Kicking off the UFC Fight Island 7 card on Saturday, and kicking off the UFC’s 2021, were featherweights Austin Lingo and Jacob Kilburn.
The Abu Dhabi-based event was book-ended by featherweight fights, with Calvin Kattar taking on former champ Max Holloway in the headliner. But the card opener found two fighters on the opposite end of their careers, with both “Killer” Kilburn and “Lights Out” Lingo in their second UFC fight, looking for their first win in the promotion.
Kilburn vs. Lingo started off scrappy, and within 30 seconds, Lingo had dropped Kilburn with a sharp right hand. Kilburn, to his credit, bounced right back up, but it wasn’t long before he was taking heavy fire again. Absorbing blow after blow, staggered, Kilburn opted to tie things up in a takedown attempt, which was more about buying time than actually taking the fight down.
Lingo, however, managed to pull free, and back out in the open, Lingo clearly had the edge in striking. Kilburn, looking for answers, was spending more time retreating than anything else. The only bright spot for Kilburn, through the opening round, came immediately after he ate a low blow. On the restart, he managed to land a spinning back fist, but the round came to a close shortly after.
The snappy punches continued for Austin Lingo in round two. This time, Kilburn adjusted, changed levels, and landed a takedown — only for Lingo to quickly escape to his feet. Another left hand cracked Kilburn, whose chin could easily have been ruled to MVP of the fight through the first round and a half. Kilburn would change levels a couple more times to land brief takedowns later in the round, but his inability to make anything come of them was a problem.
Round three opened with Kilburn thinking takedown, but that went sideways rather quickly. Austin Lingo wound up coming very close to taking his opponent’s back, while Kilburn worked in vain on a kimura. With the pair stalled on the mat, precious seconds were ticking away, with Jacob Kilburn almost certainly down in the fight. A scramble saw the pair make it back up, but given Kilburn’s lack of success in the stand-up department, that wasn’t helping him any.
With the fight going the distance thanks mainly to Kilburn’s durability, the real story was the improvement of Austin Lingo, who looked very sharp on the feet in the first UFC bout of 2021.
Official Result: Austin Lingo def. Jacob Kilburn by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)