Fight Nights generally feature several fresh faces, and thanks to some withdrawals, UFC San Diego this weekend (Sat., Aug. 13, 2022) will have more than usual. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I suffer more than anyone else in the world when fight cards get reshuffled, we look at two elite young Strawweights, Poland’s latest Heavyweight, and a CFFC champion.
Weight Class: Strawweight
Record: 8-0 (6 KO)
Notable Victories: Stephanie Frausto
Jauregui — who began her professional career at just 19 years old — claimed the UWC Strawweight title with a stoppage of Annely Jimenez in Nov. 2020. She then returned to Combate, where she scored three wins in a single night to win its 115-pound tournament.
In a few short years, Jauregui has gone from a green-but-promising all-rounder to one of the nastiest offensive strikers in the division. Her offense is all about rapid-fire boxing combinations mixed with sharp kicks at the beginning or end. I mention range management a lot in these articles, and Jauregui is an excellent example of doing it right. She’ll slip inside to land her shots, get just out of range of the return fire, then dive back in with additional shots as her opponent tries to reset. Though at her best when she’s leading the dance at range, she’s a sharp counter-puncher as well and can do some nice damage with knees and elbows in the clinch.
And all of that is bolstered by legitimate fight-ending power.
She’s a stronger grappler than I expected, too. While I haven’t seen her utilize her wrestling of late, older footage revealed effective double-leg and body lock takedowns. Her entries weren’t too great in 2019, but she was already adept at finishing her shots. Her takedown defense is generally good, though she did get dragged down in her most recent fight when her opponent timed Jauregui’s combination. To her credit, she immediately got back up, took control of the clinch, and started mauling.
Jauregui is a genuine blue-chip prospect and one of the more interesting new Strawweights we’ve seen in some time. I’ll be watching her career with great interest.
Opponent: She takes on fellow young gun Iasmin Lucindo. Distance will be key here because Lucindo is a lethal grappler, but she stands so square that Jauregui’s combinations will find the mark far too often. So long as Jauregui is her usual mindful self on that front, she should be able to take apart Lucindo.
Weight Class: Strawweight
Record: 13-4 (8 KO, 2 SUB)
Notable Victories: Lucrezia Ria, Sarah Frota
Lucindo started her professional career 6-4 before even reaching her eighteenth birthday. She now finds herself in the midst of a seven-fight win streak that most recently saw her out-class Contender Series alum, Lucrezia Ria.
She steps in for the injured Istela Nunes on one month’s notice.
Lucindo’s game is simple but effective: throw one-two combinations and single kicks until she can wrap up a body lock, then never, ever let go. Whether by tying up as overeager opponents rush in or bull-rushing them to the fence, she’s nigh-on impossible once she manages to wrap up and get her trips going. She’s super heavy on top, patiently landing punches and surprisingly heavy elbows as she works her way towards mount or the back. While her finishing record demonstrates her preference for landing strikes instead of chasing submissions, she has shown a willingness to chase armbars as rounds wind down, although she seems to wait a bit too long to do so.
Plus, even if you do manage to get out from under her, she’s incredibly persistent in dragging you right back down.
Her big weakness at the moment is her square stance, which combines with limited head movement to leave her vulnerable to straight strikes. Plus, while her own strikes are technically sound, they’re fairly slow and telegraphed outside of the excellent spinning back kick she landed on Ria last time out. I’d also like to see a bit more fluidity in her takedown entries; as dangerous as she is inside, it’s not much use if she can’t get there safely.
Still, she’s extremely promising for her age, and I can see her grappling carrying her at least into the Top 20. If she continues to develop, watch out.
Opponent: See above.
Tape: Her bout with Ria is on Fight Pass.
Lukasz “The Bull” Brzeski
Weight Class: Heavyweight
Record: 8-1-1 (5 KO, 2 SUB)
Notable Victories: Dylan Potter (Overturned), Ednaldo Oliveira
“The Bull” — who last tasted defeat in 2017 — choked out Dylan Potter on Contender Series to secure a UFC contract back in 2021. Then came a failed drug test for clomiphene, which overturned the victory and resulted in a lengthy suspension.
He fights for the first time in almost 11 months.
For the first few minutes of a fight, Brzeski is surprisingly light-footed for his size, spamming low kicks while mixing in fairly sharp boxing combinations. Before long, though, he slows down and switches to his standard approach: marching in with flurries and locking up the clinch. From there, he lands heavy knees alongside uppercuts from the single collar tie and looks for takedowns, whether they be body locks, double-legs, or single legs.
While not necessarily the most adept at keeping top position, he’s admirably aggressive with his ground-and-pound, and he’s got some tricks from the top. When Potter worked his way into turtle position after a stint in the crucifix, Brzeski did a very good job of constantly forcing Potter’s head down to prevent him from standing while he landed punches.
His biggest problem is that he’s just, well, really sloppy at times. He keeps his head and upper body straight up when he rushes in, and those punches are big, ugly, looping things once he shifts into energy-conservation mode. Also, while he fights remarkably well with a seemingly empty gas tank, sucking wind before the first round even finishes is a bad look.
I’d rate Brzeski as average. I don’t see him becoming any sort of title threat without an intense strength and conditioning program, but that short-range mauling approach could earn him a handful of wins against the Chase Shermans and Jared Vanderaas of the division.
Opponent: He takes on fellow Contender Series graduate, Martin Buday, in what’s genuinely a godawful match up for “The Bull.” Buday is a similar sort of clinch specialist, but with actual cardio and around a 30-pound weight advantage. It probably won’t be pretty, but expect Buday to just out-muscle and out-hustle Brzeski inside.
Da’Mon “The Diamond” Blackshear
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Record: 12-4 (1 KO, 8 SUB)
Notable Victories: DeAndre Anderson, Mateo Vogel, Aalon Cruz
Blackshear fell short in bids for CFFC and CES gold against future Contender Series alumni Pat Sabatini and Danny Sabatello as part of a 4-4 slump. Undaunted, he went on to win four straight, claiming and defending the CFFC Bantamweight title in the process.
He replaces Christian Quinonez on less than two weeks’ notice.
I can’t think of a pithy, one-sentence descriptor for Blackshear, so let’s talk about his striking and grappling separately. He’s got a kick-heavy approach on the feet with a particular fondness for snap kicks to the body, plus the occasional flying and/or spinning technique. If he doesn’t have to chase his opponents, he’s fairly sharp, particularly with the counter-punching that earned him a knockdown against then-unbeaten DeAndre Anderson two fights back.
It’s when he has to lead that issues arise. Indeed, he tends to run after opponents with big single strikes, his chin unprotected all the while. He also has a habit of planting his feet when countering, which leaves him wide open if his strike fails to connect. Everything combines to make him fairly awkward on the feet unless the fight is proceeding at his preferred pace and distance.
There’s some very good things to be said about his grappling, though. He’s a top-notch scrambler with great balance and riding skills, very difficult to take and hold down. He does a good job of sitting up into his own takedown attempts when he ends up on his back and can hit some slick transitions, including a kimura trap to back take his last time out. His favorite position appears to be the rear crucifix, but he also boasts a solid front headlock series.
Unfortunately, his ground game has fallen short at the highest levels. Both Sabatini and Sabatello completely neutralized him with persistent takedowns, to the point where Blackshear seemed terrified to even attempt a strike. While he fought off most of Sabatini’s takedowns in the early going, he proved unable to separate, and he started hitting the deck once they hit the third and fourth rounds.
He definitely has skills, but he fell so short in his steps up in class that I don’t see him making much of a dent in the Octagon. Middle of the pack at best.
Opponent: He takes on one-time sensation Youssef Zalal in the latter’s Bantamweight debut. Though Zalal similarly failed to pan out once his opposition got tougher, “The Moroccan Devil’s” persistent wrestling attack should neuter Blackshear’s offense enough to earn him a win.
Tape: His CFFC bouts are on Fight Pass.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC San Diego fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC San Diego: “Vera vs. Cruz” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.