Updated Fighter Grades: Post-UFC Fight Night 101

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robert-whittaker-mma-ufcJay Primetown gives his thoughts on each of the fighters who competed at UFC Fight Night 101 in Melbourne, Australia. Jay gives his letter grades for each fighter on TheMMA-Analysis podcast which can be found on MMAOddsbreaker.com   Jenel Lausa vs. Yao Zhikui Lausa: Really nice debut for the former Filipino boxing champion. His hand speed is right near the top of the flyweight division which makes him an intriguing prospect in this division. With that said, he relies too much on athleticism to avoid being hit and his ground game needs a lot of work. If brought up slowly, he could develop into a top 15 flyweight at some point down the road. Upgraded from D- to D+ Zhikui: He packs some decent pop in his punches, but his striking is rather predictable and he served as a punching bag throughout this fight. He’s certainly tough to survive 15 minutes in this bout, but based on his collection of performances in the UFC he’s not good enough and can use some work on the regional scene. Grade remains F   Ning Guangyou vs. Marlon Vera Guangyou: I liked his approach to land heavy leg kicks to Vera’s lead leg. His problem is that once his opponent grapples with him he struggles to defend positions. He will lose to any decent grappler in the UFC. With consecutive losses, it’s likely he will be cut from the UFC. Downgraded from D- to F Vera: Did his best work in the grappling exchanges finding his opponent’s back multiple times in the fight. He dropped Guangyou in the third round which turned the tide of the fight when it was one round apiece. Grade remains D-   Dan Hooker vs. Jason Knight Hooker: Terrible performance from the Kiwi. Way too comfortable having his back taken with no way back to his feet and didn’t show a sense of urgency until 30 seconds left in the fight. This is a fight he should of won. Downgraded from C to D+ Knight: His constant forward pressure always looks good in the eyes of the judges. He certainly takes too much damage to go far beyond his current place in the division. His ground game is slick and will cause many opponents issues. Upgraded from D+ to C-   Geane Herrera vs. Ben Nguyen Herrera: He’s got decent physical tools, but when he’s unable to land takedowns with regularity he will struggle with the stand up. He was picked apart by Nguyen and lost a deserved decision. I think there’s room for improvement moving forward given his limited experience. This is a fight that should have him looking at the drawing board. Downgraded from C to C- Nguyen: Very nice comeback performance after being dominated by Louis Smolka in his last outing. He switched stances well and landed strikes at will throughout the fight. He changed angles well and combined strikes in all three rounds. His pace in this bout was excellent and that’s important as he looks to contend with the better fighters in this weight class. Upgraded from C to C+   Jonathan Meunier vs. Richard Walsh Meunier: His striking was solid throughout the fight. He landed some nice spinning strikes, but it was his takedown defense that frustrated Walsh and allowed him to control the fight on the feet. Important win for Meunier; it will be interesting to see who the UFC gives him next. Upgraded from D to D+ Walsh: Looked sluggish on the feet and really struggled to complete takedowns in this fight.  He was picked apart by Meunier on the feet and lost just about every minute of this fight. With four losses in his last five fights, I expect Walsh to be cut from the UFC roster. Downgraded from D to D-   Damien Brown vs. Jon Tuck Brown: Survived the early onslaught until Tuck got tired and snuck out the last two rounds to win a split decision. This wasn’t a good performance by any stretch and I thought he lost, but a win is a win. Grade remains D- Tuck: Fought a strong first round, but took his foot off the gas and allowed the judges to enter the result. This was his fight to lose and he didn’t turn it up when he had to. His conditioning continues to be a disappointment and is holding him back in his career. Downgraded from D+ to D   Chris Camozzi vs. Daniel Kelly Camozzi: One of his worst performances inside the Octagon. He tried to circle away from Kelly, but kept his head in range and was hit a lot in this bout. What ultimately was the difference was the wrestling. Camozzi had no answers when he was taken down and had to wait for the referee to stand the fight up. After this fight, we’ve seen the ceiling of Chris Camozzi and it’s not high. Downgraded from C- to D+ Kelly: In a fight where the bettors saw Kelly a 2 to 1 underdog, he survived a few significant cuts from strikes and went to his bread and butter, judo grappling, to win yet another fight in the UFC. At 39 years of age, he’s 5-1 inside the Octagon. He’s certainly exceeded expectations. Grade remains C-   Seo Hee Ham vs. Danielle Taylor Ham: Had a very good start to the fight being the aggressor and landing left hands. As the fight went on, she was chasing Taylor too much and was getting hit on the counter. This was a close fight on the scorecards and could have gone either way. Downgraded from C- to D+ Taylor: Her approach is predictable, but her athleticism and power are certainly near the top of the division. She got better as the fight went on frustrating her opponent in the stand up. If she can build on her current skill set, she can grow nicely in this division. Grade remains D+   Tyson Pedro vs. Khalil Rountree Pedro: He took a heck of an overhand from Rountree early in this fight, but recovered well. From there his ground game was levels above his opponent’s and he advanced position well to sneak in a rear naked choke before the end of the round to win in his UFC debut. Still need to see what his striking is like before increasing his grade too much. Upgraded from D- to D Rountree: He’s a pretty entertaining striker, but his ground game is as bad as there is in the light heavyweight division. He has shown no ability to get back to his feet and is susceptible to being submitted as he was in this fight. Hard to see him sticking around in the UFC with such a glaring hole in his skill set. Downgraded from D to D-   Yusuke Kasuya vs. Alex Volkanovski Kasuya: He was overmatched in this fight. He was unable to muster any offense in the clinch and got beat up badly in the grappling. He had no answers for his opponent’s ground and pound forcing the referee to stop the fight in the second round. I think this fight says more about Volkanovski than it does about Kasuya’s abilities. Grade remains D at lightweight Volkanovski: Excellent debut for the Australian national wrestling and jiu jitsu champion. His ground and pound was some of the best I’ve seen in a while and I think he’s a fighter that will do well in the UFC. He’s undersized for lightweight, but I see him having a strong career at featherweight. I need to see him against better grapplers before I raise his grade significantly, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a top 15 featherweight at some point in the UFC. Debut grade at featherweight is C- Omari Akhmedov vs. Kyle Noke Akhmedov: He landed heavy strikes early and often in this bout battering his opponent. However, the biggest difference in this fight was his offensive wrestling. He had no trouble scoring takedowns and controlling Noke on the ground. Important win for Akhmedov who was likely going to be cut if he didn’t win at Fight Night 101. Grade remains D+ Noke: He’s gotten worse and worse with each fight in the Octagon. He was beat up on the feet and struggled to defend takedowns throughout the fight. He’s unable to compete with fighters in the weight class and likely will be cut after the loss to Akhmedov. Downgraded from D+ to D   Andrew Holbrook vs. Jake Matthews Holbrook: He fought a smart game plan pressing forward on the feet and when the fight went to the ground he made Matthews worry constantly with submission attempts. This was a big win for Holbrook over a touted prospect. Upgraded from D to C- Matthews: Worst performance of Matthews’ career in the UFC. He struggled in the grappling exchanges where he usually has advantages. He trains out of a small camp and he needs to move on to a better training setup if he’s going to make the improvements to stick around in the UFC. Downgraded from C to C-   Derek Brunson vs. Robert Whittaker Brunson: He enacted a poor game plan in this bout. He rushed in repeatedly and was countered at will by Robert Whittaker. The TUF Smashes Winner excels as a counter striker and Brunson played right into it. It didn’t take long for him to succumb to strikes. A real head scratching performance by Derek Brunson. Downgraded from B+ to B Whittaker: Easily the biggest win of Robert Whittaker’s career. He did an excellent job defending Brunson’s takedown attempts. After frustrating Brunson, his opponent got desperate allowing Whittaker to enact a counterstriking strategy. Whittaker landed a beautiful head kick and followed it up with ground and pound to send the home crowd home happy. Great win that puts him right near the division’s elite. Upgraded from B to A-

Written by Jay Primetown

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