I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that you already saw a preview article by me today. While that is true, I need to remind you my friend that there are two UFC events taking place this Saturday. One in Northern Ireland, the other in Brazil. This one, which covers the latter, will be televised on FS1 while the Ireland card is exclusively on Fight Pass.
What the Brazil card – also known as UFC Fight Night 100: Bader vs. Nogueira 2 – offers on Fight Pass is one contest that looks like a snoozer and another that may be the best fight on the entire card. I don’t always know if the UFC is aware of what they’ve thrown together, but I can’t help but think they were alert to the potential gold they offered us when they put Pedro Munhoz and Justin Scoggins together. Kudos to you Sean Shelby, kudos to you. Now lets just hope you aren’t burned out from the previous card to watch the contest….
The Fight Pass prelims starts at 6:00 PM ET/3:00 PM PT.
Pedro Munhoz (12-2, 1 NC) vs. Justin Scoggins (11-2), Bantamweight
Perhaps the most underrated contest on the card both is terms of entertainment value and quality of prospects, I can’t figure out why they are down so low on the card.
Munhoz was once thought to be one of the top prospects in the entire sport, not just the bantamweight division. A long delay in his career thanks to an odd saga with the Nova Scotia Boxing Authority followed by a loss to Jimmie Rivera took off some of the luster and many forgot about him. Now that Rivera has launched himself to the top of the division, that loss doesn’t look so bad anymore. Perhaps Munhoz is as good as we all thought….
Scoggins was working his way up the ladder at flyweight before a disastrous weight cut heading into his contest with Ian McCall in July short circuited his run and sent Scoggins up a weight class. He does lose the size advantage he possessed against just about every opponent at 125, though he still has the skills to find success at bantamweight. Perhaps he’ll even be better as he will no longer have to drain himself to cut those extra ten pounds.
Scoggins wrestling has never been the central focus of his attack, but in many ways it makes everything go at an optimal level. He can make it the primary weapon depending upon matchups or he can simply use it as a change of pace. Regardless of how he’s using it, the threat of his takedown opens up his karate-based attack. He has a great arsenal of round and side kicks that he throws with accuracy. A jab is another integral part of his attack to press the action. However, he is just as comfortable playing the role of counter striker with his quick-twitch reactions key to his success there.
Munhoz’s base is more traditional in the MMA sense, coming from a Muay Thai background. An underrated combination striker, Munhoz is held back by his short 64" reach which requires him to be within his opponents striking range in order to deliver his own damage. Nonetheless, Munhoz has proven to have a tough chin and possesses good -- though not great -- defensive skills such as head movement and footwork to avoid being overwhelmed. More savvy strikers have gotten the better of him. Whether or not Scoggins is in that league isn’t clear.
While it is unknown how effective Scoggins’ wrestling will be at a heavier weight class, he’ll likely be hesitant to take Munhoz to the ground anyway due to the Brazilian’s fantastic grappling abilities. Technical guards passes are probably his greatest strengths, though he is also a phenomenal scrambler and above average wrestler. He does struggle with telegraphing his shots which has limited his effectiveness, but he has been overwhelming on the ground once he gets the fight there.
Probably my favorite fight on the entire card, Scoggins and Munhoz are both major breakout candidates at bantamweight for 2017. It’s obvious the winner of this contest will have a major leg up to be able to do that and it isn’t easy to guess who that might be. I’m going to favor Munhoz ever so slightly thanks to his ground abilities, though I expect it to be a very close contest. Munhoz via decision
Francimar Barroso (18-5) vs. Darren Stewart (7-0), Light Heavyweight
Though he finds a way to suck all of the fun out of MMA, Barroso continues to hang around. He won’t be anymore if newcomer Stewart can find a way to pull off the upset.
I can’t recall a Barroso fight where I – or anyone else for that matter -- walked away saying that was an enjoyable experience. That doesn’t mean Barroso is without talent or that he sucks. It just means fans that recognize his name are more inclined to change the channel rather than continuing to watch fighting when he flashes across the screen. Regardless of his entertainment value, he does offer worth as a veteran gatekeeper.
The Englishman Stewart comes to the UFC by way of the Cage Warriors promotion, no doubt benefitting from the organizations friendly relationship with the UFC. Young both in terms of age – only 25 – and in terms of fight time, he turned pro less than 30 months ago. No one questions whether he has the physical skills to develop into a mainstay. The real question is whether or not he is receiving his call to the big show too early.
It doesn’t take long watching Stewart to see his talents or the fact that he is far from developing them fully. He has zero range management, looking to rush into the clinch at every opportunity. He’s been clipped a number of times as he tries to close the distance, though he has shown great resilience and durability to recover. Once he gets the fight where he wants, he is relentless in delivering knees, elbows, short punches – whatever he can hit his opponent with.
Barroso is similar in that he enjoys fighting in the clinch against the fence, but there is a much higher degree of care on the Brazilian’s part to getting there. Using punches designed to cover his entry, Barroso doesn’t take nearly as much damage. He’s also much better at preventing reversals and damage from coming back at him as he ties up his opponent. He doesn’t deliver much punishment himself, but he knows how to use his big frame to lean on the opposition to wear them out. He isn’t without offense if given space either as he wings hard leg kicks.
If the fight hits the ground, Barroso is a far superior positional and submission grappler. He does nothing flashy from the top; he just knows how to keep his opponent from sweeping him or getting back to their feet. Stewart’s aggression comes out here as well as he becomes far more concerned with landing his punches than keeping his opponent on the ground. Though the strikes are hard, he tends to be reckless with a high percentage of them completely missing the target which only serves to offer them the chance to get to their feet and tire out Stewart. If they do land, they tend to end the contest.
This is not an easy debut for Stewart. In fact, I think he fails this first test. Barroso fights smart, looking to mitigate whatever damage his opponent wants to inflict. Considering everything Stewart does is straightforward, Barroso should not only see what is coming, he should be able to stop it. Stewart probably jumps to an early lead only to tire and give away a decision. Barroso via decision