Kelvin Gastelum vs Neil Magny Preview and Analysis – UFC Fight Night 78

Uriah-HallThe main event of UFC Fight Night 78 is a solid welterweight matchup between contenders Kelvin Gastelum and Neil Magny. Gastelum’s last welterweight appearance was the first loss of his career to Tyron Woodley in January. His counterpart, Magny just got back into the win column after being dominated by Demian Maia this past August.   Kelvin Gastelum (11-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC, -2700 When filming season 17 for The Ultimate Fighter, there were not many people that believed Gastelum would go on to win the show, never mind stick around much longer after the show’s finale and become an elite fighter. Impressively, he finished all three of his fights in the house, including one by rear-naked choke over a favorite to win the show, Josh Samman. Since the show ended he has compiled a 5-1 record, including notable wins over Jake Ellenberger, Rick Story, and Nate Marquardt. The 24-year old’s only flaw so far has been his weight. He missed weight on multiple occasions, most importantly for his fight against Woodley, where he missed the 170 pound limit by a whopping 10 pounds. As far as Dana White was concerned, this was the last straw. Dana gave Gastelum a choice; move to middleweight or go fight somewhere else. Gastelum chose the former and moved up to the middleweight division. His 185 pound run lasted only one fight, a complete drubbing over Marquardt in June. Like many top fighters, Gastelum started as a wrestler. Although never made it very far as a wrestler, it gave him a solid base to start his mixed martial arts career. The Yuma, Arizona native was the youngest and least experienced fighter on season 17 of TUF but he had heart and a strong desire to learn and get better. Fighting out of a southpaw stance, Gastelum throws crisp punching combinations to his opponent’s body and head, especially when he gets them trapped against the cage. He works most of his strikes off is his jab, as he will parry his opponent’s strikes and crack them with straight right hand. Once he throws a jab, he often follows it up a strong straight left, left hook, or right uppercut. The 24-year old hardly ever throws single strikes. He instead unleashes multi-punch combinations and follows them up with hard, slapping leg and body kicks from his rear leg.  Gastelum continues to improve at a rapid rate and I only see him getting better. Gastelum’s short stint with amateur wrestling has blended in nicely with the rest of his game. He has a nice double-leg takedown, single-leg, trips, and throws. Once top position is established, he throws heavy leather and elbows from the top, which inflicts damage and creates openings for him to pass. The 24-year old is hard to shake off and has a smooth back take, which is evident from all the victories he’s achieved via rear-naked choke. Gastelum is now working with a dietitian and strength and conditioning coach to make sure he makes weight on Friday. If he can keep his weight under control in the 170 pound division, his future is extremely bright.   Neil Magny (16-4, 9-3 UFC, +230 underdog) Like Gastelum, Magny was also a competitor on The Ultimate Fighter. However, Magny did not win the show and the show has often been referred to as the worst season of The Ultimate Fighter ever. After an unimpressive 1-2 start in the Octagon, Magny went on a seven-fight winning streak that included wins over Alex Garcia, Tim Means, and Hyun Gyu Lim. Amazingly, those fight took place in only 18 months, which is quite rare because most fighters only fight two to three times per year. Riding high on his win streak, the 28-year old accepted a bout against Brazilian jiu-jitsu phenom Demian Maia this past August. That did not turn out well for him, however, as Maia took him down, effortlessly passed his guard and submitted him when Magny gave up his back.  The loss to Maia really irked Magny and he wanted to get right back in there, so he took a short notice fight against Erick Silva only three weeks later, winning by split decision. He’ll try to start another winning streak by defeating Gastelum on Saturday night. Magny’s game is based around his extraordinary physical tools. He is 6’ 3” tall and holds a whopping 80” reach. His reach gives him a huge advantage over every fighter in the division. The Colorado native has been working on rounding out his game. He has a stiff jab and straight right combination, which he combines with the occasional leg or body kick. His jab, however, is his best punch, as it helps to keep his opponents at bay and maintain the distance he desires. Magny’s biggest weapon, however, is his conditioning. He can go hard for five full rounds without getting tired, all while putting the pressure on his opponents. While not a great wrestler, he has a decent double-leg and has some trips and throws in his arsenal. From top position he can pass decently and throws consistent, but not powerful ground and pound. Magny will go for a rear-naked or arm-triangle when he sees an opening, but he is mostly content to stay in top position and kill time off the clock. Further, his defensive wrestling is not great, and he does not offer much from his back. Additionally, his submission defense could use some work but that will get better over time. Magny is a member of the newly formed Elevation Fight Team, which is home to fellow UFC fighters T.J. Dillashaw, Matt Brown, Cat Zingano, Brandon Thatch, Clay Guida, and Tony Sims.   Thoughts Gastelum is the more skilled fighter in just about every area, but Magny has a 6” height and 9” reach over him. Gastelum will have to get through that reach to either land strikes or shoot for takedowns. I think Magny will to utilize his footwork and keep popping his jab in Gastelum’s face. However, I do not think that will work for long. Gastelum will get inside and either end the fight with strikes or take him down and submit him.   The Prediction: Kelvin Gastelum defeats Neil Magny by submission (rear-naked choke, round 3)

Written by Mike James

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