This weekend, the UFC makes it’s first ever journey to Long Island and this event is very much flying under the radar thanks to UFC 214 at the end of the month, especially seeing as Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier are already trading jabs via twitter leading up to the title fight-filled card next weekend. With that in mind, I’ll lay out the four most interesting fights on UFC on Fox 25 that are going unnoticed thanks to that duo casting a rather big shadow.
Ryan LaFlare v Alex Oliveira
LaFlare may not have the most exciting record as all seven of his UFC fights to date have ended in a decision but considering the only one he hasn’t won was against the current challenger to Tyron Woodley’s throne, Demian Maia, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, Alex Oliveira’s got a respectable 6-2 (1) record in the octagon including a beating he handed down to Will Brooks and some sweet revenge on Tim Means in his last fight. Alex Oliveira has enough power to put LaFlare out for the count given the chance but considering his takedown defense is less than stellar, LaFlare should be able to put him on his back and keep him there. The two losses on Oliveira’s record are both by submission so it’s even possible that we see LaFlare get his first finish in the UFC, although he’s not one to latch on to submission opportunities and is more likely to grind out a unanimous decision, earning himself a small step up in the rankings and a chance to fight a ranked opponent hopefully.
Result: Ryan Laflare by Decision.
Lyman Good v Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
Lyman Good is an ex-Bellator champion who’s beaten a few decent opponents on his journey into the UFC and showed exactly what he’s capable of in his debut with a KO victory over Andrew Craig. Dos Santos is a much less well-rounded fighter with strong striking skills but poor takedown defense and not much offensive wrestling or grappling ability to speak of, he’s got great power in his hands but that’s about the limit of the abilities he’s shown so far. His only real hope in this fight comes by way of thunderous knockout but with Good’s wealth of experience it’s unlikely he’ll make a mistake for dos Santos to capitalize on in the first place. This works out more like a showcase fight for Good as he’ll be able to utilize his takedowns with little competition and should be able even be able to outstrike the knockout artist, at least by volume. Good should cruise to a decision win after overcoming an early scare.
Result: Lyman Good by Decision.
Jimmie Rivera v Thomas Almeida
If I was going to put money on it, this is going to be the fight to bring the house down. Jimmie Rivera looks almost unstoppable lately, he’s on a nineteen-fight winning streak including four UFC victories and his most recent over Urijah Faber. He’s currently ranked fourth in the UFC’s Bantamweight rankings and with a solid win over his opponent, he could definitely make a good case for a title shot or top contender’s bout opposite Raphael Assuncao. Thomas Almeida on the other hand has lost one of his UFC appearances, against current Bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt, so it’s hard to criticize him too much for that. Besides that crushing first-round loss, he’s been an absolute post-fight bonus machine, earning one in each of his five UFC victories and only allowing one of his opponents to make it to the end of fight. So far, Rivera hasn’t fought someone with Almeida’s pure power and ability to use it, nor has he had to weather an early storm and mount a comeback. Count this as another highlight-reel finish for Thominhas.
Result: Thomas Almeida by KO (Round 1).
Chris Weidman v Kelvin Gastelum
I was never going to discount this fight as it really is an interesting turn of events that led both of these men here. Chris Weidman looked like a man set to take over the world when he dethroned Anderson Silva but after three more title defenses against aging opponents he came crashing back down to earth and is now potentially fighting for his job after three straight knockout losses (albeit with some controversy in his last fight against Gegard Mousasi). Weidman hasn’t looked bad by any stretch of the imagination, he had a pretty back and forth fight with Luke Rockhold and was actually beating Yoel Romero until he suddenly lost consciousness. It’s also worth noting that these are three of the best strikers in the middleweight division right now, getting knocked out by any one of these men is not something to be ashamed of.
Kelvin Gastelum comes into this fight on much more of an upward trend, but still an unusual situation. After repeated failures to make the welterweight limit, it appears as though Gastelum has finally conceded that he’s a middleweight fighter and this will definitely be in his best interest. Despite being undersized at middleweight he’s never lost at that weight in the UFC and looks like a completely different fighter, he’s got that extra second of speed and considering all six of his knockout victories have come at middleweight, it clearly works for him. His last two fights specifically have been great finishes of decent opponents and he should be on a three-fight winning streak, had he not tested positive for Marijuana and had the Vitor Belfort fight changed to a No Contest.
Both these fighters are well-rounded and capable of keeping up with the upper echelons of the middleweight division, this is a great fight to watch and should either revitalize Weidman’s career or put Gastelum on a path to the title. As far as wrestling goes, Gastelum is clearly inferior but his takedown defense is not awful and he can handle himself well enough on the mat that he shouldn’t be under much threat from a submission and should be able to get back to his feet reasonably fast after any successful takedowns. They’re pretty similar in general striking ability and Weidman’s seven inch reach advantage can’t be forgotten about but Gastelum has much better defensive tendencies and the edge in power should get him the victory here, expect to see a few takedowns from Weidman throughout and him winning a round or two on the scorecards but ultimately, he’ll meet the same fate he has in his last three fights.
Result: Kelvin Gastelum by KO (Round 4)