UFC Fight Night 28: Teixeira vs. Bader will stage the Octagon debut for Poland's Piotr Hallmann, who'll meet TUF Brazil's Francisco "Massanduraba" Trinaldo in a main-card Lightweight scrap. The bout is one of six slated for the featured lineup, which airs on Fox Sports 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET and is captained by Light Heavyweight contenders Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader.
Piotr Hallmann (13-1), age 26, is a member of the Polish Navy. After dabbling with football, karate and Capoeira, Hallmann started training MMA in 2008 and took his first pro fight a year later, vaulting out of the gate with four-straight 1st-round TKO's. "Pletwal," meaning "Whale," then lost his first and only fight via 4th-round retirement, though later, during his match with Kevin Donnelly (3rd-round submission win), the commentary team would mention that Hallmann had fallen ill before the defeat.
After getting back on track with a 2nd-round choke-out, Hallmann participated in an eight-man tournament that took place all in one night, and won the whole shebang with a 12-second KO and a "1st-round" (the time is listed as 11:23) submission. Overall, after his first career loss, Hallmann reeled off nine-straight wins that were comprised of four by rear-naked choke, three KO/TKO's and four stoppages in the first frame. The only opponent who survived to a decision was his most reputable yet: Juha-Pekka Vainikainen (20-7), a talented Finn with wins over former UFC competitors Kyle Watson, Brian Geraghty and Steve Lopez.
Hallmann has somewhat of an intriguing style. In open space, he has a sense of finesse and artistry with his kickboxing, firing off methodical bursts of punches with good balance, lateral movement and with clean technique. He's a decent phase shifter with quick reactions and good instincts, and his clinch game -- including striking, control and takedown ability -- seems sound. Being a pretty feisty scrambler and wrestler, he switches mentality in the top position by intensifying his power and brutality with ground and pound, commonly forcing opponents to give up back control for his rear naked choke. And at 5'9" and a normal walking weight of 85 kg (185-pounds), Hallmann is a hefty-sized lightweight.
But the latter description is more befitting of Trinaldo, a massive 155'er who competed on TUF Brazil as a Middleweight. As a burly and aggressive southpaw with black-belt-level grappling, he's eerily akin to Gleison Tibau in size and style-- only more assertive and with a significantly larger dose of electricity and potency in his offense. In fact, Tibau welcomed Trinaldo back to the lightweight division and outhustled him by points (29-28 x 3), though Trinaldo dominated the second stanza, and, summarily, being that competitive with a lightweight stalwart like Tibau bodes well for his future. "Massanduraba" responded to his first UFC loss by notching a pair of consecutive arm triangle wins (C.J. Keith, Mike Rio).
Trinaldo has some noteworthy pre-UFC wins: perhaps most impressive is Pride Bushido standout Luiz "Buscape" Firmino (1st-round kneebar win), but underrated veteran Flavio Alvaro (44-10 record; Trinaldo won by 2nd-round TKO) is respectable as well. Trinaldo became the Jungle Fight lightweight champ with a win over one-time Strikeforce competitor Adriano Martins and made his post-TUF debut by finishing middleweight Delson Heleno before returning to lightweight.
Hallmann will really have his hands full here. Trinaldo's so-so performance on TUF Brazil -- he TKO'd his way into the house, but was physically outmatched by Thiago Perpetuo and was unable to answer the 3rd-round bell -- has faded amidst the strong impression he's left in his natural weight class. While he's no spring chicken at age 35, his fighting maturity allows him to revert between intelligent and composed engagements to explosive outbursts of raw aggression, and he seems to implement each persona at the ideal time.
This mercurial combat personality must be acknowledged and attended to by Hallmann, who'll be tasked with recognizing when Trinaldo is trying to judiciously pick him apart versus intent on steam-rolling him with aggression, and thus assume the contrasting role: Trinaldo's more measured and methodical spurts should be seen as an opportunity to affect or take over the bout's momentum with meaningful and heated blitzes of offense, whereas he should revert to a more technical and reactive mode when Trinaldo pressures him with heavy combinations and well-cloaked takedown attempts.
The worst position for the Pole would be to find himself underneath Trinaldo, who's a crafty and swarming top player with the full bag of tricks (sharp ground and pound, technical guard passing and submissions). Therefore, when Trinaldo ups his aggression and output, Hallmann's defensive focus should follow suit: he must be prepared to dodge or deflect the southpaw's incoming barrage of punches while being wary of a surprise change of levels as he transitions to takedowns. This means Hallmann must be vigilant with his hand position in order to defend either strikes or takedowns, avoid retreating in a straight line when Trinaldo charges him and, again, to know when he should be concentrating on stifling Trinaldo's outbursts versus mounting effective offense of his own.
Hallmann might have the slightly cleaner striking with straighter, tighter and more accurate punches. It's unlikely that he'll be able to put Trinaldo on his back, but Hallmann's clinch game is crafty and there's no harm in pursuing that option as long as he doesn't expose himself defensively. Nevertheless, his best chance probably lies on the feet, which will require a consistent command of cerebral sprawl and brawl.
I think Hallmann has that potential, but the odds of it transpiring in his Octagon premiere against such a formidable opponent, and one who'll surely be fueled by his hometown crowd, is just unlikely. Trinaldo would be a steep test for some of the more experienced and proven UFC lightweights, so it's a stretch to side with the unproven newcomer here.
My Prediction: Francisco Trinaldo by submission.