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UFC Fight Night 138 - New Blood

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Boxing at Waterfront Hall Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

It’s an international fight night, which means international talent when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hits Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, this Saturday evening (Oct. 27, 2018). Among the newbies are four fresh mixed martial arts (MMA) talents who have yet to step foot in the Octagon, including a Cage Warriors champion and a “Contender Series” alumn with six first-round knockouts. Let’s have a look!

Name: Jonathan “Dragon” Martinez
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Age: 24
Record: 9-1 (5 KO, 2 SUB)
Notable Victories: None

Bouncing between Flyweight and Bantamweight, Martinez steps up on short notice to replace the injured Gavin Tucker. He has won two straight, both by first-round armbar, since his loss to Matt Schnell by disqualification (illegal knee).

He has not competed in more than one year.

Of the four fighters on this list, Martinez has the least available recent footage, partly because he has only fought twice since 2015. He looks like he’s got power in his punches and elbows alongside strong kicks, plus a dangerous guard. There’s really not all that much else I can think to say about him. Consider him the evening’s mystery box.

Opponent: Speaking of mystery boxes, Martinez’s opponent, Andre Soukhamthath, has crushing power and decent wrestling hampered by a single-digit fight IQ. Even if “The Asian Sensation” winds up winning titles in three weight classes, he will never be able to live down losing a fight where literally all he had to do to win was stand up. In other words, anything could happen here.

Tape:


Name: Chris Fishgold
Weight Class: Featherweight
Age: 25
Record: 17-1-1 (2 KO, 12 SUB)
Notable Victories: Marcin Wrzosek, Nic Herron-Webb, Alexander Jacobsen

Fishgold choked out Adam Boussif for the Cage Warriors Lightweight title and successfully defended it three times to extend his current win streak to seven. Said streak includes five first-round finishes, three of them in a combined 3:41.

This will be his first appearance at Featherweight since 2015.

Maybe my brain is still stuck in the days when John Hathaway having solid takedown defense was a mind-blowing concept, but it’s still somewhat surprising to see an English fighter who’s primarily a wrestler ... and a good one at that. Though he’s shown improving striking, shifting well with his power punches and landing hard knees and elbows on the inside, Fishgold’s bread and butter is forcing opponents to the cage, yanking their legs out, and moving to mount with impressive efficiency.

If his man decides to force a scramble, Fishgold’s got a knack for catching the neck in transition; 11 of those 12 submissions have come by rear-naked choke or guillotine. There’s a lovely sequence in his fight with Boussif where he threatens a kimura, uses it to pass to mount, catches Boussif’s neck in a guillotine when he tries to sit up, then locks up the rear-naked when he loses the front choke. He’s lovely to watch on the ground, always focused on passing and submissions but skilled at maintaining position in the process.

Where he struggles is in setting up those big punches and takedowns. Just throwing hard is fine when opponents back straight to the fence in response, but against opponents with better cage awareness and good long-range striking, he could struggle to close the gap and get the tie-ups he needs. Plus, the heat he puts on his punches and his frantic knees in the clinch don’t look terribly energy-efficient, which could spell trouble if the weight cut doesn’t go smoothly.

Opponent: Unfortunately, Fishgold has a skilled, rangy striker with strong takedown defense to deal with. Calvin Kattar is coming off a surprisingly lopsided loss to Renato Moicano, but looked excellent against a terror in Shane Burgos. If Fishgold can consistently get the clinch, this is winnable, but he’ll need to show some new tricks to get inside Kattar’s long-range boxing.

Tape:


Name: Te Edwards
Weight Class: Lightweight
Age: 28
Record: 6-1 (6 KO)
Notable Victories: Austin Tweedy

A former standout wrestler at Arizona State and Old Dominion, Edwards joined the professional ranks after a single amateur victory, and though he lost his second fight to Raymond Pina, a four-fight winning streak earned him a spot on “Contender Series.” Despite closing as a slight underdog, Edwards needed just 28 seconds and a single right hand to put Tweedy to sleep and earn himself a contract.

All six of his knockouts have come in the first round, all but one in less than two minutes. He fights out of the venerable MMA Lab.

As you’ve probably gathered by this point, Edwards prefers to use his wrestling to keep it standing and bomb away with heavy punches. He doesn’t have much of a jab and tends to telegraph his entries, but his sheer power and speed make up for those issues in Tyron Woodley-esque fashion. That right hand of his is downright savage.

His takedowns look solid when he bothers to use them — I’ve seen a decent foot sweep and a reactive double-leg after a slip, but his priority is clearly knocking people senseless.

The key issue here is a lack of polish. A jab isn’t strictly necessary to excel in MMA, but I’ve seen plenty of athletic wrestlers like Mark Munoz and Jake Ellenberger falter because their rough striking technique both neuters their power and keeps them from properly setting up their takedowns. He’s definitely getting better, though. Indeed, the punch he ended Tweedy with was crisp and not telegraphed, a major difference from the lunging blitzes he’d used on earlier opponents. I can see him going far.

Opponent: Edwards will likely be best served defaulting to his wrestling in his Octagon debut. Don Madge is an experienced Muay Thai artist with a four-inch height advantage, so Edwards needs to show that he can mix up his game if he wants another quick finish.

Tape:


Name: Don Madge
Weight Class: Lightweight
Age: 27
Record: 7-3-1 (4 KO, 3 SUB)
Notable Victories: Dave Mazany

Madge, a 6’0” Muay Thai veteran, has twice held an EFC title, the highest honor in South African MMA. He currently rides a four-fight win streak, three of them by first-round knockout, and reclaimed the Lightweight belt his last time out.

All three of his losses came against the same person, Leon Mynhardt, one each by (technical) knockout, submission and decision.

Madge is essentially what one would expect of someone with his stature and background: A long-range combination puncher who uses his long limbs to great effect in the clinch. He’s also shown some decent wrestling chops. Aside from the standard foot sweeps, he can shoot a double-leg if he needs to, and his ability to deal damage at close range on the feet translates to powerful elbows when he lands on top.

Unfortunately, he shares a common Muay Thai issue in that he’s so upright that he’s vulnerable to those who can get inside. He’s surprisingly sharp off of his back foot, but still backs up to the cage, and his oft-unmoving head provides a tempting target for dedicated swarmers. This also leaves his hips open for takedowns. In addition, his recent strength of schedule is lacking; only one of his last four opponents had a winning record, and his grappling success seems like the product of a region with a fairly weak wrestling presence.

Opponent: Madge is getting a rough introduction to the Octagon in Te Edwards. Madge’s willingness to plant his feet and throw back could work well against his ultra-aggressive opponent, but Edwards is the bigger puncher and by far the best wrestler Madge has ever had to deal with. So unless Edwards plays right into Madge’s hands with wild, telegraphed rushes, expect the South African to start his UFC career with an “L.”

Tape:

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 138 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.