Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight scrappers Ricardo Lamas and Josh Emmett will collide this Saturday (Dec. 16, 2017) at UFC on FOX 26 inside Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Canada.
Having a fairly recent loss to the current champion makes getting a title shot difficult. The only real answer is to violently finish your competition, a goal Lamas has achieved in his previous two contests. While he was scheduled to rematch Jose Aldo, “The Bully” will instead meet a short-notice replacement. Team Alpha Male’s Josh Emmett made his UFC debut on a week’s notice, flying to the Netherlands and surviving a gory finger injury to have his hand raised. His first professional loss — a split decision to Desmond Green — sent him back to the Featherweight division, where Emmett battered his first opponent and cruised to victory.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Cub Swanson (UFC on FOX 1), Dennis Bermudez (UFC 180), Charles Oliveira (UFC Fight Night 98), Hacran Dias (UFC Fight Night 44)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC 169), Max Holloway (UFC 199), Chad Mendes (UFC Fight Night 63)
Keys to Victory: Lamas is a well-rounded and tough veteran. Lamas is willing to throw down or kick from the outside, has a collegiate wrestling background, and is an underrated submission threat. Ten of his victories came via stoppage, split evenly between knockouts and submissions.
In this bout, Lamas will want to avoid the boxing range. He’s certainly tough and throws hard, but technical boxing has never been his greatest strength. Plus, that’s Emmett’s preferred range, so why give him the fight he desires? Instead, Lamas will want to work his outside kicking game. Emmett is skilled at quickly closing the distance, but he’s also been out-worked from that range in previous bouts. In addition, Lamas showed against Bermudez that he has a sharp jab ready for any puncher charging straight forward to close the distance.
Furthermore, Lamas’ best chance to score the takedown is to counter forward movement with a reactive shot. From top position, Lamas is one of the best in the world, and taking down his fellow wrestler could go a long way in allowing the veteran to impose his will.
Key Wins: Felipe Arantes (UFC Fight Night 118), Scott Holtzman (UFC on FOX 22), Jon Tuck (UFC Fight Night 87)
Key Losses: Desmond Green (UFC 210)
Keys to Victory: Like his opponent, Emmett’s combat sports background begins with wrestling. In the cage, however, Emmett works largely as a boxer, utilizing fast hands and smooth head movement to burst forward and catch his opponents.
Though he has yet to secure a knockout inside the Octagon, Emmett did drop his previous opponent four times.
This is definitely the biggest test of Emmett’s professional career, but it’s also not a bad match up for the underdog. In face, of the Featherweight Top 5, Emmett probably has the best chance to find Lamas’ chin and put him out. Two of Emmett’s training partners, Danny Castillo and Chad Mendes, already accomplished that task, which is also a big advantage for the California-native.
To catch Lamas, Emmett has to really disguise his bursts. He already does a nice job of feinting and switching angles before attacking, but Lamas will really test that part of his game. Additionally, if Emmett does trap Lamas along the fence, he cannot back off. Exchanges in the pocket are precisely what Emmett desires, so taking advantage of those situations will be pivotal.
Bottom Line: It should be a really entertaining bout that’s important for both men.
For Lamas, he’s quite close to the title and cannot afford a setback, especially to an unranked athlete. A win here likely sets him up for a title eliminator with Brian Ortega, which is a fascinating match up. That’s a great fight that either man could win, meaning Lamas is just two more wins from another shot at the belt.
A loss will drop him down the ranks quite a bit, which is not ideal considering that “The Bully” is currently in the prime of his career and putting on his best performances.
While it’s a big risk for Lamas, it’s a huge opportunity for Emmett, who will once again look to make an impact by stepping up on short-notice. He looked better than ever in his Featherweight debut, and this is his chance to demonstrate that he’s already one of the division’s finest. A victory brings him into the top five and puts him in the title mix, which is quite impressive for just his fifth UFC fight. Ultimately, there’s no real way for Emmett’s stock to fall with a short-notice defeat to the division’s No. 3-ranked contender. At worst, it’s a missed opportunity.
At UFC on FOX 26, Ricardo Lamas and Josh Emmett will duel in the co-main event. Which athlete will have his hand raised?