Updated UFC on Fox 18 Fighter Grades

Rafael Natal ufcJay Primetown gives his thoughts on each of the fighters who competed at UFC on Fox 18 in Newark, New Jersey. Jay gives his letter grades for each fighter on TheMMA-Analysis podcast which can be found on MMAOddsbreaker.com   Tony Martin vs. Felipe Olivieri Martin: Did a terrible job defending leg kicks early in this fight, but showed signs of improvement with an increased gas tank as he turned it on late in this fight to score a third round stoppage. He needs to show that his improved conditioning simply wasn’t a one fight performance before I raise his grade. Grade remains C- Olivieri: His striking is crisp and I really like how he targeted the lower leg of his opponent. Grappling is not good enough and he slowed down significantly in this fight leading to the stoppage. Downgrade from C- to D+   Damon Jackson vs. Levan Makashvili Jackson: One of the worst fights of the year. Jackson simply looked to push his opponent against the cage and offered no striking offense in this fight. It might be effective, but it made for an aesthetically unpleasing fight. It ended in a draw and the type of fight that is unlikely to see the UFC want to keep him on the roster. Grade remains C- Makashvili: He is a talented fighter, but has periods of inactivity in his bouts which allow his opponent to win rounds. He needs to work harder to not be pushed against the cage even if he’s not suffering any damage. Downgraded from C+ to C   Randy Brown vs. Matt Dwyer Brown: A slow start for the New York-based fighter, but he showed some resilience in his UFC debut taking over the second half of this fight and getting the decision win over a game opponent. Debut grade is D+ Dwyer: He fought pretty well, but Brown’s output and speed advantages really were the difference in what was a competitive contest. Grade remains D+   Alex Caceres vs. Masio Fullen Caceres: Good confidence builder for Caceres where he was the more creative, technical striker. He will struggle with top heavy grapplers, but he’s one of the more fun fighters to watch in the division. Fullen: Probably the end of the road in the UFC for Fullen. He simply hasn’t shown that he can compete with fighters that have a balanced attack. Grade remains D-   George Sullivan vs. Alexander Yakovlev Sullivan: The New Jersey born fighter turns 35 in March and age is really beginning to catch up with him. Lack of speed was a big issue in this fight as well as a fading chin. This was likely Sullivan’s last fight in the UFC. Downgraded from C- to D+ Yakovlev: Good win for Yakovlev taking on a fighter in his backyard and knocking him out in the first round. The Russian has fought some difficult opponents in the UFC and is just starting to receive some recognition for being a solid fighter. Upgraded from C- to C   Dustin Ortiz vs. Wilson Reis Ortiz: Perhaps Ortiz’s worst performance of his career. He was taken down regularly by Reis and even gave up his back at times in this fight. Have to wonder if this was an off night or a sign of things to come. Downgraded from B+ to B Reis: Best performance of his career. Reis outgrappled a good wrestler and did very well to advance positions on the mat to dominate the bout. If he continues to fight like he did on Saturday, he’ll be in the flyweight top 10 for the next couple years. Upgraded from B- to B   Kevin Casey vs Rafael Natal Casey: The post-failed drug test Kevin Casey is a shell of his former self. He’s physically nowhere near as strong as he was before. He was dominated in this bout from start to finish. Downgraded from C- to D+ Natal: Has improved about as much as anyone in the division over the past couple years. His striking has more variety, his movement is better, and fights smart when he can get the fight to the mat to use his black belt skills on the ground. Good win and he’s earned himself a deserved spot in the divison’s top 15. Upgraded from C to C+   Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs Carlos Diego Ferreira Aubin-Mercier: Outworked by his opponent in this fight. He’s succeeded in previous fights by bullying opponents, but when he’s not able to do that he will have real difficulties winning bouts. Downgraded from C to C- Ferreira: Very good performance against a bigger fighter. His output on the feet combined with a superior grappling game were the difference. He’s a fighter who continues to be overlooked in this division. Grade remains C   Jake Ellenberger vs. Tarec Saffiedine Ellenberger: After a competitive first round, Ellenberger simply had no answers for Saffiedine’s technical ability on the feet. Ellenberger at one point was a main event caliber fighter, but the wear and tear of matchups against quality opposition has really worn on his ability to take damage. Grade remains C Saffiedine: His technical ability on the feet is near the top of the sport. He did well to stifle Ellenberger in this fight, but his lack of finishing ability is a real concern against top opposition. Grade remains B   Bryan Barberena vs. Sage Northcutt Barberena: Great win on short notice against a high level prospect. He struggled early on, but he’s the kind of fighter who does well as the fight goes. Strong finish making a statement on national television. Upgraded from C- to C Northcutt: His athleticism is off the charts, but his inability to defend when put on his back is a real concern moving forward. It seemed like he quit in this fight and that’s not something that can be easily fixed. Downgraded from C+ to C   Iuri Alcantara vs Jimmie Rivera Alcantara: He didn’t tire as badly as he has in previous fights, but he was once again outworked by a fighter who was able to push forward and control the cage. Alcantara’s peaked and is no longer a top 15 fighter in this division. Grade remains C+ Rivera: He did what he needed to do to win this fight. He was the more aggressive striker and worked in timely takedowns to secure the fight. Grade remains B-   Josh Barnett vs Ben Rothwell Barnett: He started well, but faded in the second round and for the first time in his career tapped to submission. It’s hard to imagine Barnett ever seeing UFC gold again. Downgraded from B+ to B- Rothwell: The biggest win of his career. Submitting a fighter of the caliber of Josh Barnett is a fantastic scalp. He’s now run off finishes over Alistair Overeem, Matt Mitrione, and now Barnett. Rothwell has earned himself a number one contender fight. Upgraded from B- to B+   Ryan Bader vs Anthony Johnson Bader: This fight went as how I expected it to. An early Bader mistake leading to a quick finish. Bader’s kryptonite is heavy hands and it’s the reason why he may never see an opportunity to win the light heavyweight title. Downgraded from A- to B+ Johnson: There’s no denying Rumble’s power. He’s as good in the first five minutes as anyone in the division and perhaps the entire sport. He deserves a chance to face Jon Jones and I expect to see it sometime later in 2016. Grade remains A

Written by Jay Primetown

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