Vettori vs Holland Undercard Preview & Predictions Part 1- 4/10/21
Yorgan de Castro vs Jarjis Danho
Yorgan de Castro (6-2-0) took home the win with a KO victory on Contender Series. He then knocked out Justin Tafa in his UFC debut. Things haven’t gone as smoothly since that last win as the fighter from Cape Verde dropped unanimous decisions to Greg Hardy and Carlos Felipe in 2020.
Jarjis “Man Mountain” Danho (5-1-1) returns to action for the first time since 2016. He’s yet to win in the UFC, losing his debut by technical decision (Daniel Omielanczuk) and then drawing with Christian Colombo. He had bouts scheduled throughout 2017-2020 but they fell through due to injuries and the pandemic hitting.
Both of these men are absolutely huge, routinely clocking in at the maximum heavyweight limits. They have an identical 74-inch reach as well.
Anything can happen when two 260+ pound men sling leather in the octagon but I just can’t back Danho until he shows me something impressive. “Man Mountain” clearly wants to get the fight to the ground but when that doesn’t happen he fatigues badly. Not to mention he keeps his hands low from start to finish (I can think of no worse strategy when a 265 heavyweight is trying to take your head off). If he clinches with de Castro and scores a takedown from the clinch in the first minute then so be it. Otherwise, a sloppy overhand right and baiting your opponent into throwing illegal knees to your head is not going to be an effective strategy against de Castro. I expect de Castro to capitalize on his technical striking edge on route to the win.
Winner: Yorgan de Castro
Hunter Azure vs Jack Shore
Hunter Azure (9-1-0) rebounded from his first career defeat (KO to Brian Kelleher) by scoring a unanimous decision over Cole Smith back in September. He jumped up to featherweight to fight Kelleher but then returned to Bantamweight which is where this fight will take place.
Undefeated at 13-0, Jack Shore looks to make it three straight UFC victories this weekend. The fighter from Wales has finished all but one of his 13 career victories (8 by submission and 4 by KO/TKO).
“Tank” will hold a 2-inch reach advantage over Azure
This should be an interesting matchup. Hunter Azure wisely went back to his wrestling in his last fight against Smith after his stand-up experiment with Kelleher failed. Shore also utilizes a heavy wrestling attack to hunt for submissions or win rounds. This could end up as a grapple-heavy grinding type of fight. Basically whichever fighter finds themselves closer to the cage is in danger of being pressed and controlled. I can see this being incredibly competitive and tough to score on the feet and in the clinch. Azure has more UFC experience, will probably be a bit bigger with a slight wrestling edge. Shore has more prominent finishing ability, slight edges in most of the major fight metrics, and a bit more momentum. I have a very slight lean for Shore to stay undefeated but not terribly confident.
Winner: Jack Shore
Jordan Griffin vs Luis Saldana
Jordan Griffin (18-8-0) has struggled to get much traction in the UFC since punching his ticket on Contender Series. He was thrown to the wolves on his debut, taking on top contender, Dan Ige, who won a unanimous decision. He followed that up with another decision loss - this time to Chas Skelly. He went 1-1 in 2020, submitting T.J Brown and then losing to Youssef Zalal in a competitive scrap.
Luis Saldana (14-6-0) makes his octagon debut Saturday. He scored a TKO victory 44 seconds into the 3rd round on Contender Series to secure his contract.
Both fighters match up evenly in terms of height, age, and reach.
Saldana looked incredible in his Contender Series fight. He picked his opponent apart at range and looked fresh throughout the contest. Griffin tends to let his opponent take the center before he blitzes forward with a few shots and clinches up. He then works to get the fight to the mat from there. I believe this is going to be a winning strategy here. One concerning factor is how tired Griffin got in his last fight during the third round, however. He may have an optimal strategy to steal a win here, but he’s going to need to have the cardio to match the grind he needs to expose Saldana to. Saldana is of course going to be hunting the knockout but “The Native Psycho” is durable as hell. Octagon experience and ground control should spoil Saldana’s debut.
Winner: Jordan Griffin
Da Un Jung vs William Knight
Da Un Jung (13-2-1) kicked his UFC career off with finishes over Khadis Ibragimov and Mike Rodriguez. The momentum got slowed up a bit when he took Sam Alvey to a split draw back in October.
William Knight (9-1) has been involved in the covid shuffle, having his sophomore bout rescheduled a few times now. He scored a TKO victory on the Contender Series back in September and then made his octagon debut a few weeks later. He beat Aleksa Camur for a wide decision victory.
He’ll give up 6 inches of height and 5 inches of reach to the fighter from South Korea.
Knight is going to hold a massive athletic advantage as he usually does over his opponents. Fighters who end up clinching with “Knightmare” or find themselves on the bottom end up getting battered by his scary ground and pound. On the feet is a little bit of a different story as he can leave his head straight up after he engages. I think Jung is savvy enough on the feet to avoid Knight’s power while picking him apart with 1-2’s. If he does find himself clinched up, the South Korean has excellent elbows in tight. As long as he’s smart enough not to hang out there too long or get tripped to the mat he should take it.
Winner: Da Un Jung
Impa Kasanganay vs Sasha Palantnikov
Impa Kasanganay (8-1) makes his return to the octagon after being on the wrong side of the KO of the year. Prior to boosting Joaquin Buckley’s highlight reel, “Tshilobo” was undefeated, winning 8 straight. He took home two Contender Series wins before battling Maki Pitolo to a decision win in his octagon debut.
Sasha Palantnikov made his octagon debut back in November, where he scored a huge upset victory over Louis Cosce. The fight was an absolute grueling war that saw Palantnikov come back from the brink of being finished in the first round to take out his opponent in the third.
He will have a 2-inch height advantage but will be at a 3-inch reach disadvantage to Kasanganay.
You can never be entirely sure how a fighter will rebound from their first KO loss, especially one as devastating as Kasanganay’s. We also don’t know how this weight cut will affect him since he wasn’t exactly a small middleweight. What we’ve seen from him up so far was a high output striking game. He generally uses his athleticism to keep the fight on the feet where he uses jabs and a good overhand right to score. Palantnikov showed in his last fight that he has an incredible sprawl, is tough as hell, and a good gas tank. He keeps his hands lower to get a headstart on that defensive wrestling and I think this may be his undoing in this one. Despite his varied striking arsenal, he was extremely hittable in that last fight. If Kasanganay just makes this a technical boxing match, he most likely outpoints him. If for some reason he decides to become a wrestler in this one, then Palantnikov is going to stuff those takedowns and take over the fight. Even with the unknowns, I’m thinking it will be the former option with Kasanganay getting back in the win column.
Winner: Impa Kasanganay
You can find Part 2 of Undercard predictions and breakdown by Clicking Here