Evaluating mixed martial arts (MMA) fights before they happen and gauging how exciting they might be is purely subjective. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, most fight fans agree that UFC on FOX 27, which takes place this Saturday night (Jan. 27, 2018) inside Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., is a pour fight card.
My New Year’s resolution for 2018 was to be less of a curmudgeon, so I’ve taken this lackluster fight card as an opportunity to see the latest UFC offering as glass half-full. If you’re unable to watch a short and magnificent video (this is supposed to be a joke), then read on, but if you’re more of an audio-visual kind of person just click the embedded video above and let me tell you about three fights you should pay attention to during tomorrow’s UFC event.
Journalists are supposed to be 100 percent unbiased, but because I don’t see myself as a journalist and purely as a video content creator, I’ve given myself a little bit of leeway.
#3: Drew Dober vs. Frank Camacho
My No. 3 most looked forward to fight on this card is due in part to Drew Dober being from the humble state of Nebraska. I live in the midwest, so Huskerland holds a special place in my heart. Beyond that, Dober is a guy who has victories over a few big names in the sport, most notably Jamie Varner and Josh Burkman. He also has a background in Muay Thai, which is always pleasing to watch. In addition, he is a young guy who shows improvements in his overall game from fight to fight, and a lot of his fights take place in tight spaces. I predict that Frank Camacho will prove to be a worthwhile adversary for Dober because his strategy seems to be to get in close and swing hooks. Camacho proved in his “Fight of the Night”-winning performance against Damien Brown his last time out that he is a durable fighter with a lot of heart. If these two get into tight quarters and swing bombs at each other, all of us will be on the edge of our seats.
#2. Mirsad Bektic vs. Godofredo Pepey
Mirsad Bektic also has ties to Nebraska, but I’m looking forward to his fight with Godofredo ‘Pepey’ Castro for much more than geographical proximity. Few fighters have received as much hype early in their UFC careers as Bektic. Despite his recent setback against incredibly durable Darren Elkins, I believe he will one day live up to the expectations. He is a well rounded fighter who always has a potent wrestling attack in his back pocket. His first career loss was due in part to him leaning on “the grind” a bit too much against someone who also excels in that area. While Pepey is not a wrestler, he is extremely dangerous in grappling exchanges, which he has proven time and time again. Eight of the Brazilian's wins are via submission and seven of those are in the first round. He is so dangerous with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so he has minimal worry about his opponents attempting to take him down. Indeed, Bektic and Pepey could end up engaging in a kickboxing match if they respect each other’s primary avenue to victory too much, but if they spend any amount of time in grappling exchanges this fight will be a jui-jitsu fanatic’s dream.
#1. Jacare Souza vs. Derek Brunson
It doesn’t happen on every fight card, but this time the main event is clearly the No. 1 fight to watch. Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza versus Derek Brunson is the only scheduled bout on the card that has title contender implications. Brusnon has already stated that he wants a title shot if he is successful tomorrow. The stylistic Middleweight match up adds to the intrigue, because Souza is a lethal grappler and Brunson has statistically impenetrable takedown defense. Did I mention that these two have fought before and Jacare swiftly knocked out Brunson?
I have a feeling that the majority of our post-fight letter grades will be high and these three bouts will provide some of the brightest spots of the evening.