It was tradition; after warming up the crowd before the first pitch, the players lined up in the dugout, and he ran the gauntlet, an onslaught of enthusiastic daps, high-fives, "attaboy" ass slaps, and playful wallops to the head. Sometimes the guys were a little too rough, and it felt like sparring, but the players really got a kick out of it, so he didn’t mind. The six-pound foam panda head was like wearing giant headgear, and he liked to bob and weave and try out new footwork to dodge some of the blows. If you can dodge a slap while wearing a huge panda head, you can dodge a punch with your regular head no problem. It was good practice.
Walking back to the clubhouse, he removed the sweat-drenched panda head, tossed the hotdog cannon in the locker, and plopped down on the bench in front of a struggling box fan. "My balls is hot," he thought and imagined they would have melted if he had been forced to wear the trashcan accessory today; it added another five degrees to his lower atmosphere. He eyed the spare pants wrapped in dry-cleaning plastic hanging in the locker. It was about time; it only took fifty games worth of accumulated dirt, beer stains, and swamp ass baked into them for the equipment manager to finally get them cleaned.
He had almost forgotten today was the annual stadium race, featuring three other qualifiers: "Big Mo" of the Montgomery Biscuits, "Chico" of the El Paso Chihuahuas, and "Busta" of the Modesto Nuts. Big Mo was the champ two years running and looking for an unprecedented three-peat, but this year, the Trash Pandas had a secret weapon. Tearing away the plastic, he held up the spare pants; they were made lighter and with smaller boots so he could run faster. He had been practicing in them all season and had clocked personal records three times.
"You’re on deck, Sprocket!" a voice yelled from the dugout.
Before he knew it, it was already the seventh inning stretch, and he was lined up on the warning track next to a giant biscuit, chihuahua, and a crackhead version of Mr. Peanut. It was the tightest race in years and came down to a photo finish, but Big Mo managed to win his third straight Mascot Invitational by a piece of bacon ahead of Sprocket. But you couldn’t tell by the hometown crowd’s reaction that Sprocket was the loser; they showered praise for they never thought they’d see someone give Big Mo a run for his money.
Back in the clubhouse, Sprocket removed the giant foam head, and sweat poured out. Then he peeled off the rest of the water-logged costume, becoming Cory once again. He walked over to a rusty old scale stashed in the corner and stepped up. He adjusted the slides until the metal arrow balanced perfectly. He nodded, satisfied. One hundred thirty-five on the dot. Time to go to work.
Rob Font vs. Cory Sandhagen
It’s crazy to think Cory Sandhagen found time to train for a five-round fight in the middle of Rocket City Trash Panda season. Sandhagen’s dreams of one day becoming the UFC Bantamweight Champ and the San Diego Padres Swinging Friar are inexorably linked, and he stands on the cusp of achieving both. Which one would he hold in higher regard, I’d love the chance to ask, but I’d have to imagine being the Swinging Friar is a once and a lifetime opportunity. But don’t let the fact that Cory Sandhagen looks like every guy who loses their mascot head in a wild mascot brawl or by some celebrity trying to earn a little street cred fool you. The Sandman is one of the best pure strikers in any division and a perennial title contender, always one fight away from getting the nod for a title shot.
This matchup was originally supposed to feature Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Cory Sandhagen, but Umar was injured a couple weeks ago. Umar vs. Cory would have been a style matchup banger written about by this era’s Homers and Shakespears, but I can still see them meeting up one day, maybe even in a title fight. But don’t sleep on Rob "Times New Roman" Font. Rob ain’t with all that flashy artist calligraphy shit; he’s about that stick to the basics professional script. All the flying/spinning shit that Cory Sandhagen throws as fundamental strikes; ain’t nobody got time for all that. Font builds an ass-kicking foundation by working behind his jab like Bud Crawford. The jab remains undefeated as the most effective strike in combat sports, and Rob Font is surgical with that b***h, Jake.
Enter the Sandman. Cory Sandhagen is riding back-to-back wins against two of the best finishers in the division, Chito Vera and Song Yadong. Not mine, yours. With Aljamain Sterling’s future at bantamweight up in the air after his next title defense against O’Malley, Cory Sandhagen could find himself in a title fight with a win over Rob Font. At the very least, he will be in a title eliminator. The Sandhagen challenging for a title this time around will be a more well-rounded version of himself as he has added some timing-based wrestling to his arsenal. Sandhagen has a knack for drawing opponents into well-planned traps that usually manifest as crisp striking counters, but now he has added smooth level changes. If Merab Dvalishvili has taught us anything, it’s that takedown attempts don’t have to result in the fight going to the mat to be effective. They add another variable to the equation, like when your algebra teacher introduced "z" after you just figured out how to solve for "x" and "y."
But don’t get it f**ked up like Deion’s toes; Cory Sandhagen is a striker. He’s a Return to Skinwalker Ranch shapeshifter who blends and completely changes styles mid-fight. In one round, Sandhagen will come out in a long, bladed karate stance and bounce in and out while emphasizing kicks, and in the next, he’ll come out in a crouched division one wrestling stance and strafe tactically while emphasizing hands. But regardless of the style, Sandhagen uses varying cadences and degrees of power to elicit predictable counters that he then counters. That’s called setting traps, countering a specific response you’re trying to draw out. Sandhagen’s biggest knock is that he lacks one-punch power; he’s a Ricky Henderson leadoff batter, who works the count, makes contact, gets on base, and steals second and third. He will touch you up, frustrate you, and pick you apart throughout fifteen to twenty-five minutes.
But as I alluded to earlier, Sandy’s biggest weapon is his unassuming looks. You would never expect a dude who looks like he sits outside Walmart with a clipboard, petitioning to repeal the local "No Shoes, No Service" ordinance, to spinning wheel kick you any more than you expected Derrick Lewis to come out and throw a Jorge Masvidal flying knee and immediately remove his fight shorts after. Sandhagen is also built like an e-athlete, but you don’t need muscles from Brussels when you have timing and speed like Sandhagen. His game plan against Rob Font will be to shake things up and change the fighting ranges and overall orientation from the feet to the mat if he can. Most importantly, Sandhagen needs to implement his trademark lateral movement to create angles of attack and escape. Font is an original NES striker with basic forward/backward, up/down movement, who tends to attack only in straight lines up the middle.
Rob Font is coming off delivering a grown man ass-whooping to Adrian Yanez. It was a pappy cracking his son’s ass and reminding the youngster he ain’t ready to hold house supremacy. The fight was a Wild-Wild West affair, a gentleman’s duel at ten paces. But instead of six-shooters, they had Uzis and licked shots off Willy Nilly all over the arena. After getting caught early by Yanez’s speed, Font got to work with his best weapon, the jab. Font has an AI jab that’s threatening to put other jabs out of work.
Flashback: Josh Koscheck vs. GSP 2; GSP won that fight almost exclusively by using his jab; he had Koscheck looking like half his face suffered a shellfish allergy by the end. Font can win fights in the same manner. His use of the jab is multifaceted; he can throw it as a range finder, a counter, a peppering volume strike, and as a power punch. Font is as likely to drop you with his jab as he is with his cross. Outside of the jab, Font’s best weapons are the 1-2 and hiding the rear uppercut behind the jab. Font is a volume/pressure fighter who, even when facing heavy artillery bombardments, maintains the front line and keeps marching forward. When it comes to trench warfare, Font is a general with stripes and several purple hearts pinned to his chest. This guy can take Guantanamo prisoner punishment and keep coming forward. You can waterboard him, electrocute him in puddles of urine, staple his eyes open and force him to watch the Barbie movie, and he won’t even think about singing.
But Font will need a lot more than toughness against Sandhagen. He will have to use Cory’s lateral movement against him by cutting off the cage and boxing him in against the cage where he can get off combinations. Also, Font has to pace himself better; he comes out pushing an impossible pace in every fight and suffers defensively because of it. Fantasy-wise, Font’s value will be in volume even in a loss. Against Chito Vera, Font out landed Vera two hundred seventy-one to one hundred and fifty-noine and still lost a unanimous decision. Overall, Font averages nearly six and a half significant strikes per minute compared to Sandhagen’s six.
The Sandman will be the (-275) favorite, and Font will be the (+230) dog. With about fifty professional fights between the two, they share just two L’s by stoppage. They both have only one submission loss on their records, and this one will likely go the distance. I think Sandhagen’s unpredictable spinning/flying-ish could be the impetus for creating a fight-ending sequence, and in general, he has a better shot at ending the fight before the final bell. But Font would go down swinging all the way to the bottom if he were on board the Titanic. He’d still be holding his breath if he were on board the Titan submarine. A Font TKO/KO will return (+750) and a decision (+550), his likely means of victory. A Sandhagen TKO/KO will return (+175), and a sub (+650).
The main event dub streak sits at five after Justin Gaethje went straight Rashad Evans vs. Sean Salmon on Dustin Poirier and landed... a fookin’ head kick!? Crazy. This four-foot bong load is to number six. Cory Sandhagen via decision. On wax.
Jessica Andrade vs. Tatiana Suarez
This will be an Acme University scrap, complete with crashing anvils from seemingly nowhere, roads leading off random cliffs, and tumbleweed dust clouds comprised of flailing limbs and random appliances bouncing around all over the cage. This scrap is guaranteed to be super ugly no matter where it takes place and is the quintessential wrestler vs. striker matchup. Fantasy-wise, you’ll be hitting up the soup kitchen after this one, begging for an extra ladle of points, especially if Tatiana Suarez has her way and gets the fight to the mat.
Tatiana Suarez’s wrestling accolades read longer than a Buca di Beppo menu. She could shoot a double and takedown stone henge. She’s a Stallone Cliffhanger who will hold on for dear life if she can lay even a pinky on you. She’s stickier than Snoop Dogg's fingers when she gets hold of you. Ooooh weee! When you see Tatiana grapple, you think you’re watching a future champion. But when you see her striking, it’s like taking a doodie in public, and the seat is still warm; it makes you think twice.
Good news/bad news: The good news is Suarez has a Merab-like commitment to takedowns, a ‘till death do us part, take half your shit if it doesn’t work out-type of commitment. The bad news is, she’s SOL if her wrestling isn’t effective. She’s crafty with single-legs, running the pike and turning them into doubles, and she’s formidable in the clinch, setting up level changes behind subtle trips that throw opponents off balance. When it comes to shooting doubles, Suarez gets low like Lil Jon & the East Side Boys; she gets lower than my expectations for the Cowboys this year and penetrates, running her opponents across the Octagon.
But when it comes to striking, Suarez is the logo for the new Professional Wii Boxing League; she’s the Jerry West of that bish. On the feet, Suarez is a hanging silhouette at the end of a firing range. The other red flag for Suarez is that since 2019, she’s only had one more fight than you or I. Her career has been marred by injuries, but she’s coming off a submission dub over "Hannah" Montana De La Rosa back in February. This will be the first time she’s fought twice in one year since 2018. For her career, Suarez is 9-0 with two TKO/KOs and four subs. Fantasy-wise, Suarez will be a huge submission threat, especially late in the fight, after wearing down Jessica Andrade with top control.
Whenever I see Jessica Andrade, I think of Erin Blanchfield. It’s not you, Jessica; it’s me. Andrade losing the fight wasn’t surprising; it was how she lost that was surprising. Andrade got beat up on the feet, running face-first into Blanchfield’s outstretched hands. The arena started playing Wile E. Coyote special effects every time she sprinted full speed into a Blachfield jab. The Blanchfield ass-whooping was so devastating I forgot Andrade lost to Xiaonan Yan after that. And that Yan loss might be more alarming. Yan couldn’t finish a book, much less a fight, but managed to TKO Andrade in just over two minutes and was Yan’s first UFC finish in ten appearances.
Man, you’re simpin’ for old shit right meow. I know, I know. Andrade’s style is finally catching up to her after years of doling out ass-whippings and briefly becoming the champ. Her major malfunction is that she is the female Justin Gaethje pre-Tony Ferguson fight. Where Gaethje learned to fight patiently and restrain from engaging in firefights, Andrade is a Stephen King Firestarter to the soul. Her only reaction is overreaction. Andrade flips a coin like Harvey Dent and engages in nothing but 50/50 exchanges. She values aggression over tact and is all about the destination and not the journey. When it comes to slasher movie striking, Andrade is the poster girl. Andrade will literally chase opponents around the cage while flailing wild hooks all over the place.
Fantasy-wise, Andrade is also a finishing threat, but only if she can keep the fight standing. The key will be using lateral movement and, for once in her fighting life, refraining from attacking recklessly. Andrade will be a massive (+305) dog, and Suarez will be the (-400) favorite. This is a much more tricky fight than the odds suggest. Both fighters have massive advantages and massive vulnerabilities outside of their areas of expertise. Whoever can dictate where the fight takes place will take the dub. A Suarez sub will return (+120), and an Andrade TKO/KO will return (+650). Tatiana Suarez via rear-naked choke, round three. Wax on, wax off.
Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Dustin Jacoby
Kennedy Nzechukwu was the only Kennedy who didn’t find Leon Edwards’ famous "Head shot, bang!" post-fight speech offensive. Maybe that’s because he is a sniper himself, fighting out of Dallas, Texas. No shit, dude really fights out of Dallas and does old school Conor McGregor "touch-butt" drills on the grassy knoll on recovery days. Magic bullets will be flying all over the arena when Kennedy fights Dustin Jacoby, a former Glory Kickboxing World Champion. This is a banger striker vs. striker matchup and could act as the unofficial co-main event.
I wasn’t joking when I said Kennedy Nzechukwu is a sniper. This guy is longer than Oppenheimer and emphasizes accuracy over power. He has sixth-floor book depository accuracy and long straight punches that fit between and around the opponent’s guard. There are no tells in his delivery, no loading or winding up; he just fires straight from the shoulder; there’s no fat in his movements, just lean, precise shots straight to the target. Also, he’s long enough to hold you at arm’s length with one hand and beat you with the other while you swing at air. And elbows in the clinch are his special weapons. Nzechukwu sets up a lot of his finishes by creating damage in the clinch using old-school David Loiseau downward-slashing elbows and knees he barely has to lift to reach your head.
Defensively, Kennedy has one of the best handguards in the game. When he shells up, it’s like trying to penetrate tank armor with a .22. It’s hard to hit Kennedy clean without relying on countering. When Kennedy covers up, you have to attack his body to bring the hands down. Nzechukwu is riding a three-fight dub streak and is coming off a drubbing of Devin Clark, a fight in which Kennedy was hurt early but came back in a role reversal that left Clark the one slumped over in the Benz. The game plan against Jacoby will be to use his size to beat Dustin on the outside and in the clinch. Jacoby likes to fight in the clinch and work takedowns, but he won’t find an advantage there this time. Also, Jacoby has a hard time dealing with volume strikes. Kennedy needs to focus on combinations and forcing Jacoby backward.
Don’t get it twisted like gang signs; Dustin Jacoby ain’t a patsy. This guy is a world-class striker who once fought Alex Pereira in a Glory Kickboxing bout. But even when he was kickboxing, Jacoby remained active in MMA and has pro fights dating back to 2010. Jacoby’s bread and butter is guard manipulation. He likes to use the Thai shield to slide into the pocket and use outstretched hands to pull down or knock away the opponent’s guard. This will come in handy against Nzechukwu, whose guard is his primary means of defense. Jacoby uses both stances and forward/back pivots in and out of range to transition from offense to countering. There are combination strikers and high-output one-punch strikers; Jacoby is the latter. He uses single shots in quick succession that are a beat off from being a combination. The key for him will be using more traditional combinations to maintain pressure and take advantage of openings.
Jacoby’s biggest red flag is his defense. He doesn’t handle volume or aggression well and tends to back-pivot in a straight line. When you use pivots, you have to pivot off at angles and not remain on the centerline, or the opponent can just continue his attack by extending combinations. Look at me telling a Glory World Champ how to strike...
Cue "N 2 Gether Now" by Limp Bizkit and Method Man: "STFU! Just STFU!"
The key against Nzechukwu will be treating this as a fight and not as a sparring match. Jacoby often looks like he can’t get out of second gear. He averages five and a half significant strikes per minute, but most are peppering, poking, and prodding in nature. He has to start sitting down on some power shots and using his kicks again. He has become too one-dimensional, relying on his hands too much.
Kennedy will be the (-160) favorite, and Jacoby will be the (+130) dog. When it comes to a finishing threat, Kennedy is the pick. He’s on a three-fight finishing streak and has gotten better every time I see him. In twelve UFC bouts, Jacoby has hit one hundred significant strikes three times, and he’ll need to hit the mark in this one to have a chance. He will have to take risks to get inside of Kennedy’s long reach, and I don’t know if he’s willing to take those risks. A Kennedy TKO/KO will return (+215) and a decision (+240). Jacoby is tough and hard to put away and could survive in the clinch long enough to hear the final bell. A long shot Jacoby TKO/KO will return (+400) and a decision (+275). Kennedy Nzechukwu via TKO, round three. Headshot, bang!
Diego Lopes vs. Gavin Tucker
Where the fook has Gavin Tucker been? Homie turned into an Unsolved Mystery, a cold case after Dan Ige blasted him out with one punch back in 2021. But before that fight, Tucker was a highly touted prospect with excellent wrestling/grappling, dangerous striking, and a dope nickname: The Guv’Nor. Guv’Nor sounds like Bill the Butcher’s righthand man. Rumor has it Tucker has been working hard the last two years on his revenge body in hopes of regaining the attention he once garnered among hardcore fight fans. His opponent will be Diego Lopes, who debuted on ten-minute notice against a top-ten fighter in Movsar Evloev in May. Lopes messed around and almost got a triple-double in that fight and nearly submitted Evloev multiple times. This one should be a sneaky little banger.
Diego Lopes almost messed up everyone’s parlay back in May. This guy came out looking like a Goth kid on South Park, and I looked at the homies and laughed like Charlie Murphy when Prince and his crew came out for the pick-up game wearing the same clothes they had on in the club. Two seconds later he had Evloev in a tight triangle choke, and I wasn’t laughing any more. On the feet, this guy is an arsonist who sets forest fires so he can inhale all the smoke. He’s far from technical, but he throws fists against the wall to see if they stick. He's a technical swinger, and I ain’t talking entanglements. Lopes extends combinations and puts one hundred percent into every punch.
But where Lopes shines is on the mat. This guy has a perfect MMA guard, always isolating limbs and working from a hip to create space. He likes to isolate one of the opponent’s shoulders with a half triangle and use it to strike while the arm is trapped. Like Yair, Lopes uses a good mix of striking from his back and attacking subs. But the red flag for guys/gals with active guards like Lopes, they tend to be too comfortable on their backs and give up rounds. Without a submission, you basically concede the round. Gavin Tucker has excellent wrestling and top control and will win rounds if Lopes spends too much time sub-hunting and not enough time sweeping and gaining the top position.
Lopes is 21-6 for his career with eight TKO/KOs and eleven subs. This guy is flirting with a one hundred percent finishing rate. His value will be in creating a submission from his back, from the top, or in transition. And if Tucker shows a little ring rust, Lopes can land something heavy on the feet too. There’s also a chance that Lopes will be the one to initiate the wrestling and put Tucker on his back and steal rounds with top control.
Gavin Tucker reminds me of a mini Sean Brady. He has typical wrestler striking and sneaky round kicks out of the southpaw stance. His striking is good enough to give him encouragement to stand and bang when he should be using his wrestling base. Tucker is nasty in the clinch, emphasizing elbows over punches when in close, and he will likely look to operate from the clinch inside of Lopes’s heavy, wild punches. Overall, Tucker is a solid fighter and the big question is, what will he look like after only fighting twenty-two seconds since 2020?
Lopes will be the (-150) favorite, and Tucker will be the (+125) dog. Tucker will have a ton of value as a mid-tier Fantasy option with multiple paths to a finish and the overall game to pull out a decision. Although Tucker has ten finishes in thirteen career dubs, Lopes is the better finishing threat. His sub-attempts are explosive and never-ending. He will be at a technical disadvantage on the feet, but he is far more dangerous on the mat than Tucker. A Tucker TKO/KO will return (+800). A Lopes TKO/KO will return (+330) and a sub (+240). Diego Lopez via triangle choke, round two. On wax.
Aleksa Camur vs. Tanner Boser
This one’s ugly like the first ten seconds of a Tik Tok before-and-after makeup transformation. This one isn’t even worth a Walk of Shame; you wait until the roommates are gone and make it climb out the window using the fire escape. Aleksa Camur is best known for being Stipe Miocic’s prized pupil and reminds me of a bigger Jesse Taylor, my fellow Poway High School grad. And Tanner Boser is the former Love’s truck stop heavyweight champ. Last year, he lost the belt in a Love’s/Flying J unification bout against Rodrigo Nascimento and immediately moved down to light heavyweight. Don’t blink during this one; it might turn into a midafternoon siesta.
Aleksa Camur is Mr. Irrelevant; the last one drafted for dodgeball. They put Aleksa Camur in right field and made him bat tenth in teeball. I don’t really know what Camur’s base skillset is. He looks the part of a decent boxer if you squint and hold your head at the perfect angle. But it's all a mirage when you take a closer look. He fades quickly, his punches start to get wide and loopy, and he has that thirty-day economy shipped from China hand speed. But he has sneaky power, and dare I say, a little bit of dog in him, that Boston Terrier/Corgi mix dog that gets you by the ankle and won’t let go. I don’t know how good Camur’s wrestling/grappling is, but even if he started wrestling yesterday, his path to victory will be on the mat. Tanner Boser’s grappling from his back is basura. He has that Koala guard, a Joey in a papoose guard, that marsupial guard. He just holds on with his legs and arms wrapped around his assailant in a tight bearhug and waits for the round to end. For his career, Camur is 6-2 with five TKO/KOs, including 1-2 in the UFC. He’s also riding a two-fight losing streak like Kanye riding an emotional rollercoaster. I say all that to say this: as a low-tier Fantasy option, Camur has some upside. He averages over four and a half significant strikes landed per minute and landed one hundred two in his last bout, a loss to Nicolae Negumereanu.
The problem with Tanner Boser is sometimes he fights like Danny Tanner. Sometimes he’s fast and aggressive, and other times, he fights passive and gets overwhelmed. Boser has excellent hand speed for a big guy and power that earned him three TKO/KO finishes at heavyweight. He’s got that offensive lineman look to him and sneaky power that will sit you on your ass if you start thinking shit’s sweet. He also has a saucy little 2 Live Crew bounce/cadence on the feet that produces natural feints that disguise his attacks, and a three-quarters right hand that will make him the bigger finishing threat in this fight. Boser actually has pretty solid boxing, but sometimes the Full House Tanner Boser shows up, and he gets taken down and instantly turns into a cuddle therapist. That’s a real thing.
Against Camur, Boser needs to be aggressive and bully the young lad with a constant barrage of combinations. His right hand will be the difference in the fight; he throws it like Trevor Hoffman brought in to close out a 2-1 lead. They start playing "Hells Bells" when Boser starts unloading his right hand. If Boser gives this kid any hope and allows him to hang around, he’ll be facing a third straight loss and five L’s in his last six scraps. Boser is 20-10 for his career with eleven TKO/KOs and two subs, and he averages just over four significant strikes per minute.
Boser will be the (-170) favorite and it’s never a bad look to bet against him. Aleksa Camur will be the (+140) dog, and he will be a live dog if he has been working on his wrestling. A Boser TKO/KO will return (+275), and a Camur TKO/KO will return (+350). Man, if Tanner "The Bulldozer" Boser can’t win this one, it might be time to go back to driving a real bulldozer alongside Chase, Rocky, and Marshall. Tanner Boser via decision. On wax.
Ignacio Bahamondes vs. Ludovit Klein
Cue "Cell Therapy" by Goodie Mob: "Who’s that peeking in my window? Pow! Nobody now."
The Nightstalker Ignacio Bahamondes is back with a fresh pair of Avia Velcro kicks that will be customized with red bottoms by the end of this scrap. Bahamondes can go from a cold-blooded killer in one fight to just a copycat killer with a weak stomach in the next. But when Bahamondes hits switches like Dre and Snoop in the Lolo and attacks aggressively with hand and kick combinations, ID Network five-part docuseries drop shortly after. Come Saturday night, he’ll be stalking one of his most formidable victims in Ludovit Klein, a savvy kickboxer who has shown flashes of brilliance in the cage but hasn’t quite reached his full potential. This one right here is a USDA Certified Banger.
Sometimes fighters have their best performances during a loss. That’s the case for Bahamondes. In his debut against the veteran striker John Makdessi, Bahamondes got hurt early and fought his way back to a close decision loss. Having to come back from a deficit was a blessing in disguise that forced Bahamondes to take risks, extend combinations, and fight with a sense of urgency that he hasn’t shown consistently since.
Bahamondes is a stance switcher who will flow from southpaw to orthodox between every exchange, constantly disguising his attacks and changing the orientation of his power. Reach means nothing if you can’t use it; Bahamondes uses every inch of his reach to strafe on the outside while peppering with round and teep kicks and a 300-spear thrust jab. And he has a special move (back-down-forward + punch), the spinning wheel kick. He left the current Ultimate Fighter contestant Roosevelt Roberts laid out like a fine Italian hand-woven tapestry with a wheel kick, and it was in the running for KO of the year in 2021. Bahamondes uses Roosevelt as a plush runner in the hallway so his feet don’t get cold against the linoleum when he goes to the bathroom at night.
No risk it, no biscuit. You already know; life’s a risk, carnal. Ludovit Klein needs to get the memo. This guy could be in the upper echelon of strikers in the lightweight division if he could find the "just right" porridge when it comes to output. Instead, Ludo fights too cerebral, and his output is similar to an IV drip. Check it: Ludovit averages around three and a half significant strikes per minute to Bahamondes’s eight. Something will have to give for Ludo in this fight. "Sometimes I feel like somebody’s watching me." I mean, there are times when Ludo just stands and stares at the opponent, not even offering a feint just for shits and giggles. But when he does throw, you see the opponent’s life flash before your eyes.
Klein is a Gus Fring striker who mostly only uses one side of his body. He’s a southpaw and has deadly power-side kicks and punches. If he just set his left-round kick on repeat, he might be undefeated. And his left hand is a laser beam that he can throw as a same-side combination off his round kick. But overall, Ludo is frustrating to watch and has split decision cheek clincher written all over him like he passed out first at the shindig. The key for Ludo will be output. He has implemented wrestling-heavy game plans in the past, but I think that’s more of a mental crutch because he’s too apprehensive to let his hands go.
Ignacio is the (-215) favorite, and Klein is the (+175) live dog. Klein has a similar style to John Makdessi, who beat Bahamondes, and with an uptick in output, Klein can cause Bahamondes similar problems. But Fantasy-wise, Ludo’s highest output in a three-round fight was sixty, and in six UFC bouts, he has only one finish, his debut against Shane Young. The bigger finishing threat will be Bahamondes, who finished two of his three UFC dubs and had a seventy-yard punt kick KO on the Contender Series. Klein has all the skills to win this fight, but I don’t trust his output. Ignacio Bahamondes via decision. On wax.
Put 'em on wax!