Everything You NEED to Know About UFC Fight Night 38 Prelims*

Now this is what a Fight Night preliminary card should look like. Then again, the UFC usually aims for this only to have injuries ruin the best laid of plans. There are a few debuting fighters with some promise. Some prospects who've been around that are looking to get back upon the right track. A pair of veterans who were once contenders are vying for relevancy against one another. Another fighter is testing himself at a new weight class.

About my only complaint is that half of the fights are genuine toss-ups on whom to pick while the others seem to be set up as a way to get a particular fighter on track. While I understand that, I feel those types of matches should be used judiciously. Oh well. I don't get paid to make matches.

Diego Brandao (18-9) vs. Will Chope (19-6), Featherweight

If nothing else, this should be an interesting visual match up as Brandao is 5'7 and Chope is 6'4. Combine that with Brandao's intensity, the weigh-in staredown is gonna be awesome!

Right when you think Brandao is ready to turn the corner and become a star, he does something that shows he isn't ready for the turn of the corner yet. He missed weight by 6 pounds (after being allotted more time after his first weigh-in nonetheless, which he blamed on a car accident) in his last fight and was tired before the first round was over. He is still young enough that stardom is possible, but he is going to have to step up his discipline big time if that is to happen.

Chope will likely be known only for his height at such a light weight. He is only 23, which is likely why he is able to make the weight, but also indicates that he is far from his peak. It doesn't seem likely the UFC is going to give him time to reach that point though as they haven't given him any sort of tune up fight... and he could really use one.

Its funny to think that people had higher expectations for Brandao than they did fellow TUF 14 winner John Dodson. But it isn't difficult to see. He is a whirling dervish of violence that wings his punches with malice intent. He comes out extremely aggressive and though he has shown a little bit more caution at times to prevent himself from gassing, I have a feeling that isn't going to be the case here... and I would say it would be a well calculated gamble to do so.

Chope throws a lot of kicks to try and take advantage of his range. Problem is he is still figuring out how to efficiently do that. I remember in his UFC debut him landing kicks that were countered by Max Holloway with punches Holloway didn't need to come forward for. Translation: he doesn't always keep distance as he should and this will be an issue as Brandao isn't the technical striker that Holloway is, but he is a hell of a lot stronger. As would be expected for someone as lanky as he is, Chope doesn't offer a lot of power behind his punches and isn't fluid enough in his kicks.

I wonder why I'm continuing because I don't expect the fight to go to the ground, but it would be the only chance that Chope has. RNC's are his favorite move by far (8 W's by way of RNC) and his long limbs make it easy to lock up his opponents body for hooks. But I don't see him having the strength to get the fight to the ground. Besides that, he would have to close the distance with Brandao... not a good recipe for success.

Brandao is far from a great wrestler himself, but his fairly submission savvy and has shown a great ability to get the fight to the ground when he wants to. Well... when he is fighting a non-wrestler. And that is the case here. Don't expect to see this though.

Chope is too hittable and Brandao is too powerful for me to see this going any other way than Brandao taking off Chope's head. There is a good chance Chope gets released after this which is too bad. The kid has potential. Maybe he gets to stick around, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Brandao by KO 1st Round

Thiago Santos (8-2) vs. Ronny Markes (14-2), Middleweight

This feels like a mismatch. Santos lasted 47 seconds in a loss for his UFC debut and competed on TUF Brazil 2 at welterweight while Markes is a former light heavyweight with a UFC record of 3-1. Do I really need to go into greater detail?

Santos showed well on the show scoring 1-2 record after getting in the house (he won the wild card match before losing again). He hasn't scored a victory of note as he has only beaten also-rans and cans with a combined record of 14-24. Getting a better idea of why I don't have a lot of confidence in him for this bout?

Markes is one of the least exciting fighters in the UFC, but he does a solid job of playing to his strengths and is young enough at 25 that he could enter the ranks of contenders in a few years. His size and power is very imposing in the weight class... the question is if he can transition his power into his striking.

While I have had very little positive to say about Santos up to this point, there are positives worth mentioning. He has a wide variety of kicks in his arsenal and he is very capable of connecting to ones head and putting them out. He doesn't get flashy (i.e. no spinning kicks), but throws them in abundance, possibly even more than punches. Take that how you want as I'm not sure if I would say its good or bad, but the punches come in close quarters and that would be about it.

Santos will likely have the advantage on the feet. Markes has a very simplistic striking game. He throws out a jab and the occasional power shot with his right. Not a whole lot more to it. Unless you want me to mention leg kicks which aren't unique in a good or bad way. He is effective at clinching against the cage and using dirty boxing, but he usually pulls that out when he is incapable of getting the fight to the ground. Speaking of that...

That is easily where Markes is at his best. He is very heavy on top and employs a smothering style where he doesn't really need to throw a lot of strikes. It isn't the most fun to watch, but it can wear down his opponent. Not being the most creative, he really only goes for submissions when they are presented to him. As for how he gets the fight there, his large frame assists greatly with his body locks and in the clinch as he looks for trips.

Everything that Markes is good at is what leads me to believe that Santos has no chance. Markes is capable of catching his kicks and getting him to the ground. The fact that Santos was taken down and held down by Leonardo Santos in the TUF house is very concerning as Leonardo now fights at lightweight. And Markes is HUGE at middleweight.

I've made it clear enough how I see this fight going. If Santos wants to have success in the UFC, he is fighting in the wrong division. He should ask Robbie Lawler how fighting at your appropriate weight class can help. Until then, he is gonna be overwhelmed by the physical beasts of the division. Markes by TKO 1st Round

#13 Scott Jorgensen (14-8) vs. #7 Jussier Formiga (15-3), Flyweight

Can the flyweights get some love? What the hell are two ranked fighters doing on the prelims of a Fight Night card? I would say its a striker vs. grappler match, but brawler vs. submission specialist seems more appropriate.

Jorgensen is the brawler here. Once upon a time he was one of the premier bantamweights in the world and challenged Dominick Cruz for the WEC belt in the organization's finale show. He has since lost 4 of 5, including flyweight debut to Zach Makovsky in December. This is likely his last chance to get back on track.

Formiga was once considered to be THE premier flyweight in the world. Signs of that fighter have been non-existent since he joined the UFC. He is 1-2 with his only victory a win over Chris Cariaso by maintaining positional dominance. Just as it is with Jorgensen, this could be the last chance for Formiga to get on track.

While there isn't such a thing as a truly plodding flyweight, Jorgensen is as close as you are going to get to labeling someone at 125 as plodding. He wasn't the quickest at bantamweight and that issue is only exacerbated at flyweight. However, he is very strong and that is accentuated at his new weight. Its hard to think of another flyweight with the same raw strength. He is able to transfer a lot of it into his right hand, but he has a tendency to fall in love with it and doesn't do enough to diversify his attack.

Still, Jorgensen has a lot more to offer on his feet than Formiga. To sum it up, Formiga doesn't own a single KO/TKO victory to his credit. Again, zero. It isn't so much that he completely sucks, but there is little substance to the small frenzies of punches and leg kicks that he throws. If he is able to move in and out efficiently and avoid his opponents counter strikes, he could outpoint Jorgensen on the feet. But he sure as hell won't finish him.

Considering Formiga wasn't able to find a crack in Cariaso's defense to nab a submission, many fans have the wrong idea about Formiga. He is relentless in pressure on the ground and constantly looking for an opening. The pressure combined with the small strikes he lands at a fair pace allow him to work his ground magic without much fear of being stood up. If he gets your back, you might as well call it good at that point. Though his wrestling isn't a true strength, he does utilize double leg takedowns thanks to his pressure, but is more effective with his judo.

The question is: Can Formiga get Jorgensen down? Jorgensen is an excellent wrestler with a solid base. Only the best wrestlers in the division have been able to get him down. But it is worth noting that Makovsky was able to utilize his speed advantage with great efficiency against Jorgensen. Its true that Jorgensen stuffed most of Makovsky's takedown attempts, but Makovsky was dogged enough to keep trying to the point that he found great success. Does Formiga have Makovsky's wrestling? No, but he is dogged in those takedowns and is similarly fast. Hmm...

Though Formiga will have the ground advantage, Jorgensen is far from helpless. He is an awesome defensive wrestler and knowledgeable in reversing unfavorable positions. As a result he isn't easy to submit.

I keep going back and forth here. Jorgensen is the safe pick, but he has been trending downward badly as of late. Those type of spirals are difficult to stop, especially against good competition... and Formiga is good competition. I'm trying to avoid overthinking and I'll go with my initial gut feeling of Formiga, even though I'm not totally sure how he does it. He has lost to dynamic and powerful strikers and though Jorgensen is powerful, he isn't very dynamic. Formiga by Decision

Thiago Perpetuo (9-2-1) vs. Kenny Robertson (12-3), Welterweight

Neither of these fights seem to have a great deal of potential... but they have been involved in some entertaining bouts. Isn't that why we watch?

Perpetuo was introduced to the world via the first incarnation of TUF Brazil and acquainted himself quite well by reaching the semi-finals. Its hard not to root for the guy considering he overcame cancer in his shoulder as a youth and has been able to make it to the premier MMA organization. Considering he formerly fought at 205, it is safe to assume (and accurate) that he hits very hard.

Robertson received a lot of attention after he applied a modified kneebar/hamstring stretcher (whatever the hell you want to call it) on Brock Jardine at UFC 157. He hasn't been nearly as successful in his other Octagon appearances, but has been game every time out.

The easiest way to sum up this match is a classic grappler vs. striker bout. Perpetuo is clearly the striker with all sorts of power in his hands and plenty of aggression to go with it. He isn't often reckless, though it did cost him in his last turn with Omari Akhmedov. To his credit, he had Akhmedov rocked multiple times in that single round the fight lasted. He could be more technically sound with his striking as he loves to wing his punches, which illustrates how he can be counter punched.

Despite Perpetuo's liability to counter punches, Robertson doesn't seem to be the guy to take advantage of that. That isn't to say Robertson has nothing going for him. He's very creative with his striking and his power (while it isn't great) is alright. While willing to brawl, he is without the same power Perpetuo possesses, so it would be wise to avoid that. He mixes up his combinations effectively with punches and kicks and it is conceivable to see him wearing down Perpetuo... but it won't be with one strike. The longer the fight goes, the better his chances of winning as he has no questions with his cardio, which Perpetuo can't say as it is uncertain how his first weight cut to welterweight will go.

Robertson will want to take the fight to the ground. He isn't a pure submission specialist, but 8 of his victories have come that way. He has a wrestling background and is good with his positioning, which he has to be as he his lack of strength has been evidenced here as well as his takedowns haven't been effective at this level. He was unable to finish Sean Pierson in his last bout despite landing roughly 70 shots on the ground. Similar to his striking, he is creative in going for submissions.

Perpetuo hasn't shown a lot on the ground. Submissions are less than an afterthought for him and he shows little to no offense off of his back. To say something positive though, he is capable of getting the fight to the ground using his brute strength and has very strong GNP.

The X-factor is how well the weight cut for Perpetuo goes. He had a muscular frame at middleweight and will certainly loss some of that mass with the cut. But I think enough of his power will be able to transfer over. That isn't to say that a victory for Roberson will be surprising, but I expect Perpetuo will come out swinging and catch the American. Perpetuo by TKO 1st Round

Noad Lahat (7-0) vs. Godofredo Pepey (9-3), Featherweight

The UFC lands its first Israeli-born fighter in Lahat and are attempting to set him up for success upon his entry against Pepey. Sounds cruel, but its the truth.

Lahat seems like he may be an actual prospect rather than a novelty to gain a particular audiences attention (aka TUF China). At 29 though, he'll have to progress in a hurry. He has been training for quite a while, but has taken significant breaks in between fights. As a result it is possible that precious experience has been lost for the Israeli soldier. His level of competition is questionable though as the combined record of his opponents is 31-57-1.

Pepey is lucky to still be employed by the UFC with a 1-3 record and that one victory was controversial in itself. At 26, there is time for him to improve, but he'll have to do so in a hurry if he wants to avoid unemployment. After the way his last few bouts have gone, just making it out of the first round would be progress.

Lahat shows fantastic technique in his boxing. He moves in and out of range very fluidly throwing nice combinations, which include mixing in some leg kicks. There is very little power behind his strikes, but he realizes this and isn't trying to make himself something that he is not. His defense leaves a little to be desired, but Pepey isn't the fighter who is going to expose that.

Lets not pretend that Pepey has anything significant to offer on the feet cause he doesn't. His striking is very undisciplined which he largely uses to try and get his opponents moving backwards and off balance in order to get a takedown. He has a very long reach, but has never figured out how to utilize it. His leg kicks would have to be his best strike... and considering they are nowhere near the level of Edson Barboza, that isn't saying much.

While I don't want to crap on Lahat's grappling, he will want to keep this on the feet. Don't get me wrong, Lahat is very positionally smart, stays busy, and never overexerts what he can do from his position. But Pepey's only real shot is on the ground. Granted, Pepey's last two losses have via strikes on the ground, Lahat is far from a powerhouse.

If Pepey could ever figure out how to effectively land takedowns, he would be a legit UFC prospect. Alas, he hasn't been able to do that (11% success rate) and as a result has been able to play to his strengths. He is excellent in scrambles and fully capable of slapping on a submission well before his opponent knows what is going on. But his lack of strength is also on display here as well: Felipe Arantes was able to get the TKO while Pepey had full guard utilized.

Lahat shows sound technique and that beats winging it 9 out of 10 times. Throw in the fact that he trains at AKA with some of the best in the world and I gotta think that he has grown by leaps and bounds. Lahat by Decision

Hans Stringer (21-5-3) vs. Francimar Barroso (16-3), Light Heavyweight

This bout contains a couple of fighters even most hardcore fans don't know a lot about. I'm sure I've really got your attention now. Hey... wait. Come back!

From the Netherlands, Stringer has been fighting since 2005 despite being only 26 years old. His resume has some cans and a lot of veteran journeymen mixed in there. He doesn't have a signature victory, but does own a draw with current Bellator champion Attila Vegh. Its also worth noting that he trains with the Blackzilians.

Barroso does have a UFC victory on his resume, but it was a lackluster affair with Ednaldo Oliveira which doesn't exactly count as a signature victory either. He was a short notice injury replacement in that fight and at 34, its likely the UFC has no long term plans for him besides feeling out a young prospect or two... just like they are doing with Stringer.

There isn't a whole lot of footage that I could find on Stringer so this may not be the most accurate scouting report, but I assure you I'm not trying to throw you off on purpose. He seems to be very much a grinder as he prefers the clinch and utilizing lots of dirty boxing and knees. His boxing at a distance seems... alright, but I haven't seen enough to get a true feel for it. His fundamentals seem sound enough that I don't expect him to be a a disadvantage of epic proportions.

Barroso has a kickboxing background that he showed at times in his bout with Oliveira. He has some beautiful kicks (leg, body, and head) and does a solid job utilizing angles, most often coming over the top with his punches. He seemed tentative with Oliveira, but he was wary about Oliveira's '82 reach. It isn't like he usually fights in berserker mode, but expect a more aggressive Barroso this time around. He's pretty solid in the clinch himself.

Stringer about what you would expect from a European who doesn't specialize in grappling: good positional knowledge and takedowns relying more on outmuscling his opponents than actual technique. He'll shoot for double or single legs and when he doesn't get them down right away, goes for the body lock to drag them down. Considering he prefers to pound out his opponents, he will likely need to polish this area up. Don't discount his submissions either as he owns 8 sub victories.

Barroso is a BJJ black belt who has preferred to have his fights standing. Expect more of the same here. If it does go to the ground, he shows good defense off of his back and I would fully expect him to survivie Stringer's onslaught. He shows more power in his takedowns than Stringer does, but I don't expect him to manhandle Stringer as he has some of his other opponents. As for his actual BJJ... haven't really found it in action.

My brain says to go with Barroso and I usually listen to it. But this has the feel of a trend that has screwed my over in my picks. The UFC brings in a seemingly unpolished prospect against an opponent that seems to have a clear advantage only for the prospect to pick up the W (Roysten Wee, Krzystof Jotko, Mark Eddiva). Based on that, I'm picking Stringer. Stringer by Decision

Record for last Card: 5-8

Record for Year: 62-36

*I just want to quickly acknowledge that I referred to the last Fight Night as Fight Night 38 as well not knowing if the Macau card would count in that lineage. It appears it won't... thus my repeating of calling an event Fight Night 38. Sorry for confusion.

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