UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Silva - Soa Palelei vs. Ruan Potts preview and prognostication

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

The heavyweights get in on the action for UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Silva as Soa Palelei takes on Ruan Potts. Who? Read on to find out of Potts has what it takes to upset the power punching veteran.

Soa Palelei vs. Ruan Potts Heavyweight

Soa Palelei. I think I've heard of this guy. Didn't he very easily beat up Bob Sapp? That's kind of impressive.

Not really.

Oh.

Yea. Sapp's decline started when his shorts began developing wrinkles. As his mass went, so did his ability.

Oh right. Now I remember. Soa is the guy last seen destroying Pat Barry right?

You mean Zack Mwekassa?

No, the other guy.

Uhh, let's move on. Barry has had a rough run in combat sports, and for one of the most likeable guys in the sport, there's hardly a reason to trample over his career grave.

Heavyweight kind of sucks.

Yes, it does.

However, Palelei does not. True his last four wins include Pat Barry, Nikita Krylov (last seen being embarrassed with a Von Flue choke), Sean McCorkle, and Bob Sapp. But at 20-3, he's a monster on the feet, and not too shabby on the ground. He has what is easily the best quote summarizing the difficulty of translating jiu jitsu into a high octane mixed martial arts bout (from Connor's interview):

"A lot of [Jiu Jitsu] doesn't work in mixed martial arts. The fact that, you know, Jiu Jitsu is like a chess game. You're playing a chess game with your opponent. With mixed martial arts you can't do that because, all of a sudden you're playing a chess game and the guy gets up, grabs the game. . . and just starts smashing you with the board."

Wait, Barry and McCorkle are no longer in the UFC, and Krylov is probably on his way out too. Surely his opponent s a step above the previous competition? Ruan Potts doesn't pass the wikipedia test on accident, right?

Yes, and no. Ruan Potts is an interesting fighter. The good thing about having Potts in the UFC despite not passing the wikipedia test is that he does have a reasonable pedigree.

He trains under Mark Robinson, who is a 2001 ADCC champion. With a black belt in Judo, he has what should prove to be a style that could keep him in the UFC based on matchups alone.

He's a +190 with the oddsmakers. Are you saying that's a good bet?

I'm surprised the number is not higher. Potts has zero UFC experience, and is too old to qualify as a prospect. Potts' early fights were what you'd expect from a regional promotion. In addition, early footage doesn't tell us much. He's clearly fighting guys that are not UFC material, and he doesn't look all that special in the process.

You'd rather be anywhere else wouldn't you?

I've got 14 minutes of pissed off goalies open in another window while I type this, so it's all good.

You've presumably still got a job to do right?

Ok, so basically, it's hard to gauge Potts' game.

Which is a polite way of saying something else?

Well, he's no Sean Gannon. That was easily one of the dumbest UFC signings ever. Potts is not that. Plus, he has a theoretical route to victory.

'Theoretical' like evolution theoretical, or theoretical like that the universe is a hologram?

I'm starting to realize how much I hate reading about physics these days.

But yes, by theoretical I mean Potts does have a pretty solid base. He utilizes his Judo extremely well, and possesses fluid movement on the ground. I don't expect this to be enough, but he's a reasonable threat in the clinch with his body lock takedowns and hip throws.

In addition, he has an arsenal of quick, chopping kicks. As you can see in his early bouts, he loves the sidekick. In those videos, he throws it fairly awkwardly too. In fact, he clearly hasn't mastered the side kick at that point in time, but he chambers them well.

Nonetheless, I don't expect this to be enough against Palelei. The main caveat here is that Soa does well in close, which is exactly where Potts wants him: in close, vulnerable to Judo. But Soa is an intelligent fighter, and even if he ends up on the ground, Potts hasn't shown the cardio to grind Soa for three full rounds while weathering Palelei's storm.

Prognostication, por favor?

It's either a closer fight than I'm giving it credit for, or a complete blowout that I'm missing.

Basically, I can see how Potts could win, but his quality of competition is sorely lacking. Soa hasn't had the strongest competition either, but his technique is superior on the feet, which is where I suspect the fight will be won. Soa doesn't need that much time to start landing leather in close, so when he does, I expect Potts to eventually crumble. Tough first fight for a guy who is more enigmatic than your usual 'journeyman UFC signing'. Weird matchmaking to say the least.

Soa Palelei by TKO, round 3.

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