UFC Fight Island 3 Preview And Betting Tips
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UFC Fight Island 3 Preview And Betting Tips

The UFC ends its recent run of events on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi with a bang this Saturday. In a fun card that is filled with European fighters, a Brazilian legends clash, the return of Alexander Gustafsson, and former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker take on England’s Darren Till in a pivotal main event showdown. Ryan O’Leary from MMA Viking brings you his betting preview and tips for another stacked card in the octagon.





Nathaniel Wood will look to bounce back from his disappointing TKO defeat to John Dodson back in February when he meets John Castaneda in a bantamweight bout. Castaneda will be making his UFC debut and a big underdog against the 26-year-old English prospect.

Ramazan Emeev goes into his welterweight bout with the debuting Niklas Stolze as a big favorite. Emeev is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Anthony Rocco Martin, but having won his previous seven fights, he should be confident of returning to winning ways.

Bethe Correia and Pannie Kianzad are both coming off wins and will be hoping to embark on a winning streak when they collide in their women’s bantamweight contest. Kianzad, who last outpointed Jessica-Rose Clark, is slightly favored over Correia by the oddsmakers and the Swede hopes to jump into a top 15 ranking with a win. 

Tanner Boser can make it three wins in four UFC appearances with a victory over Raphael Pessoa. Boser only competed last month when he knocked out Philipe Lins as he looks to remain active. Pessoa, meanwhile, is 1-1 with the promotion and although he last outpointed Jeff Hughes in October last year, he is the betting underdog in this heavyweight matchup.

Movsar Evoloev clashes with England's Mike Grundy in a featherweight bout. Grundy joined the UFC last year with a lot of hype and delivered with a TKO win over Nad Narimani in March. However, he faces a tough task in the undefeated Russian Evoloev, who is 2-0 with the UFC, having last outpointed Enrique Barzola in October.

Tom Aspinall makes his UFC debut when he faces the returning Jake Collier in a heavyweight tilt. Aspinall has won three in a row, all coming by way of knockout. Collier, meanwhile, hasn’t competed since a unanimous decision win over Marcel Fortuna back in November 2017, having alternated between wins and losses dating back to December 2014. Aspinall should fancy his chances.

Nicolas Dalby faces short-notice opponent Jesse Ronson in welterweight action. Dalby returned to the UFC with a unanimous decision win over Alex Oliveira last September in his home town of Copenhagen. He will be confident about making it two wins in a row against Ronson, who himself is returning to the UFC following a previous stint. However, the Canadian has lost two of his last three outings and is unsurprisingly the underdog.

Francisco Trinaldo will be looking to make it three wins in a row for the first time since 2015 as he meets England’s Jai Herbert in lightweight action. Although the debuting Herbert is on a six-fight winning streak and is nine years the junior of the 41-year-old Trinaldo, the Brazilian -- coming off wins over Bobby Green and John Makdessi -- is still one of the top lightweights in the world and should get the job done.



 Khamzat Chimaev (7-0) vs. Rhys McKee (10-2-1)

Khamzat Chimaev made a huge impression when he outclassed John Phillips en route to the second-round submission victory in his short-notice middleweight bout at UFC 251 earlier this month. 

He will now have a quick turnaround when he returns to his natural weight class at welterweight to face the debuting Rhys McKee, who faces a tough task ahead of him in his short notice bout. The “Wolf” is the main training partner of Alexander Gustafsson, who will be fighting later in the card, and is a huge favorite in this one.

Alex Oliveira (20-8-1, 2NC) vs. Peter Sobotta (17-6-1)

Alex Oliveira snapped a three-fight losing streak following his split decision victory over Max Griffin at UFC 248 in March. He now has a chance to make it two wins in a row against Germany's Peter Sobotta, who hasn't competed since a TKO loss to Leon Edwards in March 2018. Despite the long layoff for the latter, it should be a close and entertaining welterweight matchup.

Paul Craig (12-4-1) vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-6)

Paul Craig meets Gadzhimurad Antigulov in light heavyweight action. Craig last competed in November when he fought Mauricio Rua to a split draw. Before that, he submitted Vinicius Moreira Castro. Antigulov, meanwhile, has lost his last two in a row via knockout after embarking on an impressive 14-fight winning streak. 

This is a hard one to call, especially as both fighters tend to win their fights via submission.

Carla Esparza (17-6) vs. Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2)

Former women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza will look to go on her first four-fight winning streak since 2013 when she faces Marina Rodriguez. However, Esparza faces a tough task in the unbeaten Brazilian who last fought Cynthia Calvillo to a majority decision draw. 

Despite her own accolades and win streak, Esparza is a slight betting underdog in this matchup and that is likely due to her victories over Alexa Grasso and Michelle Waterson being controversial decision wins.

Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (18-6)

Fabricio Werdum welcomes former training partner Alexander Gustafsson out of retirement to the heavyweight division. Werdum only returned to action in May after over two years out where he had an underwhelming performance in a split decision defeat to Aleksei Oleinik. 

However, the former champ claims a new Werdum will be on display this time. Gustafsson, on the other hand, is coming off two disappointing losses to Jon Jones and Anthony Smith and will be looking for a change in fortune in a higher weight class. 

Despite being on a losing streak and moving up to a new division, Gustafsson is heavily favored over Werdum and will be looking to keep it on the feet and landing a barrage of punches on the Brazilian over three rounds.

Mauricio Rua (26-11-1) vs. Antonio Rogeria Nogueira (23-9)

Brazilian legends Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogeria Nogueira face each other in a trilogy fight in the light heavyweight co-main event. Nogueira has only competed twice since 2016 and is 1-1, having notably been knocked out by Ryan Spann last year. 

Add in the fact that he is 44 and lost his previous two fights to the 38-year-old Rua -- who has suffered defeat just once in his last five outings -- and this should be another win for the latter. The former light heavyweight champion last battled to a split decision draw against Paul Craig back in November.   “Minotouro” has said he will retire after this bout.



Robert Whittaker (21-5) vs. Darren Till (18-2-1)

Former middleweight champ Robert Whittaker will look to return to the win column with a decisive win over former welterweight title challenger Darren Till. Whittaker hasn’t competed since losing his middleweight title in a brutal second-round knockout loss to Israel Adesanya in October. 

He was expected to return in March against Jared Cannonier only to later withdraw as he felt burned out and needed a break. Till, meanwhile, snapped a two-fight losing streak with a unanimous decision win over Kelvin Gastelum in his middleweight debut back in November. 

The winner of this fight will almost certainly be next in line to challenge for the 185-pound title. As for who will come out on top? It’s a close one to call, especially with most oddsmakers having it as a pick ‘em. 

However, Whittaker is the more experienced and polished striker, and will have to avoid getting hit by the heavy-striking Till.  I like a play on Whittaker to push the pace and win by decision in the 5-round main event. 


About Ryan O’Leary

Ryan O’Leary is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist and commentator. The Swedish-based writer is the founder and editor at MMAViking.com, which is the premier source for Nordic mixed martial arts news since 2008.

V: 1.28.0 All rights reserved. August 2021