Not that it matters much, but the UFC made my job easier by quickly finding a replacement for Robbie Lawler to face Santiago Ponzinibbio. While that contest will be on the main card of UFC 282, it makes it so I don’t have to guess which preliminary contest would have been moved to the paid part of the card. It also means Billy Quarantillo and Alexander Hernandez will be on the early preliminary card, but there’s no harm in covering them on this portion of the previews. Keeping Ponzinibbio on the card greatly increases the depth as it leaves two contests on the prelims with at least one ranked fighter… ensuring the card doesn’t end up being on the shallow end of 2022 PPV’s. I wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim any of the fights feature future title challengers, but there does appear to be some major challengers to pick up some of the Bonus money.
For the early prelims preview, click here.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Chris Daukaus, Heavyweight
The Rozenstruik playbook is well established at this point. Either he blasts his opponent into oblivion or he loses. Should Rozenstruik lose, it might be from his opponent putting him away, but it seems more likely they simply avoid his power and outpoint him given Rozenstruik has long periods of inactivity. Rozenstruik has increased his output some, but not enough for him to consistently win decisions. Thus, we’re left with the two-true outcomes of Rozenstruik getting the KO or losing.
Avoiding Rozenstruik’s power is easier said than done. Given Rozenstruik’s complete lack of a ground game, the surest route to victory is to put the native of Suriname on his back. However, Rozenstruik is also aware of that and has put in plenty of time and effort to develop some solid takedown defense. The other route is to risk entering his range and getting blasted. Rozenstruik isn’t quite on the raw level of Francis Ngannou or Derrick Lewis in terms of power, but he isn’t far off. Given his kickboxing background, Rozenstruik is more technical than either of those two and is skilled at setting traps.
Daukaus isn’t a bad boxer. In fact, he’s one of the better pure boxers in the division, thanks to his fast hands. The former policeman is a solid technician who has proven to be a surprisingly solid athlete despite his flabby frame. To be fair to Daukaus, he has been trimming off some of the extra weight that he’s been carrying. The question is whether that weight loss will be a benefit to him in this contest. Sure, it might improve his conditioning, but that hasn’t been an issue thus far. Given Rozenstruik doesn’t push a heavy pace, that’s even further reason to doubt it will be an issue.
The reason for concern about Daukaus slimming down is that extra weight could prove to be useful in keeping Rozenstruik either on his back or against the fence. Daukaus has some wrestling in his background, but hasn’t secured a takedown yet in his six UFC contests. He has shown some good clinch work against the fence, but that’s also playing with fire given Rozenstruik has made strides within the clinch himself, scoring with power strikes on the break.
Given he has been KO’d in his last two contests, Daukaus’ chin has come under question. Rozenstruik has been KO’d twice in the UFC as well, but he has also fought more high-level competition and KO’d his fair share. For Daukaus to fight his fight, that means walking into Rozenstruik’s range. It’s no guarantee he’ll go down with one strike, but Rozenstruik is good at finding the strike he needs to hit the showers early. Rozenstruik via KO of RD1
Chris Curtis vs. Joaquin Buckley, Middleweight
If all goes according to plan, these two stand a pretty good chance of picking up an extra $50K. Though there are some notable differences in their approach, both prefer to stand and trade and have more than sufficient supplies of power to turn the lights out.
Buckley has received a sizeable push from the UFC ever since delivering one of the all-time great KO’s on Impa Kasanganay. He’s had some ups and downs since that point, but he has displayed enough growth to justify whatever push the UFC has opted to give him… at least up to this point. Buckley put on a competitive contest with Nassourdine Imavov earlier this year, but ultimately came up short. Buckley has to start winning fights that aren’t designed for him to get win if the push is going to continue to be worthwhile.
Curtis is anything but a fighter Buckley is supposed to beat. One of the better stories to close out the year 2021, Curtis got his call the UFC long after he’d established himself as one of the craftier strikers outside of the UFC. It isn’t just that Curtis utilizes tight and tidy technique; he also has sixth sense for understanding his opponents movements that only comes with years of experience. Just ask Phil Hawes and Brendan Allen about Curtis’ instincts….
Buckley is creative enough that he might be able to catch Curtis with something from out of left field, but the odds seem to be against that happening. Curtis isn’t known for his grappling, but neither is Buckley. Perhaps Buckley can mix in enough takedowns to somehow steal away the win, but Curtis demonstrated fantastic takedown defense against Rodolfo Vieira. Buckley has also struggled down the stretch of several of his contests, exhibiting a shoddy gas tank. Buckley is probably the more physically gifted talent at this stage, but I’m not so sure he has acquired enough know-how to upend the savvy Curtis outside of a puncher’s chance. While Buckley has a better puncher’s chance than most, I’m still not willing to say he’s more likely to put away Curtis when other fighters who are more proven haven’t been able to. In fact, I see Curtis taking advantage of a fading Buckley. Curtis via TKO of RD3
- Raul Rosas Jr. Is at the age where he should still be a senior in high school. That alone should send up a HUGE red flag for anyone looking at this fight. Yes, Rosas has shown that he’s full of potential, but he’s been a professional for just over a year, all his wins prior to his DWCS appearance coming against less than credible opponents. And while there’s no doubt he deserved his win that picked him up his UFC contract, he also was forced to hold his opponent down for nearly the entirety of the contest. There’s also the history of young fighters being rushed to the big leagues too soon. The UFC has far more to gain by seeing him succeed, so it would make sense to anticipate the UFC is going to pit him against an opponent he can get a win over. That describes Jay Perrin perfectly. Perrin knows damn well that he’s being brought in to lose too. Short on athleticism, Perrin offers a very technical approach in combination with toughness and intelligence. While Rosas has more raw athletic gifts, he also hasn’t physically matured the same way Perrin has. Having just barely turned 18, I’m not sure Rosas is physically developed enough to deal with the physicality fighters in the UFC would bring. Perrin via decision
- It’s hard to believe Edmen Shahbazyan is still just 25. The talented youth has already endured the arc of super prospect to someone who many view as a borderline washout. Given his youth, it would be foolish to write him completely off already, but he’s a classic example of why it’s foolish to rush prospects before they’re ready. Every one of Shahbazyan’s losses came against someone currently populating the official UFC rankings, proving he isn’t losing to bums. However, he still needs to learn to pace himself, incorporate some traditional wrestling in with his judoka skills, and show better technique in his striking. Provided his confidence isn’t completely shattered, he’s skilled enough to beat Dalcha Lungiambula even if those issues haven’t been fully addressed. Lungiambula is a unique physical talent himself, possessing impressive power and a quick burst. However, he also exhibits a short gas tank and one of the shorter frames at 185 that has created issues for him against rangier opponents. Despite being on a three-fight losing streak, Lungiambula has found some success in returning to his judoka roots in those contests. It’s been the other issues that have dragged him down. Given Shahbazyan has separated himself from Edmond Tarverdyan, I anticipate he’s going to do a better job of addressing his weaknesses than Lungiambula. Shahbazyan via TKO of RD2
- While he hasn’t had the same impact as the likes of Sean O’Malley, I maintain Billy Quarantillo has proven to be one of the better signings off DWCS since its inception. Every time he has stepped into the Octagon, Quarantillo has put on entertaining scraps, securing twice as many wins as losses thus far. There isn’t a particular area in which he excels – unless one counts conditioning – but he’s always on the attack, pressing forward in hopes of making his opponent crack mentally. Given the mental side of things has been the issue for Alexander Hernandez, that doesn’t bode well for him. Hernandez assuredly has the edge in physical gifts, possessing serious power in his fists and an explosive shot. Unfortunately, he’s never been the same since suffering his first stoppage loss. Some fights he’s tentative, afraid to pull the trigger. Others, he exhibits the same aggression that helped him pull off his upset victory over Beneil Dariush in his UFC debut. However, Hernandez is dropping down to featherweight for the first time since 2013. Granted, he took some time away to help his body adjust to the larger weight cut, but it’s still something that is a concern. The concern will be how Hernandez views Quarantillo as Hernandez has frozen against opposition that is supposed to beat him. Would he see Quarantillo in that light? Even if he doesn’t I anticipate Quarantillo will push the action so hard that Hernandez cracks. Quarantillo via submission of RD3
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