I’ve been enthusiastic about Francisco Trinaldo’s talent, but after losing his last fight to Piotr Hallmann, it’s become clear that Trinaldo has some critical flaws that will likely prevent him from ever breaking into the top 20 in the UFC lightweight division. Trinaldo’s biggest problem is his conditioning, a product of an aggressive fighting style and a physique that is probably too muscular for MMA. It was alarming to see Trinaldo gassed out in the second round against Hallmann, and that’s a problem that has recurred throughout Trinaldo’s career.
Trinaldo also lacks stellar takedown defense, as he’s been taken down eight times in five UFC fights, but consider that five of those takedowns were landed by Gleison Tibau, who I’m pretty sure carries some device that allows any scale he steps on to always read “155” instead of whatever his real weight is. Otherwise, Trinaldo is a very capable striker and grappler, and has shown above-average finishing ability as all three of his UFC wins were by stoppage.
In any case, Trinaldo’s takedown defense is unlikely to be tested by Jesse Ronson. Ronson is a striker first, and displays pretty crisp standing technique, with a good diversity of offensive attacks. With four career wins by submission, Ronson isn’t a slouch on the ground either, and did a good job defending himself against the grinding style of Michel Prazeres in his UFC debut.
With that said, Ronson found himself fighting off his back far too often against Prazeres. Thanks to a whopping seven takedowns, Prazeres was awarded a decision victory despite landing just 19 significant strikes in 15 minutes. Ronson will have to shore up his takedown defense if he wants to put together a winning streak in the UFC.
Trinaldo is a pretty nasty draw for Ronson, given Ronson’s status as an 0-1 UFC fighter. Plenty of fighters have started 0-2 in the UFC and have promptly been cut – if Ronson isn’t particularly impressive in a loss to Trinaldo, he could find that his UFC career gets cut short. It would be an unfortunate occurrence for a fighter who has plenty of talent, particularly as a striker.
I believe Ronson will have the striking advantage in this fight, but early on he’ll have his hands full trying to counter the aggressive takedowns and grappling of Trinaldo. Based on their respective histories, I believe Trinaldo should control the early part of the fight, landing takedowns and threatening submissions from top position. For Ronson, the goal will be to make Trinaldo work, to force him to use a lot of energy whenever he goes for a takedown or position advance. His best chance to win is to use Trinaldo’s small gas tank against him.
I just don’t want to pick a fighter who I believe will almost certainly lose the first round. When a fighter’s best chance to win is to weather an early storm, that makes him an underdog as far as I see it. It’s possible that Ronson will show noticeably improved takedown defense; if that happens and he forces Trinaldo into a striking match, then I’d like Ronson’s chances a lot better. It’s also possible that Trinaldo will simply choose to exchange strikes; that would be a poor game plan, but that’s pretty common in the UFC. However, in this particular matchup, I have to assume that Ronson’s takedown defense will remain mediocre and Trinaldo’s aggression will overwhelm him early.
Pick: Francisco Trinaldo by submission
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
Trinaldo is the favorite to win at -185, and as much as I hate to pass again, that sounds like a pretty fair line to me. I think Trinaldo wins the fight, but his gas tank is too big a concern for me to pay a premium on betting him. It’s also possible Ronson shows real improvement as his debut against Prazeres was on short notice. I doubt the line will move to the point where I’d be willing to wager on it.