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UFC Fight Night 126 card: James Vick vs Francisco Trinaldo full fight preview

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MMA: UFC 217-Vick vs Duffy Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight kickboxers James Vick and Francisco Trinaldo will duel this Sunday (Feb. 18, 2018) inside Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

A fight like this really demonstrates just how deep the Lightweight division is. Both men are in similar positions, forced to go on incredibly impressive win streaks just to secure a spot in the Top 15, let alone break into title contention. Vick is a stellar 8-1 inside the Octagon and riding a win streak of three straight stoppages, while Trinaldo has won eight of his last nine bouts as well. It’s also a match up that shows just how big Lightweights have become, as they’re two of the beefiest “155-pound” fighters around.

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both men:

James Vick
Record: 12-1
Key Wins: Joseph Duffy (UFC 217), Jake Matthews (UFC Fight Night 65), Polo Reyes (UFC 211), Ramsey Nijem (UFC Fight Night 26)
Key Losses: Beneil Dariush (UFC 199)
Keys to Victory: Normally, being a giant compared to the rest of the division comes at a cost: Fighters cutting too much tend to gas out quicker, throw slower punches, or simply have trouble with smaller men getting inside. Vick definitely experienced a bit of the latter when Beneil Dariush got inside his reach and blasted him, but he’s since fixed the holes in his formidable kickboxing to stellar results.

Despite being 6’3,” Vick has a tremendous gas tank. He throws at a very high volume, overwhelming his opponent with constant offense. Nowadays, Vick also takes advantage of his reach with great counters, something that was lacking a bit earlier in his career. Both Reyes and Duffy founds themselves victim of Vick pulling back and firing the right hand.

In this match, volume is Vick’s biggest weapon. As mentioned, being a Lightweight giant generally has a cost, and for Trinaldo that detriment is conditioning. Like Vick, Trinaldo has improved in this regard to earn his recent victories, but the issue still exists. If Vick is throwing in a high volume, it will dull Trinaldo’s reactions and make his offense a bit more predictable as the Brazilian slows. Fatigue betrays technique, and each lunge is a chance for Vick to land a show-stopping counter.


Francisco Trinaldo
Record: 22-5
Key Wins: Paul Felder (UFC Fight Night 95), Ross Pearson (UFC Fight Night 81), Chad Laprise (UFC Fight Night 74), Norman Parke (UFC Fight Night 67)
Key Losses: Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 106), Michael Chiesa (UFC 173)
Keys to Victory: Vick’s extraordinary size is shaped in that of a lanky and rangy boxer with some Muay Thai habits, whereas Trinaldo is a compact — but still not short — powerhouse. The Southpaw is an experienced kickboxer with heavy power in his hands, but he also excels in the clinch and on the shot thanks in large part to his physicality.

In this bout, however, the biggest tactical suggestion I would make would be to avoid wrestling with Vick. Don’t get me wrong ... a takedown would be great — but only if it comes off an easy transition, like a caught kick and foot sweep. Grinding for the double leg against the fence will be a giant energy pit, as Vick’s wide base makes him exceptionally hard to take down.

It doesn’t matter if the 39-year-old “Massaranduba” wins the first round with wrestling if it leaves him too exhausted to compete in the next 10 minutes.

For Trinaldo, the end goal should be to slip one of Vick’s jabs or crosses and crack him with an overhand left. To help set the strike up, kicking the body would be a great tactic. Vick has a pretty strong jawline, but body shots affect everyone, and they would go a long way in both cutting Vick’s volume and making his movements a bit easier to read.

Bottom Line: Both men are trying to break into the Top 10, and the winner might just get that opportunity.

Again, each fighter is in a similar position, winning and looking good most of the time with a sole exception of one defeat. That loss set them back and slowed their climb, and the only solution is to build a new win streak. Vick is further along that path than Trinaldo, and defeating the Brazilian should absolutely earn him a Top 10-ranked foe. Sadly, “Massaranduba” may still need one more victory after this one, but at least knocking off No. 12 will move him in the right direction.

A loss removes that momentum and will force the defeated fighter to look down the ladder rather than up in his next match up.

At UFC Fight Night 126, James Vick and Francisco Trinaldo will go to war in what is quite possibly the best fight on the card. Which man will earn the victory?