As usual, I flounder around when it comes to deciding how best to format a preview for fights no one cares about. And no I’m not complaining about my job here at Bloody Elbow. I feel lucky just to still be doing this. But previews don’t translate to page views and short of magically turning into William Faulkner, it’s an uphill battle figuring out a way to make these interesting enough so that even the casual fan might want to sit down and figure out who will ‘just bleed’ for them. The format is always in flux, so this week is no different.
Welterweight William Macario vs. Neil Magny
Lightweight Yan Cabral vs. Naoyuki Kotani
Flyweight Scott Jorgensen vs. Wilson Reis
Featherweight Felipe Arantes vs. Andre Fili
Lightweight Gilbert Burns vs. Christos Giagos
Lightweight Fabrício Camões vs. Tony Martin
3 Things You Should Know
1. There are two legitimately awesome matchups here and they belong to Arantes vs. Fili and Jorgensen vs. Reis.
The 24 year old product from Alpha Male is 13-2, and hadn’t lost since 2010 until he fought Max Holloway at UFC 172. It was a classic case of prospect vs. prospect matchmaking that can make sense in the right context but that didn’t here. Holloway is actually younger and had already faced tough competition while Fili made his UFC debut against Jeremy Larson, a former TUFer who had already lost twice in the UFC. Holloway predictably won, although Fili put on a good competitive display. This is the matchup Fili should have had before fighting Holloway, and I kind of like the similarities to Sergio Pettis vs. Will Campuzano.
Arantes is an interesting fighter even though he probably gets mistaken for the Souza’s and Silva’s of the world because he’s another Brazilian undercarder. Despite that, he’s a respectable 3-2-1 in the UFC. His last bout against Maximo Blanco was a mixed baby maker bag of wrestling, striking, and groin strikes. While Blanco lost a point, Arantes didn’t need it as he took the fight to Blanco with aggression from his back, and on the feet. While I do think Fili will win, it won’t be easy by any means. Fili moves well, and even though his footwork isn’t dramatic, he works hard to slip combinations down the middle while punishing his opponent at range with solid leg kicks. I suspect Fili will land punches on the sometimes wild slugger in Arantes who may want to follow Holloway’s blueprint and sustain an attack to the body.
Jorgensen won his pink slip bout against Danny Martinez but the competition isn’t getting any easier for the current 1-3 in his last 4 veteran. Reis’ pedigree as a solid grappler will be a factor for the prototypical wrestle boxer that is Jorgensen. The reason I pick this bout out isn’t just that both men are talented, but that they possess similar styles. Neither man is a lights out finisher, but both win via attrition and stay busy. I like picking Reis because I think he’s more polished, and should be the quicker of the two. Scott is too workmanlike to handle the elite, and even though Reis isn’t elite, some of the elements to his game, like his grappling, are high end. Look for the judges to potentially screw this one up just like any close and competitive bout.
2. Don’t trust the oddsmakers, and let your bookies know it.
William Macario at +205 is only marginally justifiable. Neil Magny didn’t show much on TUF, but he always seemed to have the tools to be better than his record showed, and he had the frame for it. In the beginning, it was clear he had work to do, and losses to Sergio Moraes and Seth Baczynski made it hard for him to adjust, but he’s steadily improved since and is now 4-0 in his last 4. However, Macario has led a similar path. His cardio failed him against Leonardo Santos for the title of ‘Ultimate Fighter’, but he bounced back with an impressive boxing domination of Bobby Voelker at UFC 168 and is finding his rhythm in his youth (only 23 years old).
Neil will be a handful for most fighters with his sheer size, but Macario is aggressive enough on the feet and has enough power to tilt any bout in his favor between two developing fighters. Magny controls range well with his kicks, but opponents have been able to negate his range before.
Christos Giagos at +290 is also pretty ridiculous. Yes, Gilbert Burns is an exciting young(ish) prospect. And yes, when you can boast gold in the Nogi World Jiu Jitsu Championships in two calender years (2010 and 2013), as well as gold at the 2010 World Cup, and silver and gold for the World Jiu Jitsu Championships for two calender years (2009 and 2011)…then your hype is well deserved, but jiu jitsu’s place in the modern MMA world isn’t what it used to be.
I’m not saying jiu jitsu is unimportant so please don’t mistake me for the a total idiot I secretly am. Just that BJJ, just like any other sub element for specialists, is no longer a bulletproof vest against no pedigree at all. Fighters who don’t come from established backgrounds are nonetheless well trained, and well prepared (spent time with Victory MMA which once had associations with Myles Jury and Jeremy Stephens, though how much actual interaction he’s had with them is anyone’s guess). In addition, Giagos, as he showed against Dakota Cochrane, will be able to put pressure on the feet against Burns. Giagos isn’t necessarily an afterburner, but he has an imposing though simplistic one-two he likes to throw to set up takedowns. Burns isn’t bad on the feet, but his comfort level is still developing, and he has that classic one strike at a time problem. Burns has the clear edge on the ground, but this is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Martin is a modest underdog at +100. A fine number. This is the only pink slip bout that makes real sense. Camoes is coming off two tough yet predictable losses, as he faced off against Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard. This is a tougher fight to predict in part, because I think Martin is a little bit better than his record indicates while Camoes is exactly the kind of fighter his record indicates. Both guys are well rounded, but you always want to err on the side of athleticism and Martin is the better athlete here. While he has no KO’s on his record, Martin does have enough power to hurt Camoes, whose age (35 and started in 1997) is catching up to him.
3. There is only one pink slip headscratcher, and that’s Cabral vs. Kotani.
It’s always tricky. The most violent experiences of my life are when I’ve exhausted my keyboard writing previews, or washed the Taco Bell down with tequila. Naoyuki Kotani is a professional fighter with a 33-11-7 record. Who am I to cast judgment? Thankfully value isn’t determined by experience, just like I don’t have to know how to develop video games to correctly identify this controversial video game is misguided, and adolescent.
With that in mind, and hopefully the revelation that there are no gamergaters on Bloody Elbow, Kotani just doesn’t deserve another shot in the UFC. He’s 0-3 in the UFC. To be fair, with so many cards the UFC runs, “deserve’s got nothing to do with it”, and it’s not like Kotani is some sort of posterboy. You can point the finger at plenty of others, and none of them are into pastries and pro wrestling as much as Kotani. Seems like a swell dude. Unfortunately for him Cabral is an ok fighter even if Kotani is beating him on the wikipedia test, and he’s coming down from WW. Kotani has always been most effective grappling, which is Cabral’s specialty. Kotani might be able to make it ugly, but not enough to be effective. I think my problem with this fight stems from the confusion with the other pink slip bout. Camoes vs. Cabral, and Kotani vs. Martin would have made more sense and been more exciting in my opinion.
Neil Magny by Decision.
Yan Cabral by Decision.
Wilson Reis by Decision.
Andre Fili by Decision.
Gilbert Burns by RNC, round 3.
Tony Martin by (Split) Decision.
PS: “The List” is an overused format, I agree, but content consumption demands a simple artifice, so don’t look at me when trying to make these previews more google friendly.
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