Kelvin Gastelum provides the co main event fireworks as Bloody Elbow previews the whole card sans main event for UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Stephens in Gregg Popovich and Spurs country.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nicholas Musoke Welterweight
Credit where credit is due. While we lament the oversaturation of MMA, and rightfully so, every now and then one of those 'Joe Silva finally tried instead of writing down matchups on a napkin' cards ends up in our collective laps. This main card is a great example. No, there aren't many big names, but everyone is more or less involved in a dynamic matchup.
Many of us are draft happy, which is why the presence of Kelvin Gastelum seems so fitting. Like a 5th round pick, here's a guy who seemed destined for LW (never realized how wide the dude is, which is why he always seemed like a "soft" WW), but blossomed into a blue chip prospect. Maybe that praise is premature but watching him bully Rick Story around with a brutal jab for a round was sudden and exciting.
Of course, both men would go on to swing punches like they had purses attached to their wrists, and it got Kelvin in a little bit of trouble late, but the talent is on display.
And there is the Swedish talent, Nicholas Musoke. It was difficult to gauge what he had to offer going into his bout with Andrade because his fight with Alessio Sakara was so loose. Musoke isn't a brawler but he looked like one in the Sakara bout. The product from Allstars Training Center will have hands full.
I expect Gastelum to take this bout on the ground. While he doesn't have the sort of boxing that would allow him to comfortably beat Musoke on the feet, he's still capable of landing shots. Again I go back to his newfound jab. He tosses it like it's made of Valyrian steel. The more he uses it, the more successful he'll be. However, it's important to keep in mind that Story isn't some great striker or anything. While Musoke hasn't established himself at WW the way Story has, he's much more efficient on the feet where he mixes a strong straight hand with an array of kicks he likes chambering towards his opponent's inside thigh, or to the head.
Regardless, Gastelum is the favorite. -400 is a little much, especially for a guy not that far removed from the TUF Finale, but I think his ceiling is too high to end up losing to Musoke, who doesn't move enough on his feet to avoid takedowns all night. I could see Kelvin landing some hard shots on the ground during the scrambles to end up scoring a submission win.
Kelvin Gastelum by RNC, round 3.
Cezar Ferreira vs. Andrew Craig Middleweight
Here are two decent fighters who may or may not have been exposed in their last bouts.
"Exposed" is not a term that should be used lightly. Usually it has nothing to do with reality, and everything to do with false expectations. So while I wouldn't say Cezar Ferreira and Andrew Craig were exposed in their last outings, I do think their flaws were on greater display. Craig's loss to Luke Barnatt was more emphatic while Cezar's loss to C.B. Dollaway was simply more embarrassing.
Both are guys whose ceiling is strictly limited. Of the two, Craig is probably the more well rounded fighter. He has a quiet versatility to his standup game. While not especially powerful, he mixes in his punches with his kicks well and shows signs of flash. In addition, he keeps his movement from the feet towards the ground and vice versa in constant motion. At +165 according to the oddsmakers I like Craig's potential ability to confound Ferreira with takedowns and pressure. Ferreira doesn't seem like the kind of fighter who responds well to being cornered, and Craig should be able to maintain that pressure.
The problem is that Ferreira's southpaw stance should be more than enough to give him opportunities to land on Craig, whose defense is lacking. Ferreira is still a guy with raw talent, and reasonable power in his left. Plus he has a very good body attack that his kicks gravitate towards. He's no world beater, but he has the better long game and won't make the same mistake he made against Dollaway.
Cezar Ferreira by TKO, round 3.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Hacran Dias Featherweight
I'll be honest. After all these years, I still mix up Hacran Dias with Chico Camus, Edwin Figueroa, and anyone with the last name Santos. I can't imagine what it's like for casual fans.
Anyway, Ricardo Lamas is coming off his loss to Jose Aldo for the belt. I'm still not sure how to gauge that fight. OIn the one hand, Lamas seemed calm and composed. A lot of people thought he'd get blown out, but he remained steadfast in his ability to avoid total destruction. At the same time, I don't know that it's necessarily impressive to say you got to the finish line. It's not like he was ever in the fight.
Still, many people came away from that fight with a favorable impression of Lamas, which makes this matchup all the more confusing. Dias just lost his last fight and has only two bouts in the UFC to his name. While his win over Alcantara was considered big, I came away from that simply being unimpressed with Alcantara's performance.
Anyway, Dias has been schedule to fight on multiple occasions but injuries have kept him sidelined. At 30 years of age, this doesn't help his stock. Lamas should win this fight pretty emphatically. His striking is getting a lot better, and if he wasn't initimidated by Aldo's kick and punch combinations, then nothing about Dias' leg kick/takedown transition game will bother him. Lamas should worry about takedowns, but his wrestling is strong enough to avoid those scrambles. I feel like the jury is still out on Lamas, but only against the top five in his division. Dias is not top 5.
Ricardo Lamas by Decision.
Clint Hester vs. Antonio Braga Neto Middleweight
While we lament the oversaturation of MMA, and rightfully so, every now and then one of those 'Joe Silva finally tried instead of writing down matchups on a napkin' cards ends up in our collective laps. This main card is a great example.
I'm pretty sure you were lying. That or you're paid by Zuffa.
I still sort of stand by it. Maybe the point I should have emphasized is how so many of these bouts should either be short, or briefly electric. This is weird matchmaking though.
You don't let prospects eat each other in the same paper bag, but I guess Joe Silva is a different kind[/Rogan] of matchmaker.
I was impressed with Hester on TUF: team Jones vs. Team Sonnen. Until he fought Jimmy Quinlan. He's clearly shown improvement, defending the takedowns, and polishing up his boxing. And yet he simply can't afford to take a second off in this bout. One misstep, and it's all but over. Neto has a nice grappling record, and applying it to MMA has been a swift transition as he's submitted two of his last three opponents...both black belts.
The caveat here is his layoff. I wonder if layoffs affect fighters of different styles more than others. With Hester's power, it's hard to say, but I suspect Neto has been training hard to get back into the UFC. Hester probably hasn't plateaued just yet, so a loss will only be a minor setback.
Antonio Braga Neto by RNC, round 2.
Joe Ellenberger vs. James Moontasri Lightweight
Not really sure what to expect from James Moontasri, whose TKD background isn't as emphasized in other fighters who like to keep it standing due to their confidence on the feet.
He keeps a wide base like many other karate-type fighters, and thinks he has all the time in the world to land efficient strikes. Still, unlike most strikers with his background, he likes landing takedowns in the transition, which makes this an interesting matchup for Joe Ellenberger.
At +185, and a good counter wrestling game, this will prove to be a very tough fight for Joe, and an interesting bout for gamblers. The thing that worries me about Joe is his lack of fluidity. He doesn't put together combinations well, nor is he as brutish as his brother. You need to be a lot of things to be successful at LW, even at the lower levels. I'm not sure Joe has that ceiling, but he is an intelligent fighter. In the clinch he's especially adept at working for takedown the old fashioned way (power double), as well as the new fashion way (silky smooth trips). I lean towards Moontasri's overall game (it helps that he'll have size too, as he's fought at Welterweight).
James Moontasri via Decision.