Load up on the bare essentials for UFC Mexico City’s main card, featuring former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans looking to get back on track against Smilin’ Sam Alvey.
In my earlier preview articles this week, I complained about the UFC running a card with very little star power following the blockbuster that was UFC 214. While I stand by those thoughts, I will concede there are several contests on the main card that look like they could be long on action despite the shortness of name value. The funny thing is, the contest with the most name value on the main card – Rashad Evans and Sam Alvey – probably has the lowest chance of producing a high level of fireworks. Hmm… Maybe it’s best if we don’t know what’s coming at us after all. At least that way our bubble can’t be burst, right?
The UFC Mexico City main card kicks off at 10:00 PM ET/7:00 PM PT on Saturday.
Alan Jouban (15-5) vs. Niko Price (9-0, 1 NC), Welterweight
Though Jouban has earned a reputation as one of the better action fighters on the UFC roster, he’s also displayed the ability to fight at a measured pace when needed. That’s how he dealt with patient brawler Mike Perry, but he earned his reputation in slobber knockers with Belal Muhammad and Matt Dwyer. What approach might he take with the ultra-aggressive Price?
Jouban may not have any choice other than to brawl with Price. A lanky welterweight with stance-switching ability, Price has shown a lot of power and toughness in pushing his style of fast-paced fight on his opponents in his first two UFC contests. His defense leaves a lot to be desired as he has had his chin touched up quite a bit, but his chin has been able to hold up thus far. He isn’t known very much for his wrestling, but he has shown the ability to get the fight to the ground when he desires and he also possesses some slick submission skills.
Even when Jouban ends up in a brawl, he still maintains a technical kickboxing approach that’s fairly meat-and-potatoes with your basic punch-kick combinations. He’s also shown the ability to generate a lot of power from a short distance, making him exceptionally dangerous from the clinch. Though his ground skills haven’t been seen much since making his way to the UFC, Jouban’s BJJ chops have been highly regarded with grappling circles, making it a questionable strategy whether Price will want to take the contest to the ground.
I’m sure this is on many analyst’s list to be a FOTN favorite and with good reason. Price has taken quite a bit of damage facing lesser competition which makes me question how much further he can climb the ladder without adjusting his style. Price does try to take fights where opponents are weakest and I got a gut feeling he’ll try to take Jouban to the ground given the lack of ground time Jouban has had in the UFC. However, it should be fun regardless of where it takes place. Jouban via submission of RD2
Martin Bravo (11-0) vs. Humberto Bandenay (13-4), Featherweight
Is Bravo the next big thing to come out of Mexico? It’s far too early to predict that as the most recent winner of TUF Latin America is still only 23, but he has shown a lot of promise. Pathologically aggressive, Bravo is always chasing after a finish. It can get him into trouble at times as he’ll overcommit and get himself countered or taken down. That doesn’t mean Bravo is a sloppy fighter. He has some good technique in his boxing and has shown a little bit of wrestling. It simply means he doesn’t place much of an emphasis on defense. Given his youth, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Though a year younger, Bandenay puts a bit more attention into defense… but only just barely. Bandenay’s attack tends to come in bursts where he’ll unleash a torrent of strikes before backing off to ready for his next attack. Head kicks are a favorite of his, but he also tends to get taken down quite a bit. If Bandenay can get the fight to the ground with him in the advantageous position, his ground-and-pound is fast and furious. Fortunately for Bandenay, he possesses the gas tank to unload with such reckless abandon.
Both youngsters possess talent, but may be at the big show a little bit earlier than they should be. Nonetheless, they are here and may be forced to grow up in a hurry once they get past this contest as the UFC doesn’t seem as keen to developing foreign talent as they once were. I have no idea how Bravo’s training has gone, but the TUF Latin America participants have shown a tendency to improve rapidly as they acquire better coaching and resources than what the previously possessed. That has me leaning towards Bravo, though I hardly feel comfortable in that pick. Bravo via decision
Sam Alvey (30-9) vs. Rashad Evans (19-6-1), Middleweight
The last time we saw Evans, he was losing to Dan Kelly of dad-bod fame, a far cry from when he claimed the UFC light heavyweight title in 2008. Given he lost his previous two contests before the Kelly fight in lackluster fashion and it’s easy to see where many have written off Evans.
However, there is reason to believe Evans isn’t quite finished. He showed more activity against Kelly than he did since returning from a torn ACL a few years ago and stuffing every one of Kelly’s attempts to take the fight to the ground, something he couldn’t do against Ryan Bader. Hell, Evans’ standup looked good too… when he opted to let his fists fly. What is missing is the explosion that made Evans so dangerous as his double-leg doesn’t catch opponents by surprise anymore. Without that, Evans’ wrestling has suffered. That he no longer appears to be as durable as he used to be is also troubling.
For all his own limitations, Alvey has the skills to exploit Evans’ declining skills. Known primarily as a counter puncher with serious KO power in his left hand, the issue has been his tendency to sit back and wait for his opponent to come to him. However, Alvey has sought out the action a bit more, throwing out leg kicks and putting together the occasional punching combination. He still doesn’t throw a lot of volume, but it’s an uptick from where he was about a year ago. Though he has yet to secure a single takedown of his own in eleven UFC contests, Alvey’s wrestling is a strength of his as his takedown defense is vastly underrated.
Evans can still win fights in the UFC. He showed that in the Kelly contest as the bout was close enough there was an argument for Evans winning. The question is the level of opposition he can win against. Alvey’s lack of activity makes him a stylistically more favorable contest for Evans than Kelly… provided Alvey doesn’t drop a bomb on him. I don’t have much confidence left in the former champion, but I’ll pick him to outpoint the fan favorite. Evans via decision
Alejandro Perez (17-6-1) vs. Andre Soukhamthath (11-4), Bantamweight
Though it is a longshot for either one of these competitors to knock on the door of the top fifteen, it doesn’t mean they can’t put together an entertaining contest. In fact, I’d expect it….
There was once some excitement around Perez as the inaugural TUF Latin America winner is still only 27-years old. However, his professional career stretches back all the way to 2005, meaning the youngster has already piled up a lot of miles on his body. Though he throws the occasional flashy maneuver in there, meat-and-potatoes boxing and leg kicks are the basis of Perez’s attack with the occasional reactive takedown for good measure. Though he isn’t considered to be a heavy hitter, he’s finished nearly have of his contests with strikes with a good chunk of those coming via ground-and-pound.
Soukhamthath has finished a greater percentage of his fights with strikes, but that fits his reputation as a hard-hitter. Flying knees and spinning techniques are staples of his arsenal and has some decent takedown defense in which he makes his opponent pay a heavy price for trying to get the fight to the ground with elbows and knees. However, Soukhamthath doesn’t tend to throw a lot of volume which makes it difficult to secure decision victories, forcing him into finding a finish. When the fight has gone the distance, his record is a pedestrian 1-4.
This contest seems pretty simple: Soukhamthath has to get the finish or Perez will pick up a decision victory. If there is one thing the well-rounded Perez possesses in abundance, it would be toughness. Soukhamthath’s task won’t be impossible, but it will be difficult enough that I see Perez taking home a decision. Perez via decision