Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight prospects Gregor Gillespie and Jordan Rinaldi will duel this Saturday (Jan. 27, 2018) at UFC on FOX 27 inside Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Gillespie largely dominated the regional competition before being picked up by UFC, and while he won his Octagon debut, it was not the most notable fight. Since then, however, Gillespie has reminded fight fans of why he was initially so hyped up by scoring a pair of violent victories. Meanwhile, after a somewhat slow start to his professional career, Rinaldi turned a corner and strung together five victories to earn the call up. He’s just 1-1 inside the Octagon, but one of those victories came via Von Flue choke, so it’s still worth keeping an eye on “All Day.”
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Jason Gonzalez (UFC Fight Night 116), Andrew Holbrook (UFC 210), Glaico Franca (UFC Fight Night 95)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: At first, Gillespie flew under the radar a bit — Lightweight prospects are pretty common after all. People started to take notice when he flattened Holbrook in 21 seconds, but Gillespie became a must-watch prospect after he slugged his way past Gonzalez in a “Fight of the Night” winner.
This four-time Division I All-American and National Champion wrestler can scrap.
In short, he’s a truly terrible match up for Rinaldi, whose usual game plan involves dragging his foe to the mat and locking up a submission. Best of luck to him, but it isn’t going to be easy to take down such a decorated wrestler. Aside from the technical aspects, Gillespie also has a cardio advantage. To produce a dominant finish safely, it would probably be best for Gillespie to wrestle early. Not only can he do damage from top position, but it will cause Rinaldi to slow and become less dangerous.
Come the start of round two, “The Gift” can switch things up and really throw heavy leather.
Key Wins: Alvaro Herrera (UFC Fight Night 114), Clay Harvison
Key Losses: Abel Trujillo (UFC Fight Night 88), James Montasri (RFA 15)
Keys to Victory: Even though Rinaldi is a nearly 6:1 underdog facing a tough style match up, he’s definitely a talented fighter. In his debut, Rinaldi was doing quite well with the veteran Trujillo, but his short-notice gas tank failed him and cost him the decision.
So far, Gillespie has dominated fights with offense, which is common for talented prospects regardless of their background. While that offense has definitely been impressive, he’s also a hittable fighter, as defense tends to come with experience.
Rinaldi is a strong enough wrestler to defend a poorly set up shot, which is the reason pressure is his best bet. Rinaldi should try to draw Gillespie into a brawl, as it doesn’t take a knockout artist to stun someone in four ounce gloves. Even if that doesn’t happen, Gillespie turns to his wrestling whenever his opponent starts building momentum. If Rinaldi finds some early success and forces a bad shot, it could be the opening he needs to pull off the upset.
Bottom Line: It’s another chance to watch Gillespie’s development.
“The Gift” looks like a future contender. He’s a touch small for the division, but that helps with his excellent cardio. Even with potential size disadvantages, Gillespie has cracking power and dominating wrestling. He’s quickly becoming an interesting match up for Top 15-ranked fighters, an incredibly difficult set of rankings to break into. Another win here should earn Gillespie a big step up in competition, particularly if he continues to bring the excitement. If this turns out to be a misstep for the All-American, he’s certainly early enough in his career to develop further.
As for Rinaldi, it’s a dangerous fight for him with plenty on the line. He probably won’t be released with a loss, but the margin for error at 155 pounds is slim. At the same time, Gillespie is already a rather notable name, so turning away the man with all the momentum would undoubtedly be the biggest win of his professional career.
At UFC on FOX 27, Gregor Gillespie will attempt to continue his rise opposite Jordan Rinaldi. Which man will earn the victory?