clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Welcome to the UFC, Good, Rivera, and Holbrook

New, comments

Injuries have been flying fast and furious lately and it's lead to a rash of new signings for the UFC, with the late notice call-ups of a former WW champ, a WSOF bantamweight, and a new lightweight fighter.

Bucking a recent trend of roster stagnation, the UFC has once again opened the floodgates for new fighters. In part because they've got a lot of cards coming up and a lot of last minute injuries to fill in. First and foremost, an injury to Edgar Garcia has pushed him out of a welterweight bout with Andrew Craig and opened the doors to former Bellator champ Lyman Good at UFC Fight Night San Diego on July 15th. Following close on Good's heels is bantamweight Jimmie Rivera, making his debut on the 18th in Glasgow, Scotland against Marcus Brimage, after Ian Entwistle withdrew from the card. And finally, Andrew Holbrook is scheduled for a UFC on Fox 16 debut against Ramsey Nijem, following Erik Koch's injury woes. So...

Who is Lyman Good?

At the very least, the 30-year old Tiger Schulmann fighter (where he is also a head instructor and gym owner) is a familiar name to many hardcore fans, as the first and former Bellator welterweight champion. He was unseated in his very first title defense by Ben Askren. Since then he's gone 8-2 (1 NC) with his only losses coming via decision to Rick Hawn and Andrey Koreshkov. His biggest career win is probably over Michail Tsarnaev, although his most recent victory over Nah-Shon Burrell is pretty solid as well. Otherwise, Good has face a consistent level of strong journeyman talent across his career. Alongside his MMA credentials, Good also went 3-0 kickboxing under Chuck Norris' World Combat League. And, he participated on TUF 19 (which gave us eventual winners Eddie Gordon and Corey Anderson), losing to Ian Stephens in the opening round.

What you should expect:

Good is at his most comfortable when he can wade into the pocket and land hard shots. He's not a bad combination boxer and a solid clinch boxer, but he tends to like to walk straight in on his opponents, giving them a lot of opportunities to either hit him hard as he enters the pocket, or try and shoot in on his hips. His takedown defense has improved somewhat over time, but as was a problem on TUF, when a fighter has a powerful shot and can grab the initiative, he can be planted on his back and kept there. Part of that is because Good is actually a fairly comfortable grappler. He's much more dangerous from top position, but he will spend time working for submissions on the mat, sometimes losing rounds because of it.

What this means for his debut:

Andrew Craig is almost certainly not going to ask most of the questions the fighters that have beaten Good have asked of him over his career. Essentially: Just how good is his takedown defense? How active is he off his back? And how much volume does he throw standing? Craig is a pretty similar fighter to Good with wilder stand-up, less wrestling, and probably a few less physical tools. He is big and tough however, so there's a solid puncher's chance that he lands a wild shot at range or bullies Good in the clinch and gets a big KO, but I'd say it's more of a puncher's chance than a path to victory. Lyman Good should take a decision if he can't get a submission win.

Not the best example, but here's Good's TUF 19 bout against Ian Stephens to get us better acquainted:

Who is Jimmie Rivera?

Another Tiger Schulmann fighter and a teammate of Lyman Good's Rivera comes to the UFC with a near spotless 16-1 record, having competed under the CFFC, WSOF, and Bellator banners. He's got wins over Carson Beebe, Jared Papazian, Abel Cullum, Claudio Ledesma, Willie Gates, and a bunch more solid regional and rising talent. His only loss comes via split decision in his second pro fight. Considering he's only 26-years old, Rivera is probably coming to the UFC right in his prime, with 7 years of pro MMA experience under his belt. Outside of his MMA career, Rivera was a decorated high school wrestler.

What you should expect:

At range, Rivera is more of a counter puncher, leading with heavy leg kicks to draw his opponent into punching exchanges where he can either land solid return hooks, or get a body lock and work for takedowns. His boxing form is actually pretty technical and he's not an uncomfortable pocket striker, moving his head off line well as he throws. That inside fighting ability is enhanced a lot by the fact that he's a really aggressive clinch striker, landing heavy shots in dirty boxing range. Adding to a really strong striking game is a decent, but somewhat underutilized wrestling game. Rivera has a nice sprawl, but doesn't initiate many takedowns. He'll follow fighters to the mat if they go down and he has good consistent ground and pound, but he's not the kind of guy to shoot a lot of power doubles or chain single-double leg attempts. Mostly, Rivera is a really decent, well rounded striker with a solid top game and the ability to stay off his back. That should make him a successful fighter in the UFC.

What this means for his debut:

Interestingly, both Brimage and Rivera are in about the same place in their career. They've been around for a while, and while Brimage has more big show experience, he actually has fewer fights. Neither man tends to wrestle a lot by choice and grappling is more of a last resort. So, the question is, whose hands are better and whose chin is better? Both guys have made improvements over the years and Brimage has looked like a much better striker than he used to, but it's hard not to see momentum on Rivera's side as the guy on a big winning streak over strong competition.

To get us better acquainted, here's Rivera's recent bout against Anthony Durnell from CFFC 43:

Who is Andrew Holbrook?

29-year old Holbrook comes to the UFC off of the Indiana regional MMA scene with an undefeated 10-0 record. Holbrook trains out of Indy Boxing and Grappling, which brought Garett Whiteley to the UFC and has been a home gym for Matt Mitrione and Chris Lytle. Much like Whiteley, because Holbrook has only been competing in his home state, he has very little in the way of high level competition wins. Ramico Blackmon, his latest victory, is probably his biggest to date, otherwise his opponents all sit with a .500 or below record. On the flip side of that, Holbrook has only seen the second round once, with every one of his wins coming by way of submission. Holbrook is an instructor at Indy Boxing and Grappling and wrestled at the collegiate level.

What you should expect:

It's incredibly tough to tell just what Holbrook's skill set will look like in the UFC, because he's faced a very low level of regional competition. The biggest question mark is around his actual wrestling ability. Against Blackmon (his best opponent to date) Holbrook didn't get any takedowns and his grappling and submission success came on the back of head kicks that dropped Blackmon and Blackmon's own willingness to grapple with him. His striking looked tentative and clunky, but he threw with some variety, using looping wide shots, some body punches, and the aforementioned head kicks. I know he's done some Golden Gloves boxing, so it's something I expect he's working on.

He's seems like a very fluid, skilled grappler when the fight is on the ground, but that's not a skill that usually translates easily to the UFC. In general he doesn't look like a bad athlete, and he's made a quick entry, starting his pro career in late 2012 and fighting 10 times over the next two and a half years. I doubt that makes him UFC ready, but things will be a lot clearer after his debut.

What this means for his debut:

Very likely, Holbrook is going to lose. Ramsey Nijem is a fighter without a solid identity, a less than stellar chin, and a more aggression than technique based style, but he's still shown himself to be a better than bottom tier UFC fighter. There's a chance that Holbrook lands on his back and catches Nijem in something when Nijem follows him to the ground, but top control and ground and pound are actually the best and most technical parts of Nijem's game, so that seems unlikely. Add to that that Nijem is a big lightweight with some decent power in his wild strikes, and it would be something of an upset if Holbrook won this bout.

To get us better acquainted, here's Holbrook's last fight against Ramico Blackmon: