February 22nd will mark what is likely to be the end of a HW era, but before Mir vs. Silva, we have this undercard, which doesn't do much to tickle the senses.
The Line Up
Women's Bantamweight #10 Jéssica Andrade 12-3 vs. Marion Reneau 5-1
Welterweight William Macário 7-2 vs. Matt Dwyer 7-2
Featherweight Tiago Trator 19-4 vs. Mike de la Torre 12-4
Welterweight Wendell Oliveira 24-8 vs. TJ Waldburger 16-9
Bantamweight Douglas Silva de Andrade 22-1 vs. Cody Gibson 12-5
Lightweight Ivan Jorge 25-4 vs. Josh Shockley 11-3
Jessica Andrade -245 Marion Reneau +185
Matt Dwyer +220 William Macario -280
Mike De La Torre +160 Tiago Trator -195
T.J. Waldburger +105 Wendell Oliveira -135
Cody Gibson -260 Douglas Silva +200
Ivan Jorge -250 Josh Shockley +190
3 Things You Should Know
1. There's one fight in particular that I think deserves your attention, whether the rest of the card isn't worth watching or not, and that's Torre vs. Trator.
Trator vs. the other 'El Cucuy' is a matchup that no one is clamoring for, and that casuals will ignore on sheer principle (their names sound like versions of something better) but it's one of the best fights on this undercard.
Thiago, having spent time with Team Nogueira, is a well rounded fighter who likes to chop tibia with a string of leg kicks. Even though he's pretty good at range using his feet, he's sturdy in the clinch as well; something that helps explain why he's able to find finish his bouts in such a variety of ways, and hasn't lost since 2011 as a result. De La Torre had a tough UFC debut, getting hooked up with Mark Bocek right out the gate. He put up a great effort against the then Canadian favorite, landing good calculated shots to the body, and at range with his jab while fending off takedowns and submission attempts.
While I think Torre is good, this is a tough matchup, and he doesn't strike as a guy dynamic enough to pull away from the upper echelon in the division whereas 'Trator' seems to be just polished enough to feel and look threatening to some of the better fighters, even if he's operating in the same journeyman wheelhouse.
2. There's some other fights too. You'll probably skip these. Even though there are some good fighters fighting.
Marion Raneau pulled off a modest upset over Alexis Dufresne, although it's not the kind of win that carries over in terms of status capital; Dufresne looked awful. Andrade has looked good in all of her bouts, including her loss to powerhouse Liz Carmouche. There isn't a whole lot to say about the matchup. The 37 year old Raneau will look to pressure Andrade on the feet, while Andrade will look to pressure Raneau with ground control. Andrade is capable on the feet, and throws with ill intent while being relatively technical, though predictable.
Cody Gibson is fresh off a loss to someone who may or may not still listen to Limp Bizkit. At a bar. In the comments, our good pal Phil MacKenzie argues Cody executed "bar room control" so the fight is still in dispute, according to some. And this was all after losing to Manny Gamburyan. Gibson is facing the Brazilian striker Douglas "D'Silva" Silva de Andrade out of Team NFT. Silva is a pretty solid fighter on the feet. He likes to lunge in with a very sharp left high kick from his traditional stance, and owns a pretty nice left hook that he always likes to initiate with. His movement is incredibly stiff, but he chambers his shots well once he gets going. It won't be easy for Gibson, but he should be able to pull through. He's had an incredibly tough schedule facing Aljamain Sterling and Johnny Bedford in his first two bouts; he's a big guy for the division, and has a well rounded game that should allow him to successfully grapple D'Silva to the ground.
William Macario is a fighter I didn't think would improve enough to maintain a stable presence in the octagon, but he's done his diligence. Part of this is just sheer discrimination on my part; he flat out doesn't look 23. But he's a tough, seasoned striker despite his age who executes what looks like a lax defense to counter with venom. He's got a strong right hand, and prefers to outbox the opposition, which is good for this bout, since nothing about Dwyer's game makes this one competitive. Dwyer is a tall, lanky Welterweight who hits hard, and is crafty in close with elbows and knees, but is too much of a liability at range; something we saw in his non UFC bout with Demarques Johnson. Macario will be able to land his straight punches through Dwyer's defense. Expect lots of blood, Elm Street style.
Ivan "Batman" Jorge has been around since 2001 and has only recently gotten his big break in the UFC. This will be his 3rd fight, sitting at 50% now 1-1. Coming off a loss against Rodrigo Damm, he's facing off against Shockley - a 25 year old out of Duneland Vale Tudo who debuted in defeat against Jason Saggo. Jorge, whose fight premise is ground control, will have a clear advantage over Shockley who likes fighting on the ground as well. Jorge, with his superior positioning shouldn't have too much trouble over the reasonably talented, but not superiorly talented Josh Shockley.
3. Some projects are just talented enough to make you think you're looking at a prospect. Waldburger is one of these rare men.
Everytime I watch TJ, I keep thinking I'm looking at someone who is possibly good enough. Then somebody punches him in the face, and you wonder how you were ever duped.
TJ has lost 7 of his fights by TKO/KO, including his last two against Mike Pyle and Adlan Amagov. For as talented as he is grabbing, and snatching submissions he's just as talented blocking punches with his face. Part of it is cardio; in a number of fights he has simply flat out gassed, resulting in a lowered defense that gets him punished. But his defense isn't much to begin with.
Sure enough he's facing a heavy striker in Wendell Marques. Marques is not a spectacular striker, as he proved against Ponzinibbio. But he's certainly strong enough to knockout Waldburger with a well timed punch, and he's got plenty of tricks in his right hand based arsenal. As the old saying goes; fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me for not recognizing that 7 brutal knockouts due to bad defense and a questionable gas tank is a trend.
Andrade by RNC, round 2.
Macario by TKO, round 1.
Trator by Decision.
Marques by TKO, round 2.
Gibson by Decision.
Jorge by Decision.