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Intelligent, unique MMA analysis
You would think that with 24 fights scheduled to take place next week, that I would have started writing my previews earlier. Obviously I don’t do smart things like that.
At one time, Roger Bowling had a lot of hype behind him as a potential superstar in MMA. He had a lot of quick finishes in his early career, including a 28 second TKO win over Shamar Bailey and a 9 second knockout win over Seth Baczynski. Nothing drives hype quite like a highlight-reel knockout, and so Bowling had some absurd hype behind him going into his Strikeforce debut.
After reaching Strikeforce, it quickly became clear that Bowling wasn’t going to be the superstar people thought. Finishing opponents quickly is great, but it begs the question – what happens when a fighter survives the first round? As it turns out, Bowling sets a frenetic pace that he simply isn’t able to maintain into the later rounds. Bowling was stopped twice by the relatively unheralded Bobby Voelker in the second round.
What we have in Bowling is a fighter who is very aggressive but not very efficient. He’s capable of landing strikes and executing takedowns, but he puts a lot of energy into all of his techniques. His takedowns in particular are inconsistent at best. Against Tarec Saffiedine, Bowling failed on all seven of his takedown attempts.
In fairness to Bowling, Saffiedine has proven to have very tough takedown defense. That won’t be the case when Bowling fights Abel Trujillo. Trujillo is infamous for being taken down a whopping 21 times in his last fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov. It was a fight that led to people debating about what should be scored as a takedown, and what shouldn’t.
After watching Trujillo on tape, I can assure you that he wasn’t taken down so many times because Nurmagomedov is some kind of grappling savant. Trujillo’s takedown defense is genuinely terrible. To the extent Trujillo is able to defend takedowns, it’s because of natural athleticism, not any kind of superior technique.
More often than not, Trujillo abandons any idea of defending the takedown, and instead focuses on landing in such a way that he can quickly get back to his feet. Of course, when he gets back to his feet, his opponent still has a hold of him, and then he goes down again. That’s how Nurmagomedov scored 21 takedowns.
You might be wondering: “if Trujillo’s takedown defense is so horrible, how did Marcus LeVesseur only land two takedowns in ten attempts against him?” My counter to this is: LeVesseur is one of the worst fighters to compete in the UFC in the last few years. I would hope Trujillo wouldn’t get thrown around the cage by LeVesseur.
When I broke down the Conor McGregor fight last week, what stood out to me on tape was McGregor’s dominance on the regional circuit. He made his opponents look like they didn’t belong in the cage with him. I didn’t see that with Trujillo – to the contrary, I saw a fighter whose opponents were very competitive against him. It’s a red flag that Trujillo entered the UFC with a 9-4 record.
Another red flag: Trujillo’s reaction to all of Nurmagomedov’s takedowns. Instead of adjusting his strategy and figuring out how to defend the takedowns, Trujillo started complaining to the referee about it. The last thing I want to see is a fighter who is so clueless about how to fight his opponent that he appeals to the referee for help.
Ultimately, Trujillo doesn’t know how to defend himself effectively, and is facing an opponent in Bowling who is going to come straight at him and brawl. I don’t like Trujillo’s chances.
Pick: Roger Bowling by TKO