The news that the MMA world had been waiting for has now been announced. Fight Island is real, it’s on Yas Island and it’s hosting events on the 11th, 15th, 18th and 25th of July. Yes, that’s four events in two weeks. The first of these cards will be UFC 251, and three title fights have already been put together for this massive event. With that being said, what a great opportunity it is for us to play backseat matchmaker, and pull together a card of fights we want to see on the grand opening of fight island.
Mike Grundy vs Makwan Amirkhani:
Kicking off our prelim card for fight island is one of the bouts that we were gutted to see cancelled from UFC London. This fight sees Mike Grundy, an accomplished English wrestler, make his second octagon appearance against a staple of European staple in the UFC in Makwan Amirkhani.
This fight is a brilliant test for both men at this time in their current UFC careers. It’s a great match-up and it deserves to be rescheduled for fight island.
Molly McCann vs Ashlee Evans-Smith:
Our second cancelled bout from UFC London that makes our fantasy card, is this women’s flyweight match-up. Fans across the world have fallen for ‘meatball’ since her UFC debut and we are all eager for more. Being denied another big moment in front of a home crowd at UFC London was a huge disappointment so what better way to make up for it then on seeing the two of them throw down on fight island.
Nicolas Dalby vs Danny Roberts:
Okay, just one more and then we promise we are done with just re-booking UFC London. How could we skip past this fan favourite clash with fight of the night written all over it. The only part of this fight we struggled with is having it this far down the card when it was scheduled to be the co-main event in London. It was just too good to not have on our fantasy card. Even if the rest of the card does not live up to our expectations, this one is a guaranteed battle that can’t be missed.
Jimi Manuwa vs Junior Dos Santos:
One of the UK’s most recognisable fighters of the last few years has been flirting with a return to the octagon since retiring in June of last year. Manuwa returning at heavyweight makes the most sense to us and who wouldn’t want to see one of the most guaranteed entertainment fighters move up. When looking at opponents for his heavyweight debut, we picked out former champion Junior Dos Santos due to his top ten ranking in the division and recent form of two losses. This is a great opportunity for JDS to prove once again that he is still a top heavyweight or for Manuwa to make a massive statement on his return. Greg Hardy would be a strong alternative to JDS in our eyes as what he lacks in experience and ranking, he makes up for in his profile. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t want to see that fight.
Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy vs Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis:
Another one of UK MMA’s favourite sons has also teased a return to the cage for a while now. Dan Hardy stands side-by-side with Michael Bisping as the UK’s most beloved fighters. Last making the walk to the octagon in 2012, Hardy has become increasingly serious about a return in recent months and now the perfect opponent has been found. Following his win over Donald Cerrone at UFC 249, Anthony Pettis verbally agreed to the fight and the contest sells itself from there. What an incredible way to kick off the main card, with the return of a legend after eight years away in a must-see striking contest against the former lightweight champion.
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs Yair Rodriguez:
From one creative striking extravaganza to another now with this insane featherweight match-up. To see two of the sports most creative strikers throw down on fight island would be nothing short of amazing. For the same reason we kept Leon Edwards vs Colby Covington clear of this card, many would argue that this fight is better served as a 5-round main event. Though this might be true, this match-up in particular will be more exciting as a 3-rounder; not to mention this is a fantasy card and we are greedy.
Three title fights:
Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title
Alexander Volkanovski (C) vs Max Holloway 2 for the featherweight title
Kamaru Usman (C) vs Gilbert Burns for the welterweight title
When looking at title fights, these three have reportedly been made for this card so we took the ‘if it isn’t broke don’t fix it’ approach. All three title fights present incredible match-ups with massive stakes in each of their divisions. We simply cannot complain with three title fights for fight island’s debut, especially when the match-ups are as engaging as the three we’ve been given.
So what did we do right and more importantly what did we do wrong? What would you change and which of the three title fights are you most excited for? Get involved and let us know what your fantasy fight island cards would look like.