the UFC and start to make noise. Well, you wouldn’t be wrong in that assessment; Mason Jones outlanded Mike Davis 117-108 in terms of significant strikes, but was out-duked in the takedown department 3-1. And in the UFC, takedowns and control time are truly the deciding factors of fights that are left in the hands of the judges.
Nonetheless, the Pete White boxing protege mixed up it up well with perfectly timed uppercuts and elbows, he doughed-up Jones’ body with powerful hooks, effectively changed levels, and knocked his mouthpiece out with a nasty right-cross.
Mike Davis, who’s sole UFC loss came against Welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns, proved to the world that (and more importantly the UFC matchmakers) that given the right matchup he can easily fit right into any main card slot and steal the show. He did win Fight of the Night honors after all, and Davis vs Jones was only the 3rd contest of the night.
Keep an eye out for Mike Davis, I have a feeling he’s going to be making noise at 155 pounds.
COLD AS ICE
Ike Villanueva def. Vinicius Moreira (KO Round 2 – Right hook)
Vinicius Moreira (MMA 9-5-0, UFC 0-4-0) entered the UFC on a four fight win streak where he submitted all four of his opponents within the first-round. Unfortunately, the UFC is where streaks come to an end. In the case of Moreira, he traded a winning streak for a losing streak.
After his aforementioned finishing streak bought him a ticket to the big show, Moreira has dropped all four of his UFC bouts. One loss via submission to Paul Craig, and three losses via knockout to Alonzo Menifield, Eryk Anders, and now Ike Vilanueva (MMA 17-11-0, UFC 1-2-0).
This isn’t the place to kick fighters while they’re down. We should all take a moment to at least attempt to understand the mental fortitude it takes to lose and keep going back into the cage to see if one can change their luck.
For that reason, Moreira lands in the COLD AS ICE category because this loss almost guarantees that he will be getting cut from the UFC in the near future. This bout was labeled by many MMA media members as a “Loser Leaves Town” match. Villianueva and Moreira hold a combined 1-6-0 record in the UFC, which is most likely why this bout was booked in the first place. I imagine that it’s easier to let the bottom-end of the UFC roster eliminate themselves as opposed to outright cutting fighters.
The Moreira that showed up at Fight Island 8 was a gun-shy, tentative version of himself – similar to the way Santiago Ponzinibbio performed in his KO loss against Li Jingliang at Fight Island 7. However, if we take a look at the bright side of things we can take solace in knowing that Moreira successfully made it out of the first-round, which he’d only done in one UFC bout prior.
As for Ike Villanueva – keep stringing those wins together. It’s extremely tough to get a shot in the UFC and it’s extremely easy to lose that spot.
After Further Consideration is the blog space for the All Factors Considered camp. The Stock Report is subjective and represents the stances, views, and opinions of the All Factors Considered camp solely.