UFC will mark the beginning of its 2021 season on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi with three absolutely stacked cards.
At UFC Fight Island 7 on January 16th, featherweight contenders Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar will go head-to-head in a potential number one contender’s match. Then on January 20th, welterweights Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny will battle in the main event to move a step closer to the top five. And finally, on January 23rd, the UFC will wrap up its third edition of the Fight Island with UFC 257, headlined by the company’s biggest star, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.
All three events are a must-watch.
UFC Fight Island 7: Max Holloway vs Calvin Kattar
Max Holloway vs Calvin Kattar is a great fight. It is much more competitive than people are giving it credit for. Holloway is coming off a two-fight losing streak, and therefore, he would be looking to earn a big win, and jump right back into title contention. But Kattar, who is on a two-fight win streak, has momentum on his side, and he won’t be an easy fight for the former champion by any means.
Holloway certainly takes initiative when it comes to striking, but his next opponent is quite the opposite. He is an excellent counter puncher, with a very accurate jab. Both fighters use their hands very well. Max is a volume striker, and lands beautiful combination strikes, while Kattar relies on his jabs, and one-twos, before landing big strikes. Both have a tremendous striking frequency too, as they land over 5 significant strikes per minute on average inside the Octagon.
Four days until we open the year on ABC 🏝
— UFC (@ufc) January 12, 2021
But what Holloway does better than Kattar is that he absorbs less punishment. The former featherweight champion has a positive striking differential, while ‘The Boston Finisher’ has a negative differential, which means Holloway has a huge advantage as far as the defensive aspect of the fight is concerned. The Waianae native is very good at managing distance, and if he can stay away from the Bostonian’s striking range, he’ll not have a lot of problems.
Experience wise, Max is certainly better equipped as he is coming into this fight with eight consecutive five-round main events, fighting the best the UFC has to offer. He has certainly fought better competition and would have a massive advantage over his opponent on fight night. To conclude, although Kattar is tough as nails, if Max sticks to his gameplan, he would score a comfortable decision win. For Kattar to win, he’d have to be super smart, super composed, and super patient.
UFC Fight Island 8: Michael Chiesa vs Neil Magny
Both Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny have very different styles and their fight will be a coin toss. Magny is the better striker, with a massive 4.5-inch reach advantage. Chiesa is no Conor McGregor or Israel Adesanya, but he’s still pretty good on his feet too. Magny would be looking to end the fight quickly, and certainly has the power, accuracy, and reach to do so, but his opponent has never been knocked out in his professional career.
Welterweight takeover 💥
— UFC (@ufc) January 6, 2021
If the fight goes to the ground, ‘Maverick’ is going to have a fair advantage over his opponent. Four of Magny’s seven career losses have come by the way of submission. In contrast, out of his seventeen total wins inside the cage, Chiesa has won eleven fights by the way of submission. That means if the fight goes to the mat, Magny would have his work cut out.
Both are coming off three-fight win streaks, so momentum would be equal on both ends. However, ring rust could play a major role in this fight, as Magny has been the more active fighter in the past 12 months, competing three times in comparison to Chiesa, who has only fought once.
Overall, the fight is a very close one, and the fighter who executes his game better will get his hand raised. I have got Chiesa winning via submission.
UFC 257: Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor 2
The rematch between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor is a massive fight, both in terms of the future of the lightweight division and the fact that McGregor is part of it.
Poirier came short when the two met for the first time at UFC 178 in 2014, losing the fight via first-round TKO. When ‘The Diamond’ enters the cage on January 23rd, he would be looking to square things up, but it won’t be an easy task. McGregor has a slight edge going into the fight, because of the fact that he has beaten Poirier before and that he’s one of the most dangerous fighters in the early minutes of a fistfight. Poirier is a great volume puncher, but he tends to get hit a lot in his fights. The Irishman is going to land that lethal left hook on Poirier sooner or rather than later.
It’s a guarantee that the fight will stay on the feet. In that case, Poirier’s victory depends on how well he can take a shot. If he can take damage, and give some heat back to ‘The Notorious’, things might get very interesting. McGregor doesn’t deal very well with adversity, as we have seen in the past, so if Poirier can wear an iron chin come January 23rd, not only can he win, but he can also inflict damage on the former two-division UFC champion.
"I'll knock Dustin out inside sixty seconds." ⏱
— UFC (@ufc) January 13, 2021
A lot of the debate is about McGregor’s questionable cardio. But he did show a lot of improvement against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. In comparison to Poirier himself and Justin Gaethje, McGregor looked like he still had some gas left in his tank after he was submitted by Khabib, which means the Irishman has worked on this visible weakness of his, and that only adds to Poirier’s worries.
Overall, McGregor has the advantage and should finish Poirier within the first two rounds.
What are your predictions for Max Holloway vs Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Island 7, Michael Chiesa vs Neil Magny at UFC Fight Island 8, and Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor at UFC 257?