No use in sugarcoating it: The early prelims of UFC 282 are low level fights. Given they are the first fights in a long night of fights, that’s perfectly acceptable. If the card hadn’t been devastated by some of the injuries at the top of the card, the quality of these fights wouldn’t be so noticeable. For example, while the main event was able to be adequately replaced by Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev, it happened to sap the main card of it’s depth. In order to fill the spot created by the loss of Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira, the UFC needed to delve into the prelims to pull up one of those fights. It happened again when Santiago Ponzinibbio and Robbie Lawler was cancelled, though the UFC claims it is searching for a replacement for Lawler. In the process, it seeps all the way down to the lowest level of the card. Thus, while there were originally some interesting contests in the early prelims, they now boil down to three contests in which the six participants have a combined two UFC wins, both of them from one combatant. Much of that can be attributed to four of the participants being newcomers, but the newcomers are of a questionable level of prospect as well. No one would be faulted for passing on these contests….
- Erik Silva wasn’t supposed to make it to the UFC. At 35 in one of the smaller weight classes, his ceiling his extremely limited, and his level of competition has been highly suspect. Nevertheless, I’m happy to see the UFC giving the Venezuelan native a chance make a positive mark on the organization, even if just a small one. Silva has some decent size and a well-rounded attack, but he also has some defensive habits that look like they’d be exposed by someone of a higher caliber than what he has been fighting. It’s hard to know if T.J. Brown represents the type of step up I’m talking about, but we’re about to find out. Brown is the definition of a scrapper: hard to put away but short on the tools to regularly do the same. Though he can strike some, Brown has been most successful when he can get his wrestling game going, but that’s been hit or miss thus far in the UFC. What is known is Brown is the more proven commodity who has held his own against several members of the UFC roster. Silva is still very much a wild card, but betting on someone his age who is unknown is a bet that rarely pays off. Because of that, I don’t feel right leaning in his direction. Brown via decision
- I was shocked to see Daniel Lacerda got booked for another UFC fight. Not that I’m necessarily complaining as the Brazilian doesn’t know how to be in a boring fight, but it’s rare when a fighter not only loses their first three UFC contests, but is finished in all of them and gets a fourth opportunity. Lacerda is the division’s ultimate kill-or-be-killed competitor, charging out of the gate like a man on fire every time out. It isn’t just KO’s Lacerda is looking for either, nearly splitting them equally as his method of victory. His opponent, Vinicius Salvador, has a similar penchant for ending fights early, going to decision just once in his career. The 24-year-old newcomer does so almost exclusively with his heavy-handed striking, but he also isn’t quite as married to the first round as Lacerda. Regardless, with the aggression of both men, it would be a shock to see them go the distance. Salvador has been cracked whereas Lacerda tends to lose by exhausting himself. I’m worried Lacerda’s confidence may be shot after three consecutive losses, but I also worry about Salvador’s total lack of defense. It’s a coin flip who wins, but it’s a sure thing this fight doesn’t go the distance. Lacerda via submission of RD1
- Does anyone else get the feeling Cameron Saaiman dodged a major bullet when Ronnie Lawrence withdrew from their contest? No one is denying the 21-year-old South African native has all sorts of tools to work with. But he’s also short on experience, having turned pro only in 2019 with just six professional contests under his belt. Of course, that’s no longer an issue as his new opponent, Steven Koslow, also turned pro in 2019 with six contests under his belt. The biggest difference between the two has been their level of competition, Saaiman holding the advantage in that department. While I’ve been impressed with Koslow’s creative grappling, he has yet to secure a win over someone with a winning record. Saaiman doesn’t have elite wins either, but they are a higher quality than Koslow’s and he also has a greater skillset to work with. In other words, he has a valid standup game. Given I’m not positive Koslow will be able to get Saaiman down and submit him in the first round – Koslow has never left the opening round – I anticipate Saaiman will take over down the stretch. Saaiman via TKO of RD2
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