It’s young veteran vs. older prospect this Saturday evening (Feb. 24, 2018) when Jeremy Stephens looks to re-assert his status as the Featherweight division’s most dangerous puncher against Josh Emmett in UFC on FOX 28’s main event from inside Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
There are another three main card fights, but we’ve gone over them elsewhere. If you’re here, you’re here for the newbies, the debutants, the ones who require a dive into Sherdog’s deepest recesses for a decent idea of their abilities.
This time around, we’ve got two very different fighters to examine, one a karateka par excellence and the other a grappling stud from the New England. Shall we?
Name: Marcin Prachnio
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Record: 13-2 (10 KO)
Notable Victories: Jake Butler, Leandro Ataides
The anemic Light Heavyweight division gets some fresh blood in the form of Prachnio, who enters the Octagon having won his last eight fights. His base is Kyokushin karate, the same discipline that gave us the great Andy Hug, Francisco Filho and Glaube Feitosa. And if ONE FC’s infographic is to be believed, he’s had more than 450 such bouts, winning 400 of them, and owns multiple titles in the discipline.
Kyokushin’s focus on close-range combat certainly shows in his style. Prachnio can unload whip-fast kicks from unexpected distances and angles and do serious damage with knees on the inside. In addition, despite his previous sport of choice banning punches to the head, he has absolutely wicked power in his hands.
The real highlight of his game might be his scrambling, though. While he isn’t always in the best position to defend takedowns thanks to how eager he is to take heads off with his punches, he’s incredibly adept at getting up from multiple positions. Ataides — a top-notch Brazilian jiu-jitsu player — couldn’t keep him down for more than a few seconds and Jake Butler’s pursuit of the takedown got him knocked out by knees from the front headlock.
Not everything from Kyokushin has translated well, however. Prachnio really doesn’t seem comfortable with large areas — his footwork lacks real cohesion and he tends to cross his feet when circling, a habit one simply cannot have at this stage in MMA’s development. He’s not quite used to throwing punches to the head from beyond point-blank range, either, and can get ugly with his haymakers when he tries to close the distance.
It’s almost a bit of a shame that we’re seeing Prachnio in the Octagon and not Rizin. The man thrives when he has a small fighting area and the ability to knee grounded opponents. Alas, he’s been thrown into the deep end, and he’ll need to get those feet in check.
A final note: he’s fought at 185 pounds before and didn’t appear to have any stamina issues, so it’s not clear whether he’ll stay at 205 pounds.
Opponent: He was originally supposed to fight Jake Collier, a fairly one-note wrestler who would have been easy pickings for Prachnio’s power and ability to get off of his back. Instead, he fights the ever-frustrating Sam Alvey.
If Alvey had any kind of consistency to his game or really any sort of killer instinct, I’d pick him here. Prachnio leaves massive openings with his punches on his way into the pocket, perfect fodder for the sort of gigaton counters Alvey’s capable of delivering. Unfortunately for Alvey, he’s Sam Alvey, and as such will likely lose a decision to Prachnio’s volume and kicking ability.
Name: Manny Bermudez
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Record: 10-0 (1 KO, 7 SUB)
Notable Victories: Saul Almeida
New England’s brightest young talent, Bermudez has not lost since his second amateur fight in 2012. All but two of his professional victories have come in the first round, including several in less than two minutes.
There’s limited tape out there on Bermudez because he just ends fights way too quickly. His jiu-jitsu is absolutely top-notch — he has a Brian Ortega-like ability to snatch guillotines in the clinch and needed only 20 seconds on the mat to put World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veteran and black belt Bendy Casimir to sleep with a mounted triangle.
In short, this guy is a straight-up beast on the ground.
He has had one misstep, though, and it was a big one: His CES fight with Saul Almeida. While I can’t rustle up footage of it outside from a couple of highlights, both of the commentators had him losing all three rounds. He has plenty of time to grow, but he’s going to need some quality wrestling sooner rather than later.
Opponent: He takes on experienced spoiler Albert Morales, who gave another dangerous newcomer in Benito Lopez a vicious scrap last time out and arguably deserved the win. Only Thomas Almeida has finished him so far and he’s more than scrappy enough to wear down Bermudez if the quick-kill submission isn’t there. This should tell us a lot about where Bermudez’s overall game stands — his potential is sky-high, but the machine ain’t running perfectly smooth yet.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 28 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.