When the fight cards for the four events taking place on Fight Island were first announced, not only were Malcolm Gordon and Amir Albazi not slated to compete, they weren’t even on the UFC roster.
But that’s all changed.
Canada’s Gordon (12-3) will go to war with England’s Albazi (12-1) in a flyweight bout Saturday night at UFC Fight Island 2 in Abu Dhabi, UAE, a matchup in which both men will be making their UFC debuts.
Gordon, 30, said he’s ecstatic to be part of Fight Island, an event the MMA world has been talking about for months.
“It’s pretty f**king cool. This is basically a historical moment,” said Gordon in an interview with MMA Empire.
“The first thing that came to my mind was Mortal Kombat. Dana White should be sitting there in his chair looking like Shane Tsung, giving the thumbs up or thumbs down, and yelling finish him.”
The original matchup scheduled in this slot was between Tagir Ulanbekov and Oleksandr Doskalchuk. After Ulanbekov withdrew following the passing of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, Gordon stepped in to take on Doskalchuk. A few days later, Doskalchuk was also forced out of action, opening the door for Albazi to step in with the help of Paradigm Sports Management.
Albazi, 26, said he’s grateful for the opportunity to showcase his skills on the biggest stage, and even more excited to be able to do so on Fight Island.
“It means a lot to me as I have been waiting to test myself on the biggest stage, and now its finally time. I can’t wait to put on a show on Saturday,” said Albazi in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I’m happy to be a part of Fight Island and also to see how it is out here. The UFC have done an amazing job getting shows back on during this pandemic.”
No crowd could be blessing for Gordon
As has been the case for all the UFC events hosted during the COVID-19 pandemic, Saturday’s event will take place without the usual capacity crowds.
And although the atmosphere may not be quite what he imagined his UFC debut would look like, Gordon said not having any fans in attendance may be a positive situation.
“It could be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes, with the debut athletes, it’s such a shock. You’re in the UFC, there’s 20,000 people, the arena’s shaking, and on top of that you’re trying to focus, fight and listen to your corner,” said Gordon.
“But when we go out there, it’s going to be dead silent, I’ll be able to hear my corners perfectly, and it’s just going to feel like a really aggressive fight in the gym. I’m not going to have to worry about the crowd or anything else, except for the guy directly in front of me.”
Following the famous trade that saw UFC flyweight legend Demetrious Johnson move to ONE Championship in exchange for Ben Askren coming over to the UFC, Gordon said he wasn’t sure he’d ever have the opportunity to compete in the UFC, with the flyweight division appearing to be being phased out.
Now that the opportunity has indeed arrived, Gordon said he’s happy to have it, but believes he needs to earn that first UFC win for it to really be official.
“It feels nice, but it’ll feel better once I get my first win,” said Gordon.
“Talk is one thing, but actually doing it is another thing. I’ll feel better once I complete this task ahead of me, and then I can call myself a UFC fighter.”
Albazi belong with the best
While it’s been 15 months since Gordon last stepped in the cage, Albazi is fresh off a first round submission victory over Ryan Curtis at Brave CF 29 in November.
In addition to avenging his first and only career loss one fight prior, Albazi said his last fight proved he’s at a level to compete with the world’s best.
“It was just the stamp that I am one of the best flyweights on this planet,” said Albazi.
“I’m confident in my skills and I know what I bring to the table.”
Both Albazi and Gordon have displayed well-rounded skillsets so far in their careers with 21-combined finishes between them.
Knowing what Gordon brings to the table, Albazi said he’s expecting a tough challenge, but doesn’t see himself losing the fight, no matter where it goes.
“I expect a good fight and I’m ready for wherever the fight takes me,” said Albazi.
“I believe I’m the better man everywhere.”
“One of my biggest shoutouts is Dr. Faisal Rehman. He got me in for all my medicals on a day’s notice. Without him, this fight would not have happened. I’d also like to thank my friends, family, and all my sponsors that have helped me throughout this entire journey to get here.” Follow Gordon on social media: FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM
“I want to thank my team (London Shootfighters) and the best management in the world, Paradigm Sports Management. I also want to thank the UFC and Mick Maynard for this opportunity, and my sponsors (Dabloom, Plant & Equipment, Business Exchange Bureau). Follow Albazi on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM