In the latest "boom" cycle of UFC signings 20 fighters have been added to the books in the last month alone. Now, it's time to add another two names to that list as the UFC looks to have picked up Jake Lindsey and Sultan Aliev. Lindsey's signing was made official on Wednesday, via a press release on the UFC website. He will be filling in for the injured Yosdenis Cedeno against Jon Tuck at UFC Fight Night Albuquerque on June 7th. Aliev's signing is less official, but MMABoxing.ru reports that the former Bellator middleweight tournament competitor has just recently inked his Zuffa contract. No debut date or opponent has been announced, and no official confirmation has been made.
Who is Jake Lindsey?
Undefeated at 9-0, the 27-year old Lindsey comes to the UFC training out of the Combative Sport Center in Manhattan, Kansas. There he trains alongside regional vet Joe Wilk, and rising prospect Brandon Bear. Unlike many prospects plucked from the US regional scene, Lindsey's record actually has a bit of depth to it. His first career win came over current Bellator fighter Bobby Cooper, and his knockout of Zach Freeman was a great showing between decent prospects. Otherwise he has wins over traveled vets like Marcio Navarro and Ted Worthington. It's not a sterling record, but it's better than most through ten fights.
Interestingly, Lindsey apparently came to MMA with little to no martial arts background, but a desire to try MMA saw him steered to Wilk's gym by a promoter he contacted, in search of a fight. Considering that he's just been signed to the UFC "The Librarian" (and yes he apparently is a librarian) has done shockingly well for himself in his 4+ years of cage time.
What you should expect:
Watching Lindsey fight, his lack of a longtime martial arts background shows through in small ways. He's not terribly economical with his movement, his form and stance are a bit crude or at least lacking in some of the fluidity that accompanies a long history of combat sports training. But, what he may lack in polish, he makes up for in power, aggression, and variety. His range striking game mostly consists of a pawing jab and a decent mix of leg and front kicks, but he closes the distance well behind lunging strikes, most notably elbows and uppercuts. In the clinch is where Lindsey's power and agression really shine. He digs hard to the body, throws great elbows, and unleashes tight hooks in combination.
He's not the most defensively sound fighter, and his wrestling game appears under developed (mostly consisting of bullying smaller competition) but he also looks to have the kind of fight changing power that can make technical flaws moot, at least for a while.
What this means for his debut:
Honestly, this is a great bit of matchmaking between two fighters without a lot of experience. Tuck definitely has the cleaner technique. He moves much more naturally, his strikes seem more fluid and accurate, but he's also shown a tendency to get drawn into firefights with his opponents and to get bullied by more active strikers. Tuck's never shown a lack of chin, so I'm not sure that I'd pick him to get knocked out by a shot from Lindsey, but the same could be said of Zach Freeman, who was the odds on favorite in their fight. I'd probably pick Tuck to win this fight, but he's got to stay exceptionally mindful on defense and keep himself from getting backed down and pressed against the cage.
Who is Sultan Aliev?
A Russian and European Sambo Champion, Dagestan's Sultan Aliev is the latest Caucuses fighter to make his way to the UFC. Training out of Champion MMA, alongside "Frodo" Khasbulaev, Shamil Zavurov, and a host of other successful young prospects, the 29-year old Aliev will make his way to the UFC with a strong 13-1 record. The only blemish is a split decision loss to Doug Marshall, a fight which many felt he had clearly won. Since the loss, Aliev has won four straight outside of Bellator. And wins over Mikkel Parlo, Luiz Henrique, Hracho Darpinyan, Sergey Guzev, and Ruslan Khaskanov, add strong depth to a record largely built on the regional Eastern European scene.
What you should expect:
Let's get this out of the way, whether you felt he won or lost, Aliev's performance against Doug Marshall wasn't pretty. He obviously wanted nothing to do with the striking exchanges of that fight and did everything possible to pull Marshall to the mat and keep him there. The fact that Marshall won the split decision is something of a memorial to Aliev's inactivity. It is important to keep in mind however, that despite his 14 fight career, Aliev has only been active since 2011. He should be a ways away from his peak performances in the cage.
More recently, his striking looks patient, somewhat plodding, but powerful and reasonably technical. Unusually for a fighter from his part of the world, Aliev throws a pretty consistent jab, and follows with a good mix of combinations. But he's not the same dynamo on the outside, usually standing flat footed at the edge of boxing range and looking for opportunities to work his way in. Obviously, once he's on the inside, Aliev has a great takedown game and a really powerful controlling top game. He's yet to show much in the way of submission offense, but he hasn't particularly needed it either.
To get us better acquainted, here's Jake Lindsey's recent bout agianst Zach Freeman at Titan FC 25:
And Aliev's one sided beating of Kleber Bagaunca from August of last year: