UFC Fight Island 8, Chiesa vs. Magny, has just concluded, and with rising contenders from top to bottom and family of current UFC champions, this card delivered on all cylinders. With question marks surrounding the event, after the initial main event of Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev was canceled, UFC fans still awoke to some breakfast and fights with the prelims starting at 9 am EST. As the mid-week fights rolled on, it’s now clear for most of the divisions. They have some new faces to look out for. But who stole the show today, and who failed to step up when the lights shined big?
#8 Michael Chiesa (18-4-0)
For the rising welterweight, Michael Chiesa, the call that he was going to fight in his first main event was nothing short of spectacular. Chiesa took this opportunity and did the absolute most with it, dominating his opponent Neil Magny for all five rounds of the bout. Chiesa showcased his wrestling skills, taking Magny down with ease and amassing 15 minutes of ground control time. A big question surrounding ‘The Maverick’ coming into this fight was his striking, and while it wasn’t at the championship level just yet, Chiesa showed improvement in that field. As far as what’s next for Chiesa, he needs a step up in competition for sure. For me, a fantastic matchup would be with none other than former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. Chiesa, however, disagrees with me, calling out the number one ranked welterweight, Colby Covington.
Manon Fiorot (6-1-0)
Talk about a picture-perfect debut for the french standout, Manon Fiorot. Fiorot steps into the women’s flyweight division on a five-fight winning streak and has now pushed that number to six. Fiorot took on Louisiana native Victoria Leonardo and showed she was better in every aspect of mixed martial arts. And after four minutes and eight seconds, Fiorot got the technical knockout finish and gained her first win inside the UFC. Remember the name, and look out for her as she marches towards the top of the division.
Umar Nurmagomedov (13-0-0)
You might look at that last name and think, “That sounds familiar.” It’s because this is the lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin. Umar was making his UFC debut, and much like the other standouts on this card, Sergey Morozov dominated his opponent. Whether it was striking on the feet or controlling Morozov on the ground, it was Nurmagomedov leading the charge. He finally finished his opponent via the rear naked choke in the second round and kept his undefeated record. For the men’s bantamweight division, adding an undefeated member of the Nurmagomedov family will definitely send chills down the spine of all competitors.
Warlley Alves (15-4-0)
The final winner for me was Brazilian welterweight Warlley Alves. Alves came into the fight the underdog against the rising star, Mounir Lazzez, and made it look easy. Alves rushed forward from the opening bell, throwing everything with malicious intent and landing at a high percentage. After a clinch between the two, Alves fired off three massive body kicks, which sent Lazzez to the ground and the referee to stop the fight, giving Alves the first-round TKO. Alves feels ready for a massive step up in competition as he called out none other than UFC legend Nate Diaz in his post-fight interview.
Unfortunately, in sports, you have winners, and you have losers, and in a sport such as mixed martial arts, losing is amplified to another level. And this event had its fair share of losers.
Vinicius Moreira (9-5-0)
The UFC is a cutthroat organization; a two-fight losing streak could end your time in the business and send you back to the small promotions. For Moreira, his knockout loss to Ike Villanueva marks his fourth straight loss in the UFC. You have to assume this loss will be the last straw for Moreira after it was apparent there are some significant improvements needed for the Brazilian light heavyweight to be a serious UFC contender.
Roxanne Modafferi (25-19-0)
For any MMA fan, you know Roxanne Modafferi. She was a pioneer of the women’s divisions way back in the day, and she’s known for her sublime jiu-jitsu and grappling. Unfortunately, the women’s game has evolved, and it seems like Modafferi was left behind. Many women have developed elite striking and are hitting harder than ever. Her opponent, Viviane Araujo, showed that against her. Araujo was lighting Modafferi up on the feet for all three rounds. And even when Modafferi went to grapple, Araujo outclassed her in her own game, stuffing all takedowns. Where Modafferi goes from here, I don’t really know. This loss sends her further down the rankings and further away from the top of the division.
As Abu Dhabi’s action continues to roll on, the UFC is showing every day why they have the best talent in the game. The UFC will close out its date with fight island, with one of the most anticipated fights this year that sees the return of Conor McGregor and his rematch with top lightweight Dustin Poirier. UFC 257 McGregor vs. Poirier takes place this Saturday, Jan. 23, on ESPN+ PPV.