Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look ahead to a Top 10 featherweight class as Ricardo Lamas and Charles Oliveira face off at UFC Fight Night 98 in Mexico City, Mexico. Ricardo Lamas (Record: 16-5, +100 Underdog, Power Ranking: A-) The “Bully” has won three of his last five fights in the UFC. Since joining the UFC from the WEC in 2011, he’s only lost three times; all to current or former Top 5 fighters in the weight class. During his time in the UFC, he holds wins over the likes of Dennis Bermudez, Diego Sanchez and Cub Swanson. The MMA Masters-trained fighter is one of the best all-around fighters in the division. He holds a jiu-jitsu black belt and combines that with being a solid wrestler. Lamas was a NCAA Division III All American wrestler at Elmhurst College, where he racked up over 100 wins. Lamas certainly isn’t a high-output fighter (2.62 significant strikes per minute), but he’s a crafty veteran that tends to avoid too much damage. Lamas averages 1.6 takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon. He’s not a great offensive wrestler overall, but once he has his opponent on the mat, he does an excellent job at maintaining control and keeping top position. Charles Oliveira (Record: 21-6, -120 Favorite, Power Ranking: A-) The 27-year-old Brazilian has won five of his last seven fights inside the Octagon. He’s beaten the likes of Myles Jury and Jeremy Stephens during his solid run as he moves closer to the top of the featherweight rankings. In his last bout, he welcomed Anthony Pettis into the division, giving the former lightweight champion a run for his money before succumbing to a guillotine submission late in the third round of that contest. The Macaco Gold Team fighter has been fighting in the UFC for over five years. His striking game is still rather basic, but it has improved over time. He has an aggressive offensive style and is willing to take a punch to move inside so he can work in the clinch and for takedowns. Oliveira’s ground game is one of the most dangerous in MMA. He’s as creative as it comes in submission grappling. He will hunt for submissions in any position and his ability to secure different types of submissions is right near the top of MMA. In short, it’s a bad idea to get into a grappling situation with “Do Bronx.” Where Oliveira is most vulnerable is when forced into standing exchanges. He’s susceptible to being hurt with body shots and being finished with them. His over-aggression has tended to see him fatigue at points in his fights too. Matchup This is a really good matchup of fighters who appear to going in different directions in the featherweight division. Lamas is a fighter that has already challenged for the title. At 34 years of age, he’s looking to remain relevant against Top 10 talent in the division. Meanwhile, Oliveira is still on the way up. Oliveira has already faced some of the division’s best fighters such as Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway and Pettis. He was able to comfortably beat the likes of Nik Lentz and Jeremy Stephens and gave Pettis all he could handle. In short, stepping into a cage with a crafty veteran like Lamas should be very manageable for the Brazilian fighter. Oliveira holds a two-inch height and three-inch reach advantage in this bout. Furthermore, he lands over .5 a significant strike more per minute than Lamas and nearly a takedown more per round than his American counterpart. Oliveira will come forward in this bout and will be the aggressor from the onset. He will throw more strikes and ultimately land more in this bout. He may not have the power to put away Lamas, but his unorthodox approach could give his opponent problems. Lamas may be able to a couple takedowns in this bout, but then he’ll have to deal with Oliveira’s submissions. That’s not an area Lamas wants to be in despite having never been submitted in his professional career. I think this bout ends up having more standing exchanges than expected, and Oliveira’s volume approach will be the difference if it gets to the scorecards. At a modest -120 price, Oliveira is a decent bet for this fight card, with the longer, more volume focused, dangerous fighter having an edge against an aging veteran that doesn’t have the knockout power he used to have.
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