A motley assortment of contemporary faces hit UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday night (March 20, 2021), all of them in match ups that might simply produce fireworks. On this version of “New Blood,” the sequence the place I proceed attempting to get issues completed forward of time regardless of the blatant futility, we take a look at a deadly husband/spouse duo and several other different thrilling finishers.
Weight Class: Heavyweight
Report: 7-3 (2 KO, 5 SUB)
Notable Victories: None
Hunsucker put a 1-2 skilled begin behind him to win 5 straight, establishing a November 2020 conflict with Jared Vanderaa on “Contender Collection.” He proved unable to overcome “The Mountain,” although he returned to the win column in Feb. 2021 with a 45-second knockout of Cory Moon.
He steps in for Don’Story Mayes on three days’ discover.
It’s exhausting to make a radical evaluation of Hunsucker for the straightforward purpose that each one of his fights ended within the first spherical and most had been in opposition to godawful opposition. Certainly, he’s overwhelmed simply two males with profitable data, one in all whom was 1-0 and the opposite of whom had been knocked out in 9 seconds by an 8-14 fighter in his earlier battle.
Fortunately for me, Hunsucker’s sport doesn’t seem like significantly deep: he’ll ship out single low kicks till the chance to storm ahead with two-fisted flurries arises, then tie up and hunt for takedowns in opposition to the fence if the scenario requires it. As soon as he’s bought his opponent down, he chases the Americana whereas exhibiting off his Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt with stable passing.
So far as I can inform, that’s the lengthy and in need of it. He appears to have a little bit of pop, however his wrestling failed him as quickly as Vanderaa managed to get a stable clinch, and it didn’t take Hunsucker lengthy to succumb to ground-and-pound. His putting seems technically poor, his cardio is unknown, and his solely expertise in opposition to competent opponents noticed him torn up in lower than 5 minutes.
There are few, if any, UFC heavyweights I’d decide him to beat. As imply because it feels to say, he gained’t have a protracted tenure on the earth’s largest battle promotion.
Opponent: He meets Tai Tuivasa, who hits tougher and is ostensibly extra sturdy than Hunsucker. Tuivasa’s a useless fish off of his again, so Hunsucker may need an opportunity if he in some way winds up on high, however he’s nearly definitely getting pasted by the hulking Aussie.
Tape: His “Contender Collection” bout is on ESPN+.
Cheyanne “The Warrior Princess” Buys
Weight Class: Strawweight
Report: 5-1 (1 KO)
Notable Victories: Hilarie Rose
Buys began her skilled profession 1-1 after collaborating in a dozen novice bouts, finally working her means into “Contender Collection” in Aug. 2020. There, she overpowered Hilarie Rose in dominant vogue, securing a contract regardless of the shortage of a end.
Her husband could excel on the mat, however “Warrior Princess” is a deadly, aggressive mixture striker who’s wanting higher every battle. She enjoys launching high-volume punching volleys punctuated with physique or head kicks, and what actually stands out is her adaptability. Although she prefers pushing ahead behind her jab, she’s additionally a extremely adept counter-puncher, greater than in a position to circle and decide her photographs when advancing isn’t the very best plan of action.
Plus, whereas she’s not a lot of a finisher, there’s apparent thump in her strikes … particularly as they proceed to develop crisper.
Simply because she doesn’t deal with wrestling doesn’t imply she isn’t good at it, in fact. She dominated within the clinch in opposition to Rose, shutting down her takedowns completely and touchdown stable blows from inside. When she bothered to interact on the bottom, she regarded fairly adept, exhibiting JP’s knack for taking the again whereas demonstrating high quality management.
I’m undoubtedly excessive on Buys; nonetheless, if there’s a standout weak spot to be discovered, it’s that she could be caught whereas throwing warmth, however she’s bought the facility and craft to win these exchanges anyway. Hold your eye on this lady.
Opponent: She was slated to satisfy one other extremely promising teenager in Kay Hansen, whose top-notch wrestling and restricted putting made for an intriguing distinction. As an alternative, she will get debutante Montserrat Ruiz, a swarming clinch specialist. Buys is the much better striker and can have the sting in top and attain, however Ruiz can undoubtedly damage her day if she will get her down. Contemplating how sturdy Buys seems to be within the clinch, nonetheless, I favor her to start out her Octagon profession with a win.
Tape: Her “Contender Collection” bout is on ESPN+, whereas her earlier LFA bout is on Combat Cross.
Montserrat “Conejo Mad” Ruiz
Weight Class: Strawweight
Report: 9-1 (2 KO, 3 SUB)
Notable Victories: Janaisa Morandin
Montserrat minimize her enamel on the Mexican circuit earlier than a 2018 Invicta debut, which noticed her drop a unanimous determination to UFC veteran Danielle Taylor. Although she missed all of 2019, Ruiz got here again sturdy in July 2020 with a dominant first-round end of former title challenger Janaisa Morandin.
She replaces Kay Hansen on little multiple week discover.
Ruiz — a 5’0” fireplug and one in all many ultra-aggressive southpaws coaching beneath King MMA’s Rafael Cordeiro — has a quite simple gameplan: march ahead with punches, get the clinch, hit a head-and-arm throw, and work from there. I do make an effort to go in-depth in these analyses, however that’s actually the lengthy and in need of it.
To her credit score, although, she does appear to be getting higher at it. Whereas she didn’t make any actual affect together with her strikes in opposition to Taylor and by no means managed to get her down earlier than desperately promoting out within the third spherical, she caught Morandin with some legitimately heavy punches earlier than slinging her to the mat and locking up a shawl maintain armlock. Whereas the head-and-arm throw is successfully out of date at this level, she may have the ability to make an actual affect if she develops a extra versatile clinch takedown sport.
It’s exhausting to make a definitive assertion on her potential at this level, because the Morandin battle was her solely look within the final two years. As she is now, she’ll possible beat anybody with poor takedown protection and/or unhealthy scrambling, however she’ll wrestle with seasoned wrestlers and strikers with the lateral motion or counters to keep away from her blitzes.
Opponent: See above.
Tape: Her Invicta bouts are on Combat Cross.
J.P. “Younger Savage” Buys
Weight Class: Flyweight
Report: 9-2 (3 KO, 5 SUB)
Notable Victories: Luthando Biko, Jacob Silva
Buys made his first bid at UFC stardom in 2017, when he fell to Joby Sanchez on “Contender Collection.” After profitable and defending the EFC Bantamweight title amongst different victories, he returned to the present in November 2020, defeating Jacob Silva by controversial referee stoppage to earn his long-desired contract.
Phenomenal wrestling has lengthy been Buys’ calling card and it stays as potent as ever. His takedowns and scrambles are an absolute pleasure to look at, consistently demonstrating spectacular timing, velocity, fluidity, and flexibility. The enjoyable doesn’t cease as soon as he settles in high place, both, as he passes extraordinarily nicely, reveals nice persistence, and has a knack for taking the again. There, he’s harmful with each ground-and-pound and an array of chokes.
He’s no slouch defensively, both, using the specter of his guillotine and stable framing to close down and separate from anybody seeking to take him down in return.
As unimaginable as his floor work could be, his standup stays a weak spot, albeit one he appears to be slowly fixing. He doesn’t provide a lot moreover low kicks and a surprisingly exhausting proper hand, however extra urgent than his restricted arsenal is his cage consciousness. Gamzat Magomedov stored him on the again foot with regular stress and Buys constantly discovered himself along with his again in opposition to the cage as Magomedov introduced his personal takedowns to bear, and whereas Buys initially managed to shrug him off with the methods talked about above, Magomedov discovered increasingly success because the battle progressed and Buys started carrying down. By the top of the second, Buys was caught beneath in half guard and was solely bailed out by taking an unlawful elbow to the again of the top.
That cardio is price keeping track of as nicely; whereas he managed to go 4 rounds in his win over Luthando Biko, he spent most of that point in high place, and the Magomedov battle means that he may have difficulties digging deep when the takedowns aren’t instantly there.
Nonetheless, Buys is enormously promising and already a UFC-caliber expertise. I can undoubtedly see him making a reputation for himself in a crowded UFC Flyweight division.
Opponent: He takes on Brazil’s Bruno Silva, who’s now welcomed three consecutive blue-chip prospects to the Octagon. Silva fell quick in opposition to one other high wrestler in Tagir Ulanbekov final outing, however he’s additionally fairly adept in that division, so Buys must be ready for 3 exhausting rounds. Whereas I do suppose he’s bought what it takes, it’s removed from a gimme.
Tape: His “Contender Collection” bout is on ESPN+, whereas his earlier LFA bout is on Combat Cross.
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Report: 5-1 (4 KO)
Notable Victories: Isaiah Gonzalez
Strader has spent 4 of his six professional fights contained in the Combate cage, shedding solely to fellow high-octane UFC import Marcelo Rojo alongside the way in which. This marks his first look since Aug. 2019, when he scored among the best knockouts in Combate historical past at Isaiah Gonzalez’s expense.
No three phrases higher sum up Strader than “bootleg John Lineker.” Whereas he boasts some highly effective kicks and might hit a double-leg if the scenario requires it, the person has an admirably single-minded devotion to pulverizing opponent’s our bodies. He’ll lead with proper hooks downstairs and throw prolonged flurries completely focused on the midsection with out a take care of his uncovered chin, often following with a left hook to the top to devastating outcomes. When he’s within the cage, you’re assured unreasonable portions of violence, and he by no means stops urgent ahead.
That stated, it takes greater than energy and tenacity to be John Lineker. What made the Brazilian so efficient, even in opposition to top-tier opposition, had been his bottomless gasoline tank and albeit inhuman chin, neither of which Strader seems to own. Oh, he’s gutsy and harder than hell, however he’s removed from unstoppable. Towards Jose Aguayo, he visibly slowed after going all-out for an early end, leaving him to select his spots and use occasional takedowns to recuperate for the final two rounds. Then, in opposition to Rojo, he bought crumpled by clinch knees and brutal punches regardless of a red-hot begin.
On the grappling aspect, he appears to solely actually use his wrestling as both a method to maintain opponents trustworthy, bail himself out of an actual unhealthy spot, or to present himself time to get well after an enormous power expenditure. He recurrently let Aguayo again to his ft after simply dumping him to the mat and didn’t handle to rack up a lot high management on Rojo. What footage I discovered failed to indicate off his takedown protection, so I can’t make a definitive assertion on that entrance.
You possibly can’t throw a rock at UFC’s Bantamweight division with out hitting no less than one terrifying knockout artist, so Strader may very nicely go the way in which of Nate Landwehr within the Octagon. If he can tighten up his protection with out sacrificing what makes him so enjoyable, although, then we’re in for an absolute deal with.
Tape: He squares off with gargantuan bruiser Montel Jackson, who hits means too rattling exhausting for Strader’s conventional devil-may-care method. Between Jackson’s measurement, energy and backup wrestling, all Strader can actually hope for is to exit on his protect.
Do not forget that MMAmania.com will ship LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow protection of the complete UFC Vegas 22 battle card this weekend, beginning with the ESPN+/ESPN2 “Prelims” matches, that are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining major card steadiness on ESPN/ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET.
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