On Saturday, the UFC will kick off the first of the final two Fight Island cards of the year with UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Jung. Headlining the event is a scrap the entire MMA community has been clamoring to see, Chan Sung Jung vs. Brian Ortega. This contest has been in the making for well over a year. It was first scheduled for December 2019, but the bout had to be rescheduled after “T City” was forced to withdraw due to a knee injury. “The Korean Zombie” stayed active, though, meeting and defeating Frankie Edgar, a late replacement for the injured Ortega. Now, ten months later, the wait is nearly over as the main event draws closer and closer.
The rest of the bout sheet is filled with respectable fights culminating with Jessica Andrade making her flyweight debut against Katlyn Chookagian, which is now the co-main event since the Ciryl Gane-Ante Delija fight was scrapped due to contract issues on Delija’s part. James Krause is also stepping in again as a super late replacement, this time for Muslim Salikhov, who pulled out of his fight with Claudio Silva for undisclosed reasons.
All told, the card is solid offering with a guaranteed firecracker of a main event. Let’s take a look at the facts and figures that set some of these athletes apart from the rest.
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Jessica Andrade, $8,400
Jessica Andrade is a powerhouse who once fought at bantamweight and didn’t do too bad for herself. After moving down to strawweight, she carved out a spot for herself at the top, winning a title along the way, but losing it in her first defense to Weili Zhang. Now, Jessica is debuting in the flyweight division, a weight class that may end up being even more well-suited to her than strawweight was. Against Katlyn Chookagian ($7,800), she’ll need to stick with her aggressive style, crowding her and not allowing for Katlyn to potshot and kick from range. Andrade is a super active striker who lands around 6.40 strikes per minute while absorbing 5.30 shots in that same 60-second span. She is durable and incredibly strong with a powerful takedown game where she averages 3.02 takedowns per 15 minutes of action. She has seven knockouts and seven submissions, demonstrating prowess wherever the fight ends up. Chookagian is not an easy fight by any means, but Andrade definitely has the tools to capture the victory.
Thomas Almeida, $8,200
Thomas Almeida is a Southpaw volume striker with very heavy hands but is also extremely hittable due to some gaping holes in his defense. Thomas averages 5.66 strikes per minute while absorbing 4.65 in the same minute. He is the owner of 17 wins by way of knockout (making him a candidate for our knockout kings category) and has lost just three times in his career. That said, we have some factors to consider:
1. His three losses have been over the course of his last four fights.
2. Two of those three losses were knockouts.
3. He’s been out of action for nearly three years.
4. Steps up in competition—inside the Top 10-15—seem to be the tipping point for Almeida, with Rob Font being the last person to defeat him back in January of 2018.
Thomas will have his hands full with young Jonathan Martinez ($8,000), fresh off a TKO win over Frankie Saenz just two months ago. This will be a competitive fight, and a sure Litmus test to get a feel for where both men belong in the pecking order at bantamweight.
Junyong Park, $8,800
Junyong Park is an orthodox volume striker with a ridiculously high work rate. Park averages 6.41 strikes per minute and manages to only absorb 4.46 shots in that time frame. Park has an excellent takedown game (3.04 takedown average per 15 minutes) and very capable wrestling. John Phillips ($7,400) has quite a few knockouts on his record, but most are against subpar competition, and since signing with the UFC, he has only managed one win inside the octagon after five appearances. I’m not saying Phillips can’t win, I’m just saying it’s unlikely.
Modestas Bukauskas, $7,200
Modestas Bukauskas is a powerful striker fighting from a switch stance. He’s got eight knockouts to his credit, and ended up knocking his last opponent nearly out of the cage (the cage door was open). Bukauskas is a talented kickboxer with vicious elbows and finishes in every one of his wins. Jimmy Crute ($9,000) is a very bright Australian prospect who will present Modestas with his toughest challenge yet. If he can get past Crute, he will make a very emphatic statement in the middleweight division.
John Phillips, $7,400
John Phillips is a Southpaw power broker with 20 wins to his credit by knockout. Phillips isn’t a super active striker, but he does pack heat, so his best option is to keep the fight standing as long as possible. Park is an effective wrestler with a decent takedown game and happens to be on the other side of the activity spectrum with lots of volume. Phillips’ Kryptonite is his wrestling, so he’ll really need to look for that knockout to keep this fight winnable.
Maxim Grishin, $9,100
Maxim Grishin is another big hitter with 15 knockouts on his resume, as well as six submissions, making him a threat pretty much anywhere. He’s four inches taller and will have a whopping eight inches in reach over Gadzhimurad Antigulov ($7,100). Maxim has excellent boxing and is a pretty decent wrestler, as well. Antigulov’s biggest weapon is his fast start. The first couple minutes will be critical, but Grishin should be able to weather the storm on his way to another victory.
*Thomas Almeida, $8,200
Gadzhimurad Antigulov, $7,100
Gadzhimurad Antigulov started out with such promise in the UFC octagon, taking a couple wins right off the bat over Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Joachim Christensen, then dropping his next three, with the most recent loss being to Paul Craig this past July. Antigulov is a seasoned grappler with 15 submissions on his record and an aggressive takedown game, especially in the first round. Unfortunately, he’ll be way outsized and likely outclassed against Grishin. It’s not an impossible task for him to get the win, but it will certainly be a challenging one.
James Krause, $8,500
James Krause is an extraordinarily well-rounded orthodox fighter. He has terrific, technical boxing, very good defense, good footwork and head movement, and he’s durable from start to finish. He’ll carry a 3-inch height and 2-inch reach advantage and tons of experience into this contest. Claudio Silva ($7,700) is an aggressive grappler who also happens to have a win over Leon Edwards. Krause has been in with some real submission specialists and has 14 submission wins to his credit. Krause is a measured, calm under pressure athlete who doesn’t really have any glaring holes in his game. In fact, he is quite adept at exposing the problems in his opponents’ skill sets. This is one of the better matchups on the card and it really is either man’s fight to lose.
Mark Striegl, $7,000
Mark Striegl is a Southpaw grappler with a not-so-good standup game. He’s got good wrestling and an impressive 14 submissions, but his defense is like Swiss cheese and his opponent is a noteworthy Dagestani striker with marvelous wrestling defense. He is also riding a lengthy 18-month layoff and has a questionable gas tank (placing him in the gas guzzlers category, too). I like his grappling, but I fear it won’t hold up to the hyper aggressive style of Said Nurmagomedov ($9,200), who has the tank and the skill to end up with the W here.
* Mark Striegl, $7,000
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