Alas, a worthwhile fight!
Like I said before, I've got a strong stomach for MMA. Like a competitive eater able to down a gallon of milk in the span of minutes, I can tolerate fights for what they are: a competition between two athletes trying to make a living by getting beat up. But that's not to say I'm unwilling to recognize degrees.
So yes, this is legitimately the first worthwhile, possessing of actual stakes bout on the entire card. Especially now that Henry Cejudo is off the card.
Wow. This card-
Careful. I've always strived to keep these previews PG.
But yes, I agree this card has turned into a deglutition of rotting balut. But only on paper. But let's stop focusing on how awful the month of August has been and concentrate on the hope that this fight represents.
Danny Castillo is +230. Any good?
His loss to Michael Johnson was what I consider a setback, but other than a very competitive loss to Edson Barboza, I'd say he's looked pretty good. He's also fresh off a nice KO win over Charlie Brenneman, and 6-2 in his last eight. Castillo has never been able to replicate what I consider the real Alpha Male style, but he's a good enough facsimile that he'll always have a spot in the UFC.
In the other corner is Tony Ferguson who is an interesting character in the cage. We're so used to thinking that TUF does nothing but produce defective products these days that we don't really learn to appreciate the gems it finds. Ferguson is one of those gems. Although he's still hard to figure out.
I was one of the Katsunori Kikuno fanboys telling everyone how awesome Kikuno was on the feet, and that Ferguson would have a ton of trouble. And then I was that same fanboy looking embarrassed over how I could have ever been so stupid. Stupid or not, I'm not sure we learned that much more about the 31 year old Team Death Clutch fighter. After all, Kikuno looked flat out dreadful. He had always been able to make his hands down style the red herring it has always been, but at UFC 173 he just looked like an amateur. It reminded me of Koji Oishi's performance against Nick Diaz. Rogan did his best to convince us Koji's behavior could be classified as a style rather than bad choices, but the outcome told the story.
Still, no matter how attractive that bet is, Danny Castillo is a flawed fighter. While he's clearly talented and well rounded, he doesn't do what makes Alpha Male fighters so special: fluidity amidst the transition. His punch combinations are fairly rote, and none of it is done with the type of flair that makes striking more effective when complimenting the ground aspect. That was a great performance against Barboza, but it also spoke to his limitations. Sometimes the inability to finish a fight is more revealing than the ability to initiate a finish to begin with.
However, this is such a solid fight. In fact, the only reason I get down on Castillo is because he's 35 (not that Ferguson is that much older). I could certainly never be down on him for stuff like this.
While I think there's still a lot to learn about 'El Cucuy', he's the rightful favorite. For one, he has the wrestling to keep Castillo from trying to grind out a decision victory. On top of that, he has the striking to keep Castillo at bay, if not outright finish him. Ferguson's striking can look awkward at times, but it's improved immensely over the years. Now he uses the jab more (a strike that was highly relevant against Kikuno), which better sets up his right hand, which packs a few sticks of dynamite.
The other thing is Ferguson's movement. He's not flashy, but he swivels a lot, which allows me to land his leg kicks from different angles with maximum impact. His ability to land efficiently from different angles will tire Castillo out quick, in my opinion, leading to what I predict will be a dramatic finish.
Tony Ferguson by TKO, round 2.