UFC Fight Night 38: FOX Sports 1 Preliminary Card Breakdown

Diego BrandaoComing to us on a Sunday evening thanks to March Madness is UFC Fight Night 38, live from the Nelio Dias Gym in Natal, Brazil. The evening is headlined by a rematch that will have the odds stacked against it in topping the original – Hendo vs. Shogun. The prelims are on FOX Sports 1 and include the usual Brazilian suspects with a few recognizable vets mixed in for good measure.

The prelim main event is between featherweights Diego Brandao (18-9), the hard hitting winner of TUF 14 agaist Will Chope (19-6). Brandao was last seen being knocked out by Dustin Poirier at UFC 168, while Chope was introduced to the UFC by way of getting knocked out by Max Holloway. Chope is a good fighter, who at 6-4 is huge for featherweight, but Brandao is the better fighter by far, and has fought (and beaten) better competition than Chope has ever faced. While Chope on paper looks like the superior grappler, Brandao has him everywhere but the cardio department, and even then, it may be even. Both men are solid athletes but tend to gas. Chope will have to use his length if he wants to beat Brandao on the feet, but that will be a tall (no pun intended) order, as Brandao is the superior striker and can work his way in without fearing too much for the Chope takedown. In general, Brandao seems like the more powerful fighter. This is no gimme, but Brandao is on the cusp of making it into a solid top ten placement and staying there in the featherweight division, while Chope seems destined for fighting Manny Gamburyan or Cole Miller. Not that theres anything wrong with that. Brandao also has the superior training and coaches, hailing from Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque.
Middleweights are next, with big Ronny Markes (14-2) vs TUF’s Thiago Santos (8-2). Ronny Markes is the big man in Nova Uniao’s camp, and was carving out a solid UFC run, going 3-0 before Yoel Romero knocked him out last November. Thiago Santos lost on TUF Brazil 2, and rather early in the competition, but he’s still here in the Octagon. The size difference in this fight is massive, with Markes a huge middleweight. Santos will likely be put on his back early and often in this fight, with Markes being the definition of grinder, while Santos has already lost in his sole UFC appearance, being subbed in less than a minute by Cezar Ferreira. The odds are stacked against Santos in this one, but he has a puncher’s chance.
An interesting flyweight battle is next, with WEC and UFC vet Scott Jorgensen (14-8) taking on Jussier Formiga (15-3). Jorgensen, though a very capable fighter with solid all-around skills, has faded since moving from the WEC to the UFC after a bantamweight title shot against Dominick Cruz. Jorgensen won his first two, but has since gone 1-4 in his last 5, which is partiall ywhy he moved to flyweight, only to be defeated by the late-replacement Zach Makovsky at UFC on FOX: Johnson vs Benavidez 2. Formiga was much-hyped heading into the UFC, but himself has only gone 1-2, being finished via strikes by John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez respectfully. His win was against Chris Cariaso, but his lack of being able to interject himself into the elite of the shallow flyweight division is troubling. This is a more do or die fight for Jorgensen than anyone however, luckily wrestlers usually have the advantage over BJJ fighters in the Octagon. If Jorgensen looks like his old self and doesn’t hurt himself too much cutting to 125, this could be the fight to get him back on track against a good fighter. For Formiga, he needs to push the pace and get into a good position early before he’s forced to work his BJJ from his back.
Heavy-handed Thiago Perpetuo (9-2-1) will meet Kenny Robertson (12-3) in a welterweight fight to open the FOX Sports 1 prelims. Both of these men are willing to put on a show, and we might see that Sunday night. If you remember, Robertson pulled back Brock Jardine’s leg in one of the wildest submissions of last year, and Perpetuo is known for his power. In other words, this should deliver the action to open the night. Perpetuo is the stronger fighter, with possibly the better stand up, but Robertson is more creative on the ground as long as he isn’t getting smashed on the bottom. This is an evenly matched fight that may hinge on Perpetuo’s first cut to 170 and how he reacts to his move to the new weight class.

Written by Jason Nawara

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