Peer into the inner workings of UFC Fortaleza on Fight Pass, headlined by original TUF Brazil winner Rony Jason squaring off with Canadian prospect Jeremy Kennedy.
I remember a few years ago, November of 2013 to be exact, thinking Rony Jason was to be a serious player. He had won his first three UFC contests, including a submission of Mike Wilkinson in just 84 seconds. He was preparing to face Jeremy Stephens who had recently dropped to featherweight after a three-fight losing streak chased him out of the lightweight division. How could Jason lose to someone whose hope of salvaging his career was dependent on him moving to a new weight class?
Not only did Jason lose, he lost spectacularly. Stephens nailed him with a head kick 40 seconds in which completely derailed Jason. He has only picked up one victory since then against three losses, negating another win by testing positive for PED’s. Now Jason is being given a final chance to jump start his career as the featured fight on Fight Pass. That’s the real story… though we know the UFC won’t tell it that way.
The Fight Pass prelims begin at 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT.
Rony Jason (14-6, 1 NC) vs. Jeremy Kennedy (9-0), Featherweight
The narrative of this contest will be focused on Jason, but that doesn’t mean Kennedy should be sold short. He has a legit chance to put an end to Jason’s UFC career.
Once upon a time, the UFC looked at Jason as a potential top contender. Losses to Stephens and Dennis Bermudez are nothing to be ashamed of, but the loss to Robbie Peralta has been especially damaging to his standing. Turning 33 before the end of the month, it’s likely we’ve already seen the best version of Jason we’re going to see. Regardless, he’s still an excellent athlete with a dangerous if inconsistent standup, predicated on high risk maneuvers such as flying knees and spinning kicks. Jason has good power in his fists as well, but tends to put everything he has into every punch, leading to him being overly selective with what strikes he throws.
Kennedy doesn’t have the reputation as a striker after his clinch and wrestling heavy debut against Alessandro Ricci, but he does have a surprisingly effective Muay Thai base. Pumping a jab as he presses forward, Kennedy is also proficient at working the body. He isn’t overpowering, so it is unlikely that he’ll be able to finish off Jason despite the Brazilian’s defensive deficiencies.
The most likely outcome will be Kennedy trying to bully Jason in the clinch and on the ground. Kennedy did get Ricci to the ground five times in their contest and was fighting at lightweight. Maybe he’ll have an easier time getting the takedown with smaller opponents. But Kennedy’s wrestling is more enthusiastic than it is technical. Fortunately for the Canadian, Jason is a poor defender of the takedown, perhaps in part due to his comfort level off of his back. Though Jason is a skilled BJJ practitioner with a dangerous guard, his more traditional style is a bit outdated.
Excellent matchmaking for this contest. Kennedy has most of the advantages in terms of technique while Jason possesses the physical advantages. Jason has a tendency to start strong before fading. That has less to do with stamina and more to do with him running out of ideas after his early bursts of offense fail to put away his opponent. Kennedy is going to be the favorite if he survives the first round. The problem is there is no guarantee of that happening. Jason via submission of RD1
Garreth McLellan (13-5) vs. Paulo Borrachinha (8-0), Middleweight
I’m not sure how McLellan got another opportunity after a lackluster run of 1-3 in his first four UFC contests, but he gets one last opportunity against young Brazilian prospect Borrachinha.
Borrachinha is making his debut after tearing through all of his opponents on the Brazilian regionals without a single one of his contests leaving the first round. An aggressive striker with considerable power in his punches, Borrachinha rarely takes a step backward. He doesn’t have the finer intricacies of pressure down as his chin is there to be hit. Considering McLellan isn’t much of a striker himself, that isn’t the biggest concern. That would be his gas tank….
Conversely, what has allowed McLellan to find what limited success he has had in the UFC is his stamina, durability, and heart. The South African has proven extremely hard to put away, outlasting a series of takedowns and some ground strikes from Bubba Bush to pick up his lone UFC victory. He isn’t much of a striker at a distance with his best work coming from in the clinch and he isn’t much of a wrestler either. But he just keeps coming.
What McLellan brings to the table isn’t much, but it may be enough to pick him up a win over Borrachinha. Nobody knows what type of gas tank the 25-year old has since he has never left the first round, meaning he could be ripe for the taking should McLellan survive the initial onslaught that is sure to come. Though we still aren’t sure what we’re getting out of Borrachinha, we know what McLellan brings and it isn’t enough for me to want to pick him in just about any contest. Borrachinha uses his powerful ground and pound to get an early stoppage as the Brazilian crowd buoys him to victory. Borrachinha via TKO of RD1