clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC 248 - New Blood: Late replacement vs late replacement

This Saturday’s UFC 248 event inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, is stacked to the rafters, leaving room for just one fresh UFC face. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I wind up with way too many tabs open, we check out a skilled Featherweight wrestler with wins over notable UFC figures. As always, all “Contender Series” bouts can be seen on Fight Pass.

Let’s get started.

Jammall “Pretty Boy” Emmers

Weight Class: Featherweight
Age: 30
Record: 17-4 (7 KO, 3 SUB)
Notable Victories: Jay Cucciniello, Cory Sandhagen, Alexander Hernandez

Emmers’ 2016 late-notice bid for RFA gold ended poorly, as the striking and persistence of Thiago Moises put him away midway through the fifth round. Returning to action less than two months later, Emmers put together a four-fight win streak to earn a spot on “Contender Series,” where he succumbed to a Julian Erosa head kick after a competitive first round. He has since won another four straight, among them a first-round stoppage of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran Jay Cuccinello, and makes just over a one-month turnaround this weekend.

He was originally slated to face Movsar Evloev, having replaced Douglas Andrade on less than a month’s notice, but the Russian prospect was forced out after suffering a motorcycle accident (see the gnarly aftermath here).

“Pretty Boy” is a wrestler by trade, having gone to Waldorf on a scholarship. Though he doesn’t have an unstoppable shot, he’s a nightmare to deal with once he gets his hands on on an opponent, boasting incredibly potent scrambling, great balance and passing, and the ability to finish with either strikes or submissions. What’s most impressive is his catlike ability to never wind up on his back; there’s an amazing moment in his recent fight with Caio Machado where Machado slams his way out of a potential guillotine, only for Emmers to wrench him to the side in midair and use the momentum to roll into top position after impact. Trying to take him down or oblige him in a scramble is ill-advised.

His points of worry mostly reside in the stand up department, though he’s visibly improving. Generally relying on body/leg kicks and a fast, powerful lead right, Emmers doesn’t seem all that comfortable in exchanges. Indeed, watching him slug it out with Erosa, it looked as though he had issues properly shifting his weight with each punch. Like I said, though, he does seem to be getting better at that, and he showed some actual head movement and combination punching in his most recent effort.

Besides a willingness to spend way too long trading punches before committing to wrestling, which got him knocked out by Erosa without trying a single shot, one huge, lingering issue remains: he backs straight up, and not particularly swiftly. Rafael Barbosa consistently found the mark by simply pursuing and tacking additional punches onto his combinations. One-two and one-one-two combinations are a problem for Emmers, not to mention the fact that he leaves his trailing leg wide-open to be punted out from under him.

If Emmers can commit to taking down opponents earlier, learn to circle or shoot rather than retreat, and clean up his boxing, he has the tools to be a threat. I see him doing decently well in UFC, albeit not quite well enough to get a number by his name.

Opponent: Emmers really should dominate in his debut. Giga Chikadze is a beast kickboxer whose style demands a level of takedown defense that the Georgian bruiser just hasn’t developed. So long as “Pretty Boy” doesn’t dawdle on the feet the way he did against Erosa and get his liver pulped by the “Giga Kick,” he should shred Chikadze on the ground.

Tape: will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 248 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the Fight Pass/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 248: “Adesanya vs. Romero” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania