I'm sure very few care about who is fighting on Fight Pass for this card... which is why if you are reading this I must congratulate you on being a very unique and awesome human being!
There is nothing that will strike at the heart of the UFC universe on these prelims, but there are some intriguing prospects in every bout that could feature fighters making a fair amount of noise in their respective divisions within a few short years. Patrick Wyman has gone so far as to claim Mirsad Bektic as the #1 prospect at the beginning of the year and that guy knows what he is talking about. Hell, I'm sure most of you trust him more than me anyway! Not that I blame you. I would too if I were you.
Here it is!
In a match made on about 10 days notice, Borg makes his UFC debut against a young veteran (and stern test) in Ortiz. He could be in over his head.
Not only is Borg taking the fight on short notice, he isn't giving himself much of a break. In fact, it will be a span of only 15 days since he last fought when he enters the Octagon. He's very young as well at the tender age of 20. But he has faced some good competition in Nick Urso and Bellator vets Jeimeson Saudino and Angelo Sanchez and come out on top. He is making his UFC debut after less than 2 years on the pro circuit.
Ortiz was scheduled to take on Alp Ozkilic this past Friday in Abu Dhabi before Ozkilic pulled up lame with an injury and a replacement couldn't be found. Well, at least not for that card. He is coming off of a controversial loss to former title challenger John Moraga as many feel Ortiz got the short end of the stick from the judges. Regardless of the outcome, the Roufusport representative has proven he deserves to be in the Octagon.
There isn't a lot of footage available on Borg and that which I did find is more dated than what I had hoped. So I apologize if it isn't completely accurate. He looks to have a wide variety of kicks that he throws at just about any time and look to be powerful enough that he can put his opponent out cold if it connects with their head. His hands look plenty fast too and shows nice combinations. I'm not going to deny that all flyweights are fast because they are... but Borg looks like he should have an advantage on most of them as he was able to dart in and out on his opponents with lightning speed.
Ortiz is a much more known commodity after two fights in the organization. He does everything really well, but nothing great. But he is aware of his opponents tendencies and abilities and adapts capably. Need to grind things up against the cage and engage in dirty boxing and knees? He can do that. Fight in space? He has solid boxing and good kicks. That isn't to say that he couldn't brush up on these areas, but he is capable. He keeps his hands low and wide which makes him an easy target for a fist straight down the middle, but he has shown a very sturdy chin as he has never been finished.
If I were to say that Ortiz has a strength (and it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what he does best), I would say that it is his wrestling. He can telegraph his takedowns at times, but when he sets them up, he has a nice double-leg and shows good control once he gets the fight to the ground. He'll throw the occasional punch or elbow to avoid the stand up from the referee as he attempts to improve his position and is capable of ending the fight with either a submission or GNP. His GNP has been in use more often as of late and I would expect him to take that route with Borg.
I mentioned Borg's speed earlier, but didn't mention its effectiveness with his wrestling. Even better, he shows the ability to stop on a dime and can change plans mid-move if he doesn't like the reaction of his opponent. Think they will stuff his takedown? He'll speed around them and take their back. If I could say how well he maintains control I would... but I honestly don't know how well he does in that department. He also has a good knowledge of chokes as 4 of his victories have come that way as well as all 4 of his recorded amateur bouts.
Borg seems like he could be a serious prospect. I just hope that the UFC isn't signing him too early in his development because I think that Ortiz is too stiff of a challenge for him at this point. I expect Borg to have his moments no doubt... but Ortiz is battle-tested and will be able to handle whatever Borg throws at him. Ortiz by TKO 3rd Round
This should be good. Its a pair of undefeated and highly regarded prospects making their UFC debuts. Anyone think they will want to make a good impression?
Bektic is a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a product of American Top Team. He's a wrecking ball of violence with stoppages in all but one of his victories. His opponents have been a mix of cans and respectable veterans (including 64 fight veteran Joe Pearson), but he does seem ready to make the jump up in competition. At 23, his upside is still huge.
Skelly isn't quite as young as Bektic at 28, but has faced much higher competiton with 3 appearances in Bellator and two victories over UFC veteran Daniel Pineda. He has dealt with injuries in his career which caused him to miss two years of his career, but has since come back from those issues. He is a former wrestler at Oklahoma State... so can you guess what his strengths are?
Let me put it this way with Bektic: I was able to search for, find, and watch about 5 of his matches in the span of about 15 minutes. He is incredibly aggressive and works fast. The beauty of it is while he is aggressive he is far from reckless. He most often breaks his opponents defense with a well timed jab and follow that up with a combination. Often his opponent is retreating and/or stunned at this point and thus he swarms. Whether he takes them down or they fall down doesn't really matter at this point as he follows up in a hurry and pounds out a win with very (and I do mean very) relentless GNP using both punches and elbows. He is also comfortable in pushing them against the cage and going for the takedown there.
Skelly is definitely going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to the striking, but he isn't without hope. His excellent wrestling base will keep Bektic wary of rushing in there too quick as Skelly is more than capable of flooring him with a takedown as soon as Bektic provides an opening. It may sound weak, but that really does represent Skelly's best offense and defense with someone as explosive as Bektic. Skelly has a decent jab that he throws frequently, but doesn't seem to offer much else. His defense is sound, but it will have to be better than that.
What he does do well is drive his opponents into the ground (as I've already said) and maintain heavy control from the top. Like most wrestlers, he'll dive for his opponents legs and if unable to grab one or both, he'll drive them against the cage and work his way from there. His GNP is nothing like Bektic as his punches are more annoying which will create an opening for him to either advance position or attempt a submission as 6 of his victories have come by submission. He looks to be fairly adept at executing leg locks such as the knee bar or heel hook, so Bektic may want to be cautious of leaving his legs out for the taking.
While I do believe that Bektic's striking is a definitively huge advantage, I don't think he'll be deterred in taking the fight to the ground at all. His explosiveness leads to double leg blasts, but has shown to be adept at trips as well. I can't say how his submission defense is (largely because I can't recall him being on the defensive), but I'd imagine it is solid. As for submissions himself, he has threatened with them, but hasn't scored one outside of a single choke. Who needs to anyway when you have GNP as good as his? (It really is that good)
I gotta believe that Bektic is the one that the UFC is looking at as the true prospect here and like the idea of matching him with Skelly. Skelly should be able to test him in a way he hasn't been yet, but certainly isn't an insurmountable opponent. In fact, Bektic will overcome him. Its just a question of when he can close the deal. Bektic by TKO 2nd Round
These are two big, athletic heavyweight specimen that the UFC figure are worth taking a cup of coffee on. They look physically impressive... how about fighting with the best though?
Lewis was supposed to debut last year, but alas, the luck of injuries. When watching him it is easy to see why the UFC signed him as he has all the physical gifts, but also easy to see why he really isn't all that hyped as he hasn't developed all of those tools yet either. But it is worth noting that he is responsible for the lone loss on Jared Roshalt's record.
May is monstrous at 6'8 and played basketball while he was in college. He is more raw than Lewis and has largely beaten down a number of cans, but his size and athleticism (his days in basketball come out) are certainly worth taking a look at. Working alongside Josh Barnett, he at least has a good mentor to show him the ropes in the UFC.
The thing that I noticed most about Lewis was his tendency to get himself in either bad grappling situations (i.e. opponents taking his back) or in his opponents submission attempts. To his credit, he hasn't been submitted in his career as he has been able to use his abundant athleticism and/or strength to escape, but as his opponents become more skilled the more difficult it will be to escape. His takedown defense has been poor... which is often why his opponents get him in bad situations. He prefers to use underhooks to throw his opponents to the mat, but again relies a lot of his strength. And his GNP... simply devastating. If he gets mount, its all over.
May has been able to use his time banging underneath the boards in basketball to develop a strong base as his takedown defense is very good. He has a nice sprawl and knows how to get leverage under his opponents, which makes him difficult to move when combined with his height. Anything else with his grappling I haven't been able to find, but one has to believe that he has developed some catch-as-catch-can wrestling and submission skills from Barnett, one of the best heavyweights in those departments. I'm not saying May will be great at them, but some ability should be there.
What May does should come as a surprise for a man his size; he throws almost all of his punches at the head and has fantastic knees from the clinch. I would like to see him develop a jab to utilize his height and reach, but overall his punches are sound and thrown with power. If he wants to keep distance, he chooses to use kicks, but doesn't often resort to that as it is clear that he prefers close range Muay Thai style fighting (thus where the knees come in). What could be his downfall is his stamina as he has only left the first round once and doesn't seem concerned with saving energy.
That is where Lewis will have an advantage as his gas tank isn't superb, but is more tested and proven than May's. It is a bit surprising to me as he is similar to May in the sense that he throws everything with bad intentions. His technique won't be as clean as May's but he has more raw power... and that is saying something. He loves to press his opponents up against the cage and unleash a constant stream of lefts and rights. More often than not, he is able to break through his opponents defense due to his strength and raw brutality.
Both of these guys need a lot of polish, but they represent a fine piece of clay for a coach to mold into a masterpiece. I'm going with Lewis on this one. May thinks Lewis isn't showing him enough respect and that may be true. But he goes in to take off his opponents head no matter who it is. It will likely be a short and violent affair. Lewis by KO 1st Round
Record for last Card: 9-4
Record for Year: 79-49-1, 1 NC