Another fight card and hopes for more violent endings than the last produced. While I wasn't completely disappointed in UFC 169, I was hoping for more highlight reel finishes (though Trujillo and Varner delivered). Chances are we'll see more endings this time around.
After some late shuffling, there are a number of unknowns on the undercard of Fight Night 36 and while none of them would qualify as household names, there are others that are familiar faces to many. Here's the important stuff:
A pair of teammates from TUF 15 collide in this potential pink slip match. I'd say they both recognize this and it often leads to urgency (translation: fun fight).
Proctor works with Joe Lauzon, but isn't quite the balls-to-the-wall style fighter of his mentor. Nonetheless, he is aggressive in looking for submissions and owns a solid (not great) wrestling game to supplement it. His striking is wild (though he has tightened it up since he first started) and leaves him open to getting hit. He has some power and can KO his opponent, but more often than not uses his strikes to set up a takedown or submission.
Marcello was the jiu-jitsu coach at the famed Chute Boxe academy for a long time, which tells you all you need to know for his strengths. He hasn't been able to score a submission in the UFC due to his non-existent wrestling game. He doesn't have a lot of technique in his striking, but it is aggressive (remember, Chute Boxe) and he doesn't mind getting involved in a brawl (often to his detriment). He doesn't have a lot of power though as his last non-injury TKO/KO was almost 16 years ago. That is not a typo, 16 years is correct.
These men should know each other quite well having lived and trained together for 13 weeks. Often times that leads to a cautious and boring affair, but I don't expect that out of these two. Proctor is savvy enough to avoid a submission from the jiu-jitsu master and Marcello's propensity to slug it out (even if Proctor has the advantage) will make a fun affair. Proctor by Decision
Damm has an extensive jiu-jitsu and wrestling background (3rd degree black belt and on the Brazilian national wrestling team), but outside of an awesome belly-to-back suplex in his last match, really hasn't shown those in the UFC. His standup has improved as he effectively counter punched Mizuto Hiroto and mixed in some heavy leg kicks, but I find it weird he opted not to utilize his strengths when he was fighting smaller opponents where it would seem he would have a greater advantage. His move up in weight was due to suffering kidney issues due to his weight cut in his cancelled bout last October.
Jorge, also known as 'Batman,' is a former Jungle Fight lightweight champion and is a grappling specialist with 12 victories by submission with chokes being his specialty. He is a bulldog in going for takedowns, rarely giving his opponent any room to breath and shows good GNP to either finish his opponent or get position for the choke. He'll initiate the clinch against the cage and throw knees if unable to get his opponent down. His standup overall his rudimentary, but he can survive when forced to throw.
Jorge will have a size advantage over Damm for sure, but Damm feels like a bad match-up for Jorge. Damm's wrestling and jiu-jitsu background should allow him to keep the feet standing (or at least keep Jorge from submitting him) and his standup has improved to the point that he is in a different class than Jorge. Plus, Jorge started to wear down his last fight and that was without an extra 15 pounds to cut. Damm by Decision
Lightweights with identical records square off in what could have employment repercussions on the line.
Trinaldo is a BIG lightweight whom always seems to draw comparisons to Gleison Tibau due to his size. While not quite as big, he is more aggressive than Tibau has ever shown. It translates well as his strength allows him to effectively do so. His last victory was a submission over Mike Rio in which he scored an arm-triangle choke from half-guard... not going to do that with average strength. A kickboxing champ in Brazil, he is usually technically sound, but can get sloppy, especially with his punches. What killed Trinaldo in his loss to Hallman was his conditioning. He had Hallman on the ropes with body kicks in the first round before gassing and allowing Hallman to take control and get the W.
Ronson made his UFC debut on about a months notice and certainly didn't embarrass himself. His opponent Michel Prazeres exposed his grappling shortcomings as he took him down repeatedly and controlled him. Ronson was able to make a run as the fight went on showing good cardio (hint, hint). A southpaw, he has good striking and was on Canada's national kickboxing team and wisely picks and mixes his spots, never looking out of control. The problem with his kickboxing background is that he leaves himself tall and prone to being taken down which Prazeres exposed. As a fun side note (relevant as well), he got his nickname 'The Body Snatcher' for his propensity to win matches with body shots in kickboxing.
The X-factor in this fight is Trinaldo's stamina. If its up to par, he'll get the victory. He has gone the distance before and hasn't suffered the same effects that he did last time. I expect he'll be alright this time around. Trinaldo takes the same game plan Prazeres had but he has a more diverse sub game than Prazeres does. Trinaldo by Submission 2nd Round
A couple of large bantamweights collide in a battle that could have serious implications in the division down the road. That may sound ridiculous, but the division really is that wide open considering Barao has clean out the top contenders.
Alcantara was fighting at lightweight just over 3 years ago and has cut down effectively to bantamweight. He looked like a beast against Pedro Nobre and Iliarde Santos before running into the buzzsaw that is Urijah Faber (it was a non-title fight). Alcantara controlled Faber to start the match and even got his back for a while before the California Kid was able to reverse his fortunes. While being large at the weight class, he still maintains a fair amount of quickness and possess plenty of savvy and has effectively used his length since the weight drop. He is incredibly difficult to finish (1 sub loss and 1 TKO loss due to injury) with a combined 24 finishes himself (12 KO/TKO's and subs each).
Reis was a participant in 4 Bellator tournaments (the first three at featherweight) and earned an upset decision over Ivan Menjivar in his UFC debut in September. Shaped like a bowling ball, he is a bulldog on the ground with excellent wrestling and he is a legit Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with 8 victories by submission. Problem is that he is very stiff with his striking and has zero victories by KO/TKO. He capable of surviving standing though as his striking is serviceable at the least. When he gets top control he can be suffocating as he completely stuffed Menjivar that way in their fight.
Reis could overwhelm Alcantara the same way he did Menjivar. But Alcantara is larger and more savvy than Menjivar. Plus, Alcantara has a 6 inch reach advantage in this fight and knows how to utilize it. I see this being more similar to Alcantara's match with Santos than anything. Reis will last longer though. Alcantara by TKO 2nd Round
Neither of these fighters seems to have any long-term staying power and this could conceivably be a pink slip match. I would also say that it could be a dark horse for FOTN.
Arantes has quietly amassed 5 fights in the UFC, going 2-2-1 in the process. Traditionally a striker with an affinity for head kicks, Arantes seemed content to try and play the counter striker in his last bout and it cost him a W against Edimilson Souza as he didn't counter enough (thus largely defeating the purpose). Maybe he was thrown off by Souza's reach. When aggressive, he a solid Muay Thai practitioner capable of ending the fight before the final bell with knees and elbows. He hasn't shown much in terms of grappling, but has shown he can get the fight on the ground. He hasn't faced a fighter with the grappling background of Blanco though... doubt he is able to get him down.
Blanco is a physical beast at featherweight who could work his way up the ladder if he were to add some discipline to his game. He was a whirling dervish of violence in Sengoku, but has struggled to adjust to the Unified MMA rules (i.e. no soccer kicks). He was on his way to a victory his last fight before kneeing Akira Corsani while he was still on the ground, which wasn't his first loss by DQ. If he were to learn to fight under control, his power and wrestling background (freestyle wrestling at the Pan American Games in 2007) make him a threat to anyone. Technique in his striking is a foreign concept to him, but his power makes up for it. Expect to see some sort of highlight reel kick out of his repitoire as well... the greater question is whether or not he will be able to land it.
Neither one of these fighters seems to have come close to matching their potential; Arantes due to lack of aggression, Blanco because of too much aggression. My question is how Blanco responds to his DQ loss. Will he be humbled to the point he losses his edge? Working with Greg Jackson, I think he'll find the right balance and overpower Arantes. Blanco by Decision
A hot young prospect from (you guessed it) Russia making his UFC debut against a middling welterweight whom the UFC really has no long term plans for. This has the look of a showcase fight for the debutant.
Tumenov comes into the UFC riding an 8 fight win streak with the last 6 being by KO/TKO and the last 5 within the first round. This kid has dynamite in both of his fists, though he does seem to use his left as his power hand more prominently. He is a counter striker and that reputation seems to have spread in Russia as his opponents seemed tentative at times to make their move leading him to blast them as they think over their next move. What impresses me the most is his accuracy. All of his punches seem to land where he wants it to and he can throw some pretty kicks at his opponents head as well. His ground game is a question as I've seen nothing of it and he doesn't own a single submission victory. Fortunately for him, fights start on their feet.
Alcantara is a rangy welterweight (6'2 with a 78' reach) who hasn't exactly impressed the UFC brass after a surprisingly successful UFC debut at light heavyweight in which he subbed Wagner Prado with a kneebar. Since then he owns an uninspiring decision victory over an undersized Leandro Silva and a grinding decision loss to Igor Araujo. He does a good job of using his length to his advantage, but doesn't pack a lot of power in his punches. He'll want to get the fight to the ground and luckily for him has shown a good ability to take the fight where he wants it as both his takedown abilities and takedown defense have been solid. He doesn't actively look for submissions as he obtained the sub on Prado in a transition, but he might want to do so here as Tumenov's abilities are unknown.
Alcantara caught the attention of the UFC with his debut victory, but in retrospect he really just took advantage of a young and wild striker with no submission defense. Tumenov has shown much more discipline in his striking than Prado and knows how to keep the fight standing. Alcantara's best hope is that Tumenov suffers from Octagon jitters, but I don't see that here. Tumenov by KO 1st Round
Douglas Silva de Andrade (22-0, 1 NC) vs. Zubair Tuhugov (15-3), Featherweight
A pair of UFC newcomers square off to open the card as Andrade enters the UFC with less than two weeks notice as an injury replacement for longtime UFC staple Thiago Tavares.
When you look at Andrade on paper its easy to tell that he is a striker by trade as 18 of his 22 victories have come by KO/TKO. The fact that he has dynamite in his fists is backed up when you watch him in action. Considering he rarely throws anything outside of a leg kick unless his opponent throws first, its safe to label him a counter striker. He sits down on his strikes to generate power. When he does throw first he is attempting to goad his opponent into throwing themselves, though the longer a match goes the more likely he'll start to strike first in earnest. A squat 5'5, he has his most problems with lanky opponents. As for grappling its largely a mystery, though he stuffed the few takedown attempts I've seen thrown at him with ease. Don't let Andrade's record fool you though; a lot of the guys he has beat are cans. Not to say that he isn't a good prospect, but there is a reason that he had gone unsigned as long as he had.
At 23, Tuhugov shows more long-term promise than Andrade. Though he is a Russian, he is a Chechen rather than a Dagestani as recent UFC phenoms Khabib Nurmagomedov, Rustam Khabilov, and Ali Bagautinov have been. He trains with Mairbek Taisumov under former UFC fighter Roger Huerta at Tiger Muay Thai. Another striker, he shows better technique in his boxing every time out and will mix in a spinning backfist or kick in there as well. Not a powerhouse, he'll pick you apart mixing a bit of everything from punches to kicks in nice combos if allowed to get into his rhythm. Problem is, if he isn't in rhythm (or the longer the fight goes) he'll settle for single strikes which would fall right into the hands of Andrade. He'll throw in a takedown a his GNP isn't overwhelming, but it does do damage
In many ways Tuhugov's style falls right into Andrade's. So you look at this two ways: Either Tuhugov is too young and dumb to alter his strategy or he isn't stupid enough to be intimidated into changing his style. I'm going with the later. Andrade seems tough, but he also doesn't seem willing to adapt much and Tuhugov shows good movement. Tuhugov by Decision
Record for Last Card: 8-4
Record for Year: 30-15
Complaints and comments (hopefully of the intelligent variety) are always good.