UFC on ESPN+ 58: Johns vs Castaneda - Prediction & Analysis - 02/05/22
Miles Johns vs John Castaneda
Miles Johns (12-1) saw his undefeated streak snapped by the flying knee of Mario Bautista in 2020. “Chapo” rebounded from that by knocking out his next two UFC opponents (Kevin Natividad & Anderson dos Santos). Both of which earned him performance of the night bonuses. He’ll look to make it 3 straight to take his UFC record to 4-1.
John Castaneda (18-5) made good on his shot on the Contender Series back in 2017 but it wasn’t enough to earn him a UFC contract. He returned to his home in Combate Global to get to the finals in their tournament but lost to Levy Saúl Marroquín via split decision. Opportunity would knock however as UFC needed a replacement against Nathaniel Wood in 2020. He got thrown to the wolves there but impressed enough in a losing effort to get a shot at Eddie Wineland, whom he knocked out in the first round.
Despite giving up 1 inch of height, “Sexi Mexi” will enjoy a 5 inch reach advantage over Johns.
How They Match Up
Johns’ biggest strength is his hands. Nothing groundbreaking about that statement as this is apparent if you watch even a minute of his fights. His technique is incredibly solid and he has one shot power which makes him stand out amongst bantamweight prospects. We’ve also seen very capable wrestling skills but it’s clear the man likes to score the knockout. Even still, I like that he’s adding elements or improving the already solid fundamentals in place this early in his UFC career. One of which being the calf kicks that he used to dismantle dos Santos last time out. This in turn, increases the chances he lands shots up stairs and to the body. The varied approach serves him well in overcoming the reach disadvantage he’s usually at due to his compact frame. I also like that he remains very dangerous even later in the fight as evidenced by both of his recent knockouts coming in round 3.
Castaneda was behind on the judges scorecards against Wineland for that first round before he was able to score the finish. Had he not, that would have been 4 straight clear cut rounds against him during his UFC career. That’s not to discredit the TKO he did score though. What I loved about it is he recognized Wineland was hurt on the feet when it wasn’t painfully obvious. His blitz was then very controlled and accurate. But sitting back for the majority of the round is ill advised in the lower weight classes when there’s a higher chance of hitting the scorecards and/or fatigue not being a factor. We have seen him rely on some grappling in past fights, notably the Contender Series fight, but that was nothing to write home about. Even with the win, it did not impress enough to earn a contract.
Johns’ grappling defense should be good enough to stuff Castaneda’s attempts if he decides to go that route anyway. And if things stay on the feet, I like Johns’ chances even more. A Castaneda flash KO isn’t out of the question by any stretch, but where I sit it seems like that’s his only real chance at victory. Johns is just better overall in all areas (fun fact, the last time I said that was about Pena and Nunes and we all know what happened there). Johns by decision or Castaneda by KO upset seems to be the two-true outcomes but I’ll take the former as Castaneda is probably durable enough to withstand the outclassing. This should be a fun fight though and a great feature prelim.