A very probably violent lightweight bout opens the main card this January 2, 2016 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Match Up
Lightweight Abel Trujillo 12-7-1 NC vs. Tony Sims 12-3
Lightweight Abel Trujillo +115 vs. Tony Sims -135
3 Things You Should Know
1. Trujillo is on the verge of being cut, but don't be surprised if he has a Jeremy Stephens' like renaissance.
As long as you're willing to risk life and limb, Zuffa is typically pretty good at making the octagon a warm blanket for you. Trujillo is a violent fighter inside the cage (and outside). He's an average 3-3-1 (No Contest) inside the octagon. But his losses have been to some very elite competition (Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Gleison Tibau). Tony Sims doesn't belong to that elite company, but he has a skillset that explains why he's the favorite.
2. Sims' loss to Olivier Aubin-Mercier won't tell you anything about this fight.
Sims last fought at UFC Fight Night 74 in a losing effort to TUF alumni Aubin-Mercier. Mercier fought the fight he needed to fight; ignoring the standup in favor of close quarter grappling and top control. He had zero opportunities to showcase what makes him efficient, so let's take a look at what makes him a good matchup for Abel.
As you can see, he's a unique blend of movement and versatility; a stark contrast to Trujillo's brand of vertical pugilism.
3. Expect a technical brawl rather than the Road House variety.
Part of how to make Mike Goldberg palatable, to the extent that eating screwworms can be palatable, is to anticipate a particular talking point that is only marginally relevant. And that this marginally relevant talking point will be repeated enough times to stick on a mp3 loop that can take up a full yottabyte. Sims is a 7-time Iowa State Boxing Champion. Just so you know.
Such an accolade typically doesn't mean much in the context of the octagon. Either the fighter's boxing skills don't translate because MMA isn't boxing, or the Iowa State competition didn't help prepare said fighter for the UFC experience. Whatever the case, Sims' striking has proven to be an asset. What makes Sims different is his movement. He's not particularly quick with his pivots, stops, and starts. He's like a Swisha House version of T.J. Dillashaw in point of fact.
But he chambers his punches quickly from both stances, which makes him hard to predict. His straight left in particular comes quick when he's pressuring forward in his southpaw stance. From orthodox, he likes to go over the top with his power hand.
Trujillo is much more basic; lobbing bombs with both arms when the former of the fight or flight switch gets flipped. With his wrestling background, he's theoretically capable of grinding out a win over Sims like Aubin-Mercier, but he doesn't have the grappling acumen in top control that Olivier does.
Sims is the sexy pick among my fellow analysts such as Connor Ruebusch and Patrick Wyman for good reason; he's technically superior on the feet. My only issue with Sims is that he keeps his hands pretty low, and unlike Dillashaw, doesn't move his head that much. That's vital to what makes his square stance so effective. If Trujillo catches him, I wouldn't at all be shocked. As is, Sims should be in for a scare or two. And Trujillo might even steal a round with some well timed takedowns. But I agree with Connor and Patrick that his movement should keep Trujillo's offense contained enough to return fire with much more precision. Tony Sims by TKO, round 3.