Getting prepared for UFC action this coming Saturday? Here is everything you need to know about the event with our Guide to UFC on ABC 1.
UFC On ABC 1
Date: January 16, 2021
Location: Etihad Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Start Time: 3:00 p.m. ET, 12:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ABC & ESPN+
Featherweights: Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar
Overall Records: Holloway 21-6, Kattar 22-4
UFC Records: Holloway 17-6, Kattar 6-2
Last Fight: Volkanovski def. Holloway (title fight), SpDec, UFC 251 (7/11/20), Kattar def. Ige, UDec, UFC On ESPN 13 (7/15/20)
Last Five Fights: Holloway 2-3, Kattar 4-1
Rankings: Holloway #1, Kattar #6
Betting Odds: Holloway -155, Kattar +135
Preview: The main event of this card has title implications written all over it. Holloway will be competing in his first non-title fight since June 2016 as he looks to get another chance to regain the UFC Featherweight Championship. Kattar is coming in riding an impressive recent run, winning four of his last five fights, and his willingness to stay active while a lot of top 145-lbs. fighters go through strings of inactivity has put him into a position where he could fight for a title with a big win over Holloway.
Both of these men like to keep the fight standing and are willing to throw down and stand-and-bang as they say. Both men land a lot of strikes, as Holloway averages 6.47 significant strikes landed per minute, while Kattar’s average is just over five significant strikes landed per minute, and both are fairly accurate. Kattar tends to get hit more than he lands, but he’s also never been knocked out, with his only finish loss coming by submission way back in 2008. Holloway has also never been knocked out, with his lone finish loss coming to Dustin Poirier by submission in his UFC debut.
Both men have been around a long time, and while Kattar has more years of action, Holloway has more fights, and far more UFC experience, and far more big fight experience. This might be the best fight out of all three cards being held on round three of Fight Island, and the winner should find themselves fighting for the title next.
Holloway is hungry to regain the featherweight title, as he believes he beat Alexander Volkanovski in their rematch in July, and he knows he can beat Volkanovski. Kattar would be a fresh challenge, and he is rising quickly, and this fight will show where he belongs. This will be an extremely entertaining fight and I lean Holloway in this one.
Welterweights: Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown
Overall Records: Condit 31-13, Brown 22-17
UFC Records: Condit 8-9, Brown 15-11
Last Fight: Condit def. McGee, UDec, UFC On ESPN 16 (10/3/20), Baeza def. Brown, R2 TKO, UFC On ESPN 8 (5/16/20)
Last Five Fights: Condit 1-4, Brown 2-3
Betting Odds: Condit -155, Brown +135
Preview: A fight between two welterweight veterans that has been years and years in the making finally takes place when Condit and Brown step inside the Octagon across from one another. Condit and Brown were originally supposed to fight each other way back in 2013, and then again in 2018, but now, in 2021, they will get the chance to punch each other, which is what fans of both men have been waiting for for years.
Both men are in the twilight of their careers as injuries have hampered both over the last several years. Brown is entering the fight having lost his last fight after winning his previous two. Condit is coming off a win in his last fight after losing his prior five fights. Both are at an interesting stage as each time they step inside the Octagon could be their last. Brown has openly talked about retirement, saying each fight could be his last, but he’s been wanting the Condit fight for a long time. Meanwhile, any talk of retirement from Condit was brushed off when he beat Court McGee in October, and this turnaround of just over three months is his quickest return to action since his WEC days.
Both men are durable fighters who have a penchant for violence, and they like to trade on the feet. Condit has never been knocked out in his career, while Brown has taken a lot of punishment in the latter stages of his career and has become prone to being knocked out. A ground game favors Condit, but both are very good on the mat. I don’t expect the fight to go there, as I expect them to stand-and-trade. At this stage, I like Condit to win this fight as Brown’s best days are surely behind him. While that may also be the case with Condit, his performance in December showed he still has plenty of fight left.
In years past, this could easily contend for Fight Of The Year. It still could, but at any rate, this should be an extremely fun fight.
Welterweights: Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Li Jingliang
Overall Records: Ponzinibbio 27-3, Jingliang 17-6
UFC Records: Ponzinibbio 9-2. Jingliang 9-4
Last Fight: Ponzinibbio def. Magny, R4 KO, UFC Fight Night 140 (11/17/18), Magny def. Jingliang, UDec, UFC 248 (3/7/20)
Last Five Fights: Ponzinibbio 5-0, Jingliang 3-2
Betting Odds: Ponzinibbio -275, Jingliang +235
Preview: After more than two years out of action, Ponzinibbio makes his long-awaited return to action, eager to show that he is still a top-ten fighter. He returns riding a seven-fight win streak, with his last appearance being a knockout win over Neil Magny in November 2018. After originally being slated to fight Muslim Salikhov in this fight, he instead gets short-notice replacement Li Jingliang, who was supposed to fight in December.
Jingliang is fighting for the first time since a March loss to the aforementioned Magny as travel issues due to COVID-19 have kept him from being booked, and then he lost his December fight after his opponent caught COVID-19. Prior to that loss, Jingliang had won seven of eight, often finding himself in the bottom of the rankings or right on the cusp.
oth men like to exchange on the feet, and both are often wild swingers. Ponzinibbio has 15 wins by knockout, while Jingliang has seven wins by knockout. Both men have submission wins, but they all came before either was in UFC, and neither man has much of a takedown approach inside the Octagon. This is a good test for Ponzinibbio after the long layoff as Jingliang presents a game challenge, and it will show if Ponzinibbio is still an elite welterweight or if the time off and injuries have made him lose a step. This should also be a real fun fight.
Middleweights: Joaquin Buckley vs. Alessio Di Chirico
Overall Records: Buckley 12-3, Di Chirico 12-5
UFC Records: Buckley 2-1, Di Chirico 3-5
Last Fight: Buckley def. Wright, R2 KO, UFC 255 (11/21/20), Cummings def. Di Chirico, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 33 (8/29/20)
Last Five Fights: Buckley 4-1, Di Chirico 2-3
Betting Odds: Buckley -260, Di Chircio +220
Preview: The viral sensation, coming off of the well-deserved honor of having 2020’s Knockout Of The Year, gets back to action quickly as Buckley looks to make it three straight wins as he takes on Di Chirico. Buckley will be fighting for the third time in four months. He had the incredible spin kick knockout of Impa Kasanganay in October, and finished it with a destruction and one-punch knockout of Jordan Wright in November. That leads him to his first main card appearance, and fighting on ABC is a big platform for him.
It’s interesting that he didn’t get a big fight here, as he had been calling out numerous opponents, but he is instead facing an opponent on a three-fight losing skid in Di Chirico. He hasn’t won a fight since July 2018, and a fourth straight loss could signal the end of his UFC run, so he finds himself in a must-win situation. Di Chirico has never been knocked out in his career and is a tough opponent who is a well-rounded fighter. Buckley hits his opponents a lot, but he also gets hit more than he lands, so he’s going to need better striking defense in this one.
Buckley believes in his power, but it may take more than that to get the win here. Buckley is the favorite, as he should be, but don’t be surprised if his momentum is stuffed by Di Chirico here. This is a more interesting fight than it is getting credit for.
Middleweights: Punahele Soriano vs. Dusko Todorovic
Overall Records: Soriano 7-0, Todorovic 10-0
UFC Records: Soriano 1-0, Todorovic 1-0
Last Fight: Soriano def. Piechota, R1 KO, UFC 245 (12/14/19), Todorovic def. Townsend, R2 TKO, UFC On ESPN 16 (10/3/20)
Last Five Fights: Soriano 5-0, Todorovic 5-0
Betting Odds: Soriano +135, Todorovic -155
Preview: A pair of undefeated middleweights from the Contender Series make their second UFC appearance in what should be an explosive main card opener. Soriano fights after missing all of 2020 after injuries took him out of a pair of planned fights. He debuted in December 2019 with a first-round knockout win over Oskar Piechota. Todorovic is coming off a one-sided finish of Dequan Townsend in October on Fight Island, so the environment will be a familiar sight for him. Todorovic has ten wins to start his career, and holds a non-UFC win over current UFC welterweight Michel Pereira, and nine of his wins have come via a finish. As for Soriano, his seven career wins have seen him finish six of his opponents.
Todorovic likes to try to take down his opponents, but he hasn’t always been successful with it; during his Contender Series fight against Teddy Ash, he was 0–14 on his takedown attempts. If he is able to get an opponent down, he has strong ground-and-pound. Soriano is a power puncher, who knocked Piechota down twice during their three-minute fight, but he also has a strong takedown game, landing four-of-five takedowns during his UFC and Contender Series appearances.
This battle of prospects looks exciting on paper, but it is kind of disappointing that one of these fighters will be suffering a loss as both have some good long-term potential. Viewers should keep and eye on both of these men going forward.
Start Time: 12:00 p.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN+
Middleweights: Phil Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov
Overall Records: Hawes 9-2, Imavov 9-2
UFC Records: Hawes 1-0, Imavov 1-0
Last Fight: Hawes def. Malkoun, R1 KO, UFC 254 (10/24/20), Imavov def. Williams, UDec, UFC On ESPN 16 (10/3/20)
Last Five Fights: Hawes 5-0, Imavov 5-0
Betting Odds: Hawes -155, Imavov +135
Preview: After struggling to live up to his potential early in his career, Hawes enters this fight against Imavov riding a five-fight win streak that has finally seen him put everything together. He is coming off an 18-second destruction of Jacob Malkoun in October in a fight he couldn’t look any more impressive in. Imavov is also making his second UFC appearance as he is coming off a decision win over Jordan Williams in October.
You really know what you’re getting when it comes to Hawes; he is either going to finish you or he’s going to find himself on the wrong end of being finished himself. Imavov is a fighter that likes to get the takedown and hunt for submissions, and he is good at keeping opponents down on the mat. Hawes is a former junior college national champion in wrestling, so he should be able to negate any takedowns from Imavov. Imavov has never been knocked out in his career, but he’s never faced someone with the power of Hawes.
This feels like a fight set up for Hawes to get another win, but Imavov is a tough opponent. I like Hawes in this fight.
Women’s Bantamweights: Wu Yanan vs. Joselyne Edwards
Overall Records: Yanan 10-3, Edwards 9-2
UFC Records: Yanan 1-2, Edwards UFC Debut
Last Fight: Inoue def. Yanan, SpDec, UFC On ESPN+ 15 (8/31/19), Edwards def. Gonzalez, R1 KO, UWC 22 (7/3/20)
Last Five Fights: Yanan 3-2, Edwards 4-1
Betting Odds: Yanan -170, Edwards +150
Preview: Yanan returns to action for the first time since August 2019 as she returns to the women’s bantamweight division to take on newcomer Edwards. Edwards is a late-notice replacement, as she signed with UFC to replace Bethe Correia in this fight. Edwards comes into UFC having won eight of her last nine fights, though she’s only fought once in the last 25 months.
Yanan has had mixed success during her UFC stint, and weight issues affected her in her last appearance, but she is still young, just 24, and has loads of potential. Nine of her eleven wins have come by stoppage, and the only losses on her resume have come to fighters currently on UFC’s roster. Edwards has finishes in eight of her nine wins.
Yanan is a high-volume striker who does have a good takedown game, while Edwards likes to keep fights on the feet and has a lot of raw ability. Yanan is likely fighting for her roster spot, so she has a lot to lose in this one. This could be an interesting fight, but could also end up going the distance and being a dull fight.
Heavyweights: Carlos Felipe vs. Justin Tafa
Overall Records: Felipe 9-1, Tafa 4-1
UFC Records: Felipe 1-1, Tafa 1-1
Last Fight: Felipe def. De Castro, UDec, UFC On ESPN 16 (10/3/20), Tafa def. Adams, R1 TKO, UFC 247 (2/8/20)
Last Five Fights: Felipe 4-1, Tafa 4-1
Betting Odds: Felipe -200, Tafa +170
Preview: Some big heavyweights take to the Octagon as Felipe and Tafa both look to score their second UFC win. Felipe is coming into this fight off a decision win over Yorgan De Castro in an ugly fight in October. Tafa is fighting for the first time in nearly a year, as he enters off a first-round TKO over Juan Adams in February. Tafa is less experienced, but has proven to be a finisher, as all four of his wins have come by knockout, though his one loss saw him on the receiving end of a counter right hand that finished him.
Felipe is more of a grinding fighter, even though he has six wins by knockout. Neither man is a takedown fighter, as neither has even attempted a takedown in their limited UFC action. Felipe is someone who prefers to clinch and push opponents against the fence and work inside the clinch. Both men are big heavyweights, so neither will likely be able to bully the other around.
Let’s be honest, if this fight goes any longer than three minutes, it’s probably going to be really bad. I don’t have high expectations for this one, so maybe they’ll surprise me. I like Tafa in this fight as he is the harder puncher.
Welterweights: David Zawada vs. Ramazan Emeev
Overall Records: Zawada 17-5, Emeev 19-4
UFC Records: Zawada 1-2, Emeev 4-1
Last Fight: Zawada def. Nurmagomedov, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 21 (11/9/19), Emeev def. Stolze, UDec, UFC On ESPN 14 (7/25/20)
Last Five Fights: Zawada 3-2, Emeev 4-1
Betting Odds: Zawada +220, Emeev -260
Preview: Zawada and Emeev square off in a welterweight bout that sees Zawada in need of a win, while Emeev looks to establish some consistency. Zawada has been itching to return to action, as he hasn’t fought since November 2019, and he had two scheduled fights in 2020 fall apart due to COVID-19. Emeev fought once in 2020, scoring a decision win in July over Niklas Stolze, and he’s looking to stay more active as he’s only fought more than once in a calendar year one time since joining UFC in 2017.
Zawada is a striker first, but he does tend to get hit a lot more than he lands. Emeev is a takedown artist, but he does only average two takedowns a fight during his UFC tenure. He does have some power in his hands, though all five of his UFC bouts have gone the distance. Zawada is in more need of a win, as he has lost two of his three UFC fights, and a third loss could signal a roster cut. This has the potential to be an entertaining prelim, and is a real solid fight.
Women’s Bantamweights: Sarah Moras vs. Vanessa Melo
Overall Records: Moras 6-6, Melo 10-8
UFC Records: Moras 3-5, Melo 0-3
Last Fight: Eubanks def. Moras, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 29 (5/13/20), Rosa def. Melo, UDec, UFC 251 (7/11/20)
Last Five Fights: Moras 1-4, Melo 2-3
Betting Odds: Moras -240, Melo +200
Preview: Moras and Melo meet in a bantamweight bout that is pivotal to the future careers of both women, as the loser could find themselves the victim of roster cuts. Moras is just 2–5 in her last seven fights, while Melo is winless in her UFC career with an 0–3 record. It’s a surprise both are actually still on the roster, but the winner here will see their UFC career continue, so this is a big fight for both.
Moras is more of a clinch and ground fighter, and she doesn’t land very many strikes. Melo tends to eat a lot of punches and is good at defending takedowns, but isn’t much of a takedown fighter as she prefers to keep it standing. Melo also has a huge tendency to go the distance, as 15 of her 18 fights have gone to a decision. This is another fight on the card that might not be pretty, but with a lot to fight for for both, they both could pull out all the stops.
Featherweights: Austin Lingo vs. Jacob Kilburn
Overall Records: Kilburn 8-3, Lingo 7-1
UFC Records: Kilburn 0-1, Lingo 0-1
Last Fight: Quarantillo def. Kilburn, R2 SUB, UFC On ESPN 7 (12/7/19), Zalal def. Lingo, UDec, UFC 247 (2/8/20)
Last Five Fights: Kilburn 3-2, Lingo 4-1
Betting Odds: Kilburn +185, Lingo -225
Preview: A pair of featherweights looking for their first UFC win in their second UFC appearance kicks off the show as Kilburn and Lingo look to get this run of Fight Island shows off to a strong start. Both men had disappointing UFC debuts, as Kilburn was submitted by Billy Quarantillo and Lingo dropped a decision to Youseff Zalal. Both men are also coming off long layoffs, as Kilburn hasn’t fought since December 2019, and Lingo last fought in February.
Neither man lands a lot of strikes, as they both averaged less than one significant strike landed per minute in their UFC debuts. Kilburn has a tendency to give up to submission attempts, as all three of his losses have come by submission. Kilburn also tends to get hit a lot, so Lingo will need to take advantage of that. Both men are still young in their careers with plenty of room to grow, so this will showcase whether both have what it takes to remain competitive inside the Octagon.