A few elite prospects, and a lot of journeyman try to make a fighting pit out of a molehill this June 13, 2015 at the Arena Ciudad de México in Mexico City, Mexico.
The Line Up
Preliminary Card (FX)
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Chico Camus +650 Henry Cejudo -1000
Drew Dober -155 Efrain Escudero +135
Alejandro Perez -165 Patrick Williams +145
Francisco Trevino +315 Johnny Case -380
Augusto Montano -155 Cathal Pendred +135
Clay Collard -250 Gabriel Benitez +210
Albert Tumenov -440 Andrew Todhunter +350
3 Things You Should Know
1. The Fight Pass prelims are good for a bit of the ole' ultra violence. Maybe not UFN 68 level, but close. Minus the Cathal Pendred bout, of course.
Pendred sounds and acts like a guy at a career crossroads despite the fact that he hasn't lost a professional fight since 2010. Not a lot of people gave him the benefit of the doubt in his last bout against Sean Spencer. Including Joe Rogan, who Pendred took to criticizing. Most of us are used to criticizing Rogan ourselves, but Rogan was right. Pendred was clearly waning, and whether or not he deserved that win is up for debate. Nonetheless, he moves on against the product out of the subtely named Bonebreakers MMA team, Montano. Montano has finished all of his bouts, and will look to continue that trend. It's kind of tough bout to predict. Augusto is light on his feet, and loves to wing combinations in close. His flurries are most effective inside, where he doesn't mind engaging in a ground exchange. Only problem with Montano is that he's inert at range. In that way he shares some similarities with the fighter Hector Urbina, who Pendred beat on TUF. Montano is a much better fighter, but Pendred is pretty effective at closing the distance and grinding out takedowns with some very unimpressive top control. I'm more interested in the crowd's reaction to this fight than the fight itself if this turns into Pendred vs. Spencer 2. And whether or not Joe Rogan cares about Pendred being mad about his performance against Spencer being accurately described.
Benitez has been making the rounds in New Mexico to modest success. The 26 year old southpaw fighter from Entram Gym has a sharp style on the feet, able to string combinations in close. He's got a whipping right hook, a searing straight left, and stays active but his footwork needs to improve if he wants to stay upright against the more technical, harder hitting Clay, no I'm not about to recognize his nickname, Collard. Collard hung in there against Max Holloway at the Henderson vs. dos Anjos show, and owns a nice arsenal of strikes in the clinch; especially his elbows. His fight against Justin Buchholz is a clinic in how elbows can be used when tied up. With his toughness, and polish, it's hard to imagine this fight not eventually looking like Rivera vs. Caceres, just with less violently bouncing afro.
Albert "Einstein" Tumenov is a great young prospect with another awful, historically misplaced nickname. At 23 years of age, he has yet to reach his full potential, and already his potential has earned him three octagon wins. His punches are in keeping with some of his fellow Russian peers, who curve them without necessarily 'looping' them. The so called 'Russian Pitch' or ridgehand style. His left hook just might be his most dangerous punch in my opinion. He lacks real good combination striking, but he's aggressive so it hasn't become a detriment just yet. And at range, he has a pretty devastating high kick. His odds against Todhunter are a bit lopsided when you consider that Todhunter is not a career welterweight. In fact, less than a month ago he fought a boxing match at 197 pounds. With his size, he'll look to take Tumenov down and keep him there. And he very well might do it. Todhunter is not just a big guy who lumbers his way into takedowns like a Heavyweight; he's got a sharp mind for timing, and has incredible core strength. He's also fluid in the grappling department. With the drastic weight cut, his cardio may suffer, but this is a pretty good place to be adventurous with your money.
2. Wiliams vs. Perez will be more of the same from the Fight Pass, but at least Trevino vs. Case has the potential excite FX viewers.
Trevino is a guy I underestimated against Renee Forte because his striking is still a bit raw at the not so tender age of 33. And yet he didn't seem at all intimidated by the moment. He's a good example of where modest talent meets sharp thinking. With his ability to switch stances and punctuate his combinations with shifty high and low kicks, he's forever able to threaten his opponent despite his underwhelming (but not invisible) power. He's fighting a near literal uphill battle against the 6'1 product out of Alliance MMA. Case is more than the sum of his crisp straight hand, but I suspect he won't need much more. I expect this bout to be very back and forth early with Case landing enough to take over late.
Perez did as I expected against Jose Quinonez and got revenge in their rematch at UFC 180. He's still a raw fighter at 25 years of age. Already he shows an understanding of the game game in all areas; slick on the ground, and aggressive when he needs to be on the feet. But Williams is a smooth wrestler who will likely be able to put Perez on his back early, and often. Still, while Williams is pretty well rounded himself, I feel like his tendency to make mistakes will cost him against Perez, who has a good nose for when and how to capitalize on an opponent's mistakes.
3. One fallen prospect, and one rising prospect both get tough matchups that will leave an acceptable taste in everyone's mouth after trudging through some of the prior bouts.
Escudero is more or less done as a fighter with potential. Those are harsh words for a fighter who only did the best with what he could, but Efrain simply never grew from his time on the show all the way back in 2008 until now. He's always been a fighter with respectable raw tools, and athleticism, so he gets by. But his striking is virtually identical to what it used to be; good raw power, but not able to string combinations effectively to compliment said power. And his grappling is good going one way (top control, and moving forward in the clinch), but not the other (scrambling, and defending against top control). He's facing a somewhat evenly matched opponent in Dober, who was the victim of the most awful singular display of reffing we''ll probably ever see when Eduardo Herdy called the bout, thinking Silva had successfully locked in a guillotine that Dober was in the middle of switching positions in. Thankfully it was eventually overturned by CABMMA. I think Dober's activity alone should win him this bout. Escudero has struggled against pressure fighters in the past (and some non, like Mac Danzig), and this weekend should be no different. It'll be competitive early though, especially if Escudero feels galvanized by being in Mexico.
Cejudo is still every bit the blue chip prospect the MMA world has determined him to be, and nothing has changed. Just to quote myself from a previous entry: 'For a lot of fighters, distance requires a binary approach; either you stay outside and travel far to get closer, or you stay in close and travel far to get outside. As in, stay at range to strike effectively, or close the gap to grapple effectively. Cejudo is immune to this simplistic way of fighting.
Instead he takes micro steps forward, keeping himself in range for either striking, or grappling. This allows everything he does to avoid becoming telegraphed. Dustin Kimura is not a great fighter, but he's a serviceable one, and Cejudo dominated every part of that fight (UFC Espanol has the whole thing up for those who missed his debut).'
Camus is an interesting foil to Cejudo's game because he's such a defensively sound fighter, especially on the feet where Cejudo has won most of his fights. But all things being equal, athleticism serves as the nice Occam's Razor of pugilism in the context of efficiency.
Cejudo by Decision
Dober by Split Decision
Perez by Split Decision
Case by TKO, round 3
Pendred by Decision
Collard by TKO, round 2
Tumenov by Guillotine, round 2