There aren’t many fighters competing in the UFC right now who intrigue me more than Nova Uniao fighter Renan Barao. After losing his first fight as a professional, Barao has gone on a 27-fight winning streak. While Barao hasn’t quite faced the level of opposition that Fedor Emelianenko (for example) faced during his long winning streak, he has shown the ability to beat quality opponents. Since being signed by Zuffa to compete in the WEC, and then the UFC, Barao is 4-0, most recently beating Brad Pickett by first-round submission at UFC 138.
In this fight, Barao will be taking on his toughest test yet in Scott Jorgensen, in a fight that may cement Barao’s status as title contender if he wins. I actually see it as a great opportunity for Barao, because Jorgensen hasn’t looked very good to me in his brief UFC career thus far. Against Ken Stone, Jorgensen was getting out-struck in the first round before taking Stone to the ground and knocking him out with a punch from the guard. That alone wouldn’t be too worrying, but Jorgensen followed that up with a fight against Jeff Curran in which Curran fought Jorgensen much more closely than would be expected. Stone (25.24 SILVA) and Curran (0.46) are not fighters Jorgensen should be skating by, they’re fighters he should be dominating or beating decisively.
Making matters worse is the idea that Jorgensen has a wrestling background, but might not be as good at it as Barao. Fight Metric shows that Barao and Jorgensen both land about three takedowns per 15 minutes of fighting, but Barao has a decisive edge in both takedown accuracy and takedown defense. The caveat here is that Jorgensen has 12 fights measured by Fight Metric, and Barao has just four. Most of Barao’s takedown success was against one opponent – Cole Escovedo – so it’s possible that Barao’s numbers could come down over time.
Still, when I look at this fight, it’s hard for me to get enthusiastic about Jorgensen’s chances. If he stands and strikes with the dynamic Barao, the numbers show that Barao is likely to out-strike him, and is more likely to finish the fight with strikes as well. The numbers also suggest that if Jorgensen wants to take Barao down (a good idea), it will be a difficult thing to accomplish, and if Jorgensen does get Barao down, he’s not out of danger, because Barao has a very good submission game.
SILVA PREDICTION: RENAN BARAO (71.87) OVER SCOTT JORGENSEN (62.40)
Jorgensen’s best chance to win here is to take Barao down and stifle him with ground and pound. Barao is the kind of opponent who is extremely hard to beat because he’s highly skilled in all areas. And I don’t want to sell Jorgensen short; he’s a very good fighter who has a lot of impressive wins. I just haven’t been too impressed with his last couple fights. I’ll put it this way: if the Scott Jorgensen who fought Jeff Curran shows up to fight Renan Barao, he’s probably going to lose.