Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC 148 Preview: Yoislandy Izquierdo vs. Rafaello Oliveira

I’ve decided that, if I’m going to spend so much time calculating SILVA scores from scratch, I might as well go a little further, do some tape study, and produce fight previews for those fights. So, for now at least, individual fight previews are back.

Ironically, Cuban-born lightweight Yoislandy Izquierdo does not qualify for a SILVA score. Qualifying for a SILVA score is simple: the fighter in question needs at least two wins against opponents with at least five career professional fights on their record. To date, Izquierdo only has one: a TKO win in the CFA promotion against previously 8-0 Patrick Cenoble. That win in particular was rated fairly well by my system, but since it’s Izquierdo’s only win against an opponent with at least five fights, he has not qualified to be rated by SILVA.

In the past, when a fighter didn’t qualify for a SILVA score, I would make the generic prediction that his opponent would beat him. This generic prediction has been quite lousy, so I’ve decided that in situations like this, I’ll instead man up and supply a prediction based on my scouting and my genuine opinion of each fighter.

Izquierdo enters this fight at 6-1 overall as a professional, but 0-1 in the UFC. He lost to Reza Madadi in his last fight, at UFC on Fuel 2 in Stockholm, Sweden; Madadi defeated him by submission due to guillotine choke. His opponent, Rafaello Oliveira, enters at 14-5 overall, but just 1-4 in the UFC. Oliveira’s last fight was a TKO loss to veteran striker Yves Edwards at UFC on Versus 6.

Izquierdo has some talent, particularly as a striker, but there are also holes in his game. He is a good striker with a diverse arsenal, featuring a wide variety of kicks. Izquierdo likes to throw kicks to the legs, body, and head, and has displayed good technique and accuracy with these kicks. He also has decent boxing skills, but his kicks are definitely the strength of his game as a striker. Izquierdo’s biggest deficiency as a striker is a relative lack of power. He hit Jayson Jones with a series of head kicks, but was unable to even knock him down, let alone knock him out. Izquierdo does have recent TKO wins over Cenoble and Chris Garcia, but neither was a clean knockout; in both fights, the referee stopped the contest simply because Izquierdo’s opponent was taking a lot of strikes. Don’t get me wrong, Izquierdo is a threat to stop a fight with strikes, but he doesn’t have great KO power.

His opponent, Oliveira, is a relatively aggressive striker, but not a very successful one. He’s certainly had his moments of success at striking distance, but more often than not, he’s getting picked apart by his opponent. Such was the case against Yves Edwards, a fighter who is a skilled striker, but quite faded from what he used to be. Oliveira was good early in that fight, but as the fight went on, Edwards started to pick him apart until dropping him multiple times in the second round, and then flurrying for a TKO victory.

So if this fight is a striking match, I definitely favor Yoislandy Izquierdo to win it. The problem is that Izquierdo has deficient takedown defense, and a shaky ground game. Izquierdo’s opponents have been able to take him down on a regular basis, and when on the ground, Izquierdo may be slippery, but he’s not particularly good. Izquierdo had to survive a number of submission attempts when he fought Chris Garcia, and Reza Madadi finally caught him in a guillotine choke, forcing him to tap out.

Oliveira certainly has the skills to capitalize on Izquierdo’s weaknesses. Oliveira isn’t a great wrestler, but he should be good enough to take Izquierdo to the ground. When there, Oliveira is more of a ground and pound fighter than a submission fighter, but he does have submission skills, and should be a threat to finish Izquierdo on the ground.


Notice that I said “my prediction” instead of “SILVA prediction.” The one remaining question concerns whether Oliveira is smart enough to take the fight to the ground. Oliveira hasn’t landed a takedown in his last three UFC fights, but he’s attempted a takedown at least three times in all five of his UFC fights. I see Oliveira getting Izquierdo to the ground on a consistent basis, and either winning by submission, or doing enough damage on the ground to win a decision.


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