In this week’s “Understanding the Undercard”, we preview the prelims for UFC Vegas 36: Brunson vs. Till. UFC Vegas 36 takes place on Saturday, September 4, 2021. The preliminary card begins at 1:30 PM EST on ESPN and ESPN+.
Molly McCann vs Ji Yeon Kim
This fight features a showdown between two flyweights who have largely been classified as boxers in their UFC careers, and even prior to that. McCann is much more of a volume striker, willing to get in her opponent’s face and make it dirty. Kim on the other hand is a bit more of a range striker thanks to the ridiculous reach advantage she typically has (it’ll be 10 inches in this fight). Kim isn’t above getting into a firefight though, if the situation calls for it, and especially not when her opponent turns up the pressure late in the fight.
The other aspect of this fight that is intriguing is that both women have struggled in defending takedowns. In fact, it has likely cost McCann her last two fights. However, while they both have a weakness there, only one of them likes to attack in that regard. Kim has never shot a takedown, while McCann has had moderate success in getting the fight to the ground when she’s having trouble on the feet.
The Final Word
Ultimately, Kim is going to have more success when striking due to that reach advantage. However, I think when McCann sees that – if it’s not already on her mind – she’ll bring the fight to the ground. If she does that with as much success as I imagine she’ll have, she’ll take home the unanimous decision victory here. McCann by UD.
Jack Shore vs Liudvik Sholinian
Jack Shore is a hyper-prospect out of Wales that has been looking for a step up in competition. He’s 3-0 and hasn’t run into a lot of other prospects or adversity so far in the UFC. While the UFC had him booked with another tough up-and-comer in Said Nurmagomedov, that fight fell off and he’s left with TUF cast member Liudvik Sholinian on short notice. Sholinian won his first fight in the Ultimate Fighter house before dropping a decision to eventual winner Ricky Turcios.
From a technical standpoint, the key aspect here centers around the wrestling of Sholinian. Nearly all the success he had on the show came from moving forward, semi-recklessly and getting the takedown. His loss came when he ran into someone who could sweep and scramble with him. He’ll likely do the same here and the approach will be welcomed by Shore, who loves a ground scrap in his own right. Eight of Shore’s fourteen wins have come by submission.
The Final Word
Shore is not only better at defending takedown entries than Ricky Turcios, but he’s also got a better scrambling game. He is also better at putting opponents away from his own back. Being as Sholinian had trouble with that facet of Turcios’ game, and all of his offence seems to run through that strategy, I think there’s little hope he gets by Shore. Shore by Submission.
Julian Erosa vs Charles Joudain
In a recent interview with journalist Cole Shelton, Julian Erosa said that he plans on just wrestling Jourdian non-stop for 15 minutes. That statement was immediately met across the internet with incredulity. While he may in fact have a wrestling advantage over Jourdain, Erosa has never met an exchange he didn’t like. Despite losing his last time out to Sueng Woo Choi by KO, he is quite durable and likes to test that durability.
Jourdain on the other hand is far more interested in picking the spots for his strikes. He basically played a version of a matador against Marcelo Rojo last time out. Despite the Argentinian getting in his face non-stop, he won parts of the exchange and then got away enough to wear Rojo out en route to a finish. The biggest question on the style match-up for this fight is whether or not Erosa would tire enough given this strategy. Erosa may also be better at cutting the cage off instead of chasing Jourdain like Rojo did.
The Final Word
Jourdain did a good job staying out of extended exchanges last time out, particularly ones where he wasn’t getting the upper hand. However, I do attribute some of that to the way that Rojo was cutting angles and possibly the speed decline as he tired. I think Erosa has enough power in the hands, and feet, to put Jourdain away, and I think he’s savvy enough to work Jourdain into an exchange where he can do that. Erosa by (T)KO
Dalcha Lungiambula vs Marc-Andre Barriult
Dalcha Lungiambula is a former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion with EFC in South Africa. He has absolute dynamite in his hands and at one point had KOed four out of his last six opponents. Now in the UFC, he has dropped down to middleweight, which seems to have affected his power to some degree, and his cardio to a larger one – and it wasn’t all that good to begin with.
Filling the other corner for this fight is the Canadian Marc-Andre Barriault, who is kind of a foil for Lungiambula. In his last two fights, he’s seemingly found some power that was apparent on his regional run but hadn’t shown up in the UFC yet. He also has impeccable cardio and durability. He took a beating from Abu Aziatar last time out but rallied to knock out the Moroccan. It’s not only his attributes that are opposite of Lungiambula. He also could not be more different physically – having nowhere near the strength of Dalcha and standing much taller.
The Final Word
While I still think that Lungiambula’s power will reappear at middleweight, his cardio gives me a lot of concerns. I’m unsure that he has much more than five minutes of his best stuff. Although I do believe we’ll see more of his power again, the fact that Barriault is so durable is just a nightmare for Lungiambula. Barriault by (T)KO.
Jonathan Martinez vs Marcelo Rojo
I’ve already dove into a little bit of what Rojo brings to the table. In his lone UFC fight with Charles Joudain, he moved forward with reckless abandon and tried to turn the fight into a brawl. The end result was him getting picked apart and then tiring out before being KOed. The unfortunate aspect of this fight is that Jonathan Martinez can likely mimic that style. He himself is pretty good at picking his shots and staying out of exchanges that don’t suit him.
The wrinkles in this comparison are leg kicks. Jourdain threw a lot of them in the fight with Rojo, which may have contributed to him slowing down. Martinez throws far fewer of them when he fights. It’s not that he doesn’t have the ability to do so, it just seems like a less comfortable weapon for him and is not his default.
The Final Word
Under the tutelage of Marc Montoya at Factory X Muay Thai and MMA, Martinez always comes out with a great gameplan. Although he hasn’t thrown all that many leg kicks in the past, I do expect him to make that adjustment since it’s worked so well against Rojo in the past. Even if he doesn’t though, I still think he’s the more polished striker and takes enough rounds doing what he does best. Martinez by UD