Get all the essentials for the FS1 prelims of UFC Mexico City, featuring a middleweight showdown between Europeans Jack Hermansson and Brad Scott.
To no one’s surprise, there is a decidedly strong Mexican flavor on the UFC Mexico City card, including on the FS1 prelims. Three of the four contests feature a fighter either native to Mexico or of Mexican heritage. And then you get the out of left field middleweight contest featuring two Europeans. What the hell? I have nothing against Brad Scott and Jack Hermansson. I’m just trying to figure out how in the hell they ended up in Mexico. Eh, whatever. Figuring out that isn’t part of my job description…
The FS1 prelims begin at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT on Saturday.
Brad Scott (11-4) vs. Jack Hermansson (15-3), Middleweight
There appears to be an endless supply of middleweight contests in which one competitor is just as capable of beating the other and this bout is no exception. Scott is the more proven commodity as he’s been associated with the UFC for five years now, dating back to his time on TUF Smashes. He’s pretty much the same thing he’s always been: a pressure fighter whose wrestling is more enthusiastic than it is effective. Nonetheless, it works as his boxing – particularly his jab – has improved to the point he doesn’t have to fight in the clinch, though that is still the area where the Brit is most effective.
Hermansson turned a lot of heads when he disposed of uber-tough Alex Nicholson in two minutes this past May. He displayed improved wrestling, hitting an uncharacteristic blast double-leg to open the contest and pound out his bearded opponent. Typically a boxer himself, Hermansson’s unusual footwork has been problematic for opponents to get down his timing and rhythm. This allows the Swede to piece up his opponents with jabs and short combinations. Though he doesn’t have a lot of submission finishes, Hermansson is a more than capable grappler too.
Scott continues to surprise with subtle improvements in every appearance, but is still very limited by his last of athleticism and footspeed. Hermansson isn’t a physical freak himself, but he does outpace Scott in those departments by a sizeable margin in addition to the improvements he has also been showing. I like Hermansson to outland the durable Scott for an entertaining decision. Hermansson via decision
Dustin Ortiz (16-7) vs. Hector Sandoval (14-3), Flyweight
Much to his own disappointment, Ortiz has become the measuring stick for whether a flyweight has what it takes to make a run at being the next contender Demetrious Johnson turns away. He consistently turns away opponents sitting outside of the top ten while falling short of victory against those comfortably within the confines of those rankings. At 28, he isn’t so old that he’s peaked, but he has been around for quite a while and experience isn’t lacking for him. How much time left does he have to improve?
Ortiz is one of the most well-rounded flyweights on the roster, equally capable of standing and trading on the outside as he is grinding away against the cage. He tends to do more of the latter as most of his opponents struggle with his size and underrated wrestling technique. The reasons Ortiz prefers to wrestle are twofold. First, he’s innately hittable from a distance. Second, he has above average control – for a flyweight, mind you – in the top position.
Sandoval is a rarity in that he is an undersized flyweight. Nonetheless, his 5’2″ frame packs a hell of a punch and he’s a strong wrestler too. It could be argued his lack of height is an advantage for him in the wrestling as he not only has few problems getting underneath his opponent’s hips, they often have a hard time getting into his. Sandoval’s lack of reach makes it difficult for him to be consistently technical from range, thus why the Team Alpha Male representative tends to do everything in his power to turn the fight into a brawl.
Even though Sandoval has won two in a row as opposed to Ortiz dropping three of his last four, I see this being far too big of a step up in competition for Sandoval. Ortiz has only lost to the best in the division whereas Sandoval’s biggest win was his last appearance against Matt Schnell. I don’t see Ortiz bowling over Sandoval with ease, but he should secure a convincing win. Ortiz via decision
Henry Briones (16-6-1) vs. Rani Yahya (23-9, 1 NC), Bantamweight
Wait…Briones is still on the roster? Huh. Briones is in the twilight of his career, clocking in at 36 with a lot of mileage on his body. Never much of an athlete, he’s always relied on his toughness and durability to hang in there and keep coming forward to great effect. However, his defense has proven to be poor and he hasn’t been able to stuff takedowns at crucial times. Briones has picked up half of his wins via KO/TKO, though they all came against unrecognizable names on the Mexican circuit. He may still be putting the volume on, but his power hasn’t translated to the UFC.
Fortunately for Briones, Yahya may be one of the few bantamweights on the roster who with less physical gifts than him. Then again, Yahya is also one of the most accomplished grapplers in the entire sport. People love to rip on his lack of striking, but Yahya’s leg kicks can take a toll if his opponent decides to ignore them for too long. His fists, though still laughable when compared to others on the roster, have improved since he first came into the sport. Even with that, don’t ever expect Yahya to pick up a KO victory at any point in his career.
Wrestling has been another department Yahya gets a lot of criticism. Sure, he isn’t very technical in his approach, but he’s persistent in his efforts to get the fight to the ground which usually ends up working out for him. Once Yahya does get the fight to the mat, he’s like a boa constrictor as he wraps himself around his opponent trying to squeeze the life out of them. It may take a special type of viewer to appreciate Yahya’s offensive approach, but no one can question its effectiveness.
Everyone always tends to underestimate Yahya. His striking has never been a serious threat and he’s unimpressive in getting the fight to the ground. And yet, he finds ways to win consistently. Briones is more experienced than most of Yahya’s other recent opponents, but most of that experience came against a still developing scene in Mexico. Yahya either finds a submission or controls Briones for a boring decision. Yahya via submission, RD2
Jose Quinonez (5-2) vs. Diego Rivas (7-0), Bantamweight
Rivas has made two appearances in 32 months thanks to a recent bout with cancer. Perhaps it isn’t all bad as it gave the raw product plenty of time to train and hone his craft at Kings MMA, a far superior camp to anywhere in his native Chile. Like most competitors from TUF Latin America, Rivas has shown exponential growth in the time since his appearance on the show. The most recent evidence was the devastating flying knee on Noad Lahat, though that came 18 months ago. One thing to look out for from Rivas: increased output. He tends to pick his shots to judiciously from the outside, resulting in a severe lack of action. I’d expect his coaches have helped address that.
Quinonez is a rarity: a grinder from Mexico. Much of that is due to his massive frame for bantamweight, though Rivas is roughly the same size and has shown steady progression in his wrestling game. However, Quinonez has made strides in his striking, showing a bit more comfort staying on the outside and putting together combinations. He’s still very clunky and hittable from that distance, but he too is from TUF Latin America. Translation: it would be stupid not to expect massive improvement out of Quinonez given it’s been over 10 months since we last saw him.
This is a very difficult contest to predict since the TUF Latin America fighters are typically wild cards. Predicting a contest with one wild card is hard enough. In terms of a raw skill set, I like what I see out of Rivas a bit better, but I don’t like his lack of activity. Quinonez is far more active and that usually makes all the difference in contests like this. The Mexican is my pick over the Chilean. Quinonez via decision