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 at the preliminary headliner of UFC Fight 106 as Kevin Lee travels to Brazil to take on Francisco Trinaldo. Kevin Lee (Record: 14-2, -160 Favorite, Power Ranking: B-) The Grand Rapids, Michigan born lightweight enters his 10th fight in the UFC on the best form of his career. He’s won three straight fights in the UFC, including finishes over Jake Matthews and Magomed Mustafaev. With a victory on Saturday, he could be looking at a position in the UFC’s Top 15 lightweight rankings. At just 24 years of age, Lee has quickly developed into one of the best prospects in the lightweight division. He has a decent stand-up game, landing 40 percent of his significant strikes at 3.7 strikes per minute. However, where he has really risen his game is his wrestling. Lee has developed into an excellent wrestler. In his last bout. he faced the talented Russian Mustafaev. Lee completely dominated the grappling exchanges, taking his opponent to the mat seven times in that bout and was able to earn a submission win. Lee secures a whopping 3.63 takedowns per 15 minutes in the cage, which is among the highest in the division. His physicality has become a real strength for him as he looks to keep improving and become a contender in this weight class. Francisco Trinaldo (Record: 21-4, +140 Underdog, Power Ranking: B-) At 38 years of age, Trinaldo is not on the downside of his career. In fact, he’s in the best form of his UFC run, winning a whopping seven fights in a row ,including victories over veterans Paul Felder and Ross Pearson. The last time Trinaldo lost was a decision against Michael Chiesa at UFC 172 in May 2014. Trinaldo’s had an interesting run in the UFC. At times early in his tenure, he struggled with conditioning such as in his loss to Piotr Hallman. It’s been an inconsistent area for him, but in his last fight versus Felder, he put on a complete three-round display to win by doctor stoppage. On the feet, Trinaldo is a solid fighter. Fighting from the southpaw stance, he’s a more difficult opponent to prepare for. Trinaldo is physical, fights at a good pace and has decent power, with seven of his 21 victories by knockout. His striking accuracy is well above average at 47 percent. In terms of the grappling, he has good power takedowns early on, but later in fights he struggles. His takedown defense of 58 percent is on the lower end of the division and something that can be exploited. Matchup An important matchup in the lightweight division pits two fighters just outside the division’s Top 15 as the American Lee takes on the Brazilian Trinaldo. It’s a big fight for both guys given their current runs in the division. The winner is likely to face a Top 10 opponent next, so the stakes are high. On the feet, Trinaldo’s pace could cause Lee some issues. Lee has some moments of inactivity where he has been caught in the past. Trinaldo’s striking combinations could give Lee problems. With that said, Lee has really made improvements in his wrestling technique to the point where he needs to be considered one of the division’s elite wrestlers. I think this is a big opportunity for Lee to truly distinguish himself as a Top 15 lightweight. Trinaldo’s biggest problem area is defending takedowns. Lee should be able to exploit this and secure double leg attempts in all three rounds of the fight. Once he has Trinaldo on his back, he’ll be able to tire out his opponent to make the third round easy for him to control and thus win a decision on the scorecards. Lee’s slow start in fights make him a difficult fighter to back because he can be caught early, so I’d look at live betting opportunities after round one. Lee could be down a round at that point or one could see a Trinaldo who is visibly slowing down. That would be an opportunity I’d back Lee in perhaps even at plus money.
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