I fully understand that, for many aspiring mixed martial artists, a phone call from the UFC is an opportunity that must be taken advantage of. However, it’s clear that many fighters enter the UFC before they have proven they’re ready for that level of competition. Ernest Chavez is a terrific example of this – even though Chavez is undefeated at 6-0 he has yet to beat an opponent who could be considered anywhere near a UFC-level fighter. His highest quality win is probably a knockout victory over 6-4 Tom Gloudeman.
When I do tape study of a fighter set to make his UFC debut, what I want to see is dominance on the regional circuit. I want it to be painfully obvious that the fighter is far superior to his opponent. I was only able to find one of Chavez’s fights, and he was far from dominant. It’s a pretty ugly watch so I don’t recommend checking it out, but here’s the video if you’re curious:
Most of the fight takes place in the clinch with both fighters landing knees and punches that simply don’t do any meaningful damage. There’s a severe lack of significant strikes in the fight. Chavez does get the better of Stephen Martinez in the brief periods of distance striking, but Martinez is able to take Chavez down twice. One thing I took away from this video is that Chavez gives up the body lock far too easily – if that happens in the UFC then Chavez will find himself being taken down very frequently.
Yosdenis Cedeno appears to be a much more talented athlete. He has serious power in his hands and feet and should be considered a threat to win by knockout at any moment. He has also displayed decent takedown offense although his preference is usually to keep the fight standing.
Here’s the most recent Cedeno fight I could find, a TKO victory over Ryan DeRocher:
Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Ryan DeRocher
Cedeno’s performance here was lukewarm at best until DeRocher had the brilliant idea to taunt Cedeno with his hands down. Even so, this fight shows both Cedeno’s knockout power and his ability to throw a wide diversity of strikes effectively.
Despite the obvious talent Cedeno brings to the UFC he’s far from a perfect prospect. Cedeno controlled distance beautifully in a win over Tony Christodoulou but did almost nothing offensively in the second and third rounds. Cedeno was taken down three times in one round in a fight against Johnny Iwasaki in Peru. I don’t want to see a fighter have both questionable takedown defense and extended periods of passivity.
Another concern I have about Cedeno is that his record is not stellar. His wins over Torrance Taylor and Trent McCown do give him better credentials than Chavez, but the win over Taylor was by split decision. If Cedeno had lost that fight he would be 8-3, a very mediocre record for a prospect to have. Cedeno looked fairly impressive in the videos I saw but those were not against his toughest competition.
With that said, I feel that Cedeno should definitely be favored in a fight against Chavez. Both fighters seem to like striking, so I anticipate that’s where the fight will play out. In that kind of fight I believe Cedeno’s diverse striking arsenal, pure knockout power, and ability to control distance should make him the clear favorite to win.
Pick: Yosdenis Cedeno by TKO
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
There are no odds out for this fight yet but I’m not going to touch it. I simply haven’t watched enough of Ernest Chavez to be confident in my knowledge of his game. I can’t justify a bet without knowing more about the participants first.