UFC 236- UFC Fight Pass Prelims

UFC 236- UFC Fight Pass Prelims

170lbs- Curtis Millender (17-4-0) vs Belal Muhammad (14-3-0)

In the headlining fight of the Fight Pass undercard, “Curtious” Curtis Millender returns to the cage to take on Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad in the Welterweight division. Millender is coming off a disappointing, streak-snapping loss that ended a 9-fight winning streak. Muhammad’s 4-fight resurgence was also ended in his most recent outing, he dropped a decision to Geoff Neal- he is 5-3 in the UFC.

Millender is the taller man by 3 inches to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Belal is a year younger. Millender is returning to action just a month removed from his last appearance.

Millender’s definitive defeat last time out came almost entirely as the result of his questionable defensive grappling. While he has been able to avoid the mat in most of his fights, the loss was Curtis’s 3rd via submission.

Offering the skills to potentially exploit that gap, Muhammad has yet to record a win by submission but he has showcased a capable wrestling attack.

Belal has completed 13 takedowns over his 5 UFC triumphs.

If Millender can keep the fight vertical, he offers a nice variety of striking techniques and uses his reach well. While he has secured just 6 of his 17 wins by knockout his timing makes him a constant threat on the feet.

The focus of Belal will be volume. His attack is built around consistent offense, averaging 4.57 significant strikes per minute with a UFC best 88 strikes landed against Tim Means.

Muhammad was obliterated by Vicente Luque in his only knockout loss. A well-placed knee could do the same for Millender. If Curtis can’t finish him his distance management will need to be on point as Belal will most likely look to close and change levels. Millender’s TDD has been a major issue and Muhammad will capitalize- my prediction is Belal Muhammad to defeat Curtis Millender by decision.

135lbs- Montel Jackson (7-1-0) vs Andre Soukhamthath (13-6-0)

With each fighter coming off important wins, Montel “Quik” Jackson meets Andre “The Asain Sensation” Soukhamthath in the Bantamweight division. Jackson lost his debut to Ricky Simon, but bounced back in a big way with a submission victory over Brian Kelleher in his next fight. Soukhamthath is 2-3 inside the Octagon, earning a win over Jonathan Martinez in his last outing.

Jackson stands just an inch taller than Andre, but “Quik” will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage and is the younger man by 4-years.

Soukhamthath’s key to success has been his punching power. A capable striker with solid body strikes, he has finished 8 opponents by knockout- 1 in the UFC.

In similar fashion, 5 of Jackson’s 7 pro victories have come via TKO or KO. Prior to submitting Kelleher, he hurt him during an early exchange.

Where Soukhamthath has struggled has been with urgency. He did a better job in his last fight, but overall his willingness to let his opponent press the action has cost him. He is a dismal 2-6 in fights that go the distance.

Jackson’s loss to Simon came largely as a result of his inability to match Ricky’s output.

The reach of Jackson and his more active work rate are going to be the keys to his success. Soukhamthath’s willingness to absorb damage and allow his opponent to dictate the exchanges is going to put him at a sizeable deficit. Look for Jackson to utilize his reach to keep Andre on the outside and possible change levels for a takedown at a key moment- my prediction is Montel Jackson to defeat Andre Soukhamthath by decision.

125lbs- Lauren Mueller (6-1-0) vs Poliana Botelho (7-2-0)

Looking to make a charge to the rankings, formerly undefeated Lauren “Princess Tiger” Mueller battles Brazil’s Poliana Botelho in the Flyweight division. Mueller is coming off an opening-round submission loss in her UFC sophomore outing after grabbing a decision win in her debut. Botelho won back to back fights to start her UFC run, but most recently fell via submission to Cynthia Calvillo.

Botelho is 3 inches taller but they will share the same 67″ reach. Mueller is the younger fighter by 3-years.

The Brazilian is a heavy-handed finisher, earning 5 of her 6 wins by knockout. Poliana throttled Syuri Kondo with a vicious body kick and subsequent body shots.

Prior to making the jump to the Tuesday Night Contenders circuit and then the Octagon, Mueller fought her first 3 fights under the Gladiator Challenge banner, facing a trio of opponents with a combined 0-7 record.

Both girls like to stand and bang, but this bout could be decided on the floor. Botelho was subbed by Calvillo and had issues creating separation int he clinch against Pearl Gonzalez.

Mueller utilized a couple of takedowns in her win over Dobson and had success on the floor before getting subbed in her last fight.

Stepping in for Paige VanZant with 6 weeks to prep, Mueller will need to be the more diversified fighter. If Mueller can take the Brazilian down with regularity, she could work her way to a win. Botelho is the bigger hitter and her height will help her to reach her foe first.  Look for Poliana to defend a couple of TDAs and force Lauren into a striking battle- my prediction is Poliana Botelho to defeat Lauren Mueller by TKO.

135lbs- Brandon Davis (9-6-0) vs Randy Costa (4-0-0)

The first fight of the night could put Bradon Davis’s roster spot on the line when he welcomes the debuting Randy Costa to the promotion. Davis is just 1-3 inside the Octagon and is coming off a submission loss at UFC 228 to Zabit Magomedsharipov. Costa made his debut with just 4 career fights, all wins, all under the Cage Titans FC banner.

Davis, who is moving down to Bantamweight, is the taller man by an inch, but Costa will have a 1″ reach advantage. Costa is the younger man by 4-years.

With Costa debuting on the strength of just 4 wins, it is worth looking at his previous competition. They currently carry a combined record of 5-16 with 3 competitors still winless.

Davis has struggled to find his footing, mainly suffering at the expense of his opponent’s grappling skills. He has given up a combined 19 takedowns over his 3 UFC losses.

Costa’s longest pro fight hit the 72-second mark with the rest ending before the opening minute. He tends towards a kick-based offense, but he can also work the body with solid punching combinations.

The cut to 135-pounds is concerning. Davis has good cardio and durability at Featherweight and if the cut diminishes that, an aggressive starter like Costa could be enough to get him out of there.

Davis does his best work in a striking based fight and Costa should provide him with that. Costa’s lack of experience, extremely limited fight time, and very low level of competition are all major detractors for the Lauzon MMA member. As long as Davis isn’t badly diminished, his durability will be his biggest ally. Look for Brandon to drag Costa into unfamiliar territory and eventually overwhelm him- my prediction is Brandon Davis to defeat Randy Costa by TKO.

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