UFC on Fox 12: Previewing the Newcomers
The UFC is rapidly expanding and putting on more and more shows, and the increased number of events means an increase in roster size.
On Saturday, the UFC returns to network TV with UFC on Fox 12. Headlined by Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Brown, the event promises to be big time.
However, apart from the big names, there are some fresh faces on the card. In fact, more than a dozen fighters are set to start their journey with the UFC.
Seven fighters are making their official UFC debuts this week. Let's take a look at every new fighter.
Camp: Gracie Barra Belo Horizonte
Known as "Ju Thai," Juliana Lima incorporates a muay thai styling in the cage, which makes that a suitable nickname.
Lima, who was originally supposed to be on The Ultimate Fighter 20, was taken off the show due to her inability to speak English. However, she gets a shot with the company anyway when she takes on Polish prodigy Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Most of Lima's wins have come via decision, though they have come on the feet. She is technical and physically strong, making her a deadly combination in the stand-up.
Most of her wins were against lower levels of Brazilian talent on the Brazilian circuit, and she faltered against Katja Kankaanpaa in her biggest fight to date. We will see if she can succeed when she steps up in competition against Jedrzejczyk.
Camp: Arrachion MMA Olsztyn
Joanna Jedrzejczyk's move down to 115 pounds is the best move she could have made. Even though she was dominant at 125 pounds, she now has a chance to compete with women more her size and, more importantly, in the UFC.
A well-rounded fighter, the Pole has gone undefeated en route to becoming one of Europe's top prospects. Her road to being undefeated came against some stiff competition as well, beating the likes of Russia's Julia Berezikova, respected SFL and Cage Warriors vet Karla Benitez and UFC veteran Rosi Sexton.
Jedrzejczyk's striking was on display in her last fight, as she starched Sexton with a one-punch knockout. However, her grappling is also strong, as she trains alongside some real killers in Poland.
She has a chance at becoming a great commodity at 115. Whoever wins between Jedrzejczyk and Juliana Lima should fight Claudia Gadelha for the chance at the first shot at the 115-pound champion, when she's crowned after the reality show.
Camp: Allstars Training Center
Sweden has had a recent surge in MMA talent. One of those talents is undefeated Andreas Stahl, who debuts opposite fellow debutant Gilbert Burns Saturday.
Stahl takes a big step up in competition here, as the Swede has taken all of his fights in the European regional circuit. His resume doesn't have much name recognition to it, though it appears he has been dominant in his nine career fights.
A big part of Stahl's game plan is grinding down opponents. He likes putting guys up against the cage and pressing on them to wear them out, as well as putting them on their backs and not letting them breathe.
His striking is decent, but it still requires some polishing. He has the power but lacks diversity, including effective kicks on the feet.
He will need to bring his best against Burns.
A jiu-jitsu world champion and top prospect in MMA, Gilbert Burns has gone undefeated en route to his UFC debut.
Yet to leave the first round, Burns has improved his striking leaps and bounds in working with the Blackzilians. Many thought engaging in a ground battle would be a mistake against Burns; however, he has shown that he can bang a bit on the feet as well.
He is also a physical brute. He will be fighting up at welterweight on short notice for this bout, but he will still likely be the more physically imposing fighter between him and Andreas Stahl.
If this fight hits the mat, don't expect it to last long. Burns is a dynamo on the ground.
Camp: Entram Gym
A part of the top gym in Mexico (Entram Gym), Akbarh Arreola enters the UFC as a part of the company's push into his home country. That said, he is one of the most experienced fighters from Mexico, if not the most experienced.
Arreola was a member of TUF 15, though he was taken out in the elimination round by now-UFC contender Myles Jury. Arreola's losses have only come to UFC and Bellator veterans, such as Juan Manuel Puig, Ronys Torres, Brent Weedman, Mac Danzig and Toby Imada.
Most of Arreola's wins come via submission, as 18 of his victims have tapped to the Mexican. That said, he can be susceptible to wrestlers and powerful strikers, so he needs to be the one to force the takedown.
He takes on fellow grappler Tiago dos Santos, which will prove to be a big challenge for the veteran.
Tiago dos Santos
Camp: Team Nogueira
An experienced grappler training with the Nogueira brothers, Tiago dos Santos is a well-rounded 27-year-old Brazilian who has earned his UFC spot with a nice winning streak in his homeland.
Possessing some solid kicks, Dos Santos prefers to soften guys up with low kicks before shooting takedowns and securing top position. From there, he has good ground-and-pound as well as the ability to tap guys out with a variety of techniques.
His resume doesn't have a ton of name recognition, though he likely has better wins than that of his opponent Akbarh Arreola. Using his ground-and-pound against his Mexican counterpart will allow him to soften him up and possibly finish him.
Camp: Black House
An RFA veteran, which is something that the UFC is seeing more and more of, Brian Ortega is a high-level jiu-jitsu fighter who is working on his striking with the renowned Black House gym.
Just 23 years old, Ortega has been competing professionally since 2010, winning half of his fights via submission. Not only is he good on top, but he has a very tricky guard and a strong triangle choke that opponents need to be wary of.
His last two wins have been his most impressive, both of which took place under the RFA banner. After choking out TUF veteran Jordan Rinaldi, Ortega won a close, entertaining decision of Keoni Koch in his latest outing.
Ortega doesn't get an easy bout in his debut against Mike de la Torre. He really needs to bring his A-game and make sure he gets De la Torre on the ground to be successful.