The UFC returns with an event that will once again be held at the UFC Apex Center in Las Vegas, Nevada for the second week in a row.
Still without patronizing towards the athletes this UFC fight night card, scheduled for June 13, isn’t an entirely exciting one. Headlined by flyweight Jessica Eye and longtime strawweight Cynthia Calvillo, many are disappointed with the lack of names featured. Despite this, the card has the potential to provide entertaining bouts for both the fans and fighters alike.
This weeks edition of predictions will only contain two fights, both of which taking place on the main card.
Jordan Espinosa (14-7-1) vs. Mark De La Rosa (11-4)
Kicking off the main card of this weekends event is an exciting matchup between two grapple-loving bantamweights. Both fighters eager to break into the top 15. On top of aiming to scale the rankings, both men may require wins if they are looking to remain in the sports premier promotion.
Espinosa, like many fighters on the roster today, entered the UFC after impressing President Dana White on his show the ‘Contender Series’. Espinosa picked up two wins in exciting fashion on the show. After a successful debut against Eric Shelton in March of last year, Espinosa fought and lost against two of the divisions more skilful athletes, Matt Schnell and Alex Perez, respectively. Despite entering this upcoming bout on a two-fight skid, the American ever remains a threat and is always dangerous.
Espinosa likes to stay active in his fights, continuously using lateral movement in order to escape incoming strikes. This style allows him to catch opponents off guard with blitz-style offensive, rushing them and rounding things off with a headkick or straight left hand. He has found some success using this style, however is vulnerable when forced to fight with basic fundamentals. Opponents tend to pressure Espinosa in reply to his quirky style as he is unable to fight well off the back foot. Due to a low guard, his chin is exposed. When pressured, he tends to pull his head backwards when defending strikes, putting a set of crosshairs on his chin. Although this habit cannot be ignored, one thing he does do well when forced to retreat is throwing the left hook, which can clip the opposition, halting them in their tracks.
Half of Jordan’s career victories have come by way of submission, showing that he has the ability to finish wherever the fight ends up. In his first Contender Series win over Nick Urso, Espinosa quickly tied up the Anaconda Choke in a matter of seconds, rendering his foe unconscious in unbelievable speed. This, in addition to the four Brabo chokes on his resume, should be enough to deter most unranked bantamweight’s from going to ground with him.
In spite of his menacing submission game, Texas native Mark De La Rosa intends to prove that he’s the superior grappler. At just 25 years of age, he has plenty of time to perfect his craft inside the Octagon, already owning a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Since his promotional debut in 2017, De La Rosa has amassed a record of 2-4 in the UFC. This may look disappointing at first, however, when you factor in the quality of opposition faced evens itself out. Quality opponents like Tim Elliot, Alex Perez and Kai Kara-France are just three of the competitors he has faced across two weight classes, with each being ranked at the time. Because of his jiu-jitsu pedigree, De La Rosa is always searching for an opportunity to take his counterpart down, usually wiggling them to the canvas with a single leg. This is where he does the majority of his work, constantly threatening with chokes while improving position.
De La Rosa’s striking skills are not exceptional, nevertheless competent enough to withstand harm on the feet. Currently riding a three-fight losing streak, “Bumblebee” is likely fighting for more than just another win on his record – he’s fighting for his career.
When exchanging on the feet, I expect Espinosa to remain active and pick his shots. De La Rosa won’t be a fan of chasing his opponent around the cage and will sooner or later shoot for a takedown. When doing this he leaves his neck exposed, which will prompt Espinosa to wrap up a submission. Mark De La Rosa has the tools to claim victory this weekend, albeit for the reasons above I predict him to drop his fourth straight defeat.
Prediction: Jordan Espinosa via second-round Brabo Choke.
Andre Fili (20-7) vs. Charles Jourdain (10-2)
Anybody that knows me, or follows my Twitter, are aware of the expectations I have of Charles Jourdain. Since capturing his first regional title years ago, Jourdain has received my full attention as a prospect, and is an athlete I find myself discussing regularly. This weekend he is met with his biggest challenge to date in Andre Fili.
Charles Jourdain made his short-notice UFC debut at lightweight, going three hard rounds with the bulky Desmond Green. Despite losing the contest, “Air” displayed a handful of positives which included a good striking game; this is undoubtedly his strong suit. Jourdain is an incredibly unorthodox fighter, taking risks at the most unlikely of opportunities. Fundamentally he is decent, and fills any voids with maneuvres such as flying knees and spinning backfists. This approach has evidently paid off as Jourdain boasts a 100% finishing rate.
The French-Canadian is an extremely energetic fighter and is often stalking his opponent around the cage, firing body kicks or stepping in with robust uppercuts. This ‘over the top’ style approach has its flaws, however, as it leaves him susceptible to takedowns. In his 2017 bout with TJ Laramie, Jourdain was taken down time and time again. Of course, being taken down isn’t just due to overreaching on punches – Jourdain’s takedown defence is decent, but improving. I anticipate this facet of his game to be tested come Saturday night.
Andre Fili is an extremely underrated featherweight prepping for primetime. A veteran of 27 professional fights, Team Alpha Male’s Fili has long remained on the outskirts of the divisions top 15. In recent times, Fili has formulated a case to break into the rankings; victories over Sheymon Moraes, Myles Jury and Dennis Bermudez are living proof of this affirmation.
“Touchy” Fili is very lengthy for the 145-pound division, owning a 74-inch reach advantage. Because of this advantage, Fili naturally fights at range, using his long jab in attempt to pick apart the opposition. He prefers to fight in the centre of the Octagon – as do most competitors – and doesn’t deal too well with heavy pressure.
When leading the dance, Fili enjoys stringing together combinations which more often than not end with a kick. Lacking formidable one-punch knockout power, the 29-year-old uses volume to swarm his combatants and push them on the backfoot. Andre Fili’s wrestling game will undoubtedly be the biggest factor in his upcoming contest, as it trumps any grappling defence Jourdain possesses.
When these two fan-friendly fighters meet in the cage, one of two scenarios are going to play out:
- Charles Jourdain exploits the striking defence of Fili and counters a jab by stepping in with a vicious hook or uppercut. This punch sends him crashing to the mat, where Jourdain unloads a series of strikes and earns a TKO victory.
- Andre Fili uses experience to stay on the outside of Jourdain’s powerful, unorthodox strikes, forcing his jab into the youngsters face repeatedly. After a round of kickboxing, Fili will insert his dominant grappling and take Jourdain to the floor, where he’ll control the action for its remaining duration.
Personally, I feel like the latter is the more realistic conclusion.
Prediction: Andre Fili via unanimous decision.