Diggin’ Deep on UFC: Arlovski vs Barnett prelims preview Part 1

Am I the only one trying to figure out what in the hell Rustam Khabilov is doing serving as the curtain jerker on a…

By: Dayne Fox | 7 years ago
Diggin’ Deep on UFC: Arlovski vs Barnett prelims preview Part 1
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Am I the only one trying to figure out what in the hell Rustam Khabilov is doing serving as the curtain jerker on a card exclusively on Fight Pass? The dude is talented enough to be on the main card! I’m not sure what he did to find himself in the UFC’s outhouse, but he hasn’t been getting the best treatment in terms of where they have been placing him on cards. Here’s hoping that something changes for the Russian.

While there isn’t really an unusual amount of preliminary fights, they aren’t being broken up in terms of being streamed on Fight Pass and those on FS1. As a result, I’m breaking the prelims into two sections in hopes of avoiding overload. So here are the first three contests of the morning… at least it will be for me.

The prelims start on Fight Pass at 11:45 AM ET/8:45 AM PT.

Jarjis Danho (6-1) vs. Christian Colombo (8-1), Heavyweight

A pair of European monsters who push the heavyweight limit meet in the UFC’s nonstop quest to discover heavyweight depth.

Though Danho showed a little bit of promise in his debut against Daniel Omielanczuk, it was overshadowed by an early end to the fight after he ate a groin strike that looked as though he could probably continue. There is a reason why the UFC is giving him another look as he is incredibly raw and a great athlete for how large he is. From the looks of him, he probably begins his cut down from just under 300.

Colombo is very much a mystery. Coming out of Denmark, he hasn’t faced any opponents of actual repute outside of a loss to current UFC heavyweight Viktor Pesta in 2012. At 36-years old, he doesn’t seem like he would have a huge upside. Then again he is fighting in the heavyweight division where the fountain of youth springs eternal.

This will be a clash of styles. Danho prefers to use his massive size to bully his opponents against the cage or to get them to the ground. He isn’t a very technical wrestler as he showed against Omielanczuk, but if he can get underneath his opponent’s hips, he’ll rip them to the ground with ease. Aside from that, Danho prefers to fight in the clinch with dirty boxing, ripping up both the body and the head. He isn’t anything more than a brawler from a distance, though he has serious power in his punches.

Colombo has fought one time since September 2013 and there isn’t any recent footage of him. He didn’t look like anything special in terms of athleticism, though he showed a competent kickboxing game with some nice short combinations. At 6’5″, he has some good range in which to attack from the outside. What scares me is his poor takedown defense. Anyone with a modicum of wrestling ability has been able to get him to the floor with ease. Danho doesn’t have much wrestling technique, but his natural strength would likely be enough to finish the job.

This is a classic striker vs. grappler match even if the grappler isn’t much of pure grappler. If Danho can get the fight to the ground and unload with his heavy ground and pound, it will be game over. But if Colombo can keep the fight standing, he’s the favorite. Colombo could be significantly different from the footage found of him, so that makes this difficult to predict. With what I do know, I’m picking Danho. Danho via TKO of RD1

Scott Askham (14-2) vs. Jack Hermansson (13-2), Middleweight

Askham has already established himself as a quintessential middleweight. Hermansson looks like he fits that mold. Expect your typical middleweight fight.

Sporting a 2-2 record thus far in the UFC, Askham has blended in beautifully with the majority of the division. He does have the size, talent, and youth on his size that he could still rise above the muck at middleweight. If he can’t get past Hermansson, it will be a safe bet that he’ll never be able to ascend to the heights that quite a few pundits had for him upon his UFC entry.

I don’t say that about Askham to denote that Hermansson is a bad fighter. I’m stating that he is unproven against UFC competition as this is his debut in the Octagon. He leaves the Cage Warriors promotion as the reigning middleweight champion and also owns a notable win over former UFC competitor Karlos Vemola.

Hermansson is the shorter fighter, clocking in at 6’1″ as opposed to Askham’s 6’3″. Despite that, he is the one who prefers to operate on the outside. He dances out there with a lot of feints in an attempt to get his opponent to throw and once he gets a gauge of distance and timing, he begins to pick them apart with a jab that is more powerful than it looks. He keeps his arms in a consistently defensive position and doesn’t stay in the same spot long, though he keeps his head on a line to allow the opposing offense to get through from time to time.

Rather than utilize his length from a distance, Askham is much better using his hulking frame as a bully in the clinch with dirty boxing and knees accentuated by his height. He’s been working to add a one-two combination to his arsenal, but kicks are still the more reliable weapon for him from a distance. He has serious power in them and can surprise with angles in which he can land them.

Both are similar on the ground, comfortable on their back with great use of their long limbs to threaten. Both have also shown the ability to scramble, Askham in particular. How they get the fight to the ground is where they differ as Hermansson utilizes a more traditional wrestling approach while Askham utilizes trips and throws honed by his judo background. Neither looks to go to the ground much, but can get the fight there if needed.

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this one of the fights I am most looking forward to. There isn’t a clear favorite and both are usually a lot of fun to watch. Hmm… I guess I just explained why I look forward to it. I favor Askham slightly due to his UFC experience and that his only losses have come to grinders. That doesn’t describe Hermansson. Askham via decision

Rustam Khabilov (19-3) vs. Leandro Silva (19-4-1), Lightweight

Silva steps up on short notice to take a dangerous opponent in Khabilov. In fact, many would say Silva was ill-advised to take the fight.

Khabilov started his UFC career as one of the hottest prospects to hit the scene in a long time as he suplexed Vinc Pichel into another dimension. Consecutive losses to Benson Henderson and Adriano Martins chilled his hype, though he has since rebounded to score consecutive wins over Norman Parke and Chris Wade. Still, it hasn’t been enough to recapture the public’s attention.

Silva has never been able to capture the spotlight aside from originally being awarded a fluke submission victory over Drew Dober that was later overturned. He’s never put it all together as he has the physical skills to be more than what he is. Due to his performances being fairly boring, I’d expect that he’ll be cut if he loses.

There is a massive similarity between the two fighters that doesn’t necessarily bode well for the fans as both can be patient to a fault. To be fair, it appears both have been making a noticeable effort to improve in that field. Silva’s favorite thing to do is to sit back and pick apart his opponent with kicks which he rails to all parts of the body. He’s traditionally thrown only one strike at a time, though that is part of his attempt to throw more by doubling up on strikes or throwing short kick-punch combos.

Khabilov’s best striking feature is his power. Usually he puts everything into his strikes, though he has worked to integrate a jab more efficiently. In his last outing against Chris Wade, he was busy early with leg kicks. When it comes down to it though, Khabilov is a physical grappler who loves to throw his opponent around the cage. Thus where the suplexes come in.

That makes a nice transition into a point that is a strong suit for both competitors. Khabilov has shown a knack for getting the back so that he can ragdoll his opponent. Silva on the other hand uses more subtlety to get there and is more likely to snag a rear-naked choke. Once they’re on their back though it is a different story. Silva is content to hang out in guard and look for the submission finish. Contrarily, Khabilov has shown skills off of his back, but would much rather get back to his feel as quick as possible.

This would be Silva’s signature win if he pulls off the upset whereas it would just be another name if Khabilov were to go over Silva. Case in point: nobody that Silva has beaten remains on the UFC roster. Silva isn’t a horrible wrestler, but he doesn’t have nearly the pedigree that Khabilov. Expect the Russian to manhandle the Brazilian for a comfortable decision. Khabilov via decision

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About the author
Dayne Fox
Dayne Fox

Dayne Fox is a contributing writer and analyst for Bloody Elbow. He has been writing about combat sports since 2013 and a member of Bloody Elbow since 2016. Dayne primarily contributes opinion pieces and event coverage. Dayne’s specialties are putting together the preview articles for all the UFC events and post-fight analysis. Outside of writing on combat sports, Dayne works in the purchasing department of a construction company, formerly working as an analyst. He is also a proud husband and father. In what spare time he can find, he enjoys strategy games and is a movie enthusiast. He is based in Utah.

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