*Statistics derived from video scouting and may be inaccurate.
A Strikeforce prospect will be given the opportunity to prove himself in the UFC as Brian Melancon has been matched up against Seth Baczynski. Melancon fought twice in Strikeforce, winning a decision against Felipe Portela while losing a split decision against Isaac Vallie-Flagg. He’ll be facing a tougher opponent this time in the tall and rangy Seth Baczynski, in a fight I think will prove to be too much for Melancon to handle.
Melancon likes to stand in the pocket and throw haymakers, but he’ll have a tough time getting inside against Baczynski. Melancon is a relatively short, stocky welterweight at 5’8″, so he’s accustomed to having a height and reach disadvantage. That disadvantage will be exaggerated against Baczynski, who figures to have a 7-inch height advantage and a 5-inch reach advantage. Baczynski has proven himself to be a skilled striker in the past and should have a distinct advantage on the feet.
If Melancon wants to win, his best bet is to attack Baczynski with takedowns. Baczynski has been taken down 13 times in his six UFC fights, a natural byproduct of his tall and lanky frame at welterweight. Melancon is not a very technical wrestler, but he is very strong and can definitely get leverage on Baczynski. If Melancon can establish and maintain top control, it’s possible he can win a decision that way.
Unfortunately for Melancon, Baczynski is very tricky to deal with on the ground. He’s attempted five submissions in the UFC despite being on his back most of the time he’s on the ground. If Melancon takes Baczynski down, he’ll probably have to deal with immediate triangle choke and armbar threats from Baczynski. Melancon has not shown much ground offense in his brief MMA career thus far; it’s possible that even if Melancon has top control, Baczynski will be so much better on the ground that Melancon is still at a disadvantage.
Another factor working against Melancon is a high possibility of “cage rust.” He last competed in September 2011, which means he’s gone 22 months without fighting. That should only add to the pressure of an inexperienced fighter making his UFC debut.
With all of that said, there are ways for Melancon to possibly win this fight. He hits hard and could possibly knock Baczynski out, and should have the takedown advantage as well. Overall, I just think Baczynski is the more highly skilled fighter. I expect Baczynski to have superior striking and submissions, and I have to think that he finishes Melancon at some point in this fight.
Pick: Seth Baczynski by TKO