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UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen Review – Six Things We Learned From Fight Island

| October 12, 2020 9:20 am PDT
UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen

It’s fair to say that UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen on Saturday night was a success.

It was a night of super stoppages, big debut wins, and a key victory that could shape the future landscape of the UFC bantamweight division. Most of all, it was a super entertaining card that proved Fight Island still has that magic.

Here are six major conclusions following one of the best events of the year. Oh, and the best knockout of the decade (clip included)!

Sandhagen the Biggest Winner

On a night of big winners, Sandhagen walked away with the most significant of them all.

As soon as this fight was made, I backed “The Sandman” to get the job done against Moraes. A smart fighter with a good team behind him, the 28-year-old was unsurprisingly flawless with his strategy on the night.

Moraes is one of the most explosive fighters on the roster. Although a dangerous finisher, “Magic” is not equipped with the greatest gas tank in the game. Therefore we tend to see the best of him in the early couple of rounds. While he had some moments in the first round, Sandhagen’s movement and defensive awareness took the sting from his shots.

Round 2 saw Sandhagen land a deft spinning heel kick that sent his opponent crashing to the canvas. Moraes, who has suffered a broken orbital bone in the first stanza, was completely at the mercy of the American. Sandhagen swooped in for the kill with follow up punches that were enough to see Marc Goddard wave the bout off.

Moraes suggested that the fight may have been stopped a tad early. But even if it was, this was never going to be a winnable bout for the former title challenger.

Sandhagen might have to wait for his shot at the winner of Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling. But he will get a title shot.

Barboza Eyes Another Title Run

Edson Barboza finally found his way back in the win column following a solid victory over Makwan Amirkhani in the co-main event.

Barboza was on a three-fight skid ahead of his bout with the Finn, with two controversial split decision losses to Dan Ige and Paul Felder particularly hard to live with. Before those defeats, Barboza was knocked out in Round 1 by Justin Gaethje.

The disappointment of his loss on his featherweight debut is now well and truly behind the former 155-pound contender. He completely outclassed Amirkhani on Saturday night and is looking at a potential crack at a top-five fighter.

Du Plessis Eyes Bigger Things

I was excited to watch Dricus du Plessis’ UFC debut and I think he has to be happy with the result.

The South African took a while to find his stride against Alex Perez. But when the opportunity arose, he took it with both hands, dropping the Brazilian to the floor with punches and finishing the job off with some ground and pound.

The primal roar he let out after the win said it all. It was a mixture of relief, joy, and satisfaction for getting the job done against a very tough and talented guy.

Du Plessis takes his record to 15-2 with that performance, and all of his wins have come by way of stoppage. That’s a stat that will intrigue matchmakers looking to pair him up with his next opponent.

The guy has a lot of power and is always exciting to watch. That’s the kind of fighter we want more of at 170, right? Let’s see what’s next for “Stillknocks.”

Aspinall Looks the Part

It took Aspinall just 95 seconds to dispose of Alan Baudot on Saturday night.

The Englishman moves to 9-2 with all of his wins coming in the first round. An incredibly powerful heavyweight, Aspinall looks nailed on to be competing in the upper reaches of the division within the next couple of years.

One of the things that makes this guy so easy to like is how humble he is outside of the cage. He recognizes that he has plenty of time in the game, and isn’t getting ahead of himself.

This one has star potential.

Topuria Impresses in His Debut

Ilia Topuria opened as a +190 underdog against Youssef Zalal in his UFC debut, but it didn’t take long for the youngster to showcase his style.

Like du Plessis, I had Topuria winning his first fight under the UFC banner. However, it wasn’t by the stoppage, as predicted. Topuria went the distance for the first time in his career, and respect goes to the very tough Zalal for holding out.

The Moroccan fighter had no space to find his rhythm on the night and was frustrated for 14 minutes of the bout. A late opportunity sprang up in the final minute of the third round, but Zalal could not capitalize on his opponent’s exhaustion.

Topuria is certainly one to watch.

Buckley Scores the KO of the Decade

Alright, alright. We might be less than ten months into the 2020s, but it’s still the best knockout of the decade.

I am, of course, talking about Joaquin Buckley’s spectacular KO over Impa Kasanganay on the prelims. This was the type of finish you don’t get to see very often, so expect to see it replayed at every possible opportunity for the foreseeable future.

If you are yet to see it, check it out. I’m not even going to try to describe how good this is.

Be sure to check out our UFC betting guide for more information about upcoming fights and events.

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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