clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Diggin’ Deep on UFC 236: Holloway vs. Poirier 2 - Fight Pass prelims preview

Get the scoop on the early contests of UFC 236, featuring a clash of welterweight up-and-comers Belal Muhammad and Curtis Millender.

FIGHTS!!! Pardon my enthusiasm, but it’s amazing how my enthusiasm for face punching increases when I’m not bombarded with it every single weekend. Last weekend was devoid not only of UFC action, but there was no Bellator. No LFA. No ONE Championship. There was a bare knuckle event, but I opted to pass on that. Sue me. Now, I feel refreshed to the point that I’m even excited about the Fight Pass prelims for UFC 236.

NOW you’re excited? You make it sound like they suck.

You got a point. I’m not using the best language for these contests and it’s selling them short. The contest on Fight Pass I’m least excited about features the always entertaining Brandon Davis. So yeah, these are some good fights.

Always entertaining? I remember you bitching about his fight with Kyle Bochniak about a year ago….

If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that there is always an exception to the rule. I don’t feel like I’m going out on a limb by saying Davis should be entertaining as he welcomes an extremely green Randy Costa to the UFC. I can’t call the newcomer anything else when he made his professional debut last June while having yet to face an opponent with a winning record in four contests. Davis may have all sorts of technical holes, but he is tough and has faced plenty of quality competition. The biggest question for Davis will be how he physically looks as he is dropping down to bantamweight for the first time.

Interesting. And that’s your least favorite fight?

It’s hard to get excited about Costa when he’s such a big mystery. He looked exciting on the film I watched, but it isn’t hard to look good that at the lower levels of MMA in comparison to the UFC. Then again, this is the appropriate place on the card to have an enigmatic fighter debuting. In fact, it makes it the perfect place for Poliana Botelho and Lauren Mueller.

Botelho is on the early prelims? I thought the UFC was high on her?

They got a little bit ahead of themselves with the Brazilian. The 30-year old secured an impressive win over Syuri Kondo on the strength of a brutal kick to the liver and the UFC launched her into a main card contest with Cynthia Calvillo. She wasn’t ready for Calvillo’s grappling chops to say the least. Lauren Mueller will gives Botelho a more favorable fight as they both enjoy standing and trading fisticuffs. While both women can be sloppy in their striking technique, it will be a fun to see how they look to institute their brands of offense as Mueller is primarily a boxer with Botelho favoring a barrage of kicks. Even if I’m more interested in the other two contests, this is the most likely contest to feed your ravenous appetite for violence.

If these ladies are expected to bring the violence, why would I be more interested in the other contests?

As much as I like watching Botelho and Mueller, their ceiling feels more limited in comparison to Montel Jackson and Curtis Millender.

Aren’t they in different divisions?

Jackson is at bantamweight, Millender at welterweight.

So they’re facing different opponents?


I don’t have to put up with your crap….

Settle down. It’s nothing personal, I’m a smart ass by nature. The 26-year-old Montel Jackson entered the UFC on the strength of his Contender Series performance only to get grinded into the mat by Ricky Simon. When given a less imposing wrestler in Brian Kelleher, Jackson rebounded by securing a D’arce choke for the win. Given Jackson is a lanky 135er known for his punching prowess, it caught everyone by surprise. He’ll get an interesting test in Andre Soukhamthath, a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type. One second, Soukhamthath looks like a world-beater, showing off his extensive punching power. The next, he’s not bothering to follow up on a knockdown and coasting for the rest of the round. He’s been ironing out some of those wrinkles as of late – including the addition of takedowns to his arsenal – but his tendency to wait for the perfect counter often leads to him falling short on the volume needed to take a decision should the fight go the distance.

Hmm…. Sounds interesting. What about Curtis Millender?

His loss to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos last month doused any excitement there was around him, but I don’t believe it’s time to give up on the monstrous welterweight quite yet. The question here is whether his accepting this contest with Belal Muhammad is a panic move in hopes of getting back on the winning track. Muhammad isn’t the athlete dos Santos is, but he has found a comfort zone in the UFC and is one of the most technically sound performers on the roster. However, Muhammad’s lack of power means almost all his wins come by way of decision. Can he avoid Millender’s power for a full 15 minutes? That’s the key question to this contest.

What happens with the winner?

They’ll get a chance to contend with a ranked opponent – or someone on the fringes of the rankings – while the loser will likely settle into a gatekeeping role. Millender needs the win more as he’s the older fighter despite having started his career later. He wasn’t prepared for dos Santos’ athletic ability whereas he has dealt with athletes of Muhammad’s caliber quite handily. I’m favoring him to get the job done given his length has proven difficult for most to navigate.


Curtis Millender over Belal Muhammad via Decision

Montel Jackson over Andre Soukhamthath via Decision

Poliana Botelho over Lauren Mueller via Decision

Brandon Davis over Randy Costa via TKO of RD2

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bloody Elbow Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your MMA and UFC news from Bloody Elbow