Some debuts are years within the making, whereas others come out of nowhere. And UFC Vegas 40 this weekend (Sat., Oct. 16, 2021) inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, options one in all every. On this version of “New Blood,” the sequence the place I willingly re-open Fb on your sakes, we try a brawler out of Combate and a Muay Thai knowledgeable from ONE.
Erick “The Ghost Pepper” Gonzalez
Weight Class: Light-weight
Report: 14-5 (8 KO, 1 SUB)
Notable Victories: Gained Sik Park, Marco Antonio Elpidio
California’s Gonzalez reduce his tooth in Combate, sharing the cage with promotional mainstays like Andres Quintana and Rafa Garcia. Although he missed all of 2020, he’s made up for misplaced time in 2021 with a pair of victories beneath the Naciones MMA and LXF banners.
Standing 5’11” and boasting a 74.5-inch attain, Gonzalez is an all-action aggressor with an ironclad chin. He consistently switches stances whereas probing with lengthy kicks or bursting ahead with prolonged flurries, typically shifting from Southpaw to Orthodox and again mid-combination. Of explicit word are his short-range knees to the pinnacle and physique and the elbows which his size permits him to slide into conventional boxing combos.
It’s greater than a bit ungainly, however he usually makes it work.
As enjoyable and harmful as he’s, he suffers from some severe technical shortcomings I’m not sure he’s fastened. Past a common lack of polish in his combos, he tends to throw his punches so onerous that his complete physique follows, leaving his chin uncovered to counters and his hips uncovered to takedowns as he rushes in; in reality, Garcia took full benefit of this of their title combat, touchdown brutal proper hand after brutal proper hand, whereas hitting double-leg takedowns successfully at will as soon as Gonzalez started to tire.
There’s nothing inherently unsuitable with having an offbeat hanging model, however you want robust fundamentals to make it work constantly. Gonzalez could or could not have these at this level.
My unsurety stems from one in all his more moderen efforts, a win over the restricted Oziel Rodriguez in March 2021. Gonzalez seemed much more affected person and prepared to maintain his arms up, however he additionally executed such a wrestling-heavy gameplan that it’s onerous to make a definitive assertion on his get up.
Talking of that floor sport, it’s an identical mixture of spectacular and missing. He’s positionally glorious, sweeping his method out of all of Garcia’s early takedowns and shredding Rodriguez’s guard, however his takedown offense and protection haven’t fairly caught up. It’s a disgrace, as a result of he’s a deadly ground-and-pounder with these elbows when he will get on high.
All of this combines to type a extremely entertaining fighter with a ceiling nicely beneath the elite. I’d be very shocked if he doesn’t give us at the very least one warfare to recollect throughout his Octagon tenure.
Opponent: He squares off with the eternally sport, however clearly fading, Jim Miller. Miller figures to dominate together with his wrestling as long as his cardio holds up. Subsequently, it falls to Gonzalez to outlive some dangerous positions, drive “A-10” to work, and take over late by means of uncooked aggression. Not probably the most outlandish state of affairs, only one a bit much less doubtless than Miller both tapping him early or grinding out a win.
Weight Class: Strawweight
Report: 7-1 (2 KO)
Notable Victories: Gina Iniong, Mei Yamaguchi
Nunes’ first look beneath the ONE banner noticed her beat veteran Mei Yamaguchi by choice, organising a Strawweight title combat towards Angela Lee. Although she fell brief towards “Unstoppable,” she returned to the win column one combat later with a victory over Gina Iniong.
This marks her first combat in additional than three years, as she withdrew from deliberate debuts towards Angela Hill and Jinh Yu Frey.
Nunes boasts a powerful Muay Thai pedigree that instantly reveals itself in her upright, stalking stance. She prefers slowly advancing with onerous low kicks and admittedly over-commited punches, sometimes sneaking a pointy snap kick to the physique or the nasty change head kick that scored one in all her two skilled stoppages. She additionally does a wonderful job of rapidly grabbing the Thai plum and slamming residence a knee at any time when her opponents are in the appropriate place, plus elbows when the state of affairs arises.
Her offense, bolstered by spectacular pace and energy, is clearly spectacular. Her first two ONE bouts, nonetheless, showcased some clear shortcomings. These bare low kicks acquired her taken down on a number of events, and whereas her willingness to face her floor and throw again relatively than retreat beneath fireplace is entertaining, it compromises her size. It’s additionally price noting that she tends to loop her proper hand and actually struggles off of her again, surrendering dominant positions to each Yamaguchi and Lee with out providing a lot in return.
Talking of the Lee combat, Nunes seemed markedly much less efficient off the again foot when standing.
All that mentioned, she confirmed lots of enchancment in her win over Iniong — extra feints, higher takedown protection and the wherewithal to again away earlier than coming again with counters. She nonetheless overthrew her proper hand and did not arrange her low kicks, which acquired her dropped by a counter on the finish of the primary spherical, however she seemed like she’d discovered lots of needed classes from her first defeat.
Nunes circa 2018 does pretty nicely for herself within the Octagon. If she’s continued to enhance in that span, she might doubtlessly sniff rivalry.
Opponent: Nunes takes on one other Brazilian striker within the ultra-entertaining Ariane Carnelossi. Carnelossi’s aggression and punching energy look poised to take advantage of Nunes’ pre-existing flaws, and whereas Nunes’ trajectory of enchancment is promising, it’s onerous to see her executing correctly after 39 months away. It needs to be enjoyable, at the very least.
Do not forget that MMAmania.com will ship LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow protection of the complete UFC Vegas 40 combat card proper right here, beginning with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, that are scheduled to start at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining essential card steadiness on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
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