With freshly crowned champion Petr Yan still waiting on an inaugural defense, Bantamweight contenders Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen will attempt to jump the line at each other’s expense this Saturday evening (Sat., Oct. 10, 2020) in the main event of UFC Fight Island 5, which takes place inside Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. “Fight Island” also plays host to a Featherweight clash between Edson Barboza and Makwan Amirkhani, plus multiple international prospects’ Octagon debuts.
Three more UFC Fight Island 5 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict (check out the first batch here), freshly prepared for your perusal. Shall we?
185 lbs.: Tom Breese vs. K.B. Bhullar
Once among UFC’s top prospects, Tom Breese (11-2) saw four different match ups fall through after his knockout of Daniel Kelly, keeping him out of action for all of 2019. His February return proved disastrous, as Brendan Allen pounded him out in Norfolk for the former’s first stoppage defeat.
He came into UFC with seven submission wins and has added two knockouts to his previous total of one.
Three consecutive first-round wins earned K.B. Bhullar (8-0) a crack at the Unified MMA Middleweight title, which he claimed with a decision over UFC veteran Matt Dwyer. He was slated to face Bruno Oliveira on “Contender Series,” but stepped in when Breese’s original opponent (on Oct. 3, 2020), Roman Kopylov, withdrew.
He’s the taller man by one inch.
While I was sadly unable to find a non-paywalled video of Bhullar’s war with Dwyer, I did scrounge up enough footage to determine that he’s a very capable and well-rounded prospect. He’s also a bit easier to hit than he should be, however, and that’s bad news against boxing as sharp as Breese’s. The Brit looks at least his equal in the wrestling and jiu-jitsu, meaning Bhullar’s in for a striking battle whether he wants one or not.
Bhullar is honestly less of a concern for Breese than the latter’s own mental state. That’s because he’s had some rough patches these past few years and took a serious beating from Allen his last time out. Still, assuming “The Octopus” is anywhere near his best, he should control the standup and potentially score a finish if his right hand connects.
Prediction: Breese via first-round technical knockout
265 lbs.: Chris Daukaus vs. Rodrigo Nascimento
Chris Daukaus (9-3) rebounded from an unsuccessful bit at Azunna Anyanwu’s CFFC title with a knockout of Danny Holmes, his fifth stoppage win in six fights. Then, 364 days later, he smashed Parker Porter at UFC 252 for knockout victory No. 7.
He gives up four inches of reach to “Ze Colmeia.”
Fighting for the first time since 2017, Rodrigo Nascimento (8-0) choked out Michal Martinek on “Contender Series” to earn a spot in the Octagon. Once there, he faced fellow series veteran Don’Tale Mayes, choking him out in the Brazilian’s second trip to the second round.
His finishes are split 6-2 between submissions and knockouts.
I’m not entirely clear on why Nascimento is a nearly three-to-one favorite at the time of writing. He looked solid against a very limited slugger in Mayes, sure, but Daukaus has an ostensible striking edge and sufficiently stout wrestling to avoid “Kong’s” fate.
So long as he can keep it standing, this is Daukaus’ fight to lose.
I’ll admit that I underestimated the Brazilian against Mayes and that, seeing as he’s just 27 and training out of American Top Team, he could very well have made some huge strides. That said, I favor the power and boxing chops of Daukaus to score the upset.
Prediction: Daukaus via first-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Joaquin Buckley vs. Impa Kasanganay
Joaquin Buckley (10-3) followed his 3-2 Bellator run with two knockout wins under the LFA banner, then stepped up to face Kevin Holland on just an eight-day turnaround. Fortune did not favor the bold, as “Trail Blazer” caught him with a right cross in the third round for “New Mansa’s” second knockout defeat.
He has knocked out seven opponents overall.
Out of action for nearly one year after upsetting Kailan Hill on “Contender Series,” Impa Kasanganay (8-0) made it 2-0 on the show with a unanimous decision over Anthony Adams. Eighteen days later, “Tshilobo” out-slugged Maki Pitolo in Las Vegas, Nevada, to secure his first Octagon victory.
He replaces Abu Azaitar on around two weeks’ notice.
“New Mansa” had a fairly forgiving match up in Azaitar, who hadn’t fought in two years and who is largely subpar outside of some decent wrestling. No such luck against Kasanganay, who can match Buckley’s athleticism and bring a technically superior arsenal to bear. “Tshilobo” also figures to have a size advantage, as Buckley’s best work has come at 170 pounds.
A one-punch knockout from Buckley certainly isn’t out of the question, but Kasanganay’s sharp and well-rounded enough to both steer clear of Buckley’s haymakers and capitalize on the many openings he leaves in his bursts of offense. Effective striking and the occasional takedown push Kasanganay’s Octagon record to 2-0.
Prediction: Kasanganay via unanimous decision
UFC Fight Island 5 may be short on top contenders outside of the main event, but there’s plenty of fighters here you don’t want to miss. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Island 5 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance at 8 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Island 5: “Moraes vs. Sandhagen” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.