In a rare turn of events, the two newcomers set to hit the cage this Saturday (May 14, 2022) inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, get to do so on UFC Vegas 54’s ESPN/ESPN+-streamed main card. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where fighters insist on ending their bouts too quickly for me to get any useful data, we check out an undefeated Flyweight standout and a skilled Mexican finisher.
Jake “White Kong” Hadley
Weight Class: Flyweight
Record: 8-0 (2 KO, 4 SUB)
Notable Victories: Mitch Raposo, Luke Shanks, Nkazimulo Zulu
Hadley brought the Cage Warriors Flyweight title into his Contender Series appearance, which pitted him against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran, Mitch Raposo. Though he wound up missing weight and struggling early, his subsequent rear-naked choke finish earned him both the win and a UFC contract.
On the feet, Hadley relies largely on his Southpaw jab and cross, occasionally peppering in body/low kicks and the occasional left hand downstairs. Though he’s constantly on the advance, he generally does a good job of maintaining his stance and not overextending when throwing. While it’s a solid bullying style, he does suffer a bit from a lack of variety, and the way he got stung in two of his last three appearances suggests he might have some defense and chin issues despite ostensibly reacting well to incoming fire.
He also appears to back straight up and has an issue with not checking low kicks.
Luckily for him, he can take those issues out of the equation with his excellent ground game. He boasts a strong double-leg both on the advance and as a reaction, not to mention an eye-catching ability to turn an awkward ground position into a takedown attempt. He plays a heavy top game, grinding away with punches and elbows until he can reach mount or the back and start chasing submissions. Terrific balance allows him to maintain position no matter how his opponent rolls, and he can snatch up that dominant position in an instant.
Just check out the finishing sequence of his fight with Shaj Haque, which saw Hadley rock him with a head kick before dragging him down with a body lock, moving straight to the back, and blasting him unconscious with punches.
Hadley’s got the tools to be a player at 125 pounds, and odds are he’ll only get better in the Octagon. In the end, expect an entertaining and largely successful UFC tenure.
Opponent: He takes on the highly dangerous Allan Nascimento in a fight that’s closer to a pick ’em than the odds suggest. Beyond Nascimento’s ability to hold his own on the feet, including some powerful low kicks that could give Hadley real issues, and his bottom game was enough to give Tagir Ulanbekov hell in “Puro Osso’s” UFC debut. Hadley’s wrestling edge should give him the edge, but he’ll have to stay on his toes the whole time.
Tape: His Cage Warriors appearances are on Fight Pass.
Manuel “El Loco” Torres
Weight Class: Lightweight
Record: 12-2 (5 KO, 6 SUB)
Notable Victories: Kolton Englund, Enrique Gonzalez
Torres entered the Contender Series cage having shocked out his previous two opponents in a combined 1:28. He was similarly efficient on the show itself, controversially stopping Kolton Englund after an apparent uncalled eye poke.
It’s hard to make a detailed judgment of Torres, as his last four fights lasted about five cumulative minutes, but I’ll try. He’s a long, tall, one-at-a-time striker on the feet with a particular fondness for low and front kicks. When he does put shots together, he tends to rush in and shift in the process. Aside from the lack of combinations, he’s held back by a tendency to really load up on and telegraph his power punches.
As for that submission game, he’s shown off a solid front choke series and sports several rear-naked choke finishes. The jury’s out on his wrestling, and his two leglock defeats show that he might not be as adept defensively as he is offensively.
Even with the limited data pool, I don’t see Torres going terribly far in the Octagon. Besides the apparent submission vulnerability, he’s much too awkward on the feet, and not in a good way. He might snatch a quick submission or two, but don’t expect him to advance past the division’s lower echelons.
Opponent: He takes on Frank Camacho. “The Crank” is 1-4 in his last five bouts, took an ungodly amount of damage during that run, hasn’t fought in nearly two years, and missed the Lightweight limit by two pounds last time out. As limited as Torres is, I trust him to execute a lot more than I do Camacho.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 54 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN2/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN2/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.
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