UFC’s latest trip to Vegas is heading into the home stretch with just two cancelations and one newcomer on tap. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I suffer through some of the worst commentary imaginable to bring you the truth, we look at the latest Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) champion to jump ship.
Felipe “Felipinho” Bunes
Weight Class: Flyweight
Record: 13-6 (2 KO, 8 SUB)
Notable Victories: Yuma Horiuchi, Yoni Sherbatov
Bunes’ run on the Russian circuit ended in a 1-3 skid, prompting him to take his talents to LFA. After falling to an overweight Jussier Formiga in his promotional debut, he returned to the win column with a split decision over Wascar Cruz, then knocked out Yuma Horiuchi for the Flyweight title.
As you might expect from someone who trains with the Pitbull brothers, Bunes is technically sound, well-rounded, and damn violent when he wants to be. On the feet, he utilizes an impressive-for-Flyweight 71” reach to potshot with one- and two-punch combos to the head and body. Despite being so lanky, he’s remarkably quick, and he’s also happy to bust out spinning techniques at a moment’s notice alongside the more traditional punches and low kicks. Should opponents get inside, he’s got strong clinch knees with which to punish them.
It’s a stout, technically sound striking offense let down by a handful of issues. For one, his tall, flat-footed stance leaves him open to low kicks, which Horiuchi exploited to good effect before Bunes finally timed a check hook perfectly. On top of that, he can back straight up and has a tendency to bring his left hand back low, especially when sitting down on a heavy right.
I do also want to point out that he can get overly fond of the spinning attacks. He was doing a remarkably good job of shutting down Formiga’s vaunted grappling before a whiffed spinning back kick allowed Formiga to take his back and choke him out Grasso-Shevchenko style.
His grappling looks sharp overall, as seen when he hit a flying triangle armbar on Yoni Sherbatov when the latter caught a head kick. Formiga, who boasts some of the best back takes in MMA history, only managed to secure dominant position due to the aforementioned spinning back kick giving him a golden opportunity. He times his entries well, plays a heavy top game, and can hit some quick back takes of his own, though he throws less ground-and-pound than I’d like.
That said, he did have issues securing and maintaining position against a journeyman in Cruz for the first half of their fight, at one point getting swept after trying to move from side control to mount.
My assessment? Solid, but unspectacular. Outside of the spinning techniques, there’s nothing hugely eye-catching about his game either offensively or defensively. He’s also 33 years old, so it’s unlikely we’ll see the improvement necessary for a title run. Still, he’s a decent fighter and should put on an entertaining fight against the eternally cursed, Zhalgas Zhumagulov, albeit a losing one thanks to Zhumagulov’s low kicks and in-fighting.
His LFA bouts are on Fight Pass.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 75 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.
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