UFC 211: Miocic vs. Dos Santos (Prelims) Breakdowns & Predictions

+315 Joachim Christensen (14-4) vs. -380 Gadzhimurad Antigulov (19-4)

Light Heavyweight (205)

Joachim Christensen: Dangerous Dane Joachim Christensen recently picked up his first octagon victory knocking out Bojan Mihajilovic this past January. Christensen thoroughly dominated Mihajilovic for two and a half rounds before finishing the scrappy Serbian with a devastating uppercut.

Christensen strikes effectively from a distance, but does his best work in the clinch with knees and short shots. He also possess a tricky guard that has earned him five submission victories over the last decade. At thirty seven Christensen will need to win and win impressively if he has main card aspirations in his future.

Gadzhimurad Antigulov: Emerging Dagestani prospect Gadzhimurad Antigulov made short work of TUF Brazil alum Marcos Rogerio de Lima in his UFC debut. The lifelong Sambo practitioner landed a single leg early and was able to submit his larger Brazilian foe with a guillotine in the first round.

Antigulov is an intriguing addition to the shallow Light Heavyweight division, the thirty year old is on a thirteen fight win streak and has finished fourteen of his nineteen professional victories via submission.

The Fight: Antigulov will get this one down to the mat early where he will make short work of the Danish veteran. Antigulov RNC 1st

 

-141 Gabriel Benitez (19-6) vs. +121 Enrique Barzola (13-3-1)

Featherweight (145)

Gabriel Benitez: TUF Latin America semi finalist Gabriel “Moggly” Benitez fought a perfect fight in his last outing against Sam Sicilia. The Mexican south paw put on a striking clinic landing hard leg kicks and well placed crosses before putting Sicilia to sleep with a standing guillotine.  The win was Benitez’s third in the UFC, with his lone defeat coming against Alpha Male prospect Andre Fili.

The thirty year old AKA fighter has dealt with a litany of injuries since entering the UFC. Benitez showed what he is capable of when he is healthy and prepared, he has top ten potential if he can stay healthy, a task AKA fighters have trouble with.

Enrique Barzola: TUF Latin America 2 winner Enrique “El Fuerte” Barzola bounced back from his first octagon defeat to Kyle Bochniak, by dominating Diaz brothers disciple Chris Avilia in a one sided unanimous decision victory. The win improved the Peruvian’s UFC record to 2-1.

The twenty eight year old has showcased elite wrestling and is rapidly improving as a striker under the guidance of the American Top Team Coconut Creek coaching staff. He won TUF with grappling and conditioning alone, if he learns to strike he will become a contender in the Featherweight division.

The Fight: Benitez has a kick heavy attack which could play right into the take down focused game plan of Barzola. Benitez has yet to face a wrestler in the UFC but his training with Khabib Nurmagomedov should have him prepared for the enevidable take down attempts in this match up. Benitez will be able to stuff the majority of them and land enough clean shots on the feet to take it on the cards. Benitez Unanimous Decision

– 165 Chase Sherman (9-3) vs. +135 Rashad Coulter (8-1)

Heavyweight (265)

Chase Sherman: Former division III linemen Chase “Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman will be fighting for his roster spot after coming up short in his first two octagon performances. The tough as nails Heavyweight has shown incredible heart and durability in his fights, but has ended up on the wrong side of two striking wars.

The twenty seven year old Mississippian rose through the regional rankings under the tutelage of UFC vet Alan Belcher. Now in the big leagues Sherman has moved his training camp to Jackson Wink to train with some of the best in the world.

Rashad Coulter: The past two weeks has been a rollercoaster of emotions for the Dallas based fighter Rashad ” Daywalker” Coulter. He was scheduled to fight for the LFA Heavyweight title but lost the opportunity when his opponent was forced to withdraw. Then in a fortunate twist of fate Coulter received this opportunity to make debut in front of a hometown crowd when Dmitry Proberzhets was forced out off of this fight.

Coulter is a devastating knockout puncher who has won all of his eight victories by KO/TKO.  At thirty five he is old for a rookie, but did not start fighting until he was twenty nine and has not absorbed half of the damage of most fighters in his age bracket.

The Fight: Whenever you get two heavy handed brawlers together it’s usually a coin flip. However Sherman’s full training camp and previous octagon experience will be enough of an edge to get him his first UFC win. Sherman TKO 2nd

 

-105 #12 Jessica Aguilar (19-5) vs. -125 Cortney Casey (6-3)

Strawweight (115)

Jessica Aguilar: Former WSOF champion Jessica Aguilar will return to the octagon for the first time in nearly two years. She has been sidelined by a torn ACL which occured in her preparation for her bout wit Juliana Lima last April. Aguilar’s only UFC bout was an instant classic with former title contender Claudia Gahdela that she ended up losing on the cards.

The Mexican born American Top Team fighter was considered a pound for pound great prior to her signing with the UFC. Injuries have prevented her from fullfilling her potential in the octagon, now healthy it will be interesting to see if the thirty five year old can return to her dominant form.

Cortney Casey: Hawaiian resident Cortney “Cast Iron” Casey was rewarded for back to back wins with a co main event match up with Claudia Gahdela. Even though she came up short against Gahdela she opened up a lot of eyes of people who thought she would not be competitive in the fight.

2-3 in her octagon duty Casey is much more talented than her sub .500 record would suggest. Win or lose her bouts have been must see T.V, already collecting two fight of the night bonuses. A move to a super camp may be the finishing piece of the puzzle for the thirty year old brawler.

The Fight: If Aguilar is able to return to her pre -injury form she should be able to control this fight with her high level grappling. If not it will be apparent early, I believe the long lay off will be a positive for Aguilar who will reclaim a top ten spot following this victory. Aguilar Unanimous Decision

 

+300 Marco Polo Reyes (8-3) vs. -400 James Vick (9-1)

Lightweight (155)

Marco Polo Reyes: TUF Latin America stand out and Mexican fan favorite Marco Polo Reyes recently improved his octagon record to 3-0 with a razor thin split decision over Jason Novellli. Reyes’s fight prior to the Novelli victory was a must see fight of the year contender with the other Dong Hyun Kim.

The thirty two year old fights like a true Mexican, full of heart and willing to take four shots to land one clean one. Because of his crowd pleasing style Reyes’s will be on the Lightweight roster for many years to come, especially considering his popularity in the emerging Central American market.

James Vick: Texas native James “The Texacutioner” Vick fights in his home state for the first time since 2011. Vick bounced back from his first professional loss with an ultra impressive D’Arce choke submission victory over Blackzilian Abel Trujillo.

The fact that Vick is 6-1 in the UFC and failed to crack the rankings is a testament to the depth of the Lightweight division. The thirty year old Lloyd Irvin student’s 6’3″ frame and pinpoint strikes make him a tough out for anyone at 155 pounds.

The Fight: The height, reach and technical striking abilities will all favor Vick, leaving Reyes in over his head in this match up. Reyes will eat a large amount of damage early and fall victim to a choke mid way through the fight. Vick Guillotine 2nd

 

-160 Jared Gordon (12-1) vs. +130 Michel Quinones (8-1)

Featherweight (145)

Jared Gordon: CFFC Featherweight champion Jared “Flash” Gordon is the most recent signing from Dana White’s adventures in his “Looking for a Fight” reality web series. Gordon impressed White and crew in his February title defense and earned a contract to compete in Mixed Martial Art’s premier promotion on the spot.

The Renzo Gracie pupil is one of the highest rated prospects to come out of the tri-state area in years. Gordon’s is a well rounded fighter who is proficient in every area and has rounded out his game training with diverse partners like Philipe Nover and Marcos Galvao.

Michel Quinones:  Long considered one of the top prospects in the state of Florida, Michel “Capo” Quinones will make his UFC debut on the heels of a five fight win streak including a first round head kick knockout of TUF veteran Billy Quarantillo in April of last year.

Quinones trains with many of the ATT affiliates, but began his journey training under Roger Krahl at ATT Sunrise. His quick, technical striking abilities and strong take down defense will make him a guy to watch in the stacked Featherweight division.

The Fight: Gordon will have the quicker hand speed but Quinones has a more diversified attack and finishes his combos with punishing kicks. Quinones will outpoint in a kickboxing match that will be an early contender for fight of the night. Quinones Unanimous Decision

 

-130 Chas Skelly (17-2) vs. +100 Jason Knight (19-2)

Featherweight (145)

Chas Skelly: Former collegiate Wrestler Chas “Scrapper” Skelly had his most impressive octagon performance in his recent win over Chris Gruetzemacher this past February. Skelly dominated the Arizona based fighter in every stage of the fight before submitting him with a rear naked choke.

Skelly moved to South Florida following the disbanding of his former team Marc Laimon’s Team Takedown. He know trains full time with Henri Hooft and crew at The Combat Club. Skelly’s weakest attribute was his striking, now under the guidance of Hooft the suffocating Wrestler will be able to keep his opponents guessing with his much improved striking.

Jason Knight: Twenty Four year old Mississippi native Jason “The Kid” Knight recently picked up his biggest win to date when he submitted Alex Caceres with a rear naked choke this past January. Knight has looked excellent in the octagon apart from a short notice debut loss to Tatsuya Kawajiri.

A protege of UFC veteran Alan Belcher, Knight has improved drastically with each octagon appearance. A slick rubber guard has led Knight to eleven submission victories and now finely tuning his Muay Thai with Phuket Top Team he appears to be coming into his own as a complete fighter.

The Fight:  Skelly will look to get this fight down early despite his improving stand up technique. Knight’s confidence in his ability to fight of of his back will hurt him in this fight, when he is not able to secure the sub he will find himself down on the cards to the smothering wrestler. Skelly Unanimous Decision

 

+100 Eddie Alvarez (28-5) vs. -130 Dustin Poirier (21-5)

Lightweight (155)

Eddie Alvarez: “The Underground King” Eddie Alvarez will return from his disappointing title fight loss against demi god Connor McGregor at UFC  205. The demoralizing loss was Alvarez’s first defense attempt following his championship victory over Rafael Dos Anjos four months prior.

The thirty three year old multi promotional champion now begins the long climb back to the top. Alvarez now trains with the tri-state area team of Mark Henry, Frankie Edgar and Ricardo Almedia. The Philly native will be looking to prove to the rest of the division that the McGregor defeat was a one off and not a sign of deteriorating skills.

Dustin Poirier: Lafayette Louisiana’s Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier recently bounced back from a knockout loss to Michael Johnson by edging out the heavy underdog Jim Miller in a fight of the night majority decision.

Poirier has gone 9-3 since joining ATT in 2012 and has appeared to find his home at Lightweight following a 2014 loss to McGregor at Featherweight. A win over Alvarez would place Poirer well inside the top five and possibly put him one win away from his first title shot.

The Fight: This is a popular pick for fight of the night and with good reason. Both of these guys will trade in the pocket and are constantly moving forward. Alvarez has the stronger Wrestling but Poirier is more well rounded and will have his hand raised at the end of a high paced striking battle. Poirer Split Decision

 

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