UFC Fight Night 29: Maia vs. Shields kicks off this Wednesday, October 9th, Live from Baureri Brazil. The evening's action will feature a four fight undercard after last minute injuries removed Rodrigo Damm vs. Hacran Dias and Rony Jason vs. Jeremy Stephens. I'll be breaking down all the action from the Fox Sports 1 undercard right here.
Bout 1 - Lightweights: Alan Patrick (10-0) vs. Garett Whiteley (8-0)
It's always difficult to draw a bead on two men making their promotional debut. Especially in a case like this where neither man is particularly young (Whiteley is 32 and Patrick is 30) or particularly experienced. Obviously both men enter the octagon on long winning streaks, being that they're both undefeated. And it's worth saying that in those streaks neither fighter can claim a definitive edge in competition faced. Both have made their name at the lower end of regional level talent and are incredibly untested when it comes to facing high level opposition.
Having watched a bit of both their fights at the regional level you could call this somewhat of a striker vs. grappler match, but I think that would be somewhat overselling Patrick as a grappler. It's more of a brawler vs. control fighter matchup with Patrick serving as the Francis Carmont like grinder and Whiteley as the striker and top control brawler.
Whiteley is a Chris Lytle training partner and while it's too early to tell if he has Lytle's same all around scrappiness he does seem to be bringing the Indianian's penchant for finishes. He's ended every one of his 8 fights by submission or TKO and packs some good power in his hands. His striking overall is fluid and he moves in and out of range well with body-head punch combinations. His kicking game appears fairly rudimentary, but he does have one and has shown some favoritism for the Thai Plum and knees in the clinch.
Patrick is an X-Gym product, the same camp that has produced top Middleweight Ronaldo Souza and is the recent home of Diego Nunes. He certainly has the look of a great MMA prospect, he's big and strong at 155 lbs, and more importantly appears to be very long-limbed, but it's hard to say that he puts any of that to great effect beyond his ability to stymie his opposition's movement.
Patrick has seen the judges five times in ten fights and while he's won unanimously in each of them his opponents in his stoppage wins have a combined record of 8-14. He throws leg kicks and wide hooks as one off punches, but they're almost entirely tools made to suck opponents in and push them against the cage or pull them down. His grappling game relies much more on brute strength than finesse and most of his takedowns seem to stem from bodylocks or persistent doubles than clean shots and technique.
Eventually this fight will probably come down to who shows the most improvement and who's the most prepared. I wouldn't be surprised to see Whiteley ground-out for three interminable rounds, but I think it's more likely that Patrick will get tired and sloppy and get hit hard as the fight goes on.
A reading of the cards says: Garett Whitely by TKO
Two flyweights in desperate need of a win will face off in the second bout of the evening when "Kamikaze" Chris Cariaso takes on Iliarde Santos. Both Cariaso and Santos enter the fight on a two loss skid with Santos losing to Iuri Alcantara and Ian McCall and Cariaso to John Moraga and Jussier da Silva. Both fighters looked decent (if slightly lost) dropping unanimous decisions in their last outings after getting beaten badly in their fights previous. This is going to be someone's moment to bounce back in a big way and show that they still have something to offer the UFC's fledgling 125 lb division.
There was a time when Chris Cariaso was something of a hot prospect in the UFC. Other than an early loss to Mark Oshiro in ShoXC, his only defeats were a submission loss to current champ Renan Barao and a split decision to top contender Michael McDonald. And while he rattled off a nice three fight win streak immediately following his loss to McDonald, his UFC career as a whole has been somewhat underwhelming. A Muay Thai stylist and striker first, Cariaso doesn't pack a lot of power in his technique. In fact, in his 19 fight career he only has two wins by form of knockout and neither have come under a Zuffa banner. This doesn't make him a point fighter, but it seems that he's been left somewhat identity-less. Not a strong enough striker to dominate standing up, and not well rounded enough to compete against really strong grapplers.
It will be interesting then to see how he lines up against Iliarde Santos. Santos is also a striker first, by trade although much more in the boxer/brawler mode. Unlike Cariaso he packs a good amount of power and has a slew of knockouts on his record. But he's not a finesse fighter, and not particularly fast at flyweight. Ian McCall was able to out point purely by dint of his better footwork and hand speed. It's not however a talent that I think Cariaso holds in spades either. Iliarde does mix his punching combinations up well, but he doesn't use his legs nearly as much as Cariaso and can be a bit predictable because of it.
Eventually I think this will be a battle of Santos' power vs. Cariaso's ability to keep Santos guessing with combinations and takedown attempts. Since Cariaso isn't terribly knockout prone and doesn't have the kind of power to put Santos in danger, I'm expecting a three round decision.
An examination of auras tells me: Chris Cariaso by Decision
Grapple fight! We've got a grapple fight on our hands, folks. Yan Cabral will make his UFC debut in the welterweight division against returning specialist David "Daudi" Mitchell. MItchell enters the contest on a loss to Mike Pierce at UFC 162, a fight he was performing well in before Pierce went beast mode and knocked him out. Before that he took a boxing heavy decision over Simeon Thoresen. His opponent, Yan Cabral, is something of a forgotten hot prospect and (apart from an appearance on TUF Brazil 2) hasn't fought professionally since 2011 when he defeated Kazushi Sakuraba by submission at Dream 17. That's a long layoff, especially for a fighter making his way to the UFC, but Cabral was once considered to be a very promising fighter.
In some ways this smacks of the the Simeon Thoresen fight for David Mitchell. The Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance product has shown recently that he's making big changes in his fighting approach in the UFC. Against both Thoresen and Pierce he's elected to go with a boxing heavy style and thus far it's yielded mixed results. However he came about it, he's developed a sort of jerky, movement heavy, boxing style throwing awkward punches from odd angles. He reminds me quite a lot of Darren Elkins in his ability to confound more conventional opponents while landing effective offense. And of course he's already showed himself to be a great submission threat, early in his career, although it's brought him very little success at the highest level.
Cabral is certainly not a striker by any stretch of the imagination, but he does own a nice set of leg and head kicks that he throws with enough speed and power to catch any fighter off guard. From there he looks to use his rudimentary boxing to get into the clinch and hunt for the trip takedown. On the ground he's a snake, hunting for arm triangle chokes and armbars. He's got some technique that you just don't see too often even at the highest levels of MMA and the confidence to apply it in any fight he's in.
The question between them comes down to Cabral's specialization and Mitchell's time spent in the UFC. Cabral has the bigger win to his name, but Mitchell has been competing at the higher level longer. He's shown the wherewithal to keep away from dangerous grapplers and out-point them. His boxing isn't good enough to defeat even a mediocre striker, but Cabral hasn't shown himself to be that. It's too bad that he spent peak years of his career on the sidelines, that lost time may be too much to make up for.
A pattern in the tea leaves says David Mitchell by Unanimous Decision
Bout 4 - Welterweights: Ildemar Alcantara vs. Igor Araujo
The second welterweight bout in a row on the Fox Sports 1 prelims will likewise be featuring a debuting former TUF fighter against a more established welterweight. Alcantara enters this fight on a two-win streak off a workman like performance over Leandro Silva at the last UFC on Fuel event. Igor Araujo, a participant on The Ultimate Fighter 16, is a longtime journeyman of regional MMA, having competed across Asia, Europe, and Brazil. He carries an impressive 23-6 record with him into the UFC and while he's short on big name wins, the only loss in his past 14 fights is to M-1 welterweight champion Rashid Magomedov.
Alcantara has had a couple fights in the UFC now and they've given me a pretty good idea of what he offers as a fighter. Mostly, it's size. At 6' 1" he made his debut at light heavyweight before dropping to welterweight where he's something of a Gargantua. Tall and rangy, he's not much of a striker beyond a few leg kicks and probing punches, but he's not much of a wrestler either. Instead he's more in the clinch and grind model of fighter. He has a big advantage over most fighters at 170 lbs in that his frame, as big as it is, allows him to get so lean. He uses that size to get inside, lean on smaller fighters and go to work with short punches and clinch knees. His submission game isn't bad, but he tends to go after them in scrambles more than as a set tactic.
His opponent, Igor Araujo, is definitely a submission first fighter. Of his 23 wins 17 are by sub. He's also a big welterweight, at 6' 1", although somewhat leaner across the shoulders. He's definitely much more aggressive in his jiu jitsu, often throwing both arms in wild strikes just to create the opportunity to dive on a single-leg takedown or a body-lock trip. His wrestling itself isn't especially dynamic, but he is the sort of fighter that will cling to a body part and make a scramble just to get the fight to the mat.
This fight has bad kickboxing match written all over it as neither fighter is a particularly gifted striker and Araujo may not possess enough wrestling technique to pull Alcantara down to the mat. If he does, however, I think he's got the far superior submission game, and in general I expect him to be much more aggressive pursuing striking opportunities. If it's all wall and stall this is Alcantara's fight, but if Araujo can create a little space I think he'll find a way to win.
A scattering of bones says Igor Araujo by submission
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