UFC Fight Night 58 Play: Leandro Issa (+400) vs Yuta Sasaki (-500)

Yuta SasakiUFC Fight Night 58 Date: December 20, 2014 Arena: Jose Correa Arena City: Barueri, Brazil Bantamweight bout: Leandro Issa (+400) vs Yuta Sasaki (-500) Fight Breakdown: Kicking things off for the UFC Fight Night 58 televised prelims on FOX Sports 1 will be a scrap between a pair of big bantamweights looking to make it two in a row inside the Octagon. Action is expected when Brazilian “Brodinho” Leandro Issa squares off against Japan’s Yuta “Ulka” Sasaki. Issa is a big underdog at the sportsbooks heading into this contest at +400 ($100 to win $400) and his opponent Sasaki is the heavy favorite to win at -500 ($500 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. Leandro “Brodinho” Issa (12-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) bounced back into the win column with an impressive, come from behind armbar submission victory over Jumabieke Tuerxuen late in the third round of action at the TUF 19 Finale back in July. On his third trip to the Octagon, he will be looking to make it two in a row against the fellow submission specialist, Sasaki. “Brodinho” is a talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who is very solid in the submission game, though it is worth noting that his jiu-jitsu game does not translate into MMA too well. That is because he is not well-versed in no-gi jiu-jitsu, and is used to having a gi to assist him with his submissions. Some of his favorite submissions are near-impossible to pull off without a gi. That said, Issa’s jiu-jitsu game in MMA is still relatively solid. The OneFC veteran works decent takedowns and has excellent top control. He keeps heavy pressure on his opponents, as he constantly looks for submissions. He transitions well on the mat, has powerful top control, and takes chances looking for submissions. The Brazilian loves looking for the arm triangle choke, though he has only finished one opponent with it thus far in his professional mixed martial arts career. To compliment his offensive grappling, the 31 year old is also very good in the defensive grappling department. He has a great sprawl and takedown defense, and being a large 135 pounder, it is generally a difficult task to take him down to the mat. When he is taken down, he can be quite dangerous off his back, always a threat to catch his opponents with a submission. The Brazilian is also good at reversing positions, and finding his way on top. While he is flat-footed and is not a great striker, Issa has been making improvements in that department. He possesses a nice overhand right, not to mention some powerful kicks. However, his striking defense is not so good, and his chin is a concern. In fact, two of his three career losses have been due to knockouts. Due to the low confidence he has in his striking skills, Issa often relies in his grappling and jiu-jitsu to win fights. When he chooses to stand with his opponents and feels the disadvantage on the feet, he immediately turns to what he knows, which is his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As soon as he gets hurt, he wastes no time closing the distance and going for the takedown, and he is relentless about getting it. Yuta “Ulka” Sasaki (18-1 MMA, 1-1UFC) was very impressive in his promotional debut nearly five months ago, defeating Canadian submission artist Roland Delorme via first round submission, becoming the first fighter to officially finish the Canadian. Delorme is not an easy fighter to put away and “Ulka” made quick work of him, tagging him on the feet and then latching on to his back before soon sinking in the rear naked choke to earn his 18th professional mixed martial arts career victory; ninth by submission and seventh by rear naked choke. If given even the slightest window of an opening by his opponent, Sasaki will be quick to take advantage and immediately sink in the choke before his opponent realizes what has happened. The Japanese fighter is very dominant with his submission game and very aggressive with his attacks. He is an aggressive fighter, in general. He starts out strong right from the opening bell, rushing his opponents right away and immediately dictating cage-control. Despite being a large bantamweight, the Shooto veteran is very fast, and he uses his speed to pressure his opponents. He has good footwork and decent striking, which improves fight to fight. He works a nice jab and puts together some effective 1-2 combinations. Sasaki throws some good kicks, and likes to go high with them, too. He likes to implement all of his limbs in his offensive attacks, especially his knees, which he does not use often but likes to whenever in position to. The flying knee is also in his arsenal and is something he likes to use. The 25 year old works solid takedowns, including a nice single leg; his offensive grappling is excellent, but his defensive grappling is noteworthy, as well. He has great takedown defense, and when taken down, does a great job of working his way back to his feet. He is quite effective off his back, too, as he possesses a very good guard, which we have not seen in some time, as he his opponents rarely find success in putting him on his back and keeping him there. Though he is prone to finishing his fights and usually in the first round of action, Sasaki has good cardio and will have the advantage in that department heading into this scrap against Issa. Gabe’s Thoughts: I think Sasaki is going to earn another quick finish in this fight, and I think it is equally likely he gets it by submission or T/KO. I believe he is the all-around superior mixed martial artist heading into this 135 pound scrap, and think his aggression combined with his superior skill-set, resiliency and cardio will be a puzzle that would force the Brazilian to crumble. “Yulka” is a puzzle that Issa will come nowhere near solving. Sasaki is going to enter the Octagon on Saturday night and the only thing on his mind is going to be to get the finish, and I believe he is going to get it, likely within the first stanza. Gabe’s Call: Sasaki by T/KO (flying knee and punches, 1:11 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Under 1.5 rounds (+115) 3u to win 3.45u

Written by Gabe Killian

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