clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC 291 - New Blood: Flowers power

This weekend’s UFC 291 card in Salt Lake City, Utah, was very nearly an all-veteran affair, but a late-notice injury opened the door for a lone newcomer. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I should really just write up the Contender Series graduates when they’re first signed, we check out an upset artist with LFA experience.

LIVE! Watch UFC 293 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

MASSIVE MIDDLEWEIGHT MATCH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its highly anticipated return to Sydney, Australia, for the first time in five years on Sat., Sept. 9, 2023, with a 185-pound world title fight inside Qudos Bank Arena. In the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight roost-ruler, Israel Adesanya, plans to silence No. 5-seeded contender, Sean Strickland. In UFC 293’s hard-hitting Heavyweight co-main event, No-6-ranked fan favorite, Tai Tuivasa, locks horns with towering Russian, Alexander Volkov (No. 8).

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

Darrius “Beast Mode” Flowers

Weight Class: Welterweight
Age: 28
Record: 12-5-1 (8 KO, 1 SUB)
Notable Victories: Amiran Gogoladze, Daniel Gadley

Flowers started his career 9-5-1 before rattling off a pair of impressive finishes over Daniel Gadley and Tim Hiley. This earned him a spot on the Contender Series, where he finished Amiran Gogoladze with a slam 73 seconds into the first round.

Originally slated to debut against Erick Gonzalez in February 2023, he now steps in for Miguel Baeza on just over a week’s notice.

Though he utilizes constant lateral movement, Flowers is at his most fearsome in the pocket, winging hooks and a particularly nasty uppercut to bury his opponents in power shots. He’s clearly got the power his stout 5’9” frame suggests, and though he can telegraph his entries a bit and lacks a jab, he’s a handful once he gets inside. I’m not convinced he can consistently do so against higher-level strikers, especially since he has a few bad habits like leaning to his right and failing to deal with low kicks but people who can’t keep him at bay are going to have a hell of a time.

Oddly enough, his grappling actually stood out to me more. He’s an excellent defensive wrestler, highly adept at getting underhooks and using them to either deny takedowns, hit his own trips, or, in the case of Gogoladze, counter a deep shot to land in top position. Once there, he’s keen to posture up and drop hammerfists on whatever surface is available, be it the head, body, or thighs. He’s not much of a guard passer, instead working from full guard or standing over his opponent to try and dive past their legs.

Flowers genuinely seems to be on a career resurgence and is training with quality partners like Belal Muhammad. His mix of raw power and defensive grappling make him dangerous for anyone without quality range management on the feet. That said, there’s an elephant in the room: he went 1-10 as a pro boxer with seven knockout losses. He was fighting way above his ideal weight against genuinely dangerous fighters like Efetobor Apochi, to be fair, but I watched his most recent bout from 2019 and he seemed to fold any time Owen Saldana put any pressure on him.

Maybe he was comfortable in his role as a designated victim; there’s no shortage of guys out there who get paid to come in against some undefeated up-and-comer, try hard for a minute or two, and then call it quits when the going gets tough. It just raises the question of how well he’ll handle adversity at the highest level.

As for his debut, he’d have easily annihilated the defensively hapless Erick Gonzalez but faces a stiffer test in Jake Matthews. That said, Matthews got battered pillar to post by Matt Semelsberger, so Flowers has a real shot at the upset. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 291 fight card right RIGHT HERE, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+/ABC at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 291: “Poirier vs. Gaethje 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For the updated and finalized UFC 291 fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania