Your guide to the UFC 236 early prelims
We’re all excited for the UFC 236’s double headliner of interim title fights, but that’s not all there is to look forward to this Saturday. On paper, not only are the ESPN prelims good, but the Fight Pass early prelims are loaded up with heavy-hitters, rising prospects, and intriguing matchups.
This is your quick guide to those early bouts.
Randy “The Zohan” Costa vs. Brandon “Killer B” Davis:
Randy Costa is making his UFC debut this Saturday and those in the know are more than excited for it. The New Englander has a perfect 4-0 record, with all of his victories coming via first-round KO/TKO. Costa brings a relentless pressure from the opening bell and throws every strike with ill-intentions. It’s this aggression that has led to his longest professional bout lasting just over a minute. “The Zohan” switches stances fluidly during combat and uses this to confuse his opponents as he bombards them with head and body kicks. Costa has also shown nasty body-punching and vicious dirty boxing up close and in the clinch.
Brandon Davis is 1-3 since signing to the UFC. In his last outing, he was Suloev stretched by rising featherweight prospect, Zabit Magomedsharipov in a short notice bout. Regardless of his record, one thing fans can count on is his willingness to throw down when he steps into the cage. “Killer B” also likes to ‘stand-and-bang’ and also uses his kicks to great effect. Davis uses his punches to move in and out of range and side-to-side. When he is on the inside, Davis is always looking to lands knees and short elbows on his way back out.
The x-factors in this one is how will Costa perform on the big stage and the fact that Davis — who has spent his whole career at featherweight and lightweight — will be dropping to bantamweight for the first time.
Lauren “Princess Tiger” Mueller vs. Poliana Botelho:
Poliana Botelho doesn’t like to leave it in the hands of the judges. Six of her seven victories have come by knockout, with her fastest taking just 33 seconds. Botelho’s Muay Thai is crushing. You can hear her thunderous kicks echo every time they land. Her right hand packs some serious power that can change the whole fight with a single landed blow.
Lauren Mueller has unorthodox footwork, similar to Dominick Cruz’s. Well, maybe it’s not there yet, but you can clearly see the influence in the way she slips from side to side and constantly feints to throw off her opponent’s game. “Princess Tiger” also likes to shove her opponents into the cage and mercilessly work them over with knees and elbows.
Botelho has been forced into the cage/clinch beaten on the ground by opponents in the past. If she can manage to keep the fight standing and she can keep her back off the cage, we should see an exciting clash of two very different striking styles.
Montel “Quick” Jackson vs. Andre “The Asian Sensation” Soukhamthath:
Andre Soukhamthath likes to finish his opponents. In his thirteen victories as a professional, he’s only won two via decision. Soukhamthath generally waits for his opponents to strike so he can attempt to counter them with his crisp boxing. This has lead to “The Asian Sensation” giving up rounds needlessly. Even if you’re landing solid counters the judges cageside will often score the fight for the advancing fighter. Yet, when Soukhamthath lands, he lands hard and he often puts people down. The UFC’s first Lao-American fighter has finished 61% of victories via KO/TKO.
Montel Jackson turned pro just under two years ago but already has amassed a 7-1 record and had two fights in the Octagon. Unlike Soukhamthath, who can sometimes become a bit stagnant in the cage, Jackson is always moving forward and constantly mixing up his strikes. The lengthy southpaw uses his jab effectively to hide and set up his left hand. “Quick” also switches up his striking constantly. He throws his next punch from a different angle than his last or just hits you with a different body part altogether. Jackson comes from a high school wrestling background and while he seems to like being on his feet more these days, should he end up in top-control, he is continuously landing ground and pound and searching for submissions.
Bottom line: this one should be a banger for as long as it lasts.
“Curtious” Curtis Millender vs. Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad:
“Curtious” shined in his UFC debut, dropping Thiago Alves multiple times en-route to finishing him with a barbaric knee in the second round. He then won a couple of hard-fought decisions to close out a successful 2018. Just a month ago, Millender would be taken down and easily tooled on the ground by Elizeu Zaleski and submitted in the first round at UFC Wichita. After the tough defeat, Millender is wasting no time getting back to action and will be looking to show why he’s one of the most creative strikers in the welterweight division come this Saturday. He uses constant oblique kicks and often doubles up his jab to keep his opponents at kickboxing range. From here he calculates everything and throws with big power. Leg kicks, flying knees, jabs to the body, and much more are all on the menu when Millender is serving up the strikes.
Belal Muhammad is a very well-rounded fighter who generally wins fights due to his pace and output. He stays active throughout all three rounds of his contests, but he doesn’t have that concussive power that Millender does. Of his 14 wins, only 4 have ended by way of finish. What Muhammad has are serviceable boxing and a solid kick game of his own. Watch for Muhammad to stay in Millender’s face and not let him get his kickboxing going. Muhammed is going to need to make this one a grind and push the larger man into the cage or put him on the ground where both Max Griffin and Zaleski had success against Millender.
Muhammad is coming off a tough loss to Geoff Neal last January. While he showed a legit chin and a ton of heart to persevere through all three rounds, he was badly battered by a superior striker in that outing. There’s a good chance Millender has watched that fight closely and will be looking to use some similar tactics.
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