Gabriel Benitez (18-4))
- Height: 5’8″ Age: 27 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 71″
- Last Fight: Decision win / Clay Collard (6-13-15)
- Camp: Team Entram (Mexico)
- Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
- Risk Management: Fair
- Overall Fight Grade: C+
+ Regional MMA Titles
+ TUF LATAM Alum
+ 9 Submission wins
+ 9 first round finishes
+ 6 KO victories
+ Training at AKA (CA)
+ Hard Left body & leg kicks
+ Good knees from clinch
+ Accurate straight left
+ Competent TD defense
+ Dangerous Guillotine choke
^ Will gamble position for it
+ consistent pace & pressure
– Gives position off aggression
– right hand tends to lower
Andre Fili (14-3)
- Height: 5’11” Age: 25 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 74″
- Last Fight: Submission loss / Gogofredo Castro (3-21-15)
- Camp: Team Alpha Male (Sacramento)
- Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
- Risk Management: Fair
- Overall Fight Grade: C+
+ Regional MMA Titles
+ Piano Key Belt in Joe-Jitsu
+ 7 KO victories
+ 3 Submission wins
+ 5 first round finishes
+ Underrated counter wrestling
+ Favors double-legs
^ Times well in the open
+ Active & attacking guard
^ Excellent sweeping abilities
– Hands slightly low & head upright
+ Improved head & overall movement
+ Aggressive pressure & pace
+ Angles well of attacks
+ Long & accurate left hook
In the midst of the preliminary action is a potential “Fight of the Night” candidate, as Featherweights Gabriel Benitez and Andre Fili are set to square off. Fill draws a road game here as he’ll look to get his first consecutive win in the UFC against an underrated regional player. As one of Mexico’s more promising prospects, Gabriel Benitez has moved shop to AKA in San Jose since his stint on TUF LATAM. In attempts to maximize his potential he’s made clear efforts in sharpening his submission game and overall counter wrestling to support his striking based style. With both men being aggressive strikers, Gabriel’s more technical straight-forward application of it will serve him best standing.
With Fili’s propensity to lower his hands and keep his head upright, Benitez’s accurate left hand could to play a factor in swaying momentum his way. In fact his overall straight punch pressure with hard left kick follow-ups could play well to Andre’s more wide and looping attacks. That said, Fili shows ever improving footwork and movement as his defenses heavily rely upon it. Displaying improved boxing and a solid kicking variety, it’s Andre’s ability to angle off attacks that make him effective. This technique will be crucial to this fight as it gets him off-line from his opponent, and on-line for more of his own offense. Benitez also shows defensive liabilities of his own as his right hand tends to lower during & exiting exchanges.
Gabriel will have to mind this opening, as Fili’s most accurate & effective punch is his left hook. Using the aforementioned angling, Andre will usually attach a right cross to follow up his hook nicely. For my money, the factor that edges these men apart is there ground game. Benitiez has showed a very competent submission game coupled with improving take-down defense(especially against the cage). It’s in the open where Gabriel has struggled to defend take-downs as his aggressive nature tends to expose him in this space. Luckily for Andre Fili, his most impressive take-down is his well timed double-leg in the open(something he scores consistently with). With underrated counter wrestling of his own, Andre’s ability to change scenery & offensive gears will be huge in this fight.
Though I don’t feel his recent submission losses are condemnations of his skills or defenses, Fili will have to mind Benitez’s ever evolving Guillotine choke as he enters for his take-downs. I’m sure he’s seen many in the practice rooms of Team Alpha Male, but we’ve also seen that turn into a false sense of security in his recent fights as he’s been threatened consistently. Gabriel Benitez shows solid durability & recoverability that makes him a very live dog in this fight, but I feel Fili’s wider range of skill-sets will keep him ahead as the favorite here. With both men’s current stage of their career, expect the fight-to-fight improvements be the intangible factor at play here. I wouldn’t bank on a finish with either of these chins as I expect maturity to be the deciding factor here.
Official Pick: Fili – Decision
TUF Finale Predictions
- Enrique Marin def. Erick Montano
- Horacio Gutierrez def. Enrique Barzola
Preliminary Card Predictions
- Taylor Lapilus def. Erik Perez
- Bartosz Fabinski def. Hector Urbina
- Scott Jorgensen def. Alejandro Perez
- Andre Fili def. Gabriel Benitez
- Valmir Lazaro def. Michel Prazeres
- Vernon Ramos def. Alvaro Herrera
- Cesar Arzamendia def. Polo Reyes
Fantasy MMA Picks
High Tier Picks:
Low Tier Picks:
Pieces for your parlay:
Props worth looking at:
-Gastelum – Inside the distance
Fights to avoid:
-Escudero vs. Silva
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet
Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.
“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”
Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.
“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”
Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.
“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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