An unmissable, explosive Featherweight bout headlines this week’s UFC card as Brian Ortega returns to the Octagon against the Korean Zombie. Once again this week’s card takes place from ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi and features plenty of international talent. We look into the main event and a couple of the better stylistic matchups below. Let’s get into it below.
Ortega will make his first walk to the Octagon in over two years since losing his title fight to former champion Max Holloway. Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega has some of the best jiu-jitsu you will ever witness in the UFC. The way he can transition on the mat is a pleasure to watch and his submissions of both Cub Swanson and Renato Moicano back in 2017 are some of the slickest you will see. If you haven’t seen either of those submission wins be sure to check them out. Often people talk about chain wrestling in MMA but Ortega chains his submissions together in a way that looks effortless. However, like many ground specialists, Ortega fell in love with his hands which ultimately led him to being picked apart on the feet by Holloway.
Fighters like Ortega don’t need to fear being taken down which allows them to press forward and exchange in close quarters. Yet when grapplers get a knockout or two in doing so, they often falsely believe they are better strikers than they are which often spells their demise as seen best in the example of Ronda Rousey. From all reports Ortega took his loss hard and hopefully the two years off refocusses him and gets him back to his jiu jitsu roots. If Ortega can make this fight his own and make it a scramble type of fight, he will win, but it is a big if. Now onto the Korean Zombie who has become an icon of the sport. He has some crazy knockouts and some of the most absurd submission victories you will ever see.
Since returning to the Octagon in 2017, Zombie has won three of his four fights, all by KO, with his sole loss being to Yair Rodriguez by a final second KO in what was one of the greatest fights and finishes of the decade. Zombie is the best striker Ortega has faced in his career and if this becomes a slugfest, Zombie will finish the durable Ortega. No matter what improvement Ortega has made in his stand up in the past two years, if the fight stays standing Zombie will have a field day. It will be a crazy and fun fight to watch yet the oddsmakers have this about right and therefore I am staying out from a betting standpoint but what a fight this will be.
Gillian Robertson is one of the least appreciated female fighters in the UFC as she actually is a lot better than people give her credit for. Her only losses in the Octagon came to a Maycee Barber by KO and a Bueno Silva submission which is nothing to be ashamed of as she is slick on the mat. Her opponent Botelho is the weakest opponent she has faced since Emily Whitmire, and Robertson should make a mockery of Botelho here. Botelho has a striking advantage but has shown that she has weak takedown defence and a lack of understanding on the ground. Robertson should get this to the ground at will and put on an absolute clinic when she gets it there.
Admittedly I have some bias towards Mullarkey as an Australian and have been a fan of his since watching him on the local circuits but he should be too good for Fares Ziam. Mullarkey finally got his UFC shot last year but lost to Brad Riddell in what was a Fight of the Night display. I could go on about Mullarkey’s pedigree on the national circuit but all that needs to be known is he is an ever-improving fighter who mixes up his striking well and has decent wrestling and a good overall ground game. Riddell was a tough stylistic matchup for him as he has sharp boxing and solid defensive wrestling. Riddell has also gone on to win both his fights since beating Mullarkey. Mullarkey will likely use his strikes to close distance and take this to the ground where he should ground and pound Ziam out or will work to take the back and lock up a rear naked choke. Expect the Aussie to get it done either by KO or submission.
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