This is a highly disappointing Fight Pass edition of the prelims. It isn't totally the UFC's fault as injuries forced a good amount of fights of the card in general and resulted in all but one fight being moved off of the Fight Pass fights. Hell, I had two fights on here until just hours before publishing this Vagner Rocha (himself an injury replacement) pulled up lame and forced a cancellation in his bout with Joe Ellenberger. So we are left with one fight that was made just barely over a week before the event itself. It isn't a bad fight... but neither guy seems like they are going to develop into contenders in the long run.
I know its just one fight... but here is the breakdown on it.
TUF 18's Beal gets another chance to make good with the UFC as he squares off with fellow newcomer Williams. Neither comes in with great hype at this juncture.
Beal was given a difficult hand to play when he injured his hand in his entry bout into the TUF house. Whether he would have obtained any more victories without the injury can obviously be debated, but he showed grit by fighting through the injury even in a losing effort. He has largely beaten journeymen of the sport with his best win isn't even an official victory, being his house entry opponent in Sirwan Kakai. The cancer survivor trains out of Knuckleheadz Boxing alongside the likes of Tony Ferguson.
Does Arizona St. ever stop producing wrestlers who transition into MMA? Apparently not as Williams is another product of the NCAA's best producer of MMA talent. A little advanced in age at 32 to expect a title run from someone making their UFC debut so late, Williams has certainly shown that he could make for an exciting fight at the very least and pull out a number of victories within the promotion.
Beal is very much a project due to the fact that he only does one thing really well. Fortunately for him, he does it very well. If only he could branch out... Until he figures out how to do more than box, it'll be hard to take him serious as a legit prospect. When he boxes, his combos flow very naturally and smoothly for him as it is rare he lands just one punch (or short elbow) at a time. His technique is solid, but he could do a better job of improving his footwork and coming in from an angle as he too often just rushes forward trying to score on his opponent. Overall his aggression has served him well, but he'll be vulnerable to even a quasi-talented counter striker. You can tell he has power in his hands, but curiously has only 2 KO/TKO wins. If he could develop some kicks it would open up his boxing that much more, but it hasn't been seen yet.
As for Williams, he doesn't want to fight a full 15 minutes and comes out of the gate indicating that right from the bat. He is very active and does a good job mixing his punches to the body and head and will throw a kick in there for good measure in his combinations. He has a lot of power in his fists too. His KO of Gabe Maldonado consisted of two very close range punches that sent Maldonado dropping like a bag of bricks. Don't be surprised to seeing a flying knee or perhaps a spinning kick from him either. I could see his aggression getting him into some trouble with Beal, but expect both to be aggressive and try to beat one another to the punch rather than attempt to counter.
To this point Williams has used his wrestling in reverse to keep the fight standing. As you can guess from that, he owns a very good sprawl. I can't say that I've seen him in a defensive situation to this point (lack of video, not that he hasn't been in it), but offensively he looks comfortable enough with the submission aspect of fighting that it serves as a very nice compliment to his wrestling abilities. His GNP does a nice job of softening up his opponent, but looks as though it will rarely finish a fight. Like Beal though, he wants it standing. He has let his opponent up before despite having a dominant position.
After his knockdown of Kakai, Beal quickly jumped on Kakai's back and got hooks and then had the look and attitude of "I got his back! What do I do now?" Its clear that he doesn't want to be on the ground. He gave up control too easily and even passed on a golden opportunity to take his Kakai's back later in the fight in favor of allowing him to stand and land a weak combination. I've seen very little to indicate he'd be able to win by submission at the UFC level at this point. His base is solid and he has a good sprawl when it comes to preventing takedowns. He'll telegraph some of his shots for the takedown, but has enough of a background that he can still complete a double or single leg. I don't think his wrestling will be on the level of Williams though.
An x-factor comes into play here. Williams has never fought at 135 that I'm aware of as he has largely been at featherweight to this point. I'm sure he knows how to cut weight efficiently from his wrestling days, but he is taking this fight with just a little more than a weeks notice and could sap him badly. His saving grace could be that Beal slows (not gasses) quite a bit after the first round.
I can't help but think that the more dynamic attack of Williams will do the trick here. The weight cut does worry me as Beal has always been at bantamweight. But Beal's one good dimension isn't enough to convince me he'll overtake Williams. Williams by Decision
Record for last Card: 11-2
Record for Year: 90-51-1