Iraqi mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Amir Albazi completed a dream introduction to UFC with a win over Canadian Malcolm Gordon at UFC Fight Night 2 on Sunday morning, the third of four MMA events taking place on Yas Island this month, which also saw Brazil’s Deiveson Figueiredo claim the day’s only title win.
Albazi had received his call up on July 8, after Aleksander Doskalchuk was forced to withdraw from the bout at Yas Forum.
“It went picture perfect, exactly as I planned,” the 26-year-old said. “I lay in my bed and visualized all the time exactly how it went, no different. I think it’s the first triangle (choke) of 2020.”
Baghdad-born Albazi, who now lives in London, revealed how he coped with a whirlwind 10 days that saw him make his UFC debut at bantamweight.
“I got the call on Wednesday morning, literally on my way to training,” he said. “I just finished the session, went back home and packed, and went to the airport straight away. But I didn’t know we had a 48-hour quarantine in London and another 48-hour quarantine in Abu Dhabi. It was different to what I expected but I’m ready to fight any day. Call me tomorrow, wake me up, I’m ready to fight.” In the co-main event of the night, and the only title match-up, Figueiredo defeated the American Joseph Benavidez for the vacant flyweight crown with a comfortable first round stoppage and immediately set his sights on a fight with former champion Henry Cejudo.
“The fight was the fight of the night. I said I was going to break Benavidez and that’s exactly what I did,” Figueiredo said. “I gave him his first submission on his record and the fight itself was a great show, I gave everyone a show. He didn’t surprise me at all tonight, I actually thought he was a little bit slower than in the last fight. I didn’t tell anyone about this, but I’m much quicker now and I have much more ability with counter striking.
I’m available for whoever the UFC wants to put in front of me, anyone at my level, but you have to be at my level because I’m a knockout artist, I’m going to knock you out," he added. "I’m going
home tomorrow and we’re going to start celebrating with all Brazilians on the flight back and as soon as I land in Brazil everyone is going to be taking pictures and congratulating me, so it’s going to be a great party.”
In the other headline fight, Swedish-Norwegian middleweight Jack Hermansson beat Kelvin Gastelum of the US via another first round stoppage.
“First round finish, what more can you wish for?” Hermansson said. “Obviously it was a mistake for him. I’m very dangerous on the ground. I think that he is comfortable with his top game, but people know how much I have from the ground because I’m not so much on my back in my fights, almost never, so people don’t know how dangerous of a game I have from there. Now they have a clue, they don’t know everything.” Hermansson revealed he was determined to win a UFC championship belt.
“That’s my goal, that’s why I do this, I want a title shot,” he said. “It went perfect, first round finish, that’s what I want. I’m always satisfied if I get the finish. I didn’t think too much, I just did as I do in practice. I tried to stay aggressive and work for the submissions. We knew, we prepared for him posting up in the tripod position.”
In what was later named Fight of the Night, Rafael Fiziev of Kyrgyzstan defeated Englishman Marc Diakiese via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in their lightweight bout, afterwards saying: “I’m happy with the win, I’m happy for my second win in the UFC. Just happy, you know? Thank you for my opponent, for this perfect fight. I have a plan to break his heart, break his body and show perfect technique.”
Earlier, flyweight Ariane Lipski had stopped fellow Brazilian Luana Carolina in round 1, after Askar Askarov of Russia had overcome Brazilian Alexandre Pantoja via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in their own flyweight clash.
“I was very confident, we studied her game, so we knew we would have to pressure her,” Lipski, awarded the performance of the night alongside Figueiredo, said. “If it got to the ground, she would try to put me in the guard because she has a good guard. I was very confident on the ground and I was training very hard the leg lock and the foot lock too. I feel very, very happy. I was very, very confident for the fight. I went to the Octagon and just enjoyed it and did my best.”
On the undercard, Roman Dolidze defeated Khadis Ibragimov via a first round TKO; Grant Dawson overcame Nad Narimani by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27); and Joel Alvarez beat Joseph Duffy with a first round submission.
A unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) had seen Brett Johns defeat Montel Jackson halfway through the card.
The night had kicked off with Serghei Spivac’s majority decision (28-28, 29-27, 29-27) win over Carlos Felipe, and was followed by Arman Tsarukyan’s win over Davi Ramos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), and Albazi’s stoppage of Gordon.
UFC Fight Night 3 will take place on July 26.