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UFC 192: Cormier vs. Gustafsson - Idiot's Guide Preview to the Fight Pass/FS1 Prelims

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David Castillo breaks down each fight for the UFC 192 prelims on the 'carcinogenic coast' of Houston, TX, which boasts a lot of good to great fighters in good to great matchups.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Lots and lots of really good fights litter the UFC 192 undercard this October 3, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

The Line Up

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
Flyweight Joseph Benavidez vs. Ali Bagautinov
Featherweight Yair Rodríguez vs. Dan Hooker
Welterweight Alan Jouban vs. Albert Tumenov
Women's Strawweight Rose Namajunas vs. Angela Hill

Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Lightweight Islam Makhachev vs. Adriano Martins
Flyweight Chris Cariaso vs. Sergio Pettis
Heavyweight Derrick Lewis vs. Viktor Pešta
Lightweight Francisco Trevino vs. Sage Northcutt

The Odds

Ali Bagautinov +275 Joseph Benavidez -335  
Daniel Hooker +245 Yair Rodriguez -290  
Alan Jouban +200 Albert Tumenov -240 
Angela Hill +225 Rose Namajunas -265 
Adriano Martins -105 Islam Makhachev -115  
Chris Cariaso +150 Sergio Pettis -170  
Derrick Lewis +145 Viktor Pešta -165  
Francisco Trevino +320 Sage Northcutt -390

The Rundown

Flyweight Joseph Benavidez vs. Ali Bagautinov

This is a hell of a fight to stick on a lowly undercard. They have fought for the UFC Flyweight title a combined three times with a 12-3 UFC record between the two of them. What gives Mr. Silva?

EPO I guess. I've written about it before, but it's still unexpected to see a UFC fighter get popped for it. Perhaps this is Ali's punishment, with Benavidez being collateral damage. In the same amount of time Bagautinov has had time to reflect on his sins, Benavidez has won three straight, beating John Moraga, Dustin Ortiz, and Tim Elliot.

The bout is as good on paper as it should be in practice. Benavidez represents Alpha Male's limitations as much as he represents their strengths; high octane flow, light on mechanics. What I mean is that Benavidez could never quite break into the special territory of a Demetrious Johnson because he's just not enough of a specialist to really rule the world.

His boxing is solid, but where his overall game has a rhythm, his mechanics do not. He can throw in combination, but his efficiency stems from his power. This isn't to say his game has some major flaw. Benavidez is one of the best Flyweight fighters, period. In a world without Demetrious Johnson, he might even own the gold, at least at one point. It's just that he's 31, meaning his physical assets will be waning soon. Any semblance of decline must be offset by strategy, and cunning. I'm not sure Benavidez has that in him, per se.

Bagautinov is a little similar. However, he's got a right hand that he loves to snipe with. While he doesn't have a lot of knockouts, opponents have to respect it all times. Bagautinov doesn't throw it to knock out. He throws it to stay active, and set up other modes of attack. The natural power within it is what allows him to be so successful. There's an interesting grappling element to this fight. Benavidez can turn this fight into a bit of a wrestling war, which is his best chance. I also think it's a legitimate threat to Ali; fighters with Sambo backgrounds tend to be very good offensive grapplers, but lack defensive instincts. I believe this is where Benavidez ekes out the victory.

Featherweight Yair Rodríguez vs. Dan Hooker

Yair Rodriguez is coming off a pretty big win over Charles Rosa in a solid fight. He's matched up against another young man fresh off an even bigger win, taking out Hatsu Hioki in May.

This is great matchmaking, first and foremost. Second, this won't be a slugfest, but there will be action. Rodriguez is a lanky but stout pressure fighter. He uses an interesting array of side kicks and front kicks to setup other strikes, and/or mix it up in other ways. The TUF: Latin America winner doesn't have face melting power, but there's a snap to his strikes that indicate a foundation to allow for more violence on the feet. He's only 22 after all. Hooker is a tough foil for him though. While Hooker isn't fast, or particularly swift, he's technical and suffocating. Rodriguez reminds me a little of Maximo Blanco, who beat Hooker last year, with his ability to chain unorthodox strikes together. The Hioki win seemed more like a favor from the MMA Upset Gods of 2007, but a win is a win. Rodriguez won't take Hooker comfortably, but he will take it.

Welterweight Alan Jouban vs. Albert Tumenov

More great matchmaking in the form of Abercrombie versus Einstein. Although somewhat ironic; this fight will resemble nothing like a well structured photo shoot, or scientific pursuit.

Both guys are entrenched in swinging wild Bolo Yeungs. Jouban in particular has an active desire to spoil his American pie good looks. His fight with Matt Dwyer is the kind of tape coaches show their fighters on what to avoid. I had forgotten how nuts that bout was until I rewatched it yesterday. I mean, not too many fights can boast violent Capoeira kicks to the brain stem.

However, Jouban keeps himself too open for a fighter like Tumenov. Tumenov doesn't throw much in combination, but he stays active. He has that trademark Russian pitch to his strikes that loop without going wide (if that makes any sense) a la Fedor and Igor. But he also has some quick feet, less for movement, more for cortex killing. Tumenov will land that left hook of his. Which is why Jouban won't be long for this octagon world.

Women's Strawweight Rose Namajunas vs. Angela Hill

The women of TUF will be getting a chance to showcase their improvements from the show as the first bout of the Fox Sports 1 portion of the undercard. Both are coming off losses; Namajunas to Carla Esparza, Hill to Tecia Torres.

Both fighters are hard to project, long term. At 23 years of age, Rose has room to improve. She already has the foundation for a solid overall game. She chains her submissions well, and is a versatile striker. However, neither are polished defensively. Carla Esparza didn't have to do much to actively beat Rose. Rose just moved around too much and let Rose just do all the work for her. It's tough to control instinct, but Namajunas needs to do that to improve.

As for Angela, I still don't know how to evaluate her. She's strong in close quarters, and has improved quite a bit since making her debut. Her takedown defense has improved, but even his vaunted striking seems ill equipped to deal with the more technical strikers in the division. Namajunas' ability to win vertically, as well as horizontally make her the obvious favorite. It's her fight to lose.

Lightweight Islam Makhachev vs. Adriano Martins

Despite wearing a Jorge Masvidal mask, Makhachev's game bears little resemblance to his doppelganger.

If you can get passed the dreadful music, you get a glimpse of who he is. He's got decent striking; throws fast, and in combination at times. But he lacks power. Thankfully for Islam, that's not where he excels; as a grappler, he's highly efficient. His striking allows him to phase shift with quickness, where he has access to Uchi Matas, single legs, and other manifestations of takedown prowess.

Martins may be too much, too soon for the 24 year old Dagestani. I think Islam will give him a hell of a fight based on his style and method of attack. But Martins is a burly Lightweight who happens to be talented on the ground, and who happens to possess raw knockout power. As is often the case with young fighters, psychology is critical, as Makhachev will have to deal with the step up in competition while answering questions about his resolve and talent on the fly, in the middle of the cage.

Flyweight Chris Cariaso vs. Sergio Pettis

Sergio, Sergio, wherefore art thou Anthony's DNA? I've been a little skeptical of Sergio Pettis not because of anything silly like "nepotism", but because he's not enough like his brother before he broke into the elite.

Pettis is coming off a dispiriting loss to Ryan Benoit. Benoit is a fighter that looks and acts like a top prospect in bursts, but just isn't. Pettis was doing well, and winning, so it's hard to really hold that loss against him but a loss is a loss. I've always said that Pettis is a solid technician. He has his brother's polish. He has speed, and he's versatile anywhere the fight goes. But his problem is that he isn't durable, nor does he have the power in his strikes to conceal his lack of durability over the course of three rounds. Even though he's 22, you don't magically develop power. You develop rhythm and technique, but raw power has to be present at professional birth. For a striker, this is a critical non-starter.

Somehow Pettis is the favorite in this fight too. I'm not down on Pettis. He will have a UFC career, and he's exciting to boot. He's a lot like his brother in all the best ways, but unlike him in other areas. Cariaso is kind of a good matchup for Pettis in that Cariaso doesn't have knockout power. Instead he'll be looking to control the fight with his combinations, and phase shifting plan of attack. Sergio can compete with Cariaso on the feet, but I feel like Chris' experience, technique, and durability will earn him a competitive win.

Heavyweight Derrick Lewis vs. Viktor Pešta

The "Black Beast" didn't do so hot against Shawn Jordan. Why? Because they came out blitzing each other with Panzerschrecks. The dude with the hook kick in his arsenal won.

Pešta should be able to get Lewis down, but this is Heavyweight, where your strengths are your flaws and your flaws are your strengths. If Lewis wins with a flying heel hook after getting rocked by Pešta's flying roundhouse, I'd do the mandatory "oh s***!" and then probably move on. Well maybe not, because that would be a hell of a sequence, but you get what I'm saying. Erokhin hasn't impressed me, so Pešta's win loses some luster, but I like his grappling pedigree to wade him through Lewis' knuckle landmines.

Lightweight Francisco Trevino vs. Sage Northcutt

Alas, the prospect of the hour. Looking like a Tiger Beat version of Dolph Lundgren, here's what you can expect from the 19 year old striker:

Despite his reputation as a karate based, Machida inspired striker, he has a very "I must break you" attitude. Gage Guhon doesn't even stand a chance except as fodder Northcutt might slip over and hurt himself on. It's kind of brutal, but it emphasizes Sage's demeanor.

Aesthetically, Northcutt is one of the best prospects I've seen in years. He has the athleticism to mask his own flaws, and the atypical style to expose his opponent's. He'll be a major player in the division. His karate is used more like a schematic than Machida's storyboard design. His side kick to the body is especially brutal, as are his front kicks. But once his opponent closes on on him, he uses his fists in a traditional manner, and works his ground game in active fashion.

Trevino is a fun fighter to watch. He's tough, durable, and even technical despite the fact that he looks like none of these things. But he's such an inferior athlete that it's hard to see where he gains any kind of advantage whatsoever. Especially given Northcutt's ability to counter.

Predictions

Flyweight Joseph Benavidez (By Split Decision) vs. Ali Bagautinov

Featherweight Yair Rodríguez (By Decision) vs. Dan Hooker

Welterweight Alan Jouban vs. Albert Tumenov (By KO, round 1)

Women's Strawweight Rose Namajunas (By RNC, round 3) vs. Angela Hill

Lightweight Islam Makhachev vs. Adriano Martins (by TKO, round 2)

Flyweight Chris Cariaso (by Decision) vs. Sergio Pettis

Heavyweight Derrick Lewis vs. Viktor Pešta (By Decision)

Lightweight Francisco Trevino vs. Sage Northcutt (by Roundhouse kick KO, round 2)