Well, I suppose I might have to quit my bitching. For the first time this year, the UFC doesn’t have a competitor from the DWCS scheduled to be in the featured preliminary spot. As I’ve discussed before, there have been contests that didn’t have a DWCS alum in the featured spot, but that was due to last minute lineup changes. James Krause stepping in for Antonio Arroyo for instance. However, this is one of the rare occasions when I’d say it would be appropriate to put the one fight on the card with a DWCS alum in that spot. Sure, Polyana Viana and Emily Whitmire – the combatants in the featured prelim — both have wins in the UFC, something neither of the other set of fighters can claim in the other two contests in the early prelims. But Giga Chikadze looks like he could be an action-fighting mainstay and Jamall Emmers, despite not having a UFC fight under his belt, is the most experienced fighter of the early prelims. I suppose its karma that the one time I’d say it was appropriate to place DWCS alum in a featured position the UFC decides not to. Eh, what can I do?
The early prelims begin on ESPN+ at 6:30 PM ET/3:30 PM PT on Saturday.
Jamall Emmers (17-4) vs. Giga Chikadze (8-2), Featherweight
Perhaps the reason why Emmers and Chikadze – both DWCS alum — didn’t get the featured position is because neither were originally scheduled to be on the card. This contest was originally supposed to be Movsar Evloev facing off with Douglas Silva de Andrade. De Andrade got injured and Emmers replaced him. Then Evloev also got hurt and in stepped Chikadze. Perhaps we should be grateful we’re just getting a fight…
Chikadze is a former professional kickboxer – a damn good one too – who crushed a lot of cans on his way to the UFC. To be fair, he picked up a win in his UFC debut by keeping the contest largely on the feet and excellent use of his knowledge of angles and distance. When the fight did hit the mat, he showed better than expected progress in his submission defense, even securing a reversal on Brandon Davis. While his inexperience on the mat is going to limit his upside, he could make some noise so long as he can keep the fight standing and can be at least adequate on the mat.
Emmers has been circling the UFC organization for several years, losing every time he’s on the verge of getting his shot in the organization, including on DWCS. However, he has picked up wins over now-established UFC talents in Alexander Hernandez and Cory Sandhagen. An above average athlete with sound striking and a functional wrestling game, Emmers doesn’t have a glaring weakness. The issue is nothing in his skill set stands out enough to indicate he’ll climb very far up the standings.
Chikadze’s kickboxing is the best singular skill between these fighters. Many fighters are so well-rounded anymore the best skill between the combatants is often the distinguishing feature in picking fights. However, Chikadze’s kickboxing is somewhat muted by his need to keep the fight standing. If this was a pure kickboxing battle, he’d be the pick, hands down. However, Emmers is skilled enough in the wrestling in addition to being the best athlete Chikadze has faced in MMA. Regardless, it should be a fun contest. Emmers via decision
- There’s no other way to put it: Polyana Viana has been a disappointment. The Brazilian entered the organization with a lot of promise and blew the doors off Maia Stevenson in her UFC debut. Since then, Viana has dropped three in a row. It isn’t a lack of physical talent as the Brazilian has all the requisite physical gifts to be a force. It’s all about discipline with her. She’s dropping back to strawweight in hopes of physically overwhelming Emily Whitmire, a scrappy submission specialist. Though she doesn’t have an extensive record, Whitmire has been around the sport for quite a while, often catching her opposition by surprise with her pluckiness. Nonetheless, Whitmire is limited by her lack of explosiveness, being physically overwhelmed in her last showing by Amanda Ribas, someone Viana owns a victory over. Then again, we all know MMA math doesn’t work. Viana should give Whitmire an opening on the mat that she can exploit before the night is out. Whitmire via submission of RD2
- Wait… the 40-year old Guido Cannetti is still in the UFC? Damn. I’d understand if he were being used on a South American card, but putting him on a Vegas card? Whatever. The Argentinian is aggressive on the feet, but has found most of his success by utilizing an underrated wrestling game. He does have some power, but hasn’t secured a finish since fighting on the regional scene. He welcomes Mongolia’s Danaa Batgerel to the States. Batgerel entered the organization largely unknown, having faced only questionable competition after a long hiatus. Though he lost his organizational debut, he impressed enough to take home a FOTN bonus by throwing slick combinations. However, the reason Batgerel lost that decision was due to an inability to stop takedowns… and Cannetti would appear to be a better wrestler than Heili Alateng. Despite that, I’m still picking the younger fighter to outpoint the reckless Cannetti. Batgerel via decision