It’s nice to be the largest MMA organization in the world. Even as UFC Vegas 55 is below average for a Fight Night card, it isn’t difficult to find something to pique the interest of MMA fans, even on the prelims. While the UFC might try to sell Chase Hooper as a future star, just know they once tried to sell Sage Northcutt in a similar manner. They rarely seem to get their hype machine behind the right guys, at least in terms of the early stages of their career. But Jailton Almeida... there might be something there beyond being a body on the roster....
- I don’t have a problem with a pink slip derby, but why in the hell would the UFC make it the featured prelim? Whatever. Alen Amedovski has been absent for over two-and-a-half years for a multitude of reasons. At 34, the Macedonian fighter my have wasted away his physical prime during his absence. While Amedovski is reputed to have heavy hands and solid boxing skills, those skills haven’t been seen in the UFC. Part of that is due to his inability to stop a takedown, the other part is getting blasted by John Phillips seconds into their fight. His opponent, Joseph Holmes, is still working a work in progress on the feet and it’s doubtful he’ll ever be a dominant wrestler. However, at 6’4”, he’s monstrous for the middleweight division and has enough know-how on the mat, it’s hard to believe he won’t get a good chunk of control time on the mat. Holmes slowed considerably in his last contest, but that was also a string of four fights over four-and-a-half months, the last three in which he cut down to 185. Four months isn’t a huge absence – especially when compared to Amedovski’s recent absence – but it should be long enough for Holmes to reset himself. We should see a better version of Holmes, especially given Amedovski could probably make welterweight comfortably. Holmes via TKO of RD2
- I haven’t heard if this venture to heavyweight is a one-off for Jailton Almeida, but I do believe Almeida has the physical skills to be competitive if he chooses to stay there. Given he was originally scheduled to fight at 205 before his opponent fell out late, I’m inclined to believe this is a solitary venture in order for him to get more experience and a paycheck. However, if he thinks Parker Porter is going to be an automatic win for himself, he has another thing coming. At 37, Porter isn’t going to develop into a contender, especially given his portly frame and overall lack of athleticism. Despite those shortcomings, he is physically strong, a solid wrestler, and experienced enough that he knows how to work around his shortcomings, particularly on the feet. Then again, the opponents Porter has been beating don’t have the athleticism or confidence of Almeida. Sure, they’ve all been bigger than Almeida, but the Brazilian is much faster than any of Porter’s recent opponents. Plus, Almeida is exceptionally skilled on the mat. Porter isn’t easy to submit, but I think he’ll be reluctant to tangle with Almeida on the mat. Unless Almeida walks in overconfident, he should find a way to win. Almeida via submission of RD2
- In his last contest, Uros Medic faced real adversity for the first time in his career and was found wanting. It shouldn’t be seen as a death knell for his future by any means as it was the first prospect loss of his career. It just happened to come in the UFC. The question is whether he’ll be able to rebound now that he realizes he can’t overwhelm all his opponents with his sheer physicality. There’s no doubt he’s an impressive specimen, including a huge lightweight frame. That could be the key for him as his opponent, Omar Morales, has found a lot of his own success being the larger opponent. However, it isn’t with wrestling and physicality Morales finds success; it’s with using his length from the outside to pick his shots. It could be argued Morales began to show all 36 of his years in his last contest. It could also be argued he was suffering from cutting to much weight to make featherweight. If the fight makes it beyond the first round, it’s Morales’ fight to lose. However, surviving Medic’s aggressive onslaught isn’t going to be easy. Plus, Morales isn’t on par with the level of athleticism of Jalin Turner, the man who hung the first L on Medic. A step down in competition and some additional maturity should be enough for Medic to rebound. Medic via TKO of RD1
- It’s been difficult to put a finger on Jonathan Martinez. Every time it feels like he’s on the verge of having a breakout moment, he loses a fight most expect him to win. His upcoming contest against Vince Morales is another one he’s expected to win. Is there any reason to expect this fight to go differently than his past performances? Yes… and no. While Martinez is a flashy striker who has vastly improved his hands to compliment his kick-heavy offense, the question is whether he can continue to make 135 without compromising his abilities. Plus, Martinez has had issues with pocket boxers who are able to navigate his outside attack, despite his improvement in that field. Morales has been at his best in the pocket, but up until recently, hasn’t been able to get the fight where he wants it with efficiency. If Morales’ last two performances are any indication, he’s turned a corner. However, those also came against some of the lowest level of competition the UFC has to offer. This is a hard fight to pick, the thing I’m most confident in being that there won’t be much time spent on the mat. I anticipate Morales will have to respect the power and diversity of Martinez, giving Martinez the edge he needs to edge out a victory. Martinez via decision
- Almost four years have passed since Chase Hooper appeared on DWCS and it still doesn’t feel like he’s ready to be fighting in the UFC. Then again, he’s still just 22 and the list of those on the roster who are younger than him remains few and far between despite him being on the roster since 2019. He’ll never be a star, but Hooper has proven to be wily enough on the mat that he could be a real problem once he grows into his body. Of course, once he grows into his body, he’ll be forced to fight at 155 and he’ll lose the size advantage he currently enjoys. However, given his opponent, Felipe Colares, is moving up from bantamweight, Hooper might be able to effectuate a physical strategy anyway. Colares is somewhat frustrating to watch. He’s too content to allow his opponents to dictate the pace. Plus, though he’s more than competent on the mat, he lacks the wrestling skills to get the fight there with any sort of consistency. Hooper struggles with that too, but he has the excuse of inexperience. Plus, Hooper showed some progress in grounding Steven Peterson several times. Colares is too skilled on the mat for me to see Hooper subbing him, but I’m betting Hooper has made enough gains since the last time we saw him nearly a year ago to upend the Brazilian. Hooper via decision
- There are a lot of similarities between Sam Hughes and Elise Reed. Not necessarily in terms of their fighting styles, but they mirror a lot of the same traits. Neither are fantastic athletes. Despite that, they are extremely well-conditioned, which does make up for the rest of their physical shortcomings to a certain degree. Both possess a level of grit that can’t be taught, refusing to give up when all logic dictates it’s what would be best. All those characteristics paid off for both in their last contests, picking up their first UFC wins in the process despite being underdogs. However, in order to figure out who is going to win, it’s their differences that are key. Hughes is more of a ground fighter; Reed is more of a standup fighter. Neither are lost in the other’s world, but there’s no doubt where each would rather be in this contest. Reed proved to be slippery enough to deny Cory McKenna a win and most would agree McKenna’s wrestling is superior to Hughes’. It could be pointed out Hughes eventually got the better of the striking against Istela Nunes, but only after Nunes began to fade. I don’t think Reed is going to fade. Reed finds a home for her powerful right hand enough for Hughes to respect her standup, negating Hughes’ reach advantage. Reed via decision