It’s the fight before the fight — but thankfully, just with a keyboard, otherwise we’d lose badly.
To kick off 2021, we’re opening up a new series: Writer vs. Fighter. And it’s just what it sounds like. Each event (we’ll try to stay consistent), we’ll pit one of our writers against a professional MMA fighter, in a series of five fight picks from that week’s card.
For UFC Fight Island 7, we have a couple of Massachusetts natives going head-to-head: UFC bantamweight Randy Costa, against our very own Joe McDonagh! Costa should be no stranger to UFC fans, as he’s won both of his past two fights and is coming off a Performance of the Night award. Joe is no slouch either; while not a fighter, he was runner up in our 2020 staff picks pool.
Here’s how it works: both writer and fighter must pick the winner of the main event, co-main event, and featured main card bout. A correct pick will earn one point. Both must then pick a “lock” — the fighter they are most sure will win their fight — from the entire card. That’s two points. The “dog” comes next, and a correct underdog pick earns three points.
It’s that simple. Five picks: Main, co-main, and featured fight winners, lock, and underdog. To the winner go the spoils. Not actual spoils, but bragging rights anyway.
So who did “The Zohan” and our own Joe McDonagh select for the UFC’s 2021 opener?
Both Joe and Randy had the same gut feeling when it came to the main event, and maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise. Calvin Kattar is a member of the New England Mafia, so of course, these Massachusetts natives are siding with him over Max Holloway.
In the co-main event, both writer and fighter are going with Matt Brown, who will take on Carlos Condit in a long-awaited welterweight scrap.
The featured fight saw both siding with the returning Santiago Ponzinibbio. While the Argentinian has been out over two years, he sits on a seven fight win streak, and opponent Li Jingliang is stepping up on short notice.
The lock and dog are where things get interesting: Joe sees Joaquin Buckley as a lock in his fight with Alessio Di Chirico. His underdog pick, meanwhile, is Punahele Soriano, who faces Dusko Todorovic in a battle of undefeated middleweights.
Randy, on the other hand, has Phil Hawes as his lock, while his underdog of choice is Justin Tafa, who goes up against Brazil’s Carlos Felipe.
Who will win the Battle of New England? Find out after the event!
Results: Costa’s lock, Phil Hawes, dropped off the card just prior to fight time. But it wouldn’t have made a difference in the end. Joe’s dog, Punahele Soriano, came through, earning him three points. Both men were shut out in the featured fight, co-main event, and main event, so it all came down to that one category. The writer takes this one.