Well, I think I can speak for many UFC betting fans when I say that things didn’t exactly go according to plan in the main fight of the night between Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung last Saturday.
Ortega defied the bookmakers’ odds and delivered a classic performance to outclass the Korean to a unanimous decision victory at UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. The Korean Zombie. If you had money on Ortega to win that fight, congratulations! If you had the Zombie, commiserations.
As an event, Saturday’s night’s latest Fight Island punch party was one that performed well above expectations. Helped mostly by the following three standout performances at UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. The Korean Zombie, of course.
Let’s start with an absolute schooling in the main event.
How About Ortega 2.0?
The last time we saw Brian Ortega inside the cage, he was bludgeoned and battered by then-champion Max Holloway.
Despite being tipped to overcome “Blessed,” Ortega was dismantled by the Hawaiian a full 22 months ago at UFC 231. That night, he lost his unbeaten record. He also parted ways with what might be represented on a video game as a flashing, maximum capacity momentum bar. You know the type that immediately empties and has to be painstakingly refilled to attain the same level of intensity, or ability to score major points?
On Saturday night, Ortega was written off by most against The Korean Zombie. His opponent was in fine form, having knocked out Renato Moicano and Frankie Edgar in one minute apiece. Even the top UFC sportsbooks priced “T-City” as near a +200 underdog.
But just like a customized video game character that can only take you so far, a couple of tweaks were required. The ponytailed/cornrowed style was ditched for a skinhead. The new style was done for charity — and not due to a dodgy weight cut, as some had thought — but it looked cool.
But there was something less tangible about Ortega’s performance on the night. It was almost as if he had closed up shop after the Holloway fight to make some much-needed alterations to the fundamental structure of his game. We know just how good his BJJ is, but who expected him to dominate a dangerously accomplished striker like Chan Sung Jung on the feet? Guilty as charged.
I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was, in fact, watching Ortega and not some new addition to the promotion that would be tipped for a shot at the title as soon as the judges’ cards had spelled out the obvious.
This looked like… Ortega 2.0. A guy that Alexander Volkanovski has already expressed his excitement at taking on. Dana White said before the fight that the winner would get his crack at the title, and that’s Ortega can look forward to in 2021.
Was that THE performance of the year? It’s certainly up there.
Well, I admit I was wrong about Ortega. But I was certainly right about picking Jessica Andrade to beat Katlyn Chookagian.
In my betting preview for this fight, I spoke about how Andrade would smash into her opponent’s midsection and tee off with wild hooks and uppercuts when inside the much taller fighter.
I had expected her to find a lot of success with her bodywork in Round 2 but was five seconds too early in terms of fight time off. The Brazilian planted venom into Chookagian’s midriff at the end of the first round to drop her for the KO.
I had initially thought the American could hold off until the final bell, but what an impressive performance from Bate Estaca in her UFC women’s flyweight debut.
Before this fight, Chookagian was the number one contender to Valentina Shevchenko’s flyweight crown. Yes, she had already been stopped by “The Bullet,” but it appeared as though a win over Andrade would push her back into the frame. Instead, Andrade moved up by ten pounds and looked her ferocious best.
Shevchenko vs. Andrade is clearly the fight to make at the 125-pound mark of women’s MMA. The champion will be a big favorite to win this potential fight, but I don’t think there is a better challenge for her than Saturday night’s winner.
Nope, I’m not talking about Donald Trump, the 45th POTUS. I’m referring to Dana White, the President of the UFC. Or POTUFC. But that doesn’t have the same ring to it at all.
Anyway, Jimmy Crute. What a stoppage. On a night of action at UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. The Korean Zombie, Crute’s crushing knockout of Modestas Bukauskas at the 2:01 mark was one of the big highlights.
Lithuania’s Bukauskas was on a seven-fight win streak, while Crute was looking to make it two from two following a submission loss to Misha Curkinov and a submission win over Michal Oleksiejczuk in September 2019 and February 2020, respectively.
Crute, currently unranked, will surely crack the top 15 within his next couple of fights. He has shown he has the talent to work his way into a good position at 205-pounds over the next few years and will be one to watch as he approaches his late 20s.
White was impressed. And impressing the boss is never a bad idea.
So UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. The Korean Zombie is in the books.
It was a great night of fights, but the three performances of Brian Ortega, Jessica Andrade, and Jimmy Crute really made it something to remember. But I’m betting on UFC 254 being something truly special.
That’s right, the big night is almost upon us. A night when the living legend of the lightweight division, Khabib Nurmagomedov, takes on the electric Justin Gaethje in the main event this Saturday, October 24. How good is this fight going to be?
Can Gaethje beat Khabib, or is “The Eagle” invincible? Many boxing fans would have said the same thing about Vasyl Lomachenko before Teofimo Lopez forced a glitch in the invincible matrix on Saturday. Will the seemingly impossible be done on Fight Island?
I’m pumped for some amazing fights this weekend. Catch my predictions for them all, below!