Jay Primetown gives his thoughts on each of the fighters who competed at UFC Fight Night 106 in Fortaleza, Brazil. Jay gives his letter grades for each fighter on TheMMA-Analysis podcast which can be found on MMAOddsBreaker.com. Paulo Henrique Costa vs. Garreth McLellan Costa: A tremendous debut by the young Brazilian. He put his opponent on the back foot from the onset and his aggressive style combined with his quick hands made quick work of the South African fighter. He’s certainly one to watch in this weight class. Upgraded from D+ to C- McLellan: This was a terrible matchup for McLellan as he ran into a buzzsaw fighting in front of a boisterous home country crowd. He never got going in this fight and was quickly dismissed by his opponent. It’s likely he will be cut from the promotion following this loss. Downgraded from D to D- Rony Jason vs. Jeremy Kennedy Jason: He found some success in round two with a flying knee and a long segment of top control, but otherwise he was simply outworked by Kennedy. He struggled with energy in the third round and was taken down with regularity to lose a clear decision on the scorecards. Downgraded from C to D+ Kennedy: He’s not the most skilled striker, but his work rate and persistence to secure takedowns is at a high level. He earned a win over a veteran UFC fighter and that’s enough to move him up in the division. Upgraded from D+ to C- Josh Burkman vs. Michel Prazeres Burkman: He was blitzed early in the fight and was never able to recover. Burkman has now lost his last three fights. I expect that it will be his last fight in the Octagon. Downgraded from C- to D+ Prazeres: Easily his best performance inside the Octagon. He swarmed Burkman in the opening seconds in the fight and after the initial storm took his opponent down and the worked in a north south choke to get a submission win. This was a flawless performance. Prazeres is now 6-2 in the UFC and on his way up in the division. Upgraded from C to C+ Joe Soto vs. Rani Yahya Soto: He was surprised early by the variety of striking his opponent showed. In the final two rounds, the key for him was the ability to stuff Yahya’s takedown attempts. Once Yahya was tired, Soto was able to take over and control the action to win a comfortable decision. It wasn’t a great performance, but he certainly outlasted his opponent. Grade remains C- Yahya: From a skill perspective, he’s a bit better than his opponent. His problem is his conditioning. Midway through the second round, he had nothing left in the gas tank and basically gave this fight away. Yahya is a fighter who will struggle if he’s unable to secure takedowns which was the case in rounds two and three. Grade remains C- Sergio Moraes vs. Davi Ramos Moraes: His length was certainly a factor in this victory as Ramos struggled to get inside and land with consistency. With that said, he was unable to land any meaningful strikes and it was a rather lackluster decision. Grade remains C- Ramos: He entered this fight on one week’s notice and was able to make it very competitive. He struggled with range, but he had a nice power advantage and was able to hit Moraes with some quality body punches. The judges’ scorecards were not indicative of just how close this fight was. Ramos will likely drop down to 155 pounds where he can be a very credible fighter in the lightweight division. Grade remains C- Kevin Lee vs. Francisco Trinaldo Lee: He struggled in the first round securing takedowns and was hurt more than once from Trinaldo’s unorthodox striking. The fight turned in round two when Lee had more success with his striking. It was a head kick that hurt Trinaldo that allowed Lee to gain top control where he is dominant. A big submission win for Lee who should be in the division’s Top 15 rankings next week. Upgraded from B- to B Trinaldo: He looked strong early connecting on a variety of striking attempts and stuffing takedowns. As he started to slow down a bit, he was caught with a head kick and had no answers for Lee on the ground. He’s an excellent gatekeeper, but this is his ceiling in the UFC. Grade remains B- Tim Means vs. Alex Oliveira Means: It certainly wasn’t the same performance he had three months ago. He couldn’t stop the takedown in this bout. Once he gave up his back, he wasn’t able to defend the rear naked choke and got beat. Disappointing performance from Means given how he performed in their previous bout. Downgraded from B- to C+ Oliveira: The difference in this fight was the clinch work. Oliveira controlled the clinch game and was able to secure takedowns with regularity. He put himself ahead after round one and once he got Means to the mat in round two, he found his back and earned the sub. A big win for Oliveira who is on the verge of entering the Top 15 of the division. Grade remains C+ Betche Correia vs. Marion Reneau Correia: Did well early in the fight to control the cage and out strike Reneau. She secured a couple time takedowns as well, but it was after she absorbed a question mark kick in round three that the fight changed. She fought to survive the final round and was awarded with a draw in the process. Grade remains C+ Reneau: She got behind early in the fight, but was able to hurt Correia in the third round nearly finishing the fight multiple times to fight her way back into the fight and earn a draw on the scorecards. I wouldn’t complain if these two fighters were rematched. Grade remains C+ Ray Borg vs. Jussier Formiga Borg: His speed and athleticism have really helped him make strides in his striking. He landed quality uppercuts throughout the fight as he was able to mask his attempts with his speed. What won him the fight was flipping the switch in round three and getting top position against Formiga. It was that ground and pound late in round three which sealed the round and the fight. Upgraded from B- to B Formiga: He countered well in this fight and landed some nice leg kicks, but the power disadvantage cost him in this bout. It was a very close fight, but the damage he took from Borg’s powerful ground and pound were the difference between a win and a loss. Formiga is clearly a Top 10 flyweight, but he’s now at least a notch below elite in this weight class. Downgraded from B+ to B Edson Barboza vs. Beneil Dariush Barboza: He was struggling with the forward pressure of his opponent and was likely down a round before he landed one of the most hellacious flying knees this sport has ever seen. It was clean, it was beautiful, and one for the highlight reels. Barboza now has three straight victories in the lightweight division and is closing in on title contention. Grade remains B+ Dariush: He employed an excellent game plan of pressure and not allowing Barboza to land his leg kicks with regularity. His biggest problem is he doesn’t have the power to put away top tier talent. He needs to be perfect to beat the best guys. He can do that at times, but hard to do for a full 15 minutes. Grade remains B Mauricio Rua vs. Gian Villante Rua: This was a great matchup for the former UFC light heavyweight champion. Villante’s head movement is minimal at best and Shogun is a fighter that excels on technique and finding a home for his hands. He had a couple moments where he was wobbled, but he recovered well and dominated at times on the way to a third round stoppage. Shogun’s won three fights in a row and is going to get a Top 10 opponent next. Grade remains C Villante: He had a big opportunity at Fight Night 106 against an aging opponent. He showed in this fight that he doesn’t have the striking discipline to beat the better fighters in the division. Villante is an entertaining fighter to watch, but he’s not a Top 10 light heavyweight. Grade remains D+ Vitor Belfort vs. Kelvin Gastelum Belfort: He’s just not the same fighter he once was. He tried to engage, but he was unable to gain the respect of his opponent. Once some of the strikes landed, his chin simply couldn’t endure the damage and it was the beginning of the end. Belfort has one fight left on his contract and he should get the opportunity to fight one last time in his hometown at UFC 212 in June. Downgraded from B- to C Gastelum: His fluidity in the Octagon continues to impress. What continues to stand out is his jab. It’s a thing of beauty and one of the best in the sport. Gastelum is ready to fight the elite in this division. It will be interesting to see just how he stacks up. Upgraded from B+ to A-
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