Dubai: The UFC is all set to roll out another stacked card at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on Sunday morning which will see the long-awaited return of American Brian Ortega who takes on ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung in the headliner at the purpose-built Flash Forum arena.
Ortega, the blue-eyed and hammer-fisted son of Mexican immigrants, has not fought since his 2018 loss to Max Holloway due to a doctor stoppage at the end of round four.
Despite picking up the Fight of the Night Award, Ortega suffered injuries as a result of being hit over 300 times during the course of the 20 minutes in the Octagon.
Obviously, he has learnt his lessons from standing up and trading punches the hard way and will be looking to take his Korean opponent to the ground and force a submission.
It will also be interesting to see how much Ortega his improved physically and mentally over the past two years of absence and what plan he will employ to restrain his highly regarded rival who missed two years of MMA from 2014 to 2017 due to mandatory military service duties in his native South Korea.
Speaking to media during the UFC’s virtual media day earlier this week, Ortega sounded upbeat and excited about the fight and dismissed all the trash-talking he has faced by the Korean.
“It was never a rivalry man. Yeah, it was never a rivalry,” he said. “I kind of just, he talked his sh*t and I talked my sh* but it was more like, if that’s how you’re gonna be, that’s how I’m gonna be.
“And then when I made it clear if you really want a rivalry, this is how it’s gonna get down, then we heard all the apologies. It was kind of just shut down and that was it”
A win on Sunday will propel either fighter into contention for a title fight against Alex Volkanovski, but Ortega had his own viewpoint.
“I have thoughts on everyone in the division. He has the belt, so he has a target on his back, which means we’re training for everyone now,” he said. “We’re training for guys that are like Zabit, guys that are like Korean, guys that are like Holloway, guys that are like Volkanovski.”
Meanwhile, in the co-headliner rising star Ciryl Gane takes on newcomer Ante Delija.
Gane has been impressive so far in the UFC, having scored two submission victories and a unanimous decision in his first three fights. Delija is a hard-hitting Croatian who lost to UFC veteran Marcin Tybura by way of a leg injury.
In an exciting women’s flyweight bout Kaitlyn Chookagian faces former strawweight title-holder Jessica Andrade in a fight that could have major implications for both towards a potential title fight against current champion Valentina Shevchenko.
This is the third weight class for Andrade in UFC following success at both bantamweight and strawweight.
Fight Island 6
From 1am (UAE) Sunday on UFC Arabia and ESPN +
Brian Ortega v Korean Zombie
Ciryl Gane v Ante Delija
Katlyn Chookagian v Jessica Andrade
Jim Crute v Modestas Bukauskas
Thomas Almeida v Jonathan Martinez
Mateusz Gamrot v Guram Kutateladze
Gillian Robertson v Poliana Botelho
Claudio Silva v James Krause
Park Jun-yong v John Phillips
Jamie Mullarkey v Fares Ziam
Gadzhimurad Antigulov v Maxim Grishin
Said Nurmagomedov v Mark Striegl