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UFC Fight Island takeaways – Brian Ortega’s title shot is deserved; Jessica Andrade is a candidate at 125

Ortega looked like another fighter

On paper, Brian Ortega had three things against him on his way in Saturday night:

1. He came out of the worst loss of his career, a fourth round TKO (medical stop) to Max Holloway.

2. He had not fought for 22 months.

3. He changed most of his corner since the last time he competed.

Usually this composition leads to problems.

But in the end, those three question marks answered huge results for “T-City.”

What a victory for Ortega. What a performance. What a match.

I am honest. I did not expect this. These three reasons above plus his surprising decision to shave his patented locks on Friday, which usually means a hard weight loss, gave me serious pause on the way into this fight. I thought it was Chan Sung Jungs losing.

Boy, was I wrong. Ortega looked like a completely different fighter during the victory with unanimous decision. Patient, controlled, on point. The truth must be, this was not the warrior who lost to then-featherweight champion Holloway almost two years ago in Toronto.

Heck, if you did not know better, you would think that Ortega̵

7;s background is actually in striking, when his bread and butter is in fact his basic game. This evening, however, he needed no basic skills. He beat Jung in his own game and never wavered. He legitimately surpassed Jung. Color me very impressed.

How good did he look? Ortega landed 127 significant strikes against Jung, most in a fight in his UFC career. His previous high was 110 significant strikes landed in his loss to Holloway. In addition, Ortega landed a personal best of 59 percent of his significant strikes (127 of 212). On their way into this match, Ortega had an average significant strike accuracy of 33 percent. These two statistics tell the story: he was dominant and on point.

I said earlier this week on “Ariel & The Bad Guy” that I did not think a win for Ortega should be equivalent to a title shot, even though UFC President Dana White said that was what awaited the winner. It seemed weird that he would get a crack in the belt after being away for almost two years and not win since March 2018. It just did not make sense to me.

I’m taking it back now. Sign up for Ortega 2.0 vs. Alexander Volkanovski on the featherweight title. When you consider his much improved strike and his basic play, it should provide a very interesting fight. And for the record, it’s not just W that makes me feel like Ortega deserves the title shot, it’s that he looks so much better than he did against Holloway. That plus the fact that he thoroughly dominated the guy I thought was going to be the next one for the belt makes me think this is the right call after all.

You must have all forgotten that? No, we learned something new from Ortega this evening. We learned that he could adapt, evolve, and overcome. Bravo.

As for Jung, he will not fall too far down the rankings. He is too popular and too much fun. I know Edson Barboza is new to the division, but I would love to see that match. The timing would work because Barboza just struggled. If not, Holloway, who is looking for big matches after going 0-2 against the champion, would certainly be an exciting option.

– Ariel Helwani

Could Jessica Andrade be the flying weight that shocks the world?

So let’s get straight out and say it: the UFC’s female flyweight division is not its deepest weight class. It is wide open. I’m not saying that to donate to any of the women currently fighting there, but there’s a reason Cynthia Calvillo was able to move up from strawweight earlier this year, win a fight and already is No. 3 on the UFC’s official flyweight rankings.

The champion, Valentina Shevchenko, has been no less than a 6-to-1 betting favorite through four title defenses. No one expects that Shevchenko will soon lose this belt. However, I can not think of anyone who is better suited to pull it off than Andrade who stopped Katlyn Chookagian in the first round.

Consider what makes Shevchenko so good – technique. She is almost perfect everywhere. No one will fight Shevchenko for 125 pounds. But maybe someone can go in there one night and knock her unconscious. It is, after all, the great equalizer in this sport.

And look at what Andrade brings to the table. She is the kind of bullish fighter who goes through tricks, is willing to take risks and has this other-worldly power to cause a disturbance. If / when Andrade fights for Shevchenko for the belt, she will be an underdog and I will probably choose Shevchenko to win. But honestly, I think Andrade might be only flight weight in the world who even has a chance to beat Shevchenko off.

– Brett Okamoto

Jimmy Crute impressed in several ways



Jimmy Crute drops Modestas Bukauskas with a giant right hook and a follow-up to UFC Fight Night.

Jimmy Crute is a young man who is busy. He joined the UFC less than two years ago, and on Saturday he got his fourth finish inside the Octagon, tying him up with three others for most in the lightweight division during that time.

A little over a year ago, it looked like Crute might be too busy. At the age of 23, he was booked against veteran light heavyweight Misha Cirkunov and ended up being sent to his first career defeat. Despite that, an ESPN panel shortly thereafter ranked Crute as the No. 7 MMA fighter under 25 years of age.

Then, in February, Crute got back on track with a win in the first round of submission by an employee, Michal Oleksiejczuk. And on Saturday, the Australian, who first turns 25 in March, took another step towards being a challenger. Crute looked fully in control during every second of his first-round knockout of Modestas Bukauskas who came in after winning seven games in a row.

The most impressive thing I saw in the match: Although Crute got the job done in just under two minutes, it did not look like he was busy this time. He looked relaxed and ready, to counter any Bukauskas attack, but did not force anything. The finish came on a wind-up right hook resistance and a follow-up back. It was a beauty.

And then Crute’s work was right after. He immediately put his arm around his fallen opponent, then jumped the cage to thank UFC President Dana White for keeping the fights going during the pandemic and then sent out a respectful challenge of Nikita Krylov because “I reckon it would be a banger . “

Well done.

– Jeff Wagenheim

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