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Ronny Markes, a product of one of Brazil's finest camps, Nova Uniao, will make his third appearance inside the Octagon this weekend (Jan. 19, 2013) UFC on FX 7: "Bisping vs. Belfort." He brings a unique combination of youth, size, athletic ability and skill, all of which will likely be on display against Andrew Craig this Saturday in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Andre Pederneiras -- the head trainer at Nova Unaio -- is known to constantly outdo himself in bringing in the creme-de-la-creme of young Brazilian talent. He has taken quality prospects and turned them into polished champions, most notably Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) stars Renan Barao and Jose Aldo.
Markes is a physical monster, boasting a very tight mixed martial arts (MMA) game. And at the age of 24, already has a six-year tenure in the sport. His attack is multifaceted, bringing to the table strong striking, as well as an advanced grappling base. At middleweight, Markes dwarfs his competition, standing at 6'1," but with the muscle build of a stocky Light Heavyweight.
The Brazilian presents a very difficult challenge to those he faces because he is a unique threat. Standing, he is sharp and aggressive, utilizing a full array of punches, kicks and knees to batter opponents. His fundamentals, while not quite perfect, are definitely solid, possessing the natural knockout power to keep any fighter on his heels. His clinch striking is equally as potent, as his short punches and knees allow him to batter opponents, while using his mass to keep them at bay against the cage.
On the ground, Markes is also a significant threat to opponents -- his brutal top game is supplemented by his size and an always prevalent submission threat. He is rarely content to stay in guard, and with his power and Brazilian jiu-jitsu technique, he forces his way into more and more dominant positions. His career submissions have all been from the top position, two of which come by arm triangle and another by kimura, showing that he is a fighter focused on maintaining dominance in his fights.
What truly makes Markes such a great prospect is his incredible takedown ability. While this is nothing uncommon with Nova Uniao's younger fighters, as seen in UFC champions Barao and Aldo, Markes' takedown ability rivals that of the more respected wrestlers who hail from the United States. With his size, strength and wrestling ability, Markes was able to outdo decorated collegiate wrestling powerhouse Aaron Simpson (if only by a slight margin), and prove that he is a very hard fighter to stop when he's looking for the takedown.
This Saturday, Markes may move into an interesting spot in the 185-pound division. A rare prospect in a relatively talent-thin division, he has the potential to shoot up the rankings in a big way if he can put together a few more quality wins. If he can make the Top 10 by the end of this year, he'd be the youngest fighter among them, and with potential rivaling that of fellow middleweight standout, Chris Weidman.
Seeing Markes take on Andrew Craig this Saturday should be indicative of his future in the middleweight division. Craig poses a very stiff test to many middleweights, bringing a well-rounded game with a strong mentality. He can recognize when he's down on the scorecards, and with his cardio and finishing ability, he poses a threat to opponents until the fight has ended.
When Markes faces off with Craig, he'll be tested in more ways than one. If he can get an early finish, he will have been the first to defeat a pretty strong opponent in a big way. If the fight makes it to the later rounds, he'll be forced to maintain offense despite how tired he may be, or Craig may take the fight into his own hands.
If Markes can pass this test, he could stand a chance against some of the division's finest in the near future. He has the kind of rounded skillset and aggressive mindset to give many top middleweights problems ... and he's still improving.
Should the matchmakers decide to give him a step up if he wins here, Markes could be in line to fight men among the likes of Alan Belcher, Tim Boetsch, Lorenz Larkin or Mark Munoz, all of which are fights he could conceivably win.
With more progression as he moves along, Markes may put himself into a spot where he can be one of the UFC's top middleweights and still have bigger potential. Should he defeat Craig this Saturday, Markes stands to possibly be one of the division's finest in the very near future.