1. Anthony Hernandez (-205) Very Confident
2. Austin Springer (+185) Not Very Confident, Be Careful.
Breakdowns & Predictions
Featherweight Fight: Matt Sayles vs. Yazan Hajeh
Matt Sayles is a very young fighter that takes a veteran approach to his fights. He seems to be a very slow starter, and he has survived some bad spots early on in fights. He does a great job of keeping his composure during when he is getting beat up and goes right back to work when he gets back to his feet. He likes to walk his opponents down and throws a high volume of punches. His strikes come in pretty slow, but as the fights go on he continues a pace that his opponents have a hard time keeping up with. He has been rocked on the feet before pretty badly, and he has been controlled on the ground. I don’t think Sayles is an easy guy to take down. He has shown good clinch control against the cage against a decent wrestler. I think Sayles does need more time to improve before he joins the UFC roster, but his high volume style will be a threat if he can get a little sharper with his defense and movement.
Yazan Hajeh is a talented up and comer. He can be very flashy on the feet at times. He keeps his hands very low and uses a lot of head movement to bait his opponents to overcommit to their strikes. He will switch his stances and throw a variety of kicks to keep his opponents thinking. Everything that he throws doesn’t seem to have much fight ending power on it. It’s more to keep his opponents thinking and to keep the distance. His wrestling is one of his best attributes. His takedowns aren’t the best, and he can get controlled in the clinch. If Hajeh can get on top of his opponents then he will stay on top for a while. He has great top control, and has shown good ground and pound. His biggest flaw is that he seems a bit too small for the bantamweight division. I don’t know if he can make the weight at a weight class lower, but he will get out muscled when he starts climbing the ranks.
Prediction of the Fight
Both men have been cracked hard in fights and came back to win them. I think this is a very competitive match-up, but I would give the edge to Matt Sayles because of his ability to throw a high volume of punches. Yazan Hajeh keeps his hands very low, and he gets hit by punches quite a bit. Hajeh will be the faster man, especially at the start of the fight. If Sayles can throw combinations of three-to-four punches each then he could possibly get a finish. The interesting factor in this fight is if Hajeh gets this fight to the mat. I expect to see a lot of takedown attempts from Hajeh. He needs to put Sayles on his back, and he needs to stay busy when he is on top. Sayles has shown good takedown defense and good clinch work. I think Sayles keeps this fight standing, and does a better job of landing strikes as the rounds go by. If he can get into boxing range often against Hajeh, then he will have a lot of success landing good punches. This should be a fun scrap. Matt Sayles by TKO, Round 2.
Middleweight Fight: Anthony Hernandez vs. Jordan Wright
Anthony Hernandez is a good prospect to watch out for. He has fast and smooth boxing combinations, he’s aggressive, and he has a pretty good jiu-jitsu game. He pushes the pace on the feet with high volume boxing. He sets up his hands well with the jab. He also has a very nice guillotine if his opponent leaves his neck out for a split second. One thing that he has had trouble with in almost every single one of his fights is that he can get stuck in the clinch with his back against the cage. He seems to have a hard time fighting for under-hooks and breaking free from the clinch. He has gotten away with not improving on that part of his game so far, but that can and will be exploited by gritty grapplers. The thing that I love about Hernandez as a prospect is the fact that he is coming off of a five round decision win over a very tough prospect. Hernandez has at least some quality experience before he reached this stage of his career. Keep your eyes out for this kid in the future.
Jordan Wright is 9-0 so far in his career and he is training out of a great camp Jackson/Wink in New Mexico. He has finished all of his opponents in under three minutes, mainly using his jiu-jitsu to get the job done in all of his fights. Enough of me making this guy sound like a world-beater. All of his opponent’s combined record is 10 wins – 55 losses. This guy definitely has some skill, but he has not been testing himself against good competition thus far in his career. He has been fighting very low-level guys, and most importantly, guys that look like they would get schooled by white belts on the mat. Jordan Wright would immediately take these guys down, and pass into a dominant position until he found a submission or got a TKO. He has a good record so far, but I don’t think his record will be so squeaky clean within the next two years.
Prediction of the Fight
This fight is going to be the best fight of the night. I’m really looking forward to seeing Anthony Hernandez go to work. As long as Hernandez can close the distance, he will be able to land a high volume of punches. Jordan Wright is going to look to keep the distance and throw a lot of kicks. He will go low to the legs, and then try to land the head kick. I expect Wright to go for the takedown pretty early in the fight, but Hernandez should be able to shrug it off, or he may be able to sprawl and scramble into a dominant position. Wright will have the most success if he clinches with Hernandez against the cage. From there he should look to use his knees and try to trip Hernandez down. The longer this fight goes, the more it will favor Hernandez. Wright hasn’t ever been in deep water, and I don’t think he’s going to do well when he is eight minutes into the fight. Hernandez will push the pace for the entire three rounds, and I do see him getting a late stoppage with strikes on the ground. Anthony Hernandez by TKO, Round 3.
Featherweight Fight: Giga Chikadze vs. Austin Springer
There’s really not much to say about Giga Chikadze. He is a successful kickboxer that is now making his way into MMA. His striking is going to be better than everyone he faces, and he is at a major disadvantage if his fights go to the mat. His five wins are against opponents with a combined record of 1 win and 29 losses. His only decent competition so far in his MMA career was in his debut. It only took one takedown each round to secure the victory. He showed no signs of getting back to his feet, or any urgency to create scrambles. He also showed no signs of a good sprawl when his opponents shot in for takedowns. It has been quite some time since that fight has happened, and we are going to see how he progressed in the wrestling department in this fight.
Austin Springer is not your future champion. He’s a very subpar fighter that can fight anywhere, but he can also get finished anywhere. He had a stint on The Ultimate Fighter, and lost in the first bout against Chris Gruetzmacher in a very one-sided beat-down. He does have solid wrestling, but he is the guy that can get out-wrestled by wrestlers. His stand-up isn’t too shabby, but he keeps his hands very low which makes it easy for his opponents to land their offense. He is taking this fight on short notice, and I give him all of the credit in the world for taking this opportunity. He definitely has a chance to shine on Tuesday.
Prediction of the Fight
This fight all depends on how quick Austin Springer can get in on a good takedown. He cannot make a desperate attempt at takedowns, but use some strikes to get in close enough to get this fight to the floor. Giga Chikadze is going to be the much larger man in the octagon. If Chikadze can use his length well, then he could end this fight with just a few well-placed strikes. I don’t like the way Springer reacts when he gets hit. He kind of shells up, and you can see a defeated man in his body language. I will not question his heart because he is a fighter. Chikadze has not beaten anyone with a winning record, and he has not shown the ability to sprawl against a basic takedown. I’m going to have to put my trust in Springer to go directly for the takedowns, and by doing so he will pull off the upset. Austin Springer by Decision.
Light Heavyweight Fight: Ryan Spann vs. Emiliano Sordi
This is Ryan Spann’s second shot at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, and he is looking to for redemption after losing in 15 seconds on his first attempt to Karl Roberson. Ryan Spann is a very big man with a good wrestling game. His striking consists of mainly throwing a “one-two” (jab-cross) combination. His punches aren’t fast, but he does have some power in his hands when he does land his right straight. His wrestling isn’t the most dominant. It does take him a while to get fights to the ground, but he’s a force to be reckoned with once he gets on top of his opponents. His submission defense has been tested by one of the best in the world in BJJ, Robert Drysdale. Spann escaped multiple submission attempts from Drysdale, but eventually got tapped out later in the fight. Ryan Spann does get tagged by straight punches from his opponents, and he does get rocked in some of his fights which is concerning. This is his second shot at trying to make it into the UFC, and I think he’s going to try make it count.
Emiliano Sordi has a lot of fights on his record for someone competing on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He’s a very tall lanky guy, and jiu jitsu seems to be his bread and butter. His stand up seemed to be improving in his most recent fights, but he also has not been fighting very talented fighters. He’s not scared to trade punches, but he does get off balance when throwing punches. He just looks a little uncomfortable to exchange punches against fighters that are aggressive. His takedowns don’t seem to be great. It takes him a while to work for a trip when he is in the clinch. Once he gets on the ground, he has very good transitions. But once again, it could be that he is fighting very low level fighters that don’t have much jiu jitsu experience. Sordi has a lot to improve on if he is ever going to have any success at a high level.
Prediction of the fight
I think Ryan Spann has been fighting in better promotions, and against better fighters than Emiliano Sordi. Spann has good wrestling that should prevent this fight from hitting the mat where Sordi will have the advantage with his jiu-jitsu. Spann has been on the ground and survived bad positions before against a way better jiu-jitsu fighter in Robert Drysdale. So I think Spann is capable of surviving the danger on the mat if he does end up in a bad position. I think Spann is going to want to keep this fight on the feet. Sordi is a tall guy, and his reach might give Spann some problems. Spann has been rocked a few times in recent fights, and that’s where I lose my faith in Ryan Spann. All-in-all, Spann is the better fighter. He has the better experience as of late, and this is his fight to lose on Tuesday night. Ryan Spann by KO, Round 2.
Welterweight Fight: Dwight Grant vs. Tyler Hill
Dwight Grant is fighting out of on of the best fight camps around today, American Kickboxing Academy, in San Jose, California. From the footage that I have seen on him, I think he’s an alert fighter. He keeps his distance while using some smooth footwork. When he does strike its only punches in bunches. He does swing a little too wild at times. His best move on the feet seems to big his overhand right. He has knocked out a couple people with that specific punch. Besides a few sprawls, I have not seen much of his grappling game. I’m going to assume that he has some good wrestling fundamentals since he trains with some of the best wrestlers in the MMA game right now.
This guy is very tall fighter for the Welterweight divsion. He uses a Muay Thai style on the feet. He stands tall and throws hard kicks. He does seem a little stiff when he is trading strikes, but he could have improved since we last seen him fight. He does leave his chin up in the air, and he has been rocked or thrown off balance because his chin is hittable. He does have a good clinch. He uses the Muay Thai Plum very well with powerful knees. His ground game seems to be okay if he’s facing someone that has no wrestling or jiu jitsu experience. He did lose his last fight by submission in the Bellator cage.
Prediction of the Fight
Both of these guys have stayed out of the limelight for almost two years. So I expect to see both of these fighters to look a little sharper when they step into the cage on Tuesday. I think Tyler Hill will be the better technical striker, using his range to pick Grant apart with leg kicks and straight punches. If Dwight Grant holds back too much and eats a few leg kicks early, then Tyler Hill will have a much easier night. I’ve seen Grant counter his opponents with punches as they try to throw kicks. He does a great job with not allowing his opponents to sit down and land powerful kicks. Tyler Hill has looked stiff with his striking in the past, leaving his chin straight up in the air, and that plays right into Grant’s best punch: the overhand right. We have seen it many times in the MMA game where the tall man gets crumpled with a big overhand right. That’s the punch to watch for if you’re Tyler Hill. I would like to see Hill use his Muay Thai clinch to really land brutal knees. I think this fight is going to be close. I think this is a good test for both of these young fighters right now in their careers. Dwight Grant by Decision.
Thank you for reading my Breakdowns/Predictions. Leave a comment at the bottom of the page or write me on Twitter if you have any questions/disagreements with any of these fights.