In a battle between the fifth and seventh best bantamweights on earth, Renan Barao meets Scott Jorgensen on the main card of Saturday night’s UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit pay-per-view.
Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen (13-4) is a powerhouse wrestler who acquired three Pac-10 championships at Boise State University and a vaunted “Top Twelve Finish” at the NCAA tourney. He’s been a staple among the top-ranked bantamweight contenders for the last few years, especially since Damacio Page and Antonio Banuelos — two fighters that defeated him — have gradually wilted from the standpoint of divisional relevance.
Debuting in the WEC in 2008 with one loss after just five assignments and two years in the game, Jorgensen was matched with the gritty and heavy handed Damacio Page, who took a unanimous decision. After compiling two consecutive victories (Kenji Osawa, Frank Gomez), Jorgensen was edged out by Fu Manchu fashionista Antonio Banuelos in a razor-thin split decision.
This is precisely where Jorgensen stomped on the gas pedal: five straight wins of a respectable nature (Noah Thomas, Takeya Mizugaki, Chad George, Banuelos in a rematch and Brad Pickett) rejuvenated his reputation and ushered him to a title shot against reigning champ Dominick Cruz at WEC 53. Despite unveiling a big heart and serious durability, Jorgensen was thoroughly overwhelmed by the champ’s unorthodox striking and cage motion, losing every round of the five-frame affair.
However, thwacking a volley of unmerciful punches and bobbing someone’s head back and forth like a twisted game of paddle-ball is always a lucrative path toward staying in the good graces of fans. Jorgensen exercised that option in his return performance against Ken Stone, scoring a thrilling first round TKO in his UFC debut. He added Jeff Curran to his list of victims, though the stalwart veteran took Jorgensen to task much more effectively than the unanimous decision portrays.
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Sure, Renan Barao (27-1) has been riding a flabbergasting twenty-plus win streak since 2005, but we pundits who are ever cautious to hop on any ol’ bandwagon could snobbishly poo-poo his demolition by citing the absence of elite competition. Grounds for that stubborn skepticism all but vanished when Barao brutalized perennial top-tenner Brad Pickett in his last tenure at UFC 138, battering the venerable Brit with a Muay Thai maelstrom and tidying things up with a first round submission.
The highlight reel worthy barrage was undeniably convincing and a career-defining performance for the twenty-four year old Nova Uniao mauler. Apparently, the taste of defeat disagreed with Barao’s palette, as he lost once — and once only — in his MMA debut and has been flawless since. First emerging at WEC 49 on a twenty-five fight roll, Barao kept pace with consecutive submission wins (Anthony Leone, Chris Cariaso) and then surged onward in the UFC with back to back wins, beginning with the crafty Cole Escovedo and ending with Pickett.
The unparalleled assembly of wins finally vaulted Barao into the consensus top-ten echelon. Barao, who trains alongside featherweight monarch Jose Aldo and fights with just as much electricity, is on the cusp of a title shot. He would love nothing more than to add a second UFC belt to Nova Uniao’s collection and cement his team as the overlords of lighter weight classes.
Gifs and analysis in the full entry.
SBN coverage of UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit
It’s pretty self-explanatory why the gif to the right is splashed all over the internet and accompanied by sadistic giggling.
When a takedown attempt is stuffed, the front headlock is perhaps the most common scenario to follow; a position that lends itself perfectly to transitioning for a guillotine choke. This sequence of steps was at play in two of Jorgensen’s four submission wins, with Chad George as the unfortunate victim depicted here.
This embodies the term “power grappler” that is fittingly asserted to describe Jorgensen’s menacing mentality.
One of the first-taught lessons in martial arts is that resplendent technique will always overcome brute strength. However, that doesn’t mean that a martial artist can’t combine both elements to produce utterly devastating results.
On the ground, in the clinch or anywhere in contact-range, Jorgensen excels with these contrasting attributes. He’s a burly and compact specimen with considerable strength and athleticism. Only a select few have repelled his advances and one knock on Barao’s record that rings true is that he’s yet to encounter a leviathan wrestler like Jorgensen.
His striking game is nowhere near as formidable, though hardly a weakness. Jorgensen wields a simple and no-frills boxing game made even more cumbersome by his relentless stalking.
He seems to pack a wallop in his hands, particularly on the ground, but only has two career TKOs. His striking effectiveness is high when he’s empowered with the confidence that he can fall back on his wrestling, but dwindles without it. On the mat, Jorgensen has good posture, ground and pound and submission defense, but hasn’t necessarily faced a ton of legit submissionists — which Barao is indeed.
Even though almost half of the Brazilian’s wins are by catch, he follows in the footsteps of the other Nova Uniao killers by opting to exercise his wicked Muay Thai just as much (or more) than his BJJ black belt. The crushing knee he plants on Pickett to the left marks another distinct similarity to teammate Jose Aldo, who is revered for the malice of his flying knees. Standing, Barao is a buzzsaw of whirling strikes, arcing a broad collection of kicks and furious punches at an insane rate. Where Jorgensen is more of a slow and steady predator, Barao has a knack for overwhelming opponents by uncorking pure violence.
Fluently piecing together one creative attack after another, Barao likes to assume the helm early and force his opponent into a mode of constant defense.
Mixing in a diverse assembly of front snap kicks, spinning back-fists, flying knees and roundhouse kicks makes Barao quite a challenge to anticipate and defend. He’s also been fearless in clinching up to work his strikes or even to pursue trips and throws. While lacking a laudable wrestling pedigree, Barao still benefits from takedown attempts because it’s just another of many attacks that the defender becomes preoccupied with.
As a proud survivor of many months of intense sales and consulting training in a past life, one highly accredited mentor imparted how a tell-tale sign of weakness is a salesman who becomes painfully uncomfortable during moments of extended silence, and has start blabbering to fill the empty void.
Barao has that same tendency with his striking, and it sure as hell isn’t a weakness. It seems that every second he isn’t aspiring to inflict some sort of bodily harm is an unacceptable waste of time. The frequency and ferocity of his output is frightening.
I don’t think too many will disagree that Jorgensen is outmatched standing. While the same could be said of his clear wrestling advantage, that door merely leads to Barao’s scorching submission acumen. The reason I find Curran’s performance to be relevant is because Jorgensen basically froze up in the top position. He was reduced to inactivity, he was hesitant to engage or commit and his efforts were all dedicated to defending. Curran is a monster on the mat and I’d assess Barao as comparable to that level, and his overbearing striking seals the deal for my vote.
My Prediction: Renan Barao by TKO.
Jorgensen vs. George gif via MMA-Core.com
All others via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com
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