Bantamweights Yves Jabouin and Jeff Hougland will clash on the main card of Tuesday's UFC on Fuel TV 3 event. The match is 1 of 6 slated for the 8:00 p.m. ET broadcast on Fuel TV, which will follow a 6-fight lineup that will be streamed on the UFC's Facebook page and features a #1 contender bout between featherweights Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier.
Jeff Hougland (10-4) is stepping in for Mike Easton, who was originally paired with Jabouin but withdrew with an injury on March 23rd. Hougland is a BJJ black belt with an atypical history in MMA. His career started in 2002-03 with a win followed by 4-straight losses, one of which was to current Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez (2nd-round TKO). Hougland would not reappear until 2005-2006, where he won twice each year before going MIA again. His existing run started in 2010 after a 4-year absence, yet he's been flawless once again with 5-consecutive wins, the last coming in his UFC debut against Donny Walker (unanimous decision).
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Yves "Tiger" Jabouin (17-7) is a Haitian-Canadian bantamweight fighting out of the Tristar Gym. He's performed well against mid-level competition (Brandon Visher, Ian Loveland, Walel Watson) but fallen short against A-listers (Raphael Assuncao, Jonathan Brookins, Mark Hominick). Jabouin is an explosive and creative kickboxer with serviceable wrestling and clinch skills. 3 of his 7 losses are via submission, which could spell trouble against a BJJ black belt, but those defeats deserve a closer look: Pablo Garza via flying triangle, Brookins via elbows and an armbar in Jabouin's 2nd pro fight.
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I won't claim to be intimately familiar with Hougland's breadth of abilities, but the mechanics here seem to be a pretty simple striker vs. grappler match up. Hougland has a single KO win so the chances of him catching Jabouin in an exchange is extremely slim. That leaves Hougland's submission grappling, which is legit but entirely dependent on his wrestling.
I wouldn't call Jabouin a specialist in takedown defense, but he's quite adept in that aspect, mostly on account of the excellent balance and footwork from his striking. Based on what I've seen of Hougland, I don't think he'll have the wrestling chops to enforce his submission game. Jabouin is a stout and strong kickboxer who should be fully aware that this is his fight to win on the feet.
Hougland's best chance is to time a flash takedown or set it up brilliantly with strikes, and then do his best to capitalize to the fullest. It's worth mentioning that Hougland's sole knockout loss was none other than Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, and Hougland showed a lot of heart and determination in his debut. The betting lines have Jabouin as a substantial favorite at an average of just over -200, which I agree with.
My Prediction: Yves Jabouin by decision.