UFC Tampa : Undercard Breakdown and Predictions

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Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos (14-5) vs Omari Akhmedov (15-3) 
Welterweight (170)
Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos: Despite his “Capoeira” nickname Dos Santos does not attempt many high risk acrobatic kicks, he does the majority of his damage with his fists. An aggressive striker with lethal power in both hands, Dos Santos’s has ended 11 0f his 14 victories by way of the knockout.  Training under legendary BJJ coach Cristiano Marcello ensures Dos Santos will be adept if the fight should go to the  floor. Dos Santos dropped a razor thin split decision to the  scrappy Dane Nicholas Dalby in his UFC debut. Their fight was contested mainly on the feet with Dos Santos landing the harder of the blows. If there was a case for a Dalby victory it would be the few take downs he landed through out. Dos Santos has one punch knockout power but will need to shore up his take down defense to be able to compete in the insanely deep welterweight division. 
Omari Akhmedov: Akhmedov is part of the recent influx of Russian fighters who have made a name for themselves in the octagon. The 28 year old Dagestani trains with the elite Jackson-Winklejohn team where he has made huge strides in tightening up his boxing. Ahkmedov has had mixed results in his UFC career going 3-2 over the past three years. Most recently he was TKO’ed on the feet by  well documented non-striker Sergio Moraes. Ahkmedov was also completely outclassed by the “icy” Icelandic superstar Gunnar Nelson. His wins have come against opponents who were willing to stand and trade with him, including Thiago “Bodao”, Mats Nilsson and the unconventionally groomed journeymen Brian Ebersole. Ahkmedov has the tools to achieve success on the level of his countrymen Khabib Numagomedov and Rustam Khabilov, however he tends to go all out early in search of the knockout leaving himself gassed in the later rounds. If he can pace himself and wait for the knockout to come to him he will be a force to reckoned with at 170.
The Fight: These two are bangers, they will gladly duke it out in the pocket and they both have one punch knockout power. My gut says Akhmedov, but his chin is in question after getting knocked out by Sergio Moraes, a BJJ fighter whose punches typically serve as a mild distraction to set up his take downs.However I don’t see cardio playing a major factor in this fights outcome. This one will end early and Akhmedov will be the only one left standing. My Pick: Akhmedov Knockout 1st

 

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Oulwale Bamgbose (6-1) vs Cezar Ferreira (9-5)

Middleweight (185)

Oulwale Bamgbose: The best word to describe “The Holy War Angel” is explosive, Bamgbose has yet to leave the first round in his seven professional fights, winning six of them by way of KO or TKO. The New Yorker’s lone defeat came in his UFC debut, where he was matched up against rising star Uriah Hall on short notice. Hall took Bamgbose down and quickly pounded him out in 2:32 of the first round. The fact that Hall took the fight to the ground might be a testament to the danger Bamgbose poses on the feet. Last time out Bamgbose kept his first round stoppage streak alive with a vicious head kick knockout of TUF Brazil runner up Daniel Sarafian. Bamgbose has not fought much high level competition, so this match up with “Mutante” should give us a good idea of his future potential. 

Cezar Ferreira: It wasn’t long ago that Vitor Belfort protege Cezar “Mutante” was the inaugural TUF Brazil Champion and appeared to have a bright future in the middleweight division. However his performances’s since the show haven’t quite lived up to the expectations of many. “Mutante” has gone a respectable 4-3 since TUF, but the three losses were all violent knockouts. No fighter will have a very long career getting knocked out the way he is. Ferreira will most likely need this win in order to keep his spot on the UFC roster.

The Fight: “Mutante” will need to take this to the ground and drag Bamgbose into unfamiliar territory. Bamgbose’s ground defense appeared to be lacking in his defeat to Hall. If Ferreira attempts to trade with Bamgbose it wont go well for him, but based on his recent woes on the feet, Ferriera will work for the take down and sink in a choke late in the first. My Pick: Ferreira RNC 1st

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Drew Dober (16-7) vs Islam Makhachev (12-1)

Lightweight (155)

Drew Dober: Dober has been on the verge of stardom for some time now, with world class Muay Thai and an ever improving ground game he has needed to find that x factor that could push him from the ranks of gate keeper to contender. Last year Dober hoped a move to the Colorado based Elevation fight team would be the change he was seeking. At 2-3-1 in his UFC career, Dober will need to show he is ready to take the next step or be destined to a future of dominating smaller promotions.

Islam Makhachev: Yet another Dagestani master of sport in Combat Sambo will take to the cage in Tampa, when Islam Makhachev makes his third appearance inside the octagon. Makhachev splits his training between San Jose’s AKA and at home in Dagestan with Khabib Numagomedov and his dad. Makhachev impressed in his debut submitting ATT trained vet Leo Kunts. He did not fair as well in his second outing getting stopped by Adriano Martins in the first, the stoppage appeared to be a flash knockdown but the ref jumped in while  Makhachev was attempting to pull guard. At only 24 years old Makhachev may have the most potential of this new breed of Russians at lightweight.

The Fight: Makachev will have the advantage in most positions in this fight. Dober’s best chance at a victory is to make this a kickboxing match, however if Makachev is losing the striking battle he will be able to take Dober down at will. Considering  Dober has only been stopped twice, this one will probably go to the judges. My Pick: Makachev Unanimous decsion

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Randy Brown (7-0) vs Michael Graves (5-0)

Welterweight (170)

Randy Brown: “Rude Boy” Randy Brown is the second fighter Dana white and Mat Serra discovered for the internet show Looking For a Fight. The odd couple took a break from their wacky hi-jinx to witness Brown defend his Ring of Combat title knocking out Serra/Longo affiliated fighter Robert Plotkin. Brown was not given an easy debut when he was matched up against 6 4″ Canadian striker Matt Dwyer. At 6 2″ Brown is a  very tall welterweight, so Dwyer’s two inch height advantage proved to be a tough puzzle to solve. Ultimately Brown won a unanimous decision but didn’t have the performance one would hope for from a highly touted prospect. Brown will look to keep the hype train rolling with a win Saturday over fellow prospect Michael Graves.

Michael Graves: Graves had a emotion filled stint on TUF: ATT vs Blackzilians. He lost the first fight of the show getting smothered by eventual season winner Kamar Usman. Graves took his first loss in combat sports pretty hard turning to the booze and missing team practices. Graves got his redemption when he won a dramatic do or die fight over the Blackzilians Jason Jackson to keep ATT in the competition. After the show Graves put a beating on Blackzilian Vincente Luque to get his first official victory in the cage. Graves is the new breed type of fighter that excels in all aspects of a fight, if he can get his mental game on the level of his physical game he will be competing with the elite for many years to come.

The Fight: This battle of 25 year old prospects could have fight of the night potential. Graves will have the edge when it comes to wrestling and Brown will have the superior striking. Graves will do what it takes to grind this one out, pushing the larger man against the cage much off the fight and scoring enough to pick up the W. My Pick Graves Split Decision 

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John Dodson (17-7) vs Manny Gamburyan (15-8)

Bantamweight (135)

John Dodson: John Dodson has been the perennial number 2 in the flyweight division since its inception, but following his second failed attempt at Demetrious Johnson’s strap, Dodson has made the wise decision to move up to bantamweight. The move makes complete sense considering Dodson fought at 135 pounds for most of his career, including his victories over a house full of bantamweights on the 14th season of TUF, even stopping former champ T.J Dillashaw to capture the season’s crown. Dodson will have a noticeable speed advantage over everyone in the bantamweight division while retaining the fight ending power he has displayed at flyweight. 

Manny Gamburyan: “Manvil the Avil” Gamburyan made the move down to bantamweight after a one sided decision loss to Nick Lentz at featherweight. The move has paid dividends so far racking up two impressive wins over Cody Gibson and Scott Jorgensen. Manny’s strength and elite Judo will make him a very hard out for anyone at 135 pounds. At 34 years old if Manny is going to make a run at a title, his window of opportunity may be closing. Manny currently is not ranked in the top 15 but a win over a name like John Dodson would put him in the title talks at bantamweight.

The Fight: This will be a true test of strength vs speed, if Manny can catch Dodson and get him to the clinch he will be able to use his Judo to out muscle and control the undersized bantamweight. Dodson will have a staggering speed advantage in this fight and should be able to use his movement to stay on the outside and pick Manny apart. I don’t foresee Dodson getting the finish, as the only men to stop Manny are Jose Aldo and Manny Gamburayn (Manny knocked himself out when attempting a slam on Rob Emerson). My Pick Dodson Unanimous Decision 

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