Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight hitters Justin Tafa and Parker Porter will throw down this weekend (Sat., Feb. 11, 2023) at UFC 284 inside RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.
I would consider myself a fan of Porter, which certainly feels like a minority opinion. It makes sense why on both sides: Porter is 37 years of age, and he’s not going to suddenly shoot up the divisional ladder. Similarly, he doesn’t blow through opponents en route to flashy stoppages. He has an understated and unexpected level of technical proficiency, however, and he’s found more success in UFC than most would have expected — I respect that greatly.
My fandom, however, cannot explain why he’s on the main card of a UFC pay-per-view (PPV) event. The other half of the equation is Tafa, a thoroughly standard Heavyweight slugger with a 2-3 UFC record, who does not explain this bout’s positioning either. Seemingly, UFC is aiming for a quick knockout that rounds out the main card, but that outcome seems less than guaranteed.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Chase Sherman (UFC Vegas 48), Alan Baudot (UFC Vegas 34), Josh Parisian (UFC Vegas 15)
Key Losses: JON JONES AT A 2008 REGIONAL SHOW, Jailton Almeida (UFC Vegas 55), Chris Daukaus (UFC 252)
Keys to Victory: Porter is not a man with huge power in his hands nor shocking athletic capabilities. However, he brings some solid boxing to the table, alongside a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt and ability to push a pretty decent pace for 15 minutes. He’s not flashy, but he’s often able to outwork mid-tier Heavyweight foes who hold speed and power advantages.
Porter has the skills to trade with Tafa, but per usual, he’s on the wrong side of the power equation. Tafa is clearly the nastier finisher between the two, and I wouldn’t expect that Porter’s boxing is quite clean enough to engage with “Bad Man” and get away entirely unscathed.
Rather, Porter should be boxing enough to set up his takedowns along the fence. He can wrestle on the cage rather well, and that style should exhaust Tafa, who is accustomed to finishing fights inside the seven minute mark. The more Porter can avoid the early barrage and extend this fight, the better that odds that his cardio and experience take over.
Key Wins: Juan Adams (UFC 247), Harry Hunsucker (UFC Vegas 45)
Key Losses: Jared Vanderaa (UFC Vegas 27), Yorgan de Castro (UFC 243), Carlos Felipe (UFC Fight Island 7)
Keys to Victory: Tafa is not far removed from the typical Heavyweight mold. He’s a big lad with big power, and he’s the type of 265-pounder who can really surprise an opponent with his quickness )think Mark Hunt or Ben Rothwell back in the day). He’s stopped all five of his victories via knockout, and he’s also one of just two men in UFC history to miss the 265-pound limit.
Tafa’s best bet here seems to be a fast start. He’s considerably more dynamic and punishing than Porter, and that advantage will never be more present than in the opening frame. Plus, Tafa is often having to fight his way through a reach and height disadvantage, and that will not be the case here.
He should be able to find his range quickly and do damage.
Once Porter gets a taste of Tafa’s power, the Aussie should be looking to break his opponent down. He cannot get overeager and give up a takedown or exhaust himself. Instead, he can set the pace, avoid potential traps, and build up to the finish.
This is a low- to mid-level Heavyweight fight.
As mentioned, Porter is in his late 30s. That’s not exactly unusual at Heavyweight, but it does really limit expectations for future growth. Porter is likely about as good as he’s going to be, and that appears to position him as a gatekeeper to the top half of the division. This fight seems unlikely to change his standing, one way or another.
Tafa, meanwhile, is just 29 years old. Victory here would be the biggest of his young career, as well as begin his first UFC win streak. If the technical side of his game can catch up to his athleticism a bit, then perhaps Tafa can climb higher up the ladder. More to the point, Tafa has a chance here to really put on for the Australian fight fans.
At UFC 284, Justin Tafa and Parker Porter will go to war. Which Heavyweight will remain standing when the dust settles?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 284 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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