Hopefully the third time's a charm for Thiago Tavares in his hopes to make a featherweight debut in the UFC. First slated to meet Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Mousasi back in February, Tavares was forced out of the bout with a rib injury. He then was slated to take on Tom Niinimaki at the UFC's recent show in Berlin. Again the injury bug struck and Tavares was replaced by Nicklas Backstrom. Now, for the third time, Tavares has been booked for his featherweight debut, as the UFC announced on Friday that he would be taking on the surging Robbie Peralta at UFC Fight Night Bangor on August 16th.
Peralta is coming off the biggest win of his career, a major upset of TUF Brazil season 1 winner Rony Jason at the Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale. Peralta has been a surprising success in the UFC to date as his exceptional athleticism has beena major dividing line between him and many of his opponents. He's lightning quick, hits like a truck, and has a great chin. The fact that there's not a lot of nuanced technique to go with it, thus far hasn't been a major problem (at least not outside a loss to Akira Corassani).Tavares should be a big step up for Peralta, even from Rony Jason.
Excepting, of course, that Tavares has been notoriously inconsistent throughout his career. Coming off a win over Justin Salas at lightweight, he's still not that far removed from getting utterly demolished by Khabib Nurmagomedov. There's little shame in that, but past KO losses to Shane Roller and Matt Wiman have suggested that you don't exactly have to be the hardest punching, or slickest technician in the world to put Tavares on rubber legs. Peralta is exactly the kind of fighter that he should be able to school with his technical Jiu Jitsu and solid boxing. But, if he lets himself get drawn into a firefight, Peralta is also exactly the kind of fighter that could take Tavares out with one punch.
UFC Fight Night Bangor takes place on August 16th, in Bangor Maine. Here's a look at the card so far.