Welcome to the UFC Narvaez, dos Santos, Arreola, & Puig

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The UFC is filling out more summer cards which means new signings, seemingly at a faster pace than ever. Check out the latest signings all of whom will be making their debut soon.

Things are a bit madcap right now in the UFC's talent acquisition department. I had hoped the UFC's blistering pace from last fall had cooled somewhat over the winter and that we'd be back to a more normal "sign 12, cut 10" rate of growth. That doesn't appear to be the case with another batch of four fighters making their UFC debut in the upcoming months. Sherdog.com reports that planned Legacy FC middleweight title contender Roger Narvaez has been signed by the UFC to make his short notice debut against Patrick Cummins at Fight Night Albuquerque. Similarly, Indiscutido.com reports that Juan Manuel Puig has been picked up to face Adriano Martins at the TUF 19 Finale. And finally, Combate reports two new signings, Tiago dos Santos and Akbarh Arreola, who will face each other at UFC on Fox 12.

Who is Roger Narvaez?

The 30-year old fighter hailing from the Full Contact Fight Academy in Corpus Christi, Texas will enter the UFC on the tail of an undefeated 6-0 record. He was lined up to take on Bubba Bush for the Legacy FC middleweight title, but pulled from that bout for his UFC debut. At 6' 3" he shouldn't be terribly undersized at 205 (he looks pretty big on camera). Outside of a split decision over Hayward Charles at Legacy FC 23, his record isn't anything to write home about; a combination of cans, green competition, and regional journeymen. Apart from of his one strong opponent, he's finished all of his fights quickly, with 3 TKOs and two subs, but it's not a terribly meaningful record.

What you should expect:

Narvaez is big and strong, and he's spent some time on the regional grappling circuit, so he's not untrained outside his MMA game, but he's also fairly raw for a fighter in the UFC. He's a fairly major proponent of the chin up, arms bent, style of striking and has gotten hit hard a few times because of it. Eventually, the goal of his striking is to get in on a body lock so that he can drag his opponent to the mat. His takedown game doesn't look gorgeous, mostly predicated on size and effort, but once he's on the floor, his top control and ground and pound are strong. He looks good when advancing position, and strikes with some serious power from the top. If he stays at light heavyweight, he could get a lot more time to develop than he might at 185.

What this means for his debut:

Most likely, bad things. Cummins is a raw talent as well, but his raw tools, most notably his wrestling and striking should serve him a lot better than Narvaez's. Cummins is more patient and technical in his standup and should be able to dictate the grappling exchanges. Narvaez may have a pretty good shot against the brawlers of light heavyweight, but I expect this fight to give him trouble. The fact that he's also taking the fight on just under three weeks notice will probably work against him as well.

Who is Tiago dos Santos?

Tiago "Trator" as he is also known, is a 27-year old Brazilian lightweight formerly of the Marajo Brothers Gym under the guidance of Iuri and Ildemar Alcantara, but currently training out of Team Nogueira. The current Jungle Fight lightweight champion will be making his way to the UFC with an 18-4-2 (1 NC) record fought mostly on the Brazilian regional scene. In a world where more and more fighters are coming to the big show with heavily padded records, it's important to note that Trator's is neck deep in quality.  The fact that thirteen of his eighteen wins are by way of stoppage suggests that he is very seriously a fighter to watch.

What you should expect:

Probably his biggest talent to date is his consistent creation of offense. Trator has some solid technique, especially with his kicking game, which he often leads with, but at heart he's a bit of a brawler with a strong chin and a good gas tank. He's obviously done quite a bit of Muay Thai training and it shows in his footwork, as he tends to check kicks coming into range, and has the steady gate of a Thai boxer. It appears, somewhat similarly to Matt Brown, that where dos Santos really does his best work is in the clinch where he can work knees and short punches, along with a decent trip and drag takedown game.

What really lacks is his range defense, he tends to come in on straight lines behind big looping strikes. His sprawl game is decent, but it does make me wonder how much of that is due to inferior competion. He's also not particularly heavy on top when grappling, or active off his back. He's a solid fighter, from a decent camp with a lot of experience, and I expect him to do well early in his UFC career. But, he'll have to evolve to win further down the line.

Who is Akbarh Arreola?

With a record of 22-7, Akbarh Arreola is without a doubt, one of the most experienced lightweights on the Mexican regional scene. With a career stretching all the way back to 2002, Arreola will enter the UFC on a three fight win streak. The 31-year old trains out of Entram Gym alongside Antonio Duarte, Gabriel Benitez, and Enrique Briones. He has decent wins over fighters like Alejandro Solano Rodriguez, Gabe Ruediger, andHajime Ohara. And his losses have almost entirely been to strong competition, including Mac Danzig, TOby Imada, and Brent Weedman.

What you should expect:

Fighting out of the southpaw stance, Arreola likes to lead combiantions from the outside with rear leg kicks to the body and legs of his opponent, often following up with punches. He will occasionally throw one off power strikes as well, but tends to be a kick first fighter. He throws with power and accuracy enough to make this workable, often, but his lack of variety is a little troubling. For good measure, Arreola does show signs of a bit of offensive wrestling, but doesn't seem to have much of a top control game, using it instead, to keep opponents off balance. He does tend to back straight out when exchanging letting himself be easily swarmed by active strikers and wrestlers, and his takedown defense isn't terribly active. He scrambles well and creates decent submission offense off his back, but it's not a great thing to have to rely on.

What this means for their debut:

This is a pretty terrible fight for Arreola. Against less technical opponents he's been able to work a decent bottom game and some range striking to get stoppages, but dos Santos is hardly green to grappling exchanges and is a much more aggressive and active striker, the kind that tends to give Arreola fits. Given that "Trator" is in pretty excellent shape and has a very solid clinch game, I'm not sure there are many areas he can be competitive in this fight. Arreola has gotten TKO'd by a few of the higher level opponents he's faced, and I'd expect that to be the result here.

Who is Juan Manuel Puig?

One of the better prospects out of Mexico, "Fenix" will enter the UFC with a decent 11-2 record. He's currently on a six fight win streak including a TKO of the aforementioned Arreola Otherwise his high point is probably a victory over over Mehdi Baghdad. He has nine stoppages in 11 wins with seven subs and two TKOs. He trains out of Bonebreakers MMA alongside Augusto Montano and Rodolfo Rubio.

What you should expect:

Puig is something of a rarity in that he appears to be mostly a wrestler coming off the Latin American scene. He stalks opponents aggressively, looking to close the distance with workmanlike kick-boxing and set up takedown opportunities. He has a decent double leg, which is good, because his footwork doesn't provide him with a lot of ways to get inside otherwise. Once on top, however, he's reasonably solid and does well to open up chances for submissions. All his striking tends to happen in straight lines and when he gets frustrated he tends to go the Matt Riddle route of straight punches in straight lines from any distance, come hell or high water.

What this means for his debut:

If Narvaez is in for bad things against Patrick Cummins, Puig may as well be throwing himself into a wood chipper against Adriano Martins. I think there's a reason that the UFC gave Martins that fight with Donald Cerrone. Partially, I'm sure it was because Cerrone needed a paycheck and was free that weekend. But, more to the point, it was because the UFC wanted to see if Martins could immediately insert himself into the top tier of the lightweight division. He couldn't quite yet, but he has all the raw tools he needs. Martins is huge, has excellent BJJ, and a very solid range boxing game. Puig could easily make a pretty good prospect down the line, but in the mean time Martins is going to take his lunch money.

To get us better acquainted, here's a look at Roger Narvaez's recent bout with Aaron Glynn:

And Tiago dos Santos' last fight against Ary Santos Jr.:

And Finally, Juan Manuel Puig vs. Akbarh Arreola:

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