Overall Record: 12W-6L (3-1 at UFC Fight Night: Gaethje vs. Vick)
The Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley puts his strap on the line this Saturday, September 8th, against undefeated Darren Till. Beyond the title fight, numerous intriguing fighters like Zabit Magomedsharipov and newly nicknamed “The Female Khabib” Tatiana Suarez fight Saturday (Previous article on Suarez). A few underdogs look primed to surprise at UFC 228, here’s who to back and why.
Niko Price (12-1) -105 Defeats Abdul Razak Alhassan (9-1) -125
Alhassan has stormed out of the gates to start his UFC career, going 3-1 with three brutal first round KO’s. But we’re going with the underdog Price here because we think that record and shine Alhassan is enjoying is overblown, here’s why…
Alhassan hasn’t faced any veteran competition in the UFC aside from the one loss, a split decision for Omari Akmedov (4-3 before that fight). His last two fights have been against the Sabah Homasi (0-4 in UFC) after the first fight ended in controversy due to an early stoppage. Adbul also appears as a one-dimensional fighter, though that one dimension is lethal KO power that sends you to another dimension. Alhassan loads up on strikes and looks for the KO’s, making him susceptible to getting caught in a takedown. In his one UFC loss, Alhassan got taken down 6 times and gassed out by the second round.
Nico “The Hybrid” Price has the tools to cause problems for Alhassan. Price genuinely has fun in the cage, he’s able to get into that flow for every fight and really lets everything fly. He’s got power to finish the fight from anywhere, he has the boxing skill to out-point you for three rounds, or he can finish it from his back by sub or KO as we brutally witnessed his last fight against Randy “Rudeboy” Brown.
Price has excellent cardio and the definite upper hand if the fight goes 3 rounds. He averages 1.5 takedowns per fight, while Alhassan only defends them at a 50% rate. “The Hybrid” is looking for the three-fight win streak and as long as he’s smart in the early going, avoids the power punches from Alhassan, and uses his all-around game to suppress the danger, I see him derailing the hype train Saturday night.
Lucie Pudilova (8-2) -110 Defeats Irene Aldana (8-4) -120
Lucie “Bullet” Pudilova is a matchup nightmare for Irene Aldana. Both women prefer to keep it standing, but Pudilova simply has better boxing and the numbers on Fight Metric back it up. Pudilova stays busy on the feet and she’s aggressive with her quick jab. Aldana gets hit more with significant strikes and doesn’t fare well against volume strikers. Irene struggled against novice striker Talita Bernardo after she got desperate and started volume striking.
Pudilova can also match her opponent’s height and reach. Aldana is the tallest female bantamweight on the roster, but Pudilova only gives up a single inch in height and reach. She has faced extreme height before, outstriking Ji Yeon Kim (5’7) in a unanimous decision.
Lucie Pudilova will be victorious because she has the tools to outsmart and outbox Irene Aldana. The Czech fighter Pudilova likes to throw in volume and uses her speedy jab well, a bad combination for Aldana’s skill set.
Alex White (12-4) -165 Defeats Jim Miller (28-12) +135
UFC legend Jim “A-10” Miller doesn’t have the athleticism anymore to compete at the top level. Winless in his last four fights, Miller hasn’t out struck an opponent since Joe Lauzon and looks a step behind. His combos are slower on the end now and he tends to telegraph his punches in the later rounds. Miller still can fall back on his wrestling game; he gets takedowns (1.6 TD avg.) but doesn’t do much with them lately, no finishes or submissions.
Unlike Miller, Alex “The Spartan” White’s skills are still developing; he lost his last fight but looked strong on the feet, outboxing James Krause tenfold. He has a problem with takedown defense and getting stuck in grounded positions, bad for him because he needs to let his hands fly. Miller can take him down here but I don’t see him causing trouble beyond that, Alex White is a smart fighter and knows what to expect from the veteran.
White is an extremely creative striker who seems to score a knockdown most every fight and has two highlight reel KO’s in the UFC. He won’t be able to utilize his kicks as much against the wrestler looking for the single leg, but he will have success with his quick jab that will keep Miller off balance. Alex White is improving his fight IQ and approach each time he steps into the octagon and it will continue this weekend.