UFC 270: Ngannou vs. Gane – Ilia Topuria looking to make another statement

    No disrespect to the participants of the prelims of UFC 270, but this card is lacking the depth of recent PPV’s. Whereas almost every fight on the televised prelims of the recent PPV’s had a ranked fighter, there isn’t a single ranked fighter on the prelims of UFC 270. To be fair, Ilia Topuria entered the rankings after his last win over Ryan Hall, but has since been leapfrogged by Alex Caceres.

    Despite the lack of quality fighters, at least on paper, the televised prelims should be fun. Raoni Barcelos is one of the most unheralded members of the roster. And out of all the DWCS debutants on this card – and there are plenty of them – Jack Della Maddalena has the most hype around him. And while there isn’t anyone who isn’t disappointed Topuria’s original opponent Movsar Evloev was forced to pull out, Charles Jourdain is an entertaining replacement.

    For the early prelims preview, click here.

    Ilia Topuria vs. Charles Jourdain, Featherweight

    No disrespect intended towards the aforementioned Caceres, but if you were to pit him against Topuria, a huge majority would be picking Topuria to win. Thus, why Caceres would be ranked ahead of the native of Georgia boggles the mind. Not that many people put much stock in the official UFC rankings, but I might as well throw that out there given I used them as a barometer of these contests….

    There isn’t a singular reason many are so high on Topuria. Only 24-years-old and a squat ball of muscle, Topuria attacks with a speed that belies his muscular frame. It isn’t like he’s just relying on his physical gifts either. Topuria is exceptionally technical in his shots, utilizing excellent timing and form and executing with suffocating efficiency from the top. Though there are signs he’s going to be held back by his shorter frame on the feet, he’s utilized great use of angles to get up into the face of his opponents and bully them around with his raw power. Of course, Topuria has yet to face an opponent who would be considered a serious threat on the feet, so it’s hard to put too much emphasis on those victories.

    That Topuria hasn’t faced a big threat on the feet is the best hope Jourdain has to win this fight. The Canadian is stepping in on short notice after Evloev was forced to pull out due to COVID protocols. One of the most explosive members in the division, Jourdain’s unpredictability has proven to be far more predictable than he was upon his UFC entrance. There’s hope as Jourdain is fresh off the performance of his career, slaughtering Andre Ewell in all aspects on the feet, doing everything short of putting Ewell away. GIven Jourdain’s reputation as a flashy striker willing to throw spinning and leaping attacks at any time, it was a breath of fresh air to see him dominate on the feet utilizing mostly fundamentals.

    The issue for Jourdain has been his ground game… exactly where Topuria excels. Jourdain has struggled to remain standing against middling wrestlers and an argument could already be made in Topuria’s short three-fight UFC career that he’s one of the best in the division. Outside of a flash KO – most likely coming early – there doesn’t appear to be a logical road to victory for Jourdain given his inability to stop takedowns. Topuria doesn’t have a fear of playing with fire – he had no problem going to the ground with renowned BJJ practitioner Hall – so expect Topuria to maintain an insane amount of pressure. In the process, he’ll likely secure a finish before the halfway point of the fight. Topuria via submission of RD1

    • Victor Henry is unlike 95% of the fighters making their UFC debuts in the sense that he should have been in the organization a long time ago. Many said the same thing about Raoni Barcelos when he was signed in 2017, but where Barcelos was 30 at that time, Henry is already 34… just three days younger than Barcelos. Regardless, Henry has fought some of the best names on the regional scene, showing a diverse game and the ability to be dragged into deep waters and not drown. In fact, Henry has never been finished in his decade-plus career. There are a lot of names on the UFC roster I’d pick Henry to come in and pick up the win, but Barcelos isn’t one I feel so confident about. The Brazilian is a world-class grappler, one of the most underrated wrestlers on the entire roster, and hits like a Mack truck. The best chance I’d give Henry of winning is Barcelos slowing late, much like he did in his controversial loss to Timur Valiev. However, Henry has struggled with being controlled by dynamic wrestlers and grapplers… much like a fresh Barcelos is. That still leaves the opening for Henry late, so the second round appears to be the key in this contest. Regardless, this is a fight that viewers should circle. Barcelos via decision
    • It’s hard to think of a fighter who was more impressive on DWCS this past season than the one Jack Della Maddalena had. He may not have gotten the finish, but he went a hard 15 minutes against Ange Loosa, surviving some sticky situations of his own to show resilience and toughness. There’s still quite a few holes he could smooth over like stopping takedowns and striking defense, but given Uncle Dana has a soft spot for hard-hitting scrappers like Maddalena, the Aussie has a good chance of hanging around for a while. Maddalena is getting a hell of an opportunity to secure a Performance Bonus as untested Pete Rodriguez is a heavy-handed striker himself. When I say heavy-handed, I mean it, securing all of his professional and amateur wins via KO/TKO, only one leaving the first round. However, Rodriguez is taking the fight on short notice and has next-to-nothing in terms of quality victories. Given Rodriguez’s professional career is younger than the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s understandable. However, it’s hugely concerning at the UFC level. Maddalena’s experience level is on the low end of the scale too, but Rodriguez hasn’t even gone a half a round in a professional fight yet. Regardless of who wins, it will be a shock if this contest goes the distance. Maddalena via TKO of RD2

    Note: The welterweight contest between Trevin Giles and Michael Morales was moved to the televised prelims, but was previously scheduled to be on the early prelims. You can find the preview for that here.

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