The UFC has picked up a rare MMA prospect out of China, as well as a champion BJJ grappler and a new Brazilian middleweight prospect.
Another UFC event invariably means another set of debuting UFC fighters. This week, ADCC champion grappler Davi Ramos is set to make his debut in a welterweight bout against Sergio Moraes. Ramos is replacing an injured Max Griffin. Alongside him is fellow Brazilian prospect, middleweight Paulo Henrique Costa. And, while he won’t be debuting on March 11th, the UFC has made a notable signing with Chinese featherweight talent Wang Guan. So…
Who is Wang Guan?
“The Dongbei Tiger” is a 30-year-old featherweight fighting out of Beijing, China. He trains out of Xi’an Sports University. The camp includes UFC vet Jumabieke Tuerxun, along with regional talent Meixuan Zhang and regularly supplies fighters to organizations like ROAD FC and Kunlun Fight. He’ll enter the promotion with a 17-1-1 record, his only loss coming to current WSOF bantamweight title challenger Bekbulat Magomedov. He has wins over Japanese veteran Koji Ando and extremely active Russian talent Aliyar Sarkerov – probably his best win to date. An early draw against Chinese regional veteran Haotian Wu rounds out a record that is otherwise mostly padding & unremarkable.
What you should expect:
Wang is a pretty big featherweight, standing 5’ 11” and his rangy, powerful frame is definitely the center-point of his offensive game. Like McGregor and Dooho among others, Wang is a pressuring counter fighter. He likes to move forward and take the center of the cage, backing opponents into the fence, where he can make them feel trapped and force them to lead. Once they do, he comes back with hard, straight punches. As that’s the case, he’s a pretty low output striker, needing his opponent to dictate pace.
He’s got the power, and some of the dynamic movement to make that style work, but he doesn’t appear to have amazing hand-speed. There’s definitely a feeling that he’s plunking smaller guys that can’t strike in a lot of his bouts.
Outside of his striking, Wang’s grappling is mostly built around not grappling. He’s not as bad a defensive wrestler as you might expect, but most of what he does right when defending takedowns is based around having his back against the cage. In open space he tends to just hang on and get taken for a ride. He works hard to scramble off his back, when put there, but isn’t a practiced grappler and can make things a lot worse for himself with the opportunities he gives away. The UFC may need to book him carefully for his first couple bouts.
No debut date or opponent have been announced yet, but here’s a recent-ish fight of him against Aliyar Sarkerov in 2014:
Who is Davi Ramos?
30-year-old Davi Ramos Pinheiro da Silva isn’t just a BJJ blackbelt. The 2015 Abu Dhabi Combat Club champion has been a fixture on the international grappling scene for the past half decade, with his fair share of impressive sport jiu jitsu showings to go with it. The Team Nogueira lightweight made his MMA debut back in 2010, beating now-UFC vet Juan Manuel Puig. But he really only seems to have gotten serious about an MMA career in 2013, picking up three wins, before taking a fight in Bellator against fan favorite David Rickels. Ramos lost that fight, but following a pair of wins in 2016, he’s got a UFC contract to for this welterweight bout on short notice.
What you should expect:
Ramos is a fireplug of a lightweight (and will be a tiny welterweight) standing just 5’ 8”, but with a 72.5” reach. And while he’s got the reach to fight up in weight, he doesn’t yet seem to have the command of distance to make it easy on himself. Ramos actually has pretty reasonable boxing mechanics, and looks like he packs a punch. He throws a nice snapping jab, even doubling it up, but most often his biggest shots end up telegraphed from too far out, and he’s left swinging at air. That’s something that can get fixed in time, but leaves him less dangerous than he should be standing.
His BJJ is a power game and very well suited for MMA. He knows how to duck in on a double leg and switch to a single, and is lightning quick to pass to dominant positions. His back take is especially good and hard to stop. Given time his style should round out very well for MMA.
What this means for his debut:
Sergio Moraes is probably one of the best matchups Ramos could get, considering he’s fighting on short notice and up a division. Like Ramos, Moraes has less command of distance than he should, but he’s also a wider swinging, sloppier striker. Moraes has been able to make up for that with a great chin and an athletic grappling game, but if he takes this fight to the ground, he’s likely not going to have the advantage against Ramos. I’d lean toward Moraes, just for his experience and toughness, but it’s absolutely a fight Ramos could win.
To get better acquainted, here’s a higlight of Ramos’ recent win over Mike Flach in RFA.
Who is Paulo Henrique Costa?
Paulo “Borrachinha” as he’s going to be known in the UFC is a 25-year-old middleweight and former TUF Brazil 3 competitor. Borrachinha won his entry fight into the TUF house, before dropping a split decision to eventual finalist Marcio Alexandre Jr. in the quarter-final round. He’ll be hitting the UFC, however, with a technically undefeated 8-0 record, having never seen the final bell in official competition. All of Borrachinha’s wins have come by KO (although one of his recent ones looks more like a sub), and all in the first round. Following his loss on TUF, he’s rattled off 5 straight wins, defeating UFC vet Wagner Silva, prospect Bruno Assis, and decent regional vets Eduardo Ramon and Adriano Balby. It’s a good record over reasonable regional competition that should leave him decently prepared for an international talent pool. He trains under Rubens Dorea at a Team Nogueira affiliate.
What you should expect:
When he first hit TUF, Borrachinha was kind of an unstructured beast. A great athlete without any one dominating part of his game. Since then he looks like he’s added a lot of technical striking and patience. He’s got fast hands and mixes his strikes up well, digging to the body with straights and hooks, instead of just head hunting. Add some ferocious ground and pound and hard kicks and he’s got a really solid, diverse offensive game.
Defensively, things are a little more open. He can be a bit hittable as he stalks forward to land shots. Most particularly his reliance on good kickboxing hand position puts him in danger with smaller MMA gloves. He also tends to shell a bit when opponents go after him and lifts his chin a bit when throwing straight punches, but has yet to pay for these defensive flaws to any great extent.
There are signs of an opportunistic grappling game, but most of what Borrachinha wants to do takes place standing at range and in the pocket. He seems to have some good basic wrestling defense, but it’s always hard to judge that too well when guys aren’t facing wrestlers.
What this means for his debut:
Garreth McLellan is a good test to see if a fighter belongs in the UFC and should ask a few questions of Borrachinha without asking any of them too hard. Borrachinha is a much more technical striker, but McLellan is tough and has a habit of making fights hard on guys who can’t put him away. McLellan’s not a very good wrestler, so it should only be a slightly more difficult test of the Brazilian’s takedown defense than he faced at home. And more to the point, whether it’s standing or on the ground, McLellan isn’t very good at keeping the fight where he wants it. All this should mean Borrachinha wins. But if he doesn’t have the chin or the defense, McLellan has a good chance of finding out.
To get better acquainted, here’s his last bout Adriano Balby: