*manic giggles* This is a good card. Every single fight here has incredible implications for future contenders and almost every match looks to be an all-out war. This is matchmaking at its finest. After a nice, albeit slightly underwhelming card last weekend,, this card could not be better. We’re capped off with Kevin Lee’s Welterweight debut against RDA and a killer co-main between TUF vet Neil Magny and brawler Vicente Luque. As always, we’re going to start from the bottom.
Julio Arce vs. Julian Erosa (FTW)
Julio Arce (15-3, 3-1 UFC) came to us from DWTNCS. Arce is primarily a volume fighter and he throws a lot of strikes with a nice movement behind them. Arce doesn’t have the most power and certainly not the one-punch shot that he can really drop someone with. He has 5 submissions on his record, but they are not normally from his grappling initiative, as his takedown accuracy is pure garbage.
Julian Erosa (22-7, 0-2 UFC) most recently lost in decision to Grant Dawson, who is also on this card. “Juicy J” was a staple of the CS promotion and has impressive finishing power. He dealt solid power and has a plethora of submissions on his record. My problem is that he used to fight as a Lightweight, but dropped to Featherweight after a first-round knockout at the hands of Devonte Smith. Erosa has pretty technical striking and is developed, but isn’t the best on the defensive front, accounting for his knockout to Smith and the multiple times he was stunned by Dawson. His submissions are good and mostly off of his back as he doesn’t normally go to the ground of his own accord. Erosa has incredible cardio and has gone into the champion rounds many times.
My worry for Erosa is that he doesn’t look right at 145 and seems to lack his usual power. That being said, he is going to hold 6 inches of height and 5 inches of reach over Arce. Erosa’s weak spot has seemed to be fighters that can pressure him and stifle his long frame. If he can find his range, he will present a serious threat along with being difficult to submit, especially with those massive limbs. Arce simply doesn’t have that level of pressure to make the fight on his terms. If Erosa can use his reach correctly, he should walk away with this. He has struggled with finding that range in the past, but the less powerful striking and massive disadvantage should give Erosa the edge.
Take the Shot: Julian Erosa via Round 3 Submission
Zak Cummings vs. Trevin Giles (MW)
Zak Cummings (22-8, 8-3 UFC) moved up to Middleweight in December to take a decision win over Trevor Smith. I like what I’ve seen from Cummings’ striking. He has some power and throws a lot of leg kicks to mess with his opponent to set them up. His striking is very easy to predict and not the most technical where it has been taken advantage of easily by higher level strikers. His best strength is his ground game. He has excellent submissions but struggles when trying to get it to the ground.
His opponent Trevin Giles (11-0, 2-0 UFC) is the more natural Middleweight with a serious finishing threat. He has 10 finishes evenly split between knockouts and submissions. The only decision was a split win over Ryan Spann and if you watched UFC 237 last weekend, you know Spann is a very scary man. “The Problem” has MASSIVE power and uses a lot of feints to mix them in, which is a style I really like to see. His boxing is one of the best in the division and is incredibly technical. He fights very loose in the Octagon and is truly a fighter who loves every second in that cage. Whenever I see fighters like that, I know I have something special on my hands. This fight will play off entirely on the feet because of Cummings’ struggle to grab takedowns and the submission threat. This leaves Giles free to take advantage of every little hole in Cummings’ game.
Take the Shot: Trevin Giles via Round 2 Knockout
Danny Roberts vs. Michel Pereira (WW)
Back at Fight Night 147, Danny Roberts (16-4, 5-3 UFC) was piecing Claudio de Silva up on the feet before tapping to a third-round armbar. “Hot Chocolate” is a very technical boxer with some power in his hands, but does struggle with his chin. More powerful fighters like Taleb and Perry have been able to work Roberts over with their power and put him out. On the ground, Roberts is on that same tier. He has a nice submission style but does have trouble when his opponent is an elite in submissions.
Michel Pereira (21-9) has a style that can only be described as button mashing. He gained a lot of hype for his UFC debut here in ROAD FC for his wild flips off the cage. Pereira’s style is basically just doing whatever crazy thing he can think of, regardless of whether or not it lands. Along with that, “Demolidor” holds 6 submissions on his record and knows his way around the ground. That being said, his technical boxing is downright garbage.
This is a match that will play out entirely on the feet. Neither fighter has good enough submissions to make that their goal, so they both would rather keep this on the feet. Any boxer with an inkling of skill can piece Pereira up, but he has the ultimate puncher’s chance with his wild Superman punches and kickflips. This would only be accentuated by Roberts’ chin, but Roberts has enough experience to let the wild fighter gas (as he normally does) then work him around for the rest of the match.
Take the Shot: Danny Roberts via Unanimous Decision
Patrick Cummins vs. Ed Herman (LHW)
So we have a lovely match between two 38-year-olds. This matchup kind of pisses me off. We are now finally at a point where there are serious prospects in the Light Heavyweight division but the matchmaking team decided to just throw these two together because why not and the loser leaves town.
Patrick Cummins (10-6, 6-6 UFC) definitely is the one with less CTE on his hands. He is coming off two losses while his opponent Ed Herman (23-14, 11-11 UFC) is off of three. Both these fighters aren’t even close to their prime anymore, but I think that Cummins is more on top of it. Cummins still has more dominant striking and his wrestling should be enough to keep the threat of Herman off his back. Herman does still have that submission skill, but Cummins is smart and skilled enough to avoid that.
Take the Shot: Patrick Cummins via Unanimous Decision
Desmond Green vs. Charles Jourdain (LW)
At UFC on ESPN 2, Desmond Green (22-8, 3-3 UFC) shocked with a first-round knockout. He didn’t shock because he was an underdog, in fact, Green was the biggest favorite on the card. Green shocked because he doesn’t get knockouts and I hope that last fight doesn’t trick him into thinking he does. He is a point and shoot fighter who goes for big volume over quick finishes. In terms of a ground game, Green will shoot for a takedown, but his TD accuracy is not very good and can be easily fought off. If he does get on top, he can be stifling against a less-experienced grappler.
Making his UFC debut here in Rochester will be Quebec’s own Charles Jourdain (9-1). To me, Jourdain looks like the polar opposite to Green. Every one of his wins has come by a finish, with 6 by knockout and 3 in submission. “Air” is moving up to Lightweight from 145 to take advantage of a short-notice opportunity from the UFC. He could not be more excited and he is thrilled to be going against a hometown fighter saying he loves energy in the arena, positive or negative. Moving up in weight and being a hard striker, I fear that Green’s recent knockout of Pearson will lull him into a brawl, which Jourdain would absolutely love to take advantage of.
Take the Shot: Charles Jourdain via Round 3 Knockout
Mike Trizano vs. Grant Dawson (FTW)
Mike Trizano (8-0, 2-0 UFC) won The Ultimate Fighter then got a split decision victory over Luis Pena. Trizano is mostly a striker who uses a volume-based style to take home a decision. Both his matches in the Octagon were split decisions and he has a tendency to just rely on his abilities and matches get a lot closer than he would like. “The Lone Wolf” has two submissions and two knockouts on his record, but I don’t see him with a lot of finishing potential. That’s not to mention that Trizano is dropping down to Featherweight, which I’m not a huge fan of. I think he will lose any power that he previously had and I want him to move back up.
Another huge prospect is Grant Dawson (13-1, 1-0 UFC). Dawson came off the Contender Series with a second-round submission to get a dominant decision win over the earlier mentioned Julian Erosa. That win over Erosa was his first ever decision. Going into that fight the element of his game I was worried about was his cardio. My concerns were shut down completely. Although he did look tired at times during the fight, he is great at making a quick recovery and always leaves everything on the mat. Dawson is a wrestling elite with 9 submissions with that. On top of that, he has a really well put-together striking game and three knockouts. He uses all elements of his striking to his advantage but then uses it to go to the ground and take advantage of that excellent ground game.
I think that Trizano is the favorite purely because of the hype behind him. Dawson looks to me to have the better style with a more well-rounded gameplan. I see Trizano with the striking advantage but wrestlers have the ability to dictate matchups and Dawson is an expert at that. Most importantly, Dawson is a young fighter who has been training MMA his entire life but is making leaps and bounds between every match he has. While that’s not to say that Trizano isn’t, but Dawson has great potential to me.
Take the Shot: Grant Dawson via Round 3 Submission
Aspen Ladd vs. Sijara Eubanks (BW)
Aspen Ladd (7-0, 2-0 UFC) is riding a pretty sizeable hype train right now. Part of this love is for her constant forward pressure and brutal knockouts, of which she has had five. Only one fight has gone the distance and when Ladd gets into the clinch, the likelihood of that gets lower and lower. She has nice power in her hands, but the main source of it is her Muay Thai and 8-point striking. While she has a win by armbar, her ground game is not her strong suit and looks best when she can play around on the feet with her power.
Her opponent Sijara Eubanks (4-2, 2-0 UFC), has looked more impressive in the UFC than her record would indicate. In fact, one of Eubanks’ losses was back in Invicta against Aspen Ladd. Ladd won out in a decision, much to the chagrin of Sijara. Here she is hoping to rectify that. Eubanks has great wrestling and although she holds half her wins with a knockout, I’m sure she won’t want to play around with Ladd on the feet. Her wrestling will definitely be the key to victory if she wants a win here.
This seems like a match where the winner will be decided based upon where the fight takes place. In striking, they have fairly similar styles, but Ladd has a greater threat. She has a much higher strike differential and she will be looking to use that here. Eubanks’ striking is much more of a brawling style and that leaves her open to Aspen’s power. That will make Eubanks go to the ground, but to do that, she will need to get close, which is where Ladd is the most dangerous. This should be a fun, but unnecessary rematch.
Take the Shot: Aspen Ladd via Unanimous Decision
Davi Ramos vs. Austin Hubbard (LW)
Davi Ramos (9-2, 3-1 UFC) fell flat in his UFC debut against Sergio Moraes. He is a pupil of the Nogueira brothers and has the fantastic jiu-jitsu to show for it. All 3 of his UFC wins have come by submission, with two of those in the first round. While Ramos is certainly a specialist, the other aspects of his game aren’t half bad and improve every fight. He does have power in his punches and is a thicc 155-pounder. His takedowns impress and the only issue I see would be his clinch work, where he can be outclassed.
The Octagon newcomer Ramos got with his three-fight win streak is Austin Hubbard (10-2). Hubbard became the LFA Lightweight champion in December with a fifth-round knockout over Killys Mota. What I have seen from Hubbard (and it is harder to find, especially for the main card) is promising, but still full of holes. Hubbard has four wins in knockout and 2 in submission, but he doesn’t take a heavy advantage in his fights. This is the exact opposite of what to do against Ramos as he will take you down and submit you. Fast.
Take the Shot: Davi Ramos via Round 1 Submission
Charles Oliveira vs. Nik Lentz (LW)
So this is the third time this match will happen. This first time Charles Oliveira (26-8, 14-8 UFC) clipped Nik Lentz (30-9, 14-6 UFC) with an illegal knee so they ran the fight back, where Oliveira finished him in the third. I don’t know why they made this match again. Every aspect of Oliveira’s game is looking better than ever where he is currently on a four-fight win streak. Nik Lentz, on the other hand, looks to be slowing down significantly. This fight is so one-sided it really shouldn’t be happening.
Take the Shot: Charles Oliveira via Round 2 Submission
Antonio Carlos Jr. vs. Ian Heinisch (MW)
Antonio Carlos Junior (10-2, 6-2 UFC) is coming off a layoff of about a year. “Cara de Sapato” (which translates to “Shoeface”) is a true specialist of the game. His jiu-jitsu is incredible and he knows it. His striking is purely a method to get him to that point and he fires takedowns like there’s no tomorrow. The issue with these jiu-jitsu specialists is not actually the holes in their striking, but the lack of wrestling skill. I’m sure better striking would certainly help, but the failure to latch those takedowns often has bad results when they can’t get their opponent on the floor. His striking is by no means the worst, but it lacks any power and relies on his opponent staying on their back foot.
If Shoeface is the specialist, Ian Heinisch (12-1, 1-0 UFC) is the generalist. He fights as a wrestler with incredible striking. In my opinion, “Hurricane”‘s strong suit is in his standing in this match. Heinisch uses all elements of his striking to great lengths and uses intense pressure in every match. His striking is much more technical and more powerful than Carlos and it should show. Heinisch’s wrestling game is not the best, but he uses escapes to get out of any rough positions he finds himself in.
I’m actually surprised that Heinisch isn’t the favorite here. He has striking that is worlds above Shoeface. While no one will dispute Carlos is the better fighter on the ground, Heinisch has proven he has what he needs to find a way out for himself. His game on the feet will leave him with a heavy advantage there and he should have no problem finding the holes. His ground game is at the very least, good enough to get himself out of any tricky situations. Both of Carlos’ losses have happened when his opponent pressures him, and no one pressures like Hurricane.
Take the Shot: Ian Heinisch via Unanimous Decision
Megan Anderson vs. Felicia Spencer (FTW)
There was a time when Megan Anderson (9-3, 1-1 UFC) was slated to be the next victim, er, fight, for Cris Cyborg. That bout fizzled and instead gave way to a dominant performance from Holly Holm. Which was surprising to me, considering that Anderson became the Invicta Featherweight champ with her incredible kickboxing. The 6-foot fighter can fire off head kicks out of nowhere and her 6-inch height advantage should only make that easier. She is an absolute force on the feet and although her volume isn’t crazy, she is dangerous as can be. Anderson’s issues have been clear since the beginning. Although holding two wins by submission, Megan struggles when the fight goes to the ground.
Felicia Spencer (6-0) will certainly be trying to take advantage of that. She will be making her UFC debut here. Spencer had every one of her pro fights in Invicta, most recently a fourth-round submission win to take the Featherweight belt from Pam Sorenson. Spencer has three wins by rear-naked choke and she is a jiu-jitsu specialist. From the moment the bell rings, “FeeNom” looks to pressure her opponent, put them up against the cage, take them down, and get a finish.
Ughhhhh, this is a hard one. These fighters pretty much have opposite styles with the only common ground being their collective love for finishes. Anderson is best when she is pressuring her opponent on the feet, while Spencer pressures her opponent to the cage to get the fight to the mat. I love Megan Anderson so much and I want her to win, but I feel like Spencer is her worst nightmare. Holly Holm dominated Anderson on the ground. Think about that. HOLLY HOLM. One of the best kickboxers on the planet decided to go to the ground against Anderson. Not only that, but she walked, or crawled, over Anderson there. That tells me two things. First, Anderson is VERY dangerous on the feet. Second, she sucks on the ground.
This will go one of two ways. One, Anderson will fight off the inevitable takedown attempt and piece her up on the feet for a violent KO. Or two, Spencer will take her down and have a lovely jiu-jitsu clinic for everyone watching at home. This match is a lot closer than the line indicates and it is entirely based on who backs off on the pressure. I think it will be Anderson since every single match of hers starts with ruthless pressure.
Take the Shot: Megan Anderson via Round 1 Knockout
Derrick Krantz vs. Vicente Luque (WW)
I’ve been a big fan of Vicente Luque (15-6, 8-2 UFC) ever since he came into the UFC. Luque is just a massive force and I see him as a title challenger in the future. He has excellent Muay Thai along with incredibly technical boxing and he fires serious power from a Southpaw and Traditional stance. That’s not even to mention his jiu-jitsu. “The Silent Assassin” has amazing grappling and he can switch between submissions rapidly, which is the sign of an elite grappler. The only fights that Luque loses are ones where he fights someone who SOMEHOW puts out even more volume than he does and they last to a decision.
Derrick Krantz (22-10) is making his debut here after Neil Magny was flagged for a banned substance. This is a rough one for Krantz as he is going up against one of the most devastating finishers in the history of the Welterweight division. The LFA champ, “D-Rock” has 9 wins by knockout and 11 in submission. Although he presents some danger, most of his knockouts aren’t in one punch power, like Luque has the potential for. The fact of the matter is that Krantz is a low-level veteran who excels as a generalist, but gets broken down by any skilled fighters with a specialty. Unfortunately for D-Rock, Luque is a specialist on both the feet and the mat.
Take the Shot: Vicente Luque via Round 2 Knockout
Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Kevin Lee (WW)
After losing his Lightweight title and a bad loss to Tony Ferguson, Rafael Dos Anjos ( 28-11, 17-9 UFC) stepped up to Welterweight. He put on a nice three-win streak then lost his Interim title shot to Colby Covington. He also came off a five-round decision loss to Kamaru Usman in a dominant Usman fashion. RDA is certainly no stranger to the five-rounder and he will make another attempt at glory with a win here. He is magnificently well-rounded with striking skill along with quite a few submissions on his record and obviously a gas tank.
Kevin Lee (17-4, 10-4 UFC) is also a former Lightweight who is now making a jump up a weight class. His last fight was a five-round decision loss to Al Iaquinta, prompting this move up to 170 pounds. Lee has technical boxing but his main area of expertise lies in his ground game. “The Motown Phenom” is a collegiate wrestler with a variety of submissions and incredible ground and pound within his repertoire. Along with that, he has gone with some of the best of the best and was in the match for the interim Lightweight title.
The problem with Rafael is that his weaknesses have been severely exposed as of late. He has enormous issues when fighting high caliber wrestlers so guess what… they put him against another wrestler. Kevin Lee is really good at making his opponent fight his own battle. That being said, Lee has serious troubles with his gas tank. While you can hope that issue is remedied, I don’t see that yet. I think RDA is being counted out because of his last two performances against Usman and Covington. True, he was dominated by them, but I don’t see Lee on the level of those two. On the feet, dos Anjos has a HUGE advantage and this will get more in his favor the farther this match goes.
Take the Shot: Rafael Dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision
This was one of the most entertaining cards to preview in a while. There are great finishers on this card and doing the research to make these picks was a great time. This will be one for the ages.
Until next time, Freaks.