In his UFC debut, Wilson Reis was given an opponent he matched up very well against. His opponent was Ivan Menjivar, a veteran of the MMA game and a fighter with a distinct lack of takedown defense. Reis is a fighter who is at his best when he’s able to establish top position on the ground, but often struggles to complete takedowns. By facing an opponent in Menjivar who only defends 40% of takedowns attempted against him, Reis was able to win the takedown battle and ultimately win the fight.
In this fight, Reis will be taking on a much tougher opponent in Iuri Alcantara. To be honest, Alcantara has disappointed me a little bit in the UFC. He’s an extremely talented fighter with great striking and submissions, but his takedown defense failed him in losses to Urijah Faber and Hacran Dias. Losing to Faber is nothing for Alcantara to be ashamed of, but I felt Alcantara could beat Faber by virtue of being the superior striker. Instead, Faber was able to control Alcantara with takedowns and ground and pound, and ended up winning by decision.
That doesn’t mean Alcantara will be as favorable an opponent for Reis as Menjivar was. Alcantara’s takedown defense rate is mediocre overall at 57 percent, but that’s still far better than the 40 percent takedown defense of Menjivar. Consider also that Reis isn’t nearly as good an offensive wrestler as Faber, and it becomes clear that it will be much more difficult for Reis to execute his takedown and top control centered game in this one.
What’s troubling about Reis is that he doesn’t put a lot of offense together despite his repeated efforts to establish top control on the ground. In significant strikes, Reis out-pointed Menjivar by just a 33-29 margin despite landing four takedowns and at least one in each round. In my tape study of Reis from his fights before making his UFC debut, I had Reis absorbing more strikes than he landed despite a 14-1 advantage in takedowns.
Meanwhile, Alcantara is just the opposite. He’s been taken down ten times but has a positive significant strike differential overall – and that’s after his loss to Faber. Alcantara is also excellent defensively, as his opponents’ ten takedowns have led to just six guard passes and zero submission attempts. Meanwhile, Alcantara’s eight takedowns landed have led to 22 guard passes and five submission attempts.
I think Reis has a very narrow path to victory here. I don’t see him winning a striking battle with Alcantara, and that means he needs to win the way he normally does – with takedowns and top control. Alcantara has more ways to win – he can out-point Reis with strikes, he can land takedowns of his own and do well from top position, or he could just simply win by knockout. Alcantara is just the better overall MMA fighter and should find a way to win here.
Pick: Iuri Alcantara by TKO
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
Alcantara is the strong favorite at -250 with Reis the underdog at +210. While I think Alcantara really should win this fight, his takedown defense just isn’t strong enough for me to feel comfortable about paying the steep price to bet on him. I’m going to pass on this one.