Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight notables Thomas Almeida and Yves Jabouin will collide this Saturday night (April 25, 2015) at UFC 186 inside Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Almeida put together a highly impressive record on the regional scene, going undefeated in 17 fights and finishing each of his opponents. While he went the full 15 minutes in his Octagon debut, Almeida impressed with his high volume kickboxing.
Jabouin may not be finding consistent success, but he's been scrapping with the best 135-pound fighters in the world and putting forth solid performances. In short, that makes him a great test for the up-and-comer.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both fighters:
Key Wins: Tim Gorman (UFC Fight Night 56)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Almeida is a nasty combination striker and uses all eight of his limbs very well. In addition, he showed solid grappling defense in his debut, though it's too early to make any real assessment there.
For Almeida, it's all about keeping this fight on the feet. He's too active and too offensively effective for Jabouin in the stand up, meaning he'll certainly take control of the bout.
To do that, Almeida needs to focus on keeping his back off the fence using lateral movement. He did a decent job controlling the center in his last performance, but Jabouin is a more experienced striker than his last opponent and should be better at cutting off the cage.
If Almeida is able to stay in the center of the Octagon, he shouldn't have too much of an issue defending his opponent's takedowns. From there, Almeida's striking advantage should carry him through the fight.
In this bout, it's important for Almeida to earn the finish. His "Fight of the Night" debut was entertaining and didn't lose him any steam, but if the bantamweight prospect really wants to draw attention to himself, he needs a finish on this pay-per-view (PPV) event.
Key Wins: Mike Easton (UFC 174), Ian Loveland (UFC 134)
Key Losses: Eddie Wineland (UFC on FOX 10), Brad Pickett (UFC on Fuel TV 5)
Keys to Victory: Jabouin is an experienced kickboxer in his own right and has finished 11 of his wins via knockout. Admittedly, all of those finishes came before he was picked up by World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) back in 2009.
Since dropping to bantamweight, Jabouin has relied on his grappling quite a bit more. Thanks to his years of work with Tristar, Jabouin has developed into a pretty well-rounded mixed martial artist.
That will definitely be key here. While Almeida probably doesn't have the one-punch power of Wineland or Pickett, it will be tough to deal with his volume. To overcome that obstacle, Jabouin needs to mix up his dangerous striking attack and offensive takedowns.
On their own, Jabouin's skills probably aren't enough to out-strike or takedown Almeida with any consistency. However, if he mixes up his offense, he can make Almeida hesitant with his strikes, which will make the entire fight much easier for him.
Bottom Line: Almeida is one of the division's brightest prospects, and bantamweight is fairly thin on contenders at the moment. This will be a major test for the up-and-comer.
If Almeida is victorious in this fight, he has earned a position inside the Top 15 rankings. From there, the Brazilian is likely only a couple fights away from winding up in the title picture. In fact, Almeida was the back up for the original main event had Renan Barao been forced to pull out instead of the champion.
On the other hand, there's a fair bit of pressure on Almeida to perform here. If Jabouin is victorious, quite a bit of the hype around Almeida would dissipate.
Jabouin is largely in a no-lose situation. Despite his experience with high-level competition, Jabouin is a major underdog according to the betting odds. If he's defeated by the kickboxing specialist, it was expected.
Jabouin could gain some major momentum with a win. "Tiger" has yet to put together a major win streak inside the Octagon, and at 35 years old, it's now or never.
At UFC 186, Thomas Almeida and Yves Jabouin will go to war. Which fighter will have his hand raised?