The UFC on Fuel card this weekend, like any card in the UK, is a highly mixed bag. There are plenty of things to like, but also plenty of things to shrug your shoulders at. David Castillo brought you a preview of the first three fights on the Facebook preliminary and now I will bring you a look at the final three fights, all of them featuring fighters hailing from Team Kaobon, one of the few MMA gyms that still teaches the nearly lost Brazilian art of no gi grappling known as Luta Livre.
The Facebook fights start at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT, with the main card airing on Fuel at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT.
Terry Etim (15-4) vs. Renee Forte (7-2) [Lightweight]
This match presents a new twist on the oldest rivalry in the sport, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu vs Luta Livre. Renee Forte trains with the Nogueira brothers and employs a primarily takedown and control kind of BJJ game. He has solid ground and pound and gets a little wild on the feet with power strikes. Forte has lost his only UFC fight, getting choked out by Alliance Jiu Jitsu's Sergio Moraes.
Terry Etim is a submission specialist coming from the catch wrestling inspired Luta Livre. Etim has been in the UFC since 2007, first appearing in UFC 70. Luta Livre fighters and catch wrestlers thrive at catching submissions in wrestling positions, so it isn't a surprise that Etim's submission success comes mostly from locking up front head lock chokes coming off stopping a takedown attempt. Etim also is a competent striker who is dangerous when not respected on the feet.
This one seems to favor Etim, who is a better striker and likely the better wrestler also. Once on the ground Forte struggled with the more aggressive submission attack of Moraes and if he is working on taking Etim down he is putting himself in danger.
Terry Etim by Submission, Round 3.
Danny Castillo (14-5) vs. Paul Sass (13-1) [Lightweight]
This one is another interesting match up as submission specialist Paul Sass, also trained in Luta Livre, takes on a well rounded veteran in Danny Castillo. Sass is coming off a deflating loss to Matt Wiman, who bested Sass at his own submission based game. Similarly Castillo is coming off a disappointing knock out to Michael Johnson.
Everyone knows what Sass' A-game is, the guard and the triangle choke. And in MMA, like all sports, once your A-game is known you have to keep adapting it for it to continue to be effective. Sass got a hard lesson in his last fight that other fighters are adapting to his attack when Wiman caught him in that armbar. Sass will need to add a new wrinkle to his game to be successful against top level guys, and it maybe him turning to his sneaky leg lock game.
Castillo is a jack of all trades but master on none type of fighter, and will likely not want to go to the ground with Sass. Castillo's striking is very good and he would have a clear edge standing, so that is his most likely path to victory. Maybe this is just my fevered brain playing tricks on me, but I expect Sass to get this to the ground by hook or by crook and lock on something nasty. Sass is young, his arrow is firmly pointed up and I think he gets back on the horse with a win here.
Paul Sass by Submission, Round 1.
Josh Grispi (14-4) vs. Andy Ogle (8-2) [Featherweight]
There was a day that Josh Grispi was seen as a legitimate contender in the Featherweight division, but now that he is riding a three fight losing streak he is fighting for his job. Grispi's title shot talk came from the fact that he had won 10 matches in a row, eight of which ended in the first three minutes of the first round. But Grisipi has struggled at the higher levels of the division when he hasn't be able to put opponents away quickly. Grispi is reasonably well rounded, but has shown to be vulnerable when on the floor.
Andy Ogle hails from Team Kaobon, along with Sass and Etim, and also specializes in Luta Livre based grappling. Ogle isn't quite the ace on the ground that Sass is, but he is a little more well rounded on the feet. Ogle will likely want to mix it up against Grispi. Ogle is a tough guy to finish, and he will likely not just fall into a headlock choke for Gripsi, and that bodes well for him as Grispi seems to struggle in longer fights. This one seems pretty close but in the end it feels like Ogle will emerge the winner.
Andy Ogle by Decision.