Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight prospects Michel Prazeres and Desmond Green will throw down this Saturday (Feb. 3, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 125 inside Arena Guilherme Paraense in Belem, Brazil.
It speaks to the depth of the 155-pound division that Prazeres is not yet ranked. The Brazilian has won seven of his previous eight, including his last five bouts. “Trator” is a bad, bad man, but even with all his accomplishments will not prove a large favorite over Desmond Green. Green is another very talented Lightweight who has split a pair of bouts against a high-level of competition recently, as UFC immediately threw him into the division’s deep end.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Mairbek Taisumov (UFC Fight Night 38), Gilbert Burns (UFC Fight Night 95), Josh Burkman (UFC Fight Night 106), Jesse Ronson (UFC 165)
Key Losses: Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 60), Paulo Thiago (UFC on FX 8)
Keys to Victory: “Trator” is the Portuguese word for “Tractor,” and I can think of few nicknames more appropriate. The Brazilian has recently found his power on the feet, but his primary mode of winning remains a brutal blend of strong takedowns, transitional wrestling and smothering top control.
Interestingly, Green just recently faced a similar fighter. Rustam Khabilov has a different background from Prazeres, but the bottom line is that Khabilov dove forward into takedowns and transitioned until he was in top position. Frankly, Green defended Khabilov’s wrestling assault better than just about all of Khabilov’s recent opponents, so it’s likely to be difficult for Prazeres to plant him on the mat.
To give himself the best chance, “Trator” must establish the threat of his punches first. Prazeres is a short fighter with a shorter reach, but he seems to be the heavier hitter. If he can throw in combination, he will land, and stunning Green just a bit is all the opening he’ll require to land a takedown.
Key Wins: Josh Emmett (UFC 210), Mike Richman (Bellator 110), Steven Siler (Titan FC 32)
Key Losses: Rustam Khabilov (UFC Fight Night 115), Andre Harrison (Titan FC 35)
Keys to Victory: An experienced collegiate wrestler, Green made his professional debut in 2012 and quickly found his way to Bellator. Bellator ultimately released him despite a winning record, and Green has only grown more well-rounded since.
In both of Green’s previous bouts, the Southpaw has been forced to maintain range opposite shorter men trying to get inside. Emmett was trying to box and Khabilov wrestle, but the end result was a pair of fights that both could have went either way.
The answer to this is volume, which really cost him opposite the Russian athlete. After the first round, Green did a tremendous job of stuffing his opponent’s takedowns and made him pay a bit, but Khabilov forced the fight a touch more and ended up with his hand raised as a result.
Prazeres will push for the win whether he can land the takedown or not. To ensure that he doesn’t lose solely due to his opponent “wanting it more,” Green has to keep a constant jab in Prazeres face and make sure he’s far ahead on volume.
Bottom Line: The winner deserves a match up with a ranked fighter.
Lightweight is a difficult division. Does Mairbek Taisumov deserve a ranked foe? Definitely, he’s crushing people left and right — except for Prazeres who 30-25’d him before the new rules that make 10-8 rounds more common. The unfortunate reality here is that while the victor of this match up, particularly if it is Prazeres, does deserve a step up and chance at some acclaim, it’s hard to say whether that will happen. If a win leaves the Lightweight victor in an uncertain position, a loss will be a huge setback. For Prazeres, he has worked quite hard to build this win streak and will have a difficult time recreating it if he comes up short. The stakes are even higher for Green, who is not yet established as a premiere UFC fighter despite his obvious ability.
At UFC Fight Night 125, Michel Prazeres and Desmond Green will meet inside the Octagon. Which man will have his hand raised?