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UFC Fight Night 157 - New Blood: Newcomer party pack

As a rule, international Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) cards tend to have more newcomers than United States-based events. This is still kind of ridiculous, though. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I realize that UFC is horribly inconsistent about the order of given names vs. family names for Asian fighters, we look at a whopping nine eight debutants who will appear at UFC Fight Night 157 this weekend (Sat., Aug. 31, 2019).

Mizuki Inoue

Weight Class: Flyweight
Age: 25
Record: 13-5 (9 SUB)
Notable Victories: Bec Rawlings, Alex Chambers, Viviane Pereira

Inoue, elder sister of former UFC competitor Naoki, is 5-1 since competitive losses to future UFC competitors Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Alexa Grasso, losing only to another UFC acquisition in Virna Jandiroba during that span. She enters the UFC on short notice, replacing the injured Luana Carolina.

Invicta commentator (and UFC veteran) Julie Kedzie compared Inoue to a bee and that’s not inaccurate. She darts in and out with sharp 1-2s, disguised with effective feints, and appears to be picking up her output after getting outworked by busier strikers in the past. Her offensive wrestling is historically solid, as well, and her armbar is a serious threat from both top position and off of her back.

Besides the aforementioned volume issue, her fight with Jandiroba showed that she can struggle against powerhouse wrestlers. Jandiroba took her down all night despite eating a steady diet of clean punches, and Inoue’s work from the bottom wasn’t enough to stop the Brazilian from passing guard and racking up long stretches of top control.

In addition, Inoue is a career Strawweight who’s recently had issues making 115; she missed weight before a dominant performance against Viviane Pereira and lost out on a shot in Invicta’s one-night “Phoenix Rising” tournament due to another weight mishap. She’s been physically overpowered before, so her time at 125 could be risky.

Don’t let the worry in those two paragraphs fool you, though. Inoue is a top-notch fighter out of a great camp in Serra-Longo, and I expect her to be a top-10 Flyweight before long. She should dominate debut opponent Wu Yanan.

Her Invicta bouts are on Fight Pass.

Jun Yong Park

Weight Class: Middleweight
Age: 28
Record: 10-3 (5 KO, 3 SUB)/9-3 (4 KO, 3 SUB)
Notable Victories: Ray Cooper III, John Vake, Glenn Sparv

One of two Korean Top Team representatives debuting on this card, Park enters the Octagon on either a seven- or six-fight winning streak depending on whether you trust Tapology or Sherdog more. That run has seen him pick up wins in Guam, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, and Russia alongside his native South Korea.

Of the many hard-nosed Korean sluggers to grace the Octagon in recent years, Park is the most technically impressive since Doo Ho Choi. He’s a terrific offensive boxer, working behind a stiff jab to rattle off a diverse array of combinations. The jab is probably the most effective part of his game and serves as the start of most of his offense, but he’s also a capable counter-striker and does excellent work with elbows on the inside.

Besides being vulnerable while throwing, as he doesn’t move his head all that much, Park is either extremely easy to take down or willingly surrenders them in favor of scrambling back to his feet. He mulched Glenn Sparv’s face in the standup, but gave up takedowns well into the third round despite Sparv’s lack of striking answers. Though he instantly got up each time, it’s an exploitable quirk/flaw in his game that the Middleweight division’s many strong wrestlers could have a field day with.

He’s in a toss up fight with “Contender Series” alum Anthony Hernandez, who underperformed in his Octagon debut against Markus Perez. Park’s the better boxer by a fair margin, but his habit of giving up takedowns and Hernandez’s many entries into his killer guillotine look like a rough combination.

Da Un Jung

Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Age: 25
Record: 11-2 (9 KO, 1 SUB)/10-2 (8 KO, 1 SUB)
Notable Victories: None

Jung, the other KTT member I mentioned, has won either 10 or nine in a row since a submission loss to future Riziin competitor Roque Martinez, all but one by finish. He’s competed at both Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight, seemingly switching between them as needed for matchups.

Standing an imposing 6’4,” Jung is a deliberate power-puncher, generally content to fire one shot at a time but willing to flurry when he thinks he’s got someone hurt. Though he’s fairly easy to hit, especially when he throws his favored right uppercut from too far out, he’s demonstrated excellent durability, allowing him to tank incoming fire and use his power to shift momentum. His 1s and 2s are his best punches, but he’s also a capable kicker.

While not much of a technical wrestler, he does a decent job of scrambling to his feet and can bust out a decent double-leg when appropriate. The latter trait allows him to unleash powerful ground-and-pound from side control or mount, which is honestly the most eye-catching part of his game. He’s a big, strong lad who doesn’t need that much room to dish out punishment.

I’m not sure his physicality can make up for the technical deficiencies in his game, but he should grace us with some quality scraps so long as he isn’t matched too tough.

He was originally supposed to fight Russian bruiser Saparbeg Safarov, then Contender Series alum Jamahal Hill, but injury sank the former and visa issues did the same to the latter. Instead, he faces undefeated Russian prospect Khadis Ibragimov, who looks to be the stronger grappler of the two but has sufficiently questionable striking to give Jung a chance.

Khadis Ibragimov

Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Age: 24
Record: 8-0 (2 KO, 3 SUB)
Notable Victories: Stephan Puetz, Rafal Kijanczuk

A combat sambo standout who choked out former M-1 double champ Stephan Puetz in just his fifth pro fight, Ibragimov steps in for Jamahal Hill on short notice with the M-1 Light Heavyweight belt around his waist. He submitted Dmitriy Mikutsa for the title last August, then pounded out unbeaten Rafal Kijanczuk in March in his first defense.

Ibragimov’s sambo is predicated on his judo; he boasts a wide variety of throws and trips from the clinch, plus terrific balance when others try to take him down in return. He had some issues establishing top position in a recent fight, but in addition to his takedown persistence when opponents refuse to stay down, he’s shown a knack for wrapping up the RNC and scored his most recent win via technical knockout from the crucifix.

Though dangerous in most phases of grappling, Ibragimov’s striking badly needs work. He mostly just wings flurries of haymakers, and while he has some significant natural power, he’s begging to be chewed up by superior boxers. His improvement in this area will determine his ceiling; his judo is enough to make him a borderline contender, but he won’t crack the elite without a fair bit of boxing polish.

Ibragimov steps in on short notice to fight the aforementioned Da Un Jung, replacing Jamahal Hill on short notice. He’s got a considerable edge on the mat and the judo prowess to make use of it, but is wild enough on the feet to potentially get clipped at any point, making for an intriguingly volatile matchup.

Danaa Batgerel

Weight Class: Bantamweight
Age: 30
Record: 6-1 (3 KO, 1 SUB)
Notable Victories: Kai Kara-France

Mongolia’s Danaa fought once a year from 2011-2015, winning four straight before a decision loss to countryman Baasankhuu Damlanpurev. He didn’t return to action until 2018, where he picked up two knockouts in under two months.

Though his home country is notorious for its wrestling prowess, Danaa is more of a slugger. He certainly can wrestle, as he showed to great effect against Kara-France, but he’s generally content to stuff takedowns and march forward with heavy 2-3s. He’s shown a quality chin and clever use of knees and elbows on the inside, making him a considerable threat in a brawl.

I haven’t seen any real standout weaknesses from him besides the lack of a jab, which he used against Kara-France but appeared to forego in one of his most recent fights. Though I need to see more of him against quality opposition to get a good grasp of his ceiling, I’ll be happy to tune in to any of his potential brawls.

Danaa could have his chin tested against Heili Alateng, who seems to have finally noticed the crushing power in his right hand. Danaa is by far the more active of the two on the feet, though, and should earn the win provided he can withstand Alateng’s punches.

Heili Alateng

Weight Class: Bantamweight
Age: 27
Record: 12-7-1 (4 KO, 3 SUB)
Notable Victories: Ik Hwang Jang

China’s Alateng opened his career 4-6 before embarking on his current run, the only loss since coming against a man who recently knocked out Kyoji Horiguchi in Kai Asakura. He’s coming off of two consecutive knockouts in South Korea’s prominent Road FC.

Alateng looks to be a somewhat low-output striker who prefers to work on the counter, firing quick, heavy 1-2s. When he does bother to throw, though, it’s really something; his right cross is a piston that’s dropped three of his last four opponents hard. He just needs to up his output. In one of his recent fights, for instance, he spent half a ground struggling to get past his opponent’s kicks before finally dropping him with the first 1-2 he threw.

His wrestling looks to be decent, though he did slow down a bit in what ultimately was scored a draw with Nam Jin Jo. He’s got a decent number of early career submissions as well, so he’s not lost on the ground.

Again, though, the output is a legitimate concern. He looks like he can be comfortably outworked if that right hand of his isn’t enough to crack his opponent’s chin. Debut opponent Danaa Batgerel may be tough enough to do so, so expect this to be a very informative fight.

Karol Rosa

Weight Class: Bantamweight
Age: 24
Record: 11-3 (4 KO, 2 SUB)Notable Victories: Sidy Rocha, Maraina Morais, Gisele Moreira

Rosa, a teammate of Strawweight champion Jéssica Andrade at Paraná Vale Tudo, joins the world’s largest fight promotion with stoppage wins in three of her last four fights.

She didn’t exactly fly off the screen in the first fight of hers I saw, in which she constantly shot for ineffective takedowns against UFC veteran Larissa Pacheco before getting guillotined in the second round, but I’m definitely more impressed by her recent efforts. She’s developed into a solid all-around fighter, using her jab, cross, and low/head kicks to control the pace on the feet until the opportunity arises for a takedown. Though she’s not that quick, her cardio looks solid and her technical wrestling appears to have improved by a significant margin.

There’s really not all that much to complain about in her game at the moment. She could definitely tighten up her boxing, though; her jab and low kick are sharp but she tends to swing for the fences with her right hand. In addition, Melissa Gatto tapped her with a kimura while Rosa was on top in guard, so submission defense may be a concern.

It’ll be interesting to see how her generalist approach matches up with debut opponent Lara Procopio’s grappling-centered offense. It’s the closest fight on the card as far as odds and I’m inclined to agree with that assessment.

Lara Procopio

Weight Class: Bantamweight
Age: 23
Record: 6-0 (1 KO, 2 SUB)
Notable Victories: Mariana Morais, Sidy Rocha

Procopio is yet another double champ from a notable organization to join the Octagon in recent times. The Nova Uniao product won a decision over Mariana Morais for the Shooto Brasil Bantamweight belt in March before doing the same to Sidy Rocha at Flyweight four months later. This will be her first fight in little more than one year.

Procopio does her best work on the ground and she knows it. She rarely spends long on the feet, usually looking for takedowns at the earliest opportunity, and she’s not deterred by opponents scrambling to the feet. She’s a capable wrestler, but her top control isn’t ironclad; I’ve seen her get swept and struggle to keep opponents on the mat, a flaw she attempts to make up for sheer takedown persistence. Procopio has also demonstrated a solid armbar off of her back, so she’s not helpless if things go south.

That constant wrestling attack hides the fact that she really isn’t very comfortable on the feet, and her inability to maintain top position against solid opposition is a point of concern. She’s just 23, though, and seeing as she’s in one of Brazil’s best camps, I can definitely see her making the necessary improvements before long.

As I said above, her fight with Rosa is a tossup. Considering Rosa’s history of poor submission defense, though, I slightly favor Procopio.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 157 fight card right HERE, starting with the ESPN “Prelims” undercard bouts at 3 a.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time of 6 a.m. ET.

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