As I did film study on these fights, I found myself looking over a lot of DWCS footage. As I did so, I realized all but one fight on UFC Vegas 70 features a DWCS alum, including every contest on the prelims. I don’t think it would be fair to say the outset of the DWCS era was right when that show began much in the way the TUF era began, but I would say there’s no doubt we’re in the heart of the DWCS era now.
Perhaps I should have recognized that when Jamahal Hill became the first alumni of the show to claim a title, but a single man winning a title didn’t jar me quite as much as an entire card in which more than half came from the seasonal show. Then again, considering it has devolved to the point where you basically get a contract if you win, maybe I shouldn’t be shocked.
- There’s a lot to like about Jasmine Jasudavicius. She doesn’t have a glaring weakness. She is technically sound. She makes good use of her length. She’s a solid wrestler too. However, she also has several things that put a hard ceiling on just how high she can climb. She doesn’t have a lot of power. She’s a mediocre athlete. At 33, she’s already older than most women two fights into their UFC career. Given all that, it’s plausible Jasudavicius’ future is that of a gatekeeper on the lower levels. In other words, she’s the perfect opponent for the debuting Gabriella Fernandes. Fernandes is still young in her career, but she has flashed the athletic ability and killer instinct to raise herself up to the level of a contender. She can also be sloppy and hasn’t faced the best competition. Jasudavicius may be clean enough in her technique to upend the former LFA champion. Or she could face a similar outcome when she welcomed the physically superior Natalia Silva to the organization and was physically dominated. Given Fernandes’ physical capabilities, I’d say the latter appears to be a more likely outcome. Fernandes via decision
- No disrespect intended to Victor Martinez, but it’s easy to forget he’s been on the roster for over a year without having made his UFC debut. He’s not a blue chipper at 31 and didn’t secure the type of spectacular finish that tends to garner DWCS alumni attention. However, I can promise he’s better than the typical fighter that tends to escape the thought of MMA fans. A weathered veteran of the regional scene, Martinez pushes a hard pace and mixes his strikes with aplomb. He isn’t a powerhouse striker, but there’s enough pop for him to put his opponent to sleep with a single punch from time to time. There’s no doubt he’s the better overall fighter than Jordan Leavitt. The question is whether he’ll be intimidated by Leavitt’s slick grappling. Well, there is the possibility Leavitt catches him in a sub, but more of Leavitt’s opponents have been thrown off their game due to the thought of hitting the mat with the one-dimensional submission specialist. Leavitt has worked to round out his striking, but low kicks are about the only consistent aspect that has developed. His wrestling is still in need of work too. There’s a big part of me that believes Martinez is the appropriate pick for those reasons, but Leavitt generally tends to find someway to get the fight to the mat and I can’t ignore the propensity in which Martinez exposes his back. Thus, with little confidence, I’m picking Leavitt to spoil Martinez’s debut. Leavitt via sub of RD2
- It has been a long road to the UFC for Carl Deaton. First emerging as a prospect of note circa 2014, Deaton seemed to have an inopportune loss every time he appeared on the verge of getting his break with one of the larger organizations. Now 33, it’s plausible he has already seen his fight prime pass him by, but there’s no doubt the rough and tumble Deaton will leave everything on the table to make good on this opportunity. He’ll have a hell of a time as Joe Solecki is one of the more underrated members of the UFC roster. The reason for that is Solecki is a limited athlete, relying more on technique than flash to make up for his natural shortcomings. That said, Solecki knows his strengths and weaknesses and never pretends to be something he’s not. If he maintains his typical ground-based attack, he should take the W pretty easily. Deaton is tough, but he lacks power and is an undersized lightweight. Solecki should spend most of the contest in firm positional control, which should deliver a gritty decision victory for him. Solecki via decision
- Charles Johnson has been a busy man. Stepping into the cage for the third time in just over three months, he’s making up a lot of ground to compensate getting to the UFC at an older age than preferred. Given he’s not a small flyweight, it’ll be impressive if he can make the weight again without any ill-effects. Then again, the bout is being contested at 130. Perhaps that will be the difference between a win and a loss. Regardless, Johnson can fall into bouts of inactivity, spending large chunks of time looking for the right opening to attack from the outside. However, I’d expect him to engage in faster pace as Ode Osbourne sports a similar style and has a greater reach than Johnson. Osbourne is easily the more dynamic fighter of the two, sporting one punch power and a tricky guard. However, he also has miserable defense and a questionable chin. Johnson has proven exceptionally durable, never having been finished in his career. He also has a superior track record when it comes to putting together a complete three round performance. Osbourne’s flash makes him a risky one to bet against, but Johnson should get the job done. Johnson via TKO of RD3
- Given the clown show that was Rafael Alves trying to cut down to the featherweight limit, we’re lucky we’ve been able to see what he can do in the UFC. Sure, his 1-2 record isn’t that impressive, but he’s been a lot of fun to watch. A risk taker with a limited gas tank, it results in a kill or be killed style of fight from the Brazilian. When he’s fresh, Alves has plenty of power, decent wrestling, and a nose for submissions in the scrambles. He provides a hell of a test for debuting 23-year-old Nurullo Aliev. Aliev has proven to be a smothering wrestler, breezing past every opponent since turning pro just over four years ago. However, Alves is a HUGE step up from what Aliev has faced in the past. Aliev’s striking hasn’t inspired anyone and there’s concerns his relentless pursuit of takedowns will leave him vulnerable late in fights. Alves doesn’t appear to be the one to test his gas tank, but he will be quick to test Aliev’s chin. If Aliev can survive the first 7 or 8 minutes, he should be out of the danger zone and either secure a late stoppage or a clear decision win. I understand why Aliev is the favorite, but Alves seems to do well against fighters of Aliev’s experience. Club and sub sounds like the most likely route to victory for Alves. Alves via submission of RD1
- I really want to get excited about Hailey Cowan. There’s a severe shortage of prospects at women’s bantamweight, meaning there’s a clear path for her to make a name for herself in a hurry. Unfortunately, Cowan has struggled since having the spotlight turned on her. It could be argued she had the least inspiring performance of the DWCS season of anyone that won a contract. Cowan has excellent size and physicality, but struggles with the maintaining sound technique over the course of her contests. At least Cowan tries to be technical. Her opponent, Ailin Perez, tends to attack recklessly. While that’s a clear red flag for bad defense, it’s also a feature that could win her fights she shouldn’t win if the opponent isn’t sure how to expose those holes. I’m not convinced Cowan can consistently expose Perez. That said, Cowan has the advantage in just about every physical category and is still young in her career. Perez is also young in her career and women’s MMA seems to reward the more aggressive fighter with greater frequency than their male counterparts. I don’t have a lot of confidence, but I’ll say Perez scores the upset. Perez via decision
- It’s a wonder Jose Johnson can make the bantamweight limit. He cuts an imposing figure at 6’0” tall. Even scarier for his opponents, Johnson’s extensive amateur and professional experience has given him ample time to figure out how to use his length to his advantage. While his strikes tend to sting more than overwhelm, it can’t be denied he possesses more power than one would expect from such a lanky frame. However, even with all his experience, Johnson is still miserable at stopping takedowns. That right there provides Garrett Armfield with an unmistakable route to victory. Armfield isn’t considered a wrestler first and foremost, but he’s shown enough of a ground game that there’s little doubt he can wrest Johnson to the ground time and again. The question is if he can keep him there while scoring enough offense. Johnson knows how to get back to his feet and tends to fill the time on his feet productively. It doesn’t hurt that Johnson has figured out how to make good use of his long limbs from his guard. This is a difficult contest to figure as neither looks like an uber-prospect, but they both have the skill to hang around a while. I’ll say Johnson’s damage puts him over the edge. Johnson via decision
- I have no doubt Trevor Peek would have preferred to fight his originally scheduled opponent. After all, Alex Reyes hasn’t competed in an MMA contest in over five years, but Peek’s UFC debut still appears to be a very winnable contest. The hard-hitting Alabama native will be greeted by Erick Gonzalez instead. Gonzalez has faced a tough road in the UFC, lining up opposite Jim Miller and Terrance McKinney, meaning it’s a bit difficult to dock him too much for those losses. However, the lanky striker also has a spotted record on the regional scene, coming up short against anyone who has ever either been in the UFC or come close to sniffing it. Gonzalez won’t back down, but he doesn’t have the discipline to maintain the outside striking attack he favors against the aggressive Peek. If Gonzalez can extend the fight, he may be able to outpoint a fading Peek down the stretch as the newcomer has never left the second round. However, Gonzalez’s chin can be questioned while there’s no doubt his takedown defense is garbage. Peek certainly has his flaws, but he’s better suited to expose Gonzalez than Gonzalez is suited to expose him. Peek via TKO of RD1