To open UFC 262, the early prelims offer… not a hell of a lot.
There’s a good chunk of retreads, lower level gatekeepers, and a prospect whom few would say has a high ceiling. That type of recipe rarely draws eyes aside from the hardcore fans who tend to watch every available fight they can get their hands on. Granted, I wouldn’t say any of the participants in the early prelims are exactly boring fighters, but nor are they known as action fighters — except for Priscila Cachoeira. Of course, she also has a poor reputation after being on the wrong end of one of the most one-sided beatdowns in UFC history. Basically, there isn’t a lot to miss out on if one chooses to skip over the early fights.
- After opening her UFC career on the receiving end of the aforementioned beatdown, Priscila Cachoeira finally was able to turn herself into something other than a punchline when she delivered an emphatic KO to Shana Dobson. Of course, beating Dobson isn’t considered much of an accomplishment, but that’s who Cachoeira had in front of her and she did what she needed to do. Given her lack of technique upon her UFC entry – especially on defense – and athletic shortcomings, Cachoeira should be commended for her improvements in her striking form. It would still be a stretch to call her technique a strength, but no one can deny she’s tough as nails. What needs to be known is how well her takedown defense will hold up as Gina Mazany is all about pressure and takedowns. There was concern how she would look cutting down to 125 after spending her career entirely at bantamweight, but Mazany looked strong and was effective late into her first contest at her new home. Given she was pushing a hard pace, constantly throwing punches and kicks to touch up Rachel Ostovich, that’s impressive. Much like Cachoeira, Mazany is stiff in her motion, but given she’s got the advantage of controlling where the fight takes place due to her wrestling abilities, she has to be a strong favorite. Mazany via decision
- Am I the only one who found it a bit surprising Kevin Aguilar is still on the UFC roster? Not that I think he’s a terrible fighter or that he doesn’t deserve his roster spot. But three losses in a row for a relatively low-profile competitor is usually a death knell. Nonetheless, he’s here and making the move to lightweight permanent. It could be a wise move given one of his recent issues has been a reluctance to be the aggressor, even selectively, waiting too long for the right time to counter. Is it concerns about his gas tank that led to his inactivity? If that’s the issue, he may benefit from not cutting the extra ten pounds to featherweight. His opponent, Tucker Lutz, appeared to have issues with his gas tank in his most recent contest, executing lay-and-prey against his most recent opponent late. It picked him up a UFC contract, but only because it was his second win on DWCS. Though on the short side, Lutz is built like a brickhouse and has a fundamentally sound kickboxing game. What has been a concern has been his inattention to defense. Aguilar isn’t without power, but it isn’t consistent enough for me to bet on him making Lutz pay the price in that manner. Aguilar could also end up outpointing Lutz, but I’m going to lean ever so slightly towards Lutz. Lutz via decision
- The second stint in the UFC for Christos Giagos has gone far better than his first run. It helps that Giagos recognized the need to diversify his wrestling heavy approach if he wanted to find more success and he’s done that. Takedowns and control are still the central element of his attack, but his striking is less about looking for the finish and more about touching up his opponent while disguising his takedowns. However, there is still a glaring hole: he tends to fade hard come the third round, becoming a diminished husk of himself as he merely looks to survive. That’s going to be the best opportunity for Sean Soriano, returning to the UFC for his second stint as well. A natural featherweight, Soriano is a slick striker who prefers striking from the outside with an emphasis on kicks and has enough power that he’s been able to produce KO’s with a single punch. However, he’s been taken down with regularity and even though Soriano’s wrestling looks improved from his first UFC stint, he’s also fighting a weight division up against an opponent who is best known for his wrestling. Soriano might be able to pick apart Giagos late, but Giagos is difficult to put away. Giagos via decision