There is an undisputed theme to the early prelims of UFC 270: DWCS. All five of the early prelims contests features at least one alumni of the roster building program, four making their UFC deubt, seven total fighters who made DWCS appearances, and one other fighter who was scheduled to appear before an injury on the UFC roster saw them called up before their scheduled DWCS contest. Even though there has been a spate of cancelled contests for the event, it seems like every DWCS alum was able to dodge the injury or illness bug. Well, all except for Greg Hardy, but no one really wanted to see him anyway.
- It’s getting awful late for Tony Gravely to put everything together. While the hard-nosed wrestler isn’t ancient at 30, he already has 28 professional contests under his belt. That’s a lot of miles on his body. When watching film on him, he appears to have the power and technique to be an effective striker; he just doesn’t seem capable of putting it all together consistently. Despite that, his impressive wrestling pedigree has been enough for him to secure wins against unestablished talent on the roster. Considering Saimon Oliveira is making his UFC debut, he’s clearly an unestablished talent. That hardly means he doesn’t have a chance. The Brazilian throws a wide variety of kicks and has a particularly dangerous guillotine that he’s utilized to secure seven of his eighteen career wins. Given Gravely’s propensity for shooting on his opponents, would it be a shock to see him get caught in an Oliveira guillotine? Nope. That said, I have major concerns about Oliveira’s takedown defense and Gravely’s relentlessness in his pursuit of takedowns has me favoring the vet, provided he doesn’t gas himself out in the process. Gravely via decision
- It’s fair to question if Michael Morales is getting his call to the UFC too soon. While the native of Ecuador is undefeated in 12 contests, he has also faced a lot of cans to pad that record. Plus, he’s still just 22-years old. Despite those concerns, he has flashed an effective jab, has a lot of oomph in his low kicks, and showed a better takedown game from the clinch on DWCS than anyone believed he possessed. Plus, did y’all catch his suplex he landed in that appearance? He’ll be tested by former middleweight mainstay Trevin Giles as Giles moves down to 170. A crisp boxer who thinks he’s a better grappler than he is, Giles tends to be his own worst enemy in terms of fight IQ. He has noticed one thing though: Giles has struggled with the physicality of his opponents when he losses. Perhaps dropping to welterweight is a logical answer, provided he can make the cut right. While it’s a concern, Giles was never a massive middleweight. The guess here is he’ll be fine. Despite that, it’s no guarantee he’ll turn away Morales. The younger fighter will have a significant reach advantage and tends to throw more volume. On the other hand, Giles is great at dictating the pace of a fight and possesses one of the sneakiest power jabs in the sport. It’s not an easy pick, but I’m favoring the veteran. Giles via decision
- There’s a worthy debate of whether Vanessa Demopoulos deserves to be in the UFC, but there is no debate whether she’s consistently entertaining. On the small side, even for the strawweight division, Demopoulos goes full throttle at all times. In the process, she eats a ridiculous amount of damage. Fortunately for her, she has an iron chin and an exceptionally creative ground game, managing the rare inverted-triangle on Sam Hughes about 18 months ago. She’ll have a massive edge on the mat against Silvana Gomez Juarez as the Argentinian is primarily a striker. Of course, she’s a pretty damned good striker and won’t have a problem piecing up Demopoulos if the American is unable to get the fight to the mat. Demopoulos’ wrestling is lacking, but she doesn’t mind pulling guard and her abilities off her back might make that a worthwhile strategy against the likes of Juarez. Should the fight go to decision, it’s almost a guarantee Juarez will be the victor, racking up the volume to outpoint Demopoulos. On the other hand, it’s likely Demopoulos finds a submission if it ends before the allotted 15 minutes. It’s a coin flip, but I favor the younger fighter without any quit. Demopoulos via submission of RD3
- It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago Matt Frevola was considered to be a potential breakout candidate at lightweight. With a sturdy chin and an aggressive style that’s easy on the eyes, it wasn’t hard to find things to like about him. The narrative flipped after a one-sided loss to Arman Tsarukyan and a seven-second KO at the hands of Terrance McKinney. Now, he’s in danger of losing his roster spot if he can’t show well against Genaro Valdez, an aggressive action-fighter out of Mexico. Like Frevola, Valdez made his way to the roster via DWCS and doesn’t have a high regard for executing on the defensive end of the scale. Frevola has faced far more credible competition, but he also doesn’t have a great record of putting his opponents away. On the flip side, Valdez has yet to go the distance. That could be problematic should Frevola get his style of fight with constant takedown attempts that drags on, but it’s questionable if Frevola hasn’t seen his confidence shattered after two devastating losses. Valdez’s aggression could see him get caught in a sub, but I think he’ll catch Frevola with something heavy. Valdez via TKO of RD2
- To no one’s surprise, the youthful Kay Hansen is making her way up to flyweight division. A physically strong wrestler and grappler, she has struggled to established her physicality since debuting in the UFC. Given her admission to having an eating disorder for several years, it should improve her physical conditioning and strength. Sure, given her lack of height and overall striking skills, it could prove to be problematic at flyweight. Whether it is should be answered against Jasmine Jasudavicius, an older Canadian prospect who came into the sport late. Despite having a base in wrestling, she has developed into more of a striker, taking advantage of her lengthy 68” reach. Aside from that, Jasudavicius largely gets by on technique and smarts as she doesn’t have overwhelming power, speed, or wrestling. In other words, Hansen should have a notable advantage in physical gifts. Plus, despite being far younger than Jasudavicius, Hansen has a clear advantage in experience against quality competition. I’m not sure Jasudavicius will be ready for physicality Hansen brings. Hansen via decision