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UFC Vegas 31 - New Blood: Nine wins ... nine submissions

UFC Fighter Portraits Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Abubakar Nurmagomedov may have missed out on his chance to join countryman Islam Makhachev inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, this weekend (July 17, 2021), but his loss is an Octagon newcomer’s gain. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I learn to accept inevitable misfortune, we check out a submission specialist on a serious hot streak.

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 37 On ESPN+

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Sept. 18, 2021, with an exciting match up in the Light Heavyweight division, as No. 6-ranked contender, Anthony Smith, faces off with No. 11-seeded contemporary, Ryan Spann. In UFC Vegas 37’s co-main event, fellow 205-pound veterans Ion Cutelaba and Devin Clark aim to steal the show.  

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Preston Parsons

Weight Class: Welterweight
Age: 26
Record: 9-2 (9 SUB)
Notable Victories: Dave Mundell, Ignacio Bahamondes

Parsons — whose only defeats came against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21 veteran Valdir Araujo and future UFC stalwart Mike Perry — ended a two-year layoff with four consecutive victories. The most recent of those came in June 2021, tapping veteran Jeff Peterson with a second round armbar.

He steps in for the injured Nurmagomedov on less than two weeks’ notice.

As you’ve probably guessed from that finishing rate, Parsons is primarily a ground specialist. He wastes little time marching forward, forcing opponents to shell up with aggressive strikes, and then changing levels for a quick takedown. He seems particularly fond of trips after locking his hands in over-under position, but is also adept with single-legs and more traditional body locks.

Though not an unstoppable takedown artist, he makes up for it with persistence, refusing to let opponents separate once he gets his hands on them.

Once he hits the ground, he makes a beeline for the back with a strong passing game and hunts the rear-naked choke that accounts for four of his nine submission wins. Four of the others came by armbar, and he’s capable of hitting it as his opponents look to escape back mount or from his back if he ends up swept into guard.

While he pretty much exclusively used his grappling for the first three wins of his current streak, he showcased a surprisingly savage clinch attack against Peterson. He’s a solid boxer with nice upper-body movement and sneaky kicks at range, but he really shines on the inside, blending a versatile elbow attack with both his punches and knees. He does an excellent job of mixing up his attacks to the head and body, and he’s slick enough to sneak in level changes as well.

There really weren’t any red flags to find in Parsons’ recent footage. The major question right now is whether he can execute against UFC-level opposition — Peterson was effectively a heavy bag for most of their fight, and anyone can look good against a heavy bag. Parsons’ most notable wins came more than four years ago against future BKFC competitor Mundell and an extremely green Ignacio Bahamondes.

I’ll need to see some proper tests before making a definitive prognosis.

Opponent: He takes on Daniel Rodriguez, who’s 4-1 in the Octagon and has a strong claim to being undefeated (5-0). Parsons will definitely have an edge on the ground, so his success will come down to his ability to score takedowns; while he’s not lost on the feet, “D-Rod’s” power, volume and experience figure to win the day in a kickboxing battle. I favor Rodriguez, though you can expect some impressive work from Parsons if he does end up on top.

Tape:


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