It seems like forever but in reality it was only a week off for the UFC. They get back to action in the UFC Apex with a high profile showdown in the lightweight division with UFC Fight Night: Dawson vs. Green.
Grant Dawson has been on a monstrous hot streak since joining the UFC, not having lost since joining the promotion. You have to look all the way back to 2016 to find a loss on his record, under the KC Fighting Alliance banner. He is yet to lose since signing with the UFC and takes a step up in competition with weekend as he takes on the always entertaining Bobby Green. Green has been up and down recently, losing four of his last eight fights with three wins and a no-contest. He scored a submission win over Tony Ferguson in his last fight and will look to stop the momentum of Dawson and also pick up back-to-back wins after dropping two straight.
Don’t blink in the co-main event as Joe Pyfer and Abdul Razak Alhassan square off in a co-main event clash that has violence written all over it. Both men like to get their fights over with quickly and prefer to give the judges some time off. Pyfer has won eight of his eleven professional victories by knockout and Alhassan has picked up all twelve of his wins by knockout. With these two lumbering middleweights in the cage it is highly likely that one of them is going to wake up looking at the lights on the UFC Apex ceiling.
UFC Fight Night: Dawson vs. Green airs live in its entirety on ESPN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET.. Combat Press writers Dan Kuhl and Matt Petela preview the action in this week’s edition of Toe-to-Toe.
Grant Dawson has a 12-fight unbeaten streak; how does “KGD” fare against longtime veteran Bobby “King” Green?
Kuhl: Speaking from pure statistics, Grant Dawson should fare quite well against Bobby Green this weekend. Both have backgrounds in wrestling, yet, Dawson was able to hit some higher achievements. The 29-year-old Dawson has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under James Krause, while the 37-year-old Green is still a purple belt. Dawson hasn’t lost since 2016, and has progressively moved to higher and higher level camps during that time, while Green is on a one-fight winning streak and still trains out of the same gym he has been at for over a decade. As for records, Dawson has finished 17 opponents in 22 fights, and Green has only finished 19 opponents in 46 fights. However, I wouldn’t count Green out quite yet.
Green lands a high volume of strikes and has really good takedown defense, and all fights start standing. In addition, Green has had a much tougher strength of schedule in the UFC compared to Dawson. His last three losses were to Drew Dober, Rafael Fiziev and current champ Islam Makhachev, and, in that time he finished Tony Ferguson and Al Iaquinta, while also picking up a dominant win over Nasrat Haqparast. If Green can avoid a takedown by Dawson, he could score a lot of points on the feet, drag this one into deep waters and pick up a decision win. But, that’s not what I see happening.
Dawson may get tagged up a bit in the first round but sometime in the first or second round, I see him getting Green to the mat and submitting him. This one ends before we see Round 3.
Petela: Bobby Green is very much the top gatekeeper in the lightweight division. Nobody who isn’t elite gets past him but those who are elite use Green as their final test before jumping head first into the deep end of the division. This is very much a prove it fight for Grant Dawson and the outcome will show whether or not he is ready to start a run towards title contention.
Green will be the faster man on the feet, which he is in nearly every one of his fights. He will get the best of the striking early and will in all likelihood win the first round by landing better punches and avoiding the takedown attempts of Dawson. The script will flip in the second round, with Dawson figuring out Green’s timing a bit and getting a read on his striking patterns in order to properly time a takedown. Once he is on his back, Green will exert a ton of energy trying to avoid accepting bottom position but it will be of no use. Dawson will keep him flattened out and open up late in the round with a big enough spurt of ground and pound to force the referee to step in and call a halt to the fight. Big statement win for Dawson with a second round TKO finish of Bobby Green.
Joe Pyfer and Abdul Razak Alhassan are both knockout artists; how long does their fight last and who comes away with the win?
Petela: This one doesn’t make it to the second round. These two are going to be swinging for the fences from the opening bell. Joe Pyfer has looked nearly unbeatable in the Octagon in both of his fights with the promotion. He scored knockout wins within the first round in both of those two contests and that trend continues this weekend.
Abdul Razak Alhassan is a talented fighter without question and he has much more UFC experience than his counterpart but despite that experience he isn’t as refined or technically smooth as Pyfer. His punches come in from looping angles and he can be countered with straight shots that get to the target faster and land with devastating consequences. This one will probably last a little longer than the Khaos Williams bout but it ends in similar devastating fashion with a straight right hand landing flush on the chin of Alhassan and ending the fight in an instant.
Kuhl: I am in agreement with my colleague. Pyfer is going to be to much for Alhassan, and he puts this one away before the midpoint of Round 2.
What one fighter’s UFC career is on the ropes at this event?
Kuhl: Nate Maness needs a win against Mateus Mendonca or he’s out. He opened his UFC career with three wins and followed it up with two losses. If he suffers another loss, that makes three in a row, and he will likely be back to the regional circuit trying to earn his way back in.
Petela: Johnny Munoz Jr. He’s 2-3 in the UFC and has never won consecutive fights. In some divisions he might have a longer runway but he happens to be a bantamweight which is chocked full of stud fighters, from established contenders to numerous up and coming prospects. A loss to Aoriqileng could be the end of his run with the promotion.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Petela: The opening fight of the show, Montana De La Rosa vs. JJ Aldrich. To be fair, it’s unlikely that either of these women are going to fight for a title in their UFC career but they matchup really well and should put on an entertaining affair. This one should have some fun wrestling and decent striking exchanges and will be a great way to start the event.
Kuhl: I’m also going with a ladies match-up, as Vanessa Demopoulos and Kanako Murata could put on one hell of a show. Both of them put on fun fights, and both have the skills to end it early.
Who takes home the “Performance of the Night” honors?
Kuhl: Kanako Murata, who has some sick wrestling, is taking on Vanessa Demopoulos, who is an accomplished pro grappler. It is very rare to predict Demopoulos to lose by submission, as it has not yet happened in pro MMA, but that may very well happen this weekend. As accomplished as Demopoulos is, Murata grew up training Judo since she was three years old and became a Japan national champion in high school. She then moved to freestyle wrestling, where she became a junior national champion.
In MMA, all of Murata’s submission wins were by wrestling-based chokes, such as Von Flue and anaconda, and, if Demopoulos is not careful, she could very well get caught, sending Murata home with a little extra cash.
Petela: Bill Algeo. His clash with Alexander Hernandez is going to be fun. Algeo’s unorthodox style and his penchant for a bit of showboating will frustrate Hernandez early and often. He is going to have to stay away from the big power of Hernandez but if he’s successful in doing so, as I expect he will be, he could very likely end up scoring a third round finish with some style points that earn him $50K to go along with a big win.
Pair this card with…
Petela: This is a moonshine kind of fight night. When you combine the gritty style of Grant Dawson with the absolutely thudding power of Joe Pyfer in the co-main event nothing seems more appropriate than moonshine. Just be careful and maybe wait a while before cracking open the jar because you don’t want to miss the best fights of the night.
Kuhl: Speed. To quote one of the greatest movies of all time, Talladega Nights, “‘America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, bad-ass speed.’ -Eleanor Roosevelt.” This is going to be a great UFC Fight Night card with a lot of action. Catch up on some Ricky Bobby in preparation.
Main Card (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)
LW: Grant Dawson vs. Bobby Green
MW: Joe Pyfer vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
WW: Alex Morono vs. Joaquin Buckley
LW: Drew Dober vs. Ricky Glenn
LHW: Philipe Lins vs. Ion Cutelaba
FW: Bill Algeo vs. Alexander Hernandez
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET)
Women’s StrawW: Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Diana Belbita
BW: Chris Gutierrez vs. Montel Jackson
BW: Johnny Munoz Jr. vs. Aoriqileng
Women’s StrawW: Kanako Murata vs. Vanessa Demopoulos
FlyW: Nate Maness vs. Mateus Mendonca
Women’s FlyW: Montana De La Rosa vs. JJ Aldrich
De La Rosa
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