UFC is set to kick-off 2021 on January 16th at UFC on ABC 1, headlined by former featherweight king Max Holloway and up-and-coming contender Calvin Kattar.
The event will be the first of the three set to take place on the Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, the others being UFC Fight Island 8 and UFC 257.
With life in the United States halted for the majority of 2020, UAE provided the UFC with a safe haven to continue their activities. The UFC has now paid back the favor by gifting Abu Dhabi three stacked cards, one of which includes arguably the biggest star in combat sports today, Conor McGregor. It’s safe to say that January is going to be a massive month not just for the UFC, but for fight fans from around the world.
Max Holloway vs Calvin Kattar
With two defeats on the bounce, Max Holloway can’t afford any more slip-ups, especially when he is eyeing a trilogy fight with reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski. A win over Kattar could land him another title fight against either Volkanovski or Brian Ortega, both of whom are expected to fight for the title in a couple of months. The general opinion is that Holloway needs more than one win to make his case for a title shot, but given the lack of progress in the division during the past year or so, ‘Blessed’ would be the strongest contender should he beat Kattar.
But getting past Kattar wouldn’t be a walk in the park for the former champion. The Bostonian is extremely explosive and has great boxing and cardio. Since losing to Zabit Magomedsharipov, Kattar has won two on the bounce, against Jeremy Stephens and Dan Ige. Kattar understands that this is the biggest fight of his career, and a third consecutive win would certainly put him in title contention.
It’s a very important fight for both the fighters and none can afford to put a foot wrong.
Carlos Condit vs Matt Brown
In the co-main event of UFC on ABC 1, former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit and Matt Brown will go head to head. Both fighters are in the twilight of their careers. In his last six fights, Brown has only managed to win two, while Condit snapped his five-fight losing streak in his most recent fight against Court McGee at UFC Fight Island 4.
Both will be looking to take the win and a potential bonus home, so we should expect some fireworks. This particular fight is also creating some buzz among the fans, because who doesn’t love a couple of old school warriors going at each other?
Condit vs Brown is a super fun fight.
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs Li Jingliang
Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio has shown a huge amount of potential in his UFC career, but luck hasn’t really been on his side. He last fought in 2018 against Neil Magny at UFC Fight Night 140 in his home country, beating his opponent via knockout in round four. Since then, Ponzinibbio has been on the sidelines due to injuries and health issues.
But now that he is back, the Argentine promises to work his way up and eventually fight for the welterweight championship. Ponzinibbio was originally scheduled to fight Muslim Salikhov, but the latter had to pull out due to the coronavirus and was replaced by Li Jingliang.
While Ponzinibbio is a knockout artist, Jingliang is a pretty tough cookie to crack. He has only been finished once in his career. The Chinese martial artist is known for his wrestling but has got amazing striking prowess too. He’s a very tough comeback fight for Ponzinibbio, one that’ll truly test his resolve.
Joaquin Buckley vs Alessio Di Chirico
Joaquin Buckley rose to unimaginable fame after he knocked out Impa Kasanganay with a spinning kick at UFC Fight Island 5 in October 2020. A month later, he knocked out Jordan Wright in the second round at UFC 255.
The 26-year-old is on a roll, but with three defeats on the trot, his next opponent, Alessio Di Chirico, is on a different trajectory altogether.
With only three wins in eight fights, the Italian hasn’t had a very impressive UFC career, but a statement win over Buckley could put him in a great position. The general perception is that Buckley is going to run through his opponent, but Di Chirico is tough as nails. It’s a very intriguing matchup.
Punahele Soriano vs Dusko Todorovic
Not much is known about Punahele Soriano and Dusko Todorovic at present, but things could change dramatically on January 16th. With a chance to feature on the main card, both have the opportunity to attract some eyeballs with a big performance. Both fighters were part of Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019, and both are undefeated. But when they face each other come Saturday, someone’s “0” has to go.
UFC on ABC 1 – Prelims
Phil Hawes vs Nassourdine Imavov
Wu Yanan vs Joselyne Edwards
Omari Akhmedov vs Tom Breese
Carlos Felipe vs Justin Tafa
David Zawada vs Ramazan Emeev
Sarah Moras vs Vanessa Melo
Jacob Kilburn vs Austin Lingo
What are your predictions for UFC on ABC 1: Holloway vs Kattar?
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