UFC Fight Night 155, which takes place inside Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., tomorrow night (Sat., July 13, 2019) on ESPN+, originally featured zero Octagon debutants; however, the injury bug has taken its toll once again. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I can never get the formatting right, we look at two young Brazilian finishers and another quality addition to the stacked Strawweight roster.
Wellington “Fofao” Turman
Weight Class: Middleweight
Record: 15-2 (4 KO, 7 SUB)
Significant Victories: Marcio “Lyoto” Alexandre Jr.
A former Welterweight who has grown into a fairly imposing 185-pound competitor, Turman enters the Octagon with wins in seven of his last eight fights. The latest was his most notable, a dominant submission of UFC veteran Marcio “Lyoto” Alexandre in April.
He steps in for Welsh slugger John Phillips on just under four weeks’ notice.
Turman’s style isn’t the most eye-catching, but it’s effective. At range, he’s a flat-footed striker with heavy kicks and decent punches that he tends to push on occasion. He prefers to work in close, fishing for body lock takedowns or an inside reap he’s fond of before hunting for chokes on the mat. He’s dangerous off of his back as well, quickly transitioning to an armbar when one of his double-legs failed.
While there’s nothing to his game that he could conceivably ride into contention, he doesn’t’ have any outstanding weaknesses outside of his fairly weak shot entries. Plus, while he’s not terribly fast, he does look plenty strong at the weight. At 22 years old, he’s got the foundations of an effective style. In short, I don’t think he’ll make too much of an immediate splash in the Octagon, but he could mature into a solid mid-tier Middleweight in the near future.
Opponent: Turman fights kickboxing veteran Karl Roberson, who’s gotten it done with his wrestling so far in his Octagon career. Roberson does have submission losses to Cezar “Mutante” and Glover Teixeira in UFC, so an upset isn’t out of the picture for Turman, but he’ll have to work for it against a technically superior striker.
Brianna “Tha Bull” Van Buren
Weight Class: Strawweight
Record: 8-2 (2 KO, 3 SUB)
Significant Victories: Jamie Moyle, Juliana Lima, Kailin Curran
“Tha Bull” lost her Invicta debut against Amy Montenegro in 2015 and didn’t return to action until more than three years later with a submission win on the regional circuit. She picked up her first Invicta win four months later, decisioning UFC veteran Jamie Moyle, then took part in the promotion’s one-night “Phoenix Rising” tournament in May. Van Buren armbarred Manjit Kolekar, took a decision over Juliana Lima, and finally choked out Kailin Curran to claim victory.
She replaces the injured Cynthia Calvillo on little more than one month’s notice.
Van Buren is a tank of a Strawweight, standing 5’0” at best, and unlike fellow fireplug Danielle Taylor, the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)-trained product is all action. She’s primarily a wrestler, using her strength and technical acumen to throw opponents directly into side control, but has a nice straight left and body kick alongside solid technical boxing. She has the quick hands you’d expect out of someone with her build and is willing to work the body, which she can do quite well at close range.
Her top control is quite solid — she doesn’t need much room to deliver hard ground-and-pound, especially with her elbows, and passes well. Considering she tends to land in good position to begin with, she can get to mount or the back remarkably quickly. She’s not one to give up when her opponent gets to her feet, either, staying glued and fighting for trips and sweeps to drag them back down.
Honestly, I can see Van Buren becoming a contender right off the bat. She has the wrestling and boxing skills to be a handful for almost anyone at 115 pounds. Her issues are going to come against rangy, mobile strikers like Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Nina Ansaroff, but she’s explosive enough to close the gap against most others.
Opponent: Livinha Souza will give her problems. The Brazilian hits hard and is the most dangerous submission artist Van Buren has yet faced on top of being a capable wrestler in her own right. The oddsmakers accurately peg this as a coin toss, but I slightly favor Souza.
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Record: 13-5 (9 KO, 3 SUB)
Significant Victories: Alexandre Silva
A four-fight win streak brought Allan to “Contender Series: Brazil,” where he faced countryman Vinicius Moreira on episode three. The Chute Boxe-trained product had early success with his power-punching, but struggled once “Mamute” managed to drag him to the mat and ultimately tapped to a triangle choke in the second round. He has since knocked out previously unbeaten Alexandre Silva and now makes a 17-day turnaround on short notice.
Just saying that he trains at Chute Boxe should have given you a decent idea of what his deal is. Allan is a stalking puncher, using a surprisingly stout jab and quick, powerful inside low kicks to bully opponents to the fence and open up with heavy combinations. He also rips the body with enough fervor to give me John Lineker nostalgia, which is always welcome.
He’s been badly hurt in the past by leaving himself open mid-flurry, but did an admirable job of staying patient and not forgetting the jab when going for the kill in his most recent fight. Though a small adjustment in the grand scheme of things, it can mean the difference between a knockout and just flailing fruitlessly against someone’s closed guard.
As far as his grappling, well, four of his five losses are by submission. He’s not, like, hopeless on the mat, but he had very little to offer a dedicated jiu-jitsu specialist in Moreira. The fact that Moreira even got him down is worrying; “Mamute’s” wrestling looked pedestrian against Octagon-caliber opposition. I’ve also seen Allan quickly swept after getting top position, though he did have a decent heel hook attempt. Though he’s still young and has plenty of time to improve, practically any wrestler in UFC’s Light Heavyweight division would have a field day with him.
Allan is definitely a contender for “Performance / Fight of the Night” against anyone, but his UFC stay won’t be long without dramatic improvements in his grappling.
Opponent: He won’t have to worry about grappling against Mike Rodriguez, but does face a considerable reach advantage against a dangerous striker. The Brazilian is a heavy underdog at the moment, which I agree with; indeed, he’ll struggle to get his boxing-heavy offense going against someone who can comfortably pick him off at range. Those low kicks could be a game-changer, though.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 155 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will stream on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
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