This Sunday night (March 23, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweights Rony Jason and Steven Siler will face off on the main card of UFC Fight Night 38, airing live on FOX Sports 1 from Ginasio Nelio Dias in Natal, Brazil.
Jason suffered his first Octagon defeat in his last bout, a first round head kick knockout at the hands of the dangerous Jeremy Stephens at UFC Fight Night 32. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" 1 winner was so angry at the 40-second drubbing that he badly injured his hand after punching a wall backstage.
He'll have to put that anger aside and stay focused on Siler, who lost his last mixed martial arts (MMA) bout to TUF 14 alum Dennis Bermudez at UFC Fight Night 31. Prior to that, Siler had reeled off two consecutive wins in the Octagon.
Given the lethal finishing ability of both fighters, this bout could end very quickly. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Jason vs. Siler:
Record: 13-4 overall, 3-1 UFC
Key Wins: Sam Sicilia (UFC 153), Godofredo Castro (UFC 147)
Key Losses: Renan Barao (Cage Fight Nordestre), Jeremy Stephens (UFC Fight Night 32)
Record: 23-11 overall, 5-2 UFC
Key Wins: Mike Brown (UFC Fight Night 26), Cole Miller (UFC on FX 2)
Key Losses: Dennis Bermudez (UFC Fight Night 31)
Jason is a talented all-around fighter who has gained eight wins by submission. He's never tapped out himself, but he has been knocked out three times. After his devastating loss to Stephens last year, you can bet he'll be extra careful about absorbing strikes. But, he can't let that cloud his gameplan and make him fight tentatively, so this bout is going to be a very telling one for the Brazilian mat wizard.
Not to be outdone, Siler has put 13 opponents away with finishing holds. He also showed improved striking in his UFC Fight Night 26 knockout win over former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion Mike Brown. His best bet to win is to keep this fight standing, because even though he has a dangerous ground game, he's also been submitted five times.
Going to the ground is definitely not a recipe for success against Jason, so Siler needs to sprawl out some takedowns and win any subsequent striking exchanges. Stephens got Jason to overcommit on a takedown attempt, causing him to run right into a vicious kick, but he most likely won't make the same mistake twice. Because of that, Siler needs to stick and move rather than searching for a huge knockout on an overcautious opponent.
Jason will be more than motivated to put a stamp on Siler, so "Super" needs to be on the lookout. He's lost nine of his 11 defeats by way of finish, and Jason is a scary finisher. That doesn't bode well for Siler. He'll need to fight his best UFC bout to emerge victorious in Brazil.
Two solid TUF alums will kick off the UFC Fight Night 38 main card. While both have decent all-around skillets, Jason should be the more motivated of the two. The Brazilian is also tougher to put away, so I think he earns the nod here.
Final Prediction: Jason def. Siler via unanimous decision