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UFC 237 - New Blood: South American Finishers vs Injury Bug

UFC 237, which takes place inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this weekend (Sat., May 11, 2019) has not been exceptionally kind to its participants’ health. Four fights have fallen through, resulting in two new fighters making their unexpected Octagon debuts and one facing a new opponent. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I get punished for being proactive by having new fighters drop out or drop in at the last minute, we look at a trio of South American hopefuls with just two decision wins between them.

Luana Carolina

Weight Class: Flyweight
Age: 25
Record: 5-1 (2 KO, 1 SUB)
Significant Victories: Mabelly Lima

After suffering a loss in her professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut, Carolina racked up four consecutive victories to earn a spot on “Contender Series” opposite Duda “Cowboyzinha” Santana. Santana wound up running into visa issues, leaving Carolina to decision unbeaten late replacement Mabelly Lima.

She ha spent her last three fights at Bantamweight.

Carolina’s a Dutch-style Muay Thai artist, stalking with quick punching flurries punctuated by heavy single kicks. She boasts a lengthy 69-inch reach that usually allows her to stay out of range of return fire despite her standard stylistic issue of leaving her chin out. One nice little wrinkle is that she can switch-hit, delivering solid blows from either stance.

It’s nothing visually spectacular, but she’s got strong fundamentals, and it’s bolstered by what looks like quality defensive grappling. The Lima fight saw her hit an omoplata sweep and counter a takedown into side control, plus attempt a trip of her own.

One potential issue I saw was her defense when pressured. She’s flat-footed and stands fairly upright as a result of her style, and when Lima committed to stepping in and throwing, Carolina didn’t do a great job of keeping her hands up or circling out. As I said, she’s rangy enough to generally stay out of trouble, but a Jessica Andrade-type who can shrug off the punches and bully her way in could be a problem.

Opponent: She was supposed to face Wu Yanan, who upset Lauren Mueller via armbar, but instead fights Priscilla Cachoeira. On the one hand, Cachoeira’s aggression and durability could exploit Carolina’s aforementioned issues with pressure. On the other, Carolina is far sharper with her punches and kicks and sports a four-inch reach advantage. Carolina should be able to potshot her way to a decision victory.


Carlos “El Perro Malo” Huachin

Weight Class: Bantamweight
Age: 22
Record: 10-3-2 (8 KO, 2 SUB)
Significant Victories: None

Huachin has been on a tear since starting his professional career 0-2-1, going unbeaten in his last seven fights. His current streak includes a draw with fellow Peruvian prospect Rodrigo Vera and five first-round (technical) knockout finishes. He trains out of Pitbull Martial Arts Center alongside Jesus Pinedo and

He steps in for Said Nurmagomedov on short notice.

As befitting someone with the nickname “Bad Dog,” Huachin is a crazy-aggressive southpaw bruiser who prefers to plant his feet and throw lengthy combinations from the hip. As that knockout percentage suggests, he can put some heat behind those shots. He’s not excessively wild with his punches, though, and has both a nice lead-hand uppercut and the sort of nasty body shots you love to see out of a young fighter.

There’s also plenty you don’t love to see in a young fighter, though. Beyond leaving himself open when he unloads, his takedown defense looks like it’s improved recently but is still unproven against top opponents, which is a bad sign considering how hard he commits to his combinations. He’s also a bit of a prick in the cage. In a fight with Bruno Silva, Silva caught Huachin in a deep kneebar and Huachin clearly tapped. When Silva released the leg, Huachin immediately denied it and the referee — despite clearly seeing the tap — allowed the fight to continue. Huachin surrendered more takedowns, but ultimately clipped his tiring foe and got a rear-naked choke off a stuffed takedown.

Huachin is definitely one of the more entertaining young fighters to debut this year and has considerable potential. I’ll need to see more of that ground game before I’m prepared to call him a contender, though.

Opponent: Huachin gets no favors, taking on division dark horse Raoni Barcelos on short notice. Barcelos, who won titles in RFA and LFA, has both excellent counter-punching and a strong wrestling pedigree, which should allow him to consistently punish Huachin’s aggression and eventually get the finish.


Viviane “Vivi” Araujo

Weight Class: Bantamweight
Age: 32
Record: 6-1 (2 KO, 4 SUB)
Significant Victories: Ayaka Miura, Emi Fujino

I decided to be proactive this week and get this article ready ahead of time. Subsequently, I wrote an entire breakdown for Melissa Gatto, a late replacement for Jessica Rose-Clark, only for Gatto herself to pull out three days before fight night. That’s what I get for being responsible, I guess.

Araujo has won three straight since a technical knockout loss to recent UFC signee Sarah Frota. In her most recent bout, she bashed up Japanese MMA veteran Emi Fujino to become the Strawweight Queen of Pancrase. She’ll be jumping to Bantamweight for her Octagon debut.

Araujo looks like a fairly complete package, boasting all-around finishing ability predicated on one of the nicest jabs I’ve seen in a while. Said jab can be thrown effectively from either stance and serves as the core of her pressure-heavy offense. She enjoys peppering opponents at range from an alternatingly bouncy or flat-footed stance with the jab and front kicks to the body, adding a ramrod straight behind them as needed. The sheer speed and pop of her jab is eye-catching, though she has a habit of bringing it back low that could get her in trouble.

And when her opponent’s hurt, she doesn’t let up.

Her ground game looks similarly effective. She’s shown a nice double-leg outside reap that she used to great effect against Fujino to take dominant position, and nicely countered Miura’s head-and-arm throw into a clean back take. She may be a tad reckless on that front, though; she tried an ill-advised standing back take against Miura despite completely dominating her on the feet, though she managed to scramble out of the tricky spot. Her ground-and-pound is heavy and she’s willing to make it scrappy — after causing some serious swelling in Fujino’s eye and taking mount, Araujo ground her forehead into the damaged orbital while her foe kept her arms occupied with overhooks.

I know I criticized Huachin for dirty tactics up there, but for me, faking a tap is a far more egregious offense than taking liberties with your head.

The bad: like many fighters who only move forward, Araujo’s there to be hit if you can get past the jab. She hasn’t shown much lateral movement, either, and has the aforementioned issue of bringing her jab back at the waist instead of directly back to her chin. That’s an area the 32-year-old needs to shore up in a hurry.

Opponent: Pound-for-pound, Araujo looks to be a superior fighter to Talita Bernardo. In the real world, however, she’s moving up two weight classes for this fight. I don’t know if a quality Strawweight can beat an average Bantamweight, especially since Araujo fell short against another hulking figure in Sarah Frota. It’ll be interesting, at the very least.

Tape: Her Pancrase bouts are on Fight Pass.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 237 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the ESPN+ PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 237: “Namajunas vs. Andrade” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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