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 Fight Pass prelim headliner for UFC 207 as American Tim “Dirty Bird” Means takes on Brazilian Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira. Tim Means (Record: 26-7, -115 Favorite, Fighter Grade: C+) The 32-year old veteran has fought a dozen times in the UFC dating back to 2011. In his first stint, he fought at lightweight recording a 2-2 record. After being cut and fighting twice in Legacy FC, he returned the world’s biggest MMA promotion as a welterweight where he has had more success recording a 6-2 record. He enters UFC 207 on a two fight winning streak. Tim Means is an aggressive stand up striker and has become one of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC’s welterweight division. The Dirty Bird is one of the tallest fighters in the weight class at 6’2” and uses that height well in his attacks. He extends well on his strikes and does an excellent job of using all of his attacking weapons: punches, kicks, elbows, and knees. He is at his best in the clinch and has some of the most impactful elbow strikes of anybody in MMA. If he can hold his opponent in the clinch, there’s no doubt he will land and hurt his opponent. His defensive wrestling is certainly his biggest weakness. He only defends 61% of takedown attempts. While he does have long legs and will try for submissions off his back, he can be neutralized by opponents. Alex Oliveira (Record: 16-3, -105 Underdog, Fighter Grade: C+) In many ways, Alex Oliveira is the Brazilian version of Donald Cerrone. Since signing with the UFC in 2015, he has already fought in the organization eight times. This will be his four fight overall in the calendar year. The Brazilian, like Cerrone, has a propensity to take fights on short notice. He doesn’t like to spend much time out of action and it’s a reason why “Cowboy” has developed a small, yet dedicated following of fans. Since losing to Cerrone earlier this year, he’s won back to back fights including a stoppage win over former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks; the biggest win of his career. The 28 year old Tata Fight Team product has only been fighting professionally since 2011. Oliveira has proven to be a finisher with 13 of his 16 wins coming inside the distance. Despite being three inches shorter than Tim Means; he has an impressive 77 inch reach. That’s two inches longer than his opponent. In the stand up, he’s at his best as the aggressor utilizing the creativity he possesses on the feet. He has a blue belt in jiu jitsu, but when forced to face someone with an advanced submission game he’s at a real disadvantage. That is an area he really needs to improve in if he’s going to take his career to the next level. Physically he’s a strong fighter and showed in his bout with Will Brooks that he can keep a high level pace and score takedowns with regularity even late in fights. He secures nearly three takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon and succeeds with securing takedowns 32% of the time. Matchup A very good fight to lead into the televised portion of the UFC 207 prelims sees American Tim Means take on Brazilian Alex Oliveira. Both of these fighters are, first and foremost, strikers. Means likely has the advantage on the feet as his output is quite a bit higher than Oliveira: 4.34 vs. 2.77 significant strikes per minute. In a straight standup contest, I’d favor the American. However, the biggest difference in this fight is physicality. As we witnessed in Oliveira’s last contest, he’s capable of pushing around even stout wrestlers like Will Brooks. Oliveira is physically imposing even at 170 pounds and I expect him to have success securing takedowns in this bout. Means was taken down twice by short notice UFC debutant Sabah Homasi earlier this year and Oliveira is a much better grappler than Homasi. Oliveira loves to put his opponents in grueling fights and break them with takedowns and physical exertion. Means is a fighter who excels when he is the bully and force opponents to fight his game. I don’t see that happening in this fight. Look for Oliveira to wear out Means, push him against the cage on the feet, and succeed with landing several takedowns in this fight to win a clear decision. As a slight underdog (-105), Oliveira is worthy of a bet as he’s proven in recent fights that he not only is capable of developing an effective game plan, but implementing it as well.
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