Welcome to the UFC Montano, Bush, Moontasri, Howell

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC continues to snap up talent faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

Because the UFC is acquiring fighters at such a rapid pace, I've left a few people off my recent "Welcome to the UFC" scouting posts. Fighters like Sam Alvey, Kevin Casey, Leonardo Mafra (both Casey and Mafra are actually returning), and Rin Nakai and Tina Lahdemaki (who were each covered in seperate posts). Hopefully I won't have to do this much more, but with the accelerated rate at which the UFC appears to be signing talent, I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed. First on today's docket is Augusto "Dodger" Montano, first reported by the UFC on June 12th and expected for a debut in Mexico City at UFC 180. Along with Montano is the confirmed signing of Bubba Bush, who will face Kevin Casey at UFC 175. And Finally, James Moontasri and Shane Howell have both been targeted for late notice fill ins on this week's San Antonio Card. Moontasri becomes the sixth opponent for the accursed Joe Ellenberger and Shane Howell fills in for Ryan Benoit against Ray Borg in a flyweight contest.

Who is Augusto Montano?

Considered one of the more legit vets on the Mexican regional circuit, "Dodger" as he is commonly known is a 29-year old welterweight. Recently, as part of a UFC pushed outreach program Dodger has been training with Jackson Winklejohn MMA as his home camp. His signing was actually rumored with the TUF Latin America cast release back in May. At the time, his signing was contingent on him picking up a win in a planned upcoming fight. I'm assuming he did so, although the fight isn't officially listed anywhere. Outside of wins over Edvaldo de Oliveira and Jorge Enrique Macias and a loss to Sam Alvey, Montano's record is fairly light on quality opposition, but at 13-1 he's at least shown a knack for finishing with 8 KO/TKOs and 5 subs.

What you should expect:

Montano is a boxer first and foremost in the cage. He has good footwork, good head and body movment, and throws his hands well in combination. However, he doesn't work exceptionally well from distance, often defaulting to a lead leg outside leg kick as an attempt to control distance and timing. Because he's so reliant on his hands on the outside, Montano can end up overreaching his feet a bit and unbalancing himself as he tries to close distance. Inside, he throws a lot of leather and with power. Montano also mixes in knees well and will shoot if the opportunity arises. His wrestling is functional, but not outstanding, but his ground and pound is very heavy and consistent.

Who is Bubba Bush?

Training out of Brazos Valley MMA, 28-year old Bubba Bush makes his way to the UFC with a record of 8-2 and the Legacy FC Middleweight strap. His camp appears to be a pretty small operation, with Bush even serving as one of the principal instructors. However, it sounds like he's recently made the move to Jackson's as well, training alongside Tim Kennedy and the rest of the Jackson-Winklejohn fighters. A major positive, as well, has been Bush's level of competition, fighting almost all of his career at Legacy FC, he's faced nothing but strong regional prospects at almost every turn. His only real loss comes to current UFC middleweight Andrew Craig (his other being a DQ) and he has 7 finishes in his 8 wins. On strength of schedule alone, Bush is a fighter to take note of.

What you should expect:

It has to be said that Bush is not much of a striker, either at range or on the inside. If he's not using an overhand right to takedown combination, he's usually throwing his hands out at his opponent with the expressed desire of getting into the clinch, getting a body lock, and dragging them down. He appears to have a pretty deep well strength to draw on, as well as strong wrestling technique and a very aggressive submission offense. That submission offense can get him in trouble at times as he will occasionally give up dominant positions to look for armbars and shoulder locks, but in general it's proved to be a good skill combination for him. Without some improved striking however, he'll very likely suffer long term in the UFC.

What this means for his debut:

Against Kevin Casey, the narrative will really get down to just how polished Bush's submission offense is. He more than likely has better wrestling than Casey and I'd but them more or less even in terms of striking, but I'm not sure if he's quite polished enough as a grappler to survive on the ground against the RFA champ. Casey tends to start strong and fade fast however, so if Bush can survive the first round he may be able to get more done. Either way it should make for a good matchup if both men are willing to roll.

Who is James Moontasri?

Training out of the mega-conglomerate camp that is Team Blackhouse MMA, alongside Kevin Casey and the occasional home of Anderson Silva, Minotauro Nogueira, and many more, 26-year old James Moontasri comes to the UFC with a record of 7-1. He's got a decent regional record with big wins over Jordan Rinaldi and Joshua Aveles to prove his mettle against solid competition. His single loss, a split decision to uninspiring competition in Darren Smith is a bit of a black mark, but otherwise it's about the level of competition you'd want a young fighter facing on his way to the UFC. Outside of MMA he has a black belt in Taekwondo and significant experience in full contact competition including time as a US national team member.

What you should expect:

As would be expected of a very high level Taekwondo competitor, Moontasri has a very high output kicking game at all levels. He throws his hands freely in combination behind his kicks as well, which means he can be a bit defensively open to counters when pushing that level of aggression. He has advanced his boxing a lot over the past year as well, and is much better at leading with his hands than in his early fights. To keep from getting too predictable as a striker, Moontasri supplements it with a powerful takedown game. He times double legs nicely under his opponents offense and has the kind of strength to turn them into powerful slams. His ground and pound isn't terribly aggressive, but given the opportunity he will go for submissions, occasionally at the cost of position.

What this means for his debut:

Honestly, Moontasri may be one of the worst matchups of the six Joe Ellenberger has had. As a capable combination striker witha  very good counter wrestling game, he should hold the advantage on the feet, and may be able to stave off Ellenberger in his strength. If Moontasri can keep from getting caught with wide, looping punches while working from the outside, and keep his footwork active, he should be able to get the better of his debut.

Who is Shane Howell?

A former bantamweight making the drop to 125 lbs, R-1 MMA's Shane Howell comes to the UFC training alongside James Head and Matt Grice out in Oklahoma. The 30-year old has a better than advertised 13-7 record, having gone 10-2 since 2009, including a win over current UFC flyweight Tim Elliott. A win over Mark Oshiro is really his only other scalp of real quality, however, as most of his other opponents have been journeymen, too green fighters, or simply cans. He's only seen the judges twice in a win however (and twice in a loss) so at least he's been exciting.

What you should expect:

In the past, Howell has shown himself as something of a punch heavy brawler on the feet. He likes throwing uppercuts and has a fairly face forward style. He has shown flashes of a decent takedown game, but one disconnected from his striking. Similarly he has a decent submission offense, but much of it seems to be generated off his opponent's offense or while working from guard. It's hard to say how relevant any of that is as scouting however, as there is very little recent footage I could find of Howell, and he appears to have been inactive for all of 2013 and thus far in 2014.

What this means for his debut:

Unless Howell has really improved drastically when it comes to intertwining his various skills, he's very likely going to lose to Ray Borg. Borg appears to be a real phenom at 125 lbs and has the kind of next level athleticism that can carry him over more experienced opposition. Howell appears to be the kind of decent, scrappy fighter who has more to offer in terms of heart and singular techniques than raw athletic gifts. Often, those kinds of fighters aren't long for the UFC. Borg's biggest weakness so far has been his hands, so if Howell is smart he'll try and turn it into a phonebooth brawl.

To get us better acquainted, here's Dodger Montano's last recorded fight against Jason Clayton:

And James Moontasri's last bout against Jordan Rinaldi:

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