UFC 236 Preliminary Predictions

UFC 236 Preliminary Predictions

155lbs- Jalin Turner (7-4-0) vs Matt Frevola (6-1-1)

The final fight before the main card kicks off will showcase the 3rd UFC outing of Jalin “The Tarantula” Turner as he meets Matt “The Steamrolla” Frevola in the Lightweight division. Turner got finished at Welterweight by Vicente Luque, but made short work of his foe in his Lightweight debut. Frevola is winless in the UFC after an entertaining draw against Lando Vannata and a 60-second knockout loss in his debut against Marco Polo Reyes.

At 6’3″, Turner full half-foot taller than his foe with a 6-inch reach advantage. Turner is also the younger man by 5-years.

Turner held his own against Luque, but showcased his sharp striking tools in his last fight. He floored his foe with a lead straight hand and follow-up strikes. He has finished 7 of his 8 opponents by knockout.

Despite developing a reputation as a brawler, Frevola has just a single win by knockout compared to a trio of submission. He traded with Vannata both getting hurt and hurting him during the exchanges.

Turner has been knocked out in 3 of his 4 defeats.

If Frevola opts to utilize his mat game against Turner, he will need to find a way to get passed the sizable length advantage without eating too much damage.

Frevola has to find his way inside, whether to strike or to grapple- covering that distance is key. Turner’s height and reach is unreal for Lightweight and he has shown he can use those skills. Look for Turner to keep Frevola on the outside, punishing him for willingly trade and countering as he attempts to close and shoot. Both guys have succumbed to strikes before, but Turner has the ability to land first- my prediction is Jalin Turner to defeat Matt Frevola by TKO.

125lbs- #4 Wilson Reis (23-9-0) vs #5 Alexandre Pantoja (20-3-0)

Despite the uncertainty of the division, former Flyweight title challenger Wilson Reis takes on fellow Brazilian Alexandre Pantoja. Reis ended a 3-fight skid with a solid victory over Ben Nguyen, his trio of defeats included losses to the only 2 men to wear the title belt. Pantoja has won back to back fights, most recently submitting Ulka Sasaki- he is 4-1 in the UFC.

Pantoja is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 5-years.

The title fight loss and subsequent post-title defeat to Henry Cejudo were understandable, but the third loss signals a downturn for Reis. His rise to contention came largely on his improved striking augmenting his already solid mat skills.

Also a capable submission fighter, Pantoja has won 8 times by sub- 6 times by rear-naked choke.

Reis returned to his roots against Ben “Ten”. He latched onto a single leg early and completed 7 overall takedowns. He has completed 39 takedowns over 7 UFC wins.

Pantoja has given up 13 completions in 5 UFC contests, including 7 against Dustin Ortiz in his only loss. Pantoja is an adept scrambler and difficult to control on the mat.

If Reis is forced to work on the feet, he will trade but his volume is limited. Conversely, Pantoja has a solid kicking attack and can work well from the clinch as well.

He should have a decided edge in vertical output.

If Alexandre forces a striking fight he wins on the basis of superior volume, variety, and durability. If Reis can take him down and control his adversary with consistency- he gets his hand raised. The key features are the scrambling skills of Pantoja and the cardio of Reis. Look for Pantoja to work his way out of bad spots and limit the benefit of the early takedowns, with Wilson slowing as the fight progresses- my prediction is Alexandra Pantoja to defeat Wilson Reis by decision.

170lbs- Max Griffin (14-6-0) vs Zelim Imadaev (8-0-0)

Unable to capitalize on his upset win over Mike Perry, Max Griffing will attempt to get back in the win column when he meets the debuting Zelim Imadaev in the Welterweight division. Griffin has dropped back to back bouts to Curtis Millender and Thiago Alves via controversial decision. The undefeated Imadaev made his pro debut in 2016, fight 7-times over his first two years but just once in early in 2018.

Imadaev is the taller man by an inch and 10-years younger than Griffin. They share the same reach.

The Russian is debuting and returning to action after a 13-month layoff. Those are a pair of scenarios that could complicate Imadaev’s performance, especially against a veteran like Griffin making his 7 Octagon walk.

Griffin has faced a number of capable power punchers with his only knockout loss coming against Colby Covington’s non-stop barrage of wrestling and GNP. He has also showcased his own power with 7 wins by TKO or KO- just 1 in the UFC.

Imadaev has finished all 8 of his wins by knockout, including 5 in the first frame. His last 3 foes are a combined 29-21 with only 1 fighter holding an above .500 record. They also have suffered a total of 9 knockout defeats.

The Russian is extremely aggressive, pushing forward behind wild haymakers and mixing in kicks. To counter, Griffin has utilized his wrestling and more distance oriented striking attacking to nullify the threat of previously faced power punchers.

If Imadaev can land early, he is capable of taking Griffin out. The time away for Zelim could both create ring rust but also lead to a leap in overall capability. Griffin has dealt with aggressive striker before with mixed results. The key difference is that the opponents he has faced are more proven fighters. Look for the combination of ring rust, Octagon jitters, limited long fight experience, and below average opposition all to compromise Imadaev’s performance- my prediction is Max Griffin to defeat Zelim Imadaev by decision.

135lbs- Boston Salmon (6-1-0) vs Khalid Taha (12-2-0)

The debuting Boston “Boom Boom” Salmon looks to begin his upstream swim towards UFC notoriety when he meets Germanys Khalid Taha in the Bantamweight division. Salmon was successful on his Contenders Series fight to rebound from his first pro loss. Taha made an unsuccessful debut against Nad Narimani for his 2nd loss over his last 3 fights.

Salmon hasn’t seen action in 22-months. Khalid is closing on a year out of action. Salmon is 5 inches taller, but they have an equal 69″ reach. Taha is 2-years younger.

Finishing 10 of 12 opponents (7 by knockout), Taha is a danger on the feet. Over a smaller sample size, Salmon has snuffed out 4 of his 6 pro wins by knockout- only 2 in the first frame.

Taha’s short notice debut came down to his TDD. He gave up 6 completions and spent too much time on his back. In this contest, both fighters will most likely opt to stay vertical and slug it out.

The Contenders win for Salmon was highlighted by a strong counterstriking attack. Every time his foe moved into range, he landed counters with regularity. Conversely, waiting on his opponent to engage often makes Boston the secondary striker and opens him up to damage.

Taha is 1-2 over his last 3 fights to go 3 rounds with 5 of his last 8 fights ending in the initial frame- all wins.

If Taha can overcome the height issue and push a torrid pace, he has the ability to outwork his opponent. A quick start for Khalid would go a long way to make the Salmon layoff, a factor in this fight. Conversely, the counter striking of Boston will flow well in cooperation with Taha’s need to close the gap. Look for Salmon’s more economical style to hold up in the later stages of the fight, hurting Taha as he starts to slow- my prediction is Boston Salmon to defeat Khalid Taha by TKO.

%d bloggers like this: