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Welcome to the UFC, Willie Gates

A new flyweight makes his way to the UFC on the back of an injury.

When a door closes for one fighter, somewhere else a new door has opened for a yet unknown talent. At least that's how I tend to look at injury news. It's always bad for the fighter who goes down, but for that fighter who's just itching for a call to the big show, it's instrumental. That's where we find short notice flyweight replacement Willie Gates, who takes on John Moraga at UFC on Fox 13 on December 13th. Gates will be filling in for the injured Jussier da Silva, who bowed out due to a partial LCL tear just last week. MMAFighting first reported Gates' signing on Tuesday. So...

Who is Willie Gates?

The 27-year old "Whoopass" Willie Gates comes to the UFC with a well traveled 11-4 record. Most recently, and most notably, he beat rising Alpha male prospect Hector Sandoval at Tachi Palace Fights 21. Prior to that, Gates had, more or less, the career arc you'd expect from a rising prospect, beating a string of similarly positioned young fighters after a rough first couple fights. Then he lost to Federico Lopez, and I'd be lying if I painted his record post 2012 as anything other than padding. In 6 fights with Gladiator Challenge, Gates' opponents had a collected record of 2-38. His win over Sandoval makes up for that, Sandoval is a very legit opponent, but he's essentially 1-2 since beating Carbajal back in June of 2012. Gates is training out of Millennia MMA, alongside Lorenz Larkin and recent UFC signee Jonathan Wilson.

What you should expect:

At 5' 10" Gates is about as big as any flyweight is ever going to get. He likes to throw a lot of kicks from the outside, using front kicks and leg kicks to dictate range. Behind that, he likes to move in and out of the pocket with big, dynamic strikes; lunging knees, overhand rights, and winging hooks make up a lot of his striking arsenal. Otherwise, Gates seems pretty limited in his counter-wrestling and clinch grappling ability. He scrambles well, but considering his size, seems very easy to take down. He does throw really solid knees in the clinch, when given the opportunity. Much of his grappling seems based around trying to slam, scramble, or wait out submissions.

What this means for his debut:

Hard not to give Gates a punchers chance, as he's huge and has the diversity of technique to surprise Moraga. But, unless he's made dramatic improvements in his overall skill set and wrestling and grappling ability, he should be primed to lose to this fight. Moraga may not have the most fluid game in MMA, but he's great at taking advantage of opponents errors and has the kind of solid boxing and powerful grappling that should exploit Gates' own weaknesses. Given that Gates is also coming in on short notice for his UFC debut, chances of him getting the W are slim.

To get us better acquainted, here's Gates' last fight, against Hector Sandoval for the Tachi Palace title: