At UFC 167, Will Campuzano was given the opportunity to take on Sergio Pettis on short notice. Before their fight, I looked at Campuzano’s statistics and wasn’t encouraged about his potential to beat Pettis or anybody else in the UFC for that matter. Campuzano was running deficits in all five key statistics I look at: significant strikes, knockdowns, takedowns, guard passes, and submission attempts. The result was an FPR that placed Campuzano dead last in the UFC bantamweight division. However, Campuzano put up a very respectable fight against Pettis, landing four takedowns and at least making the fight more competitive than I thought it would be.
Now Campuzano is moving back to his home in the flyweight division, and his opponent will be Justin Scoggins, a fighter who is 8-0 in professional MMA and 1-0 in the UFC. Scoggins debuted with a victory over Richie Vaculik at UFC Fight Night 33 in December. After watching Scoggins on tape… I’m left wondering why people aren’t talking about him more.
Perhaps it’s because Scoggins hasn’t beaten any elite opponents yet, but it’s hard not to be impressed by his fighting style. He has a Stephen Thompson type of fighting stance, with his hands low and relying on timing and head movement to avoid absorbing strikes. But while Thompson’s striking defense leaves a lot to be desired, Scoggins has shown excellent ability to avoid his opponents’ strikes while landing strikes of his own.
And he hits hard. Scoggins has six wins by KO/TKO in eight fights, an excellent ratio for a 125 pound fighter. That includes three knockout victories due to head kick, a technique Scoggins has clearly mastered as part of a very diverse striking repertoire.
Against a fighter like this, it would seem that the path to victory is by way of takedowns and submission offense. Never mind that Campuzano doesn’t have a history of succeeding with takedowns outside the Pettis fight; Scoggins has sharp takedown defense as well. Check out this fight against Jacob Hebeisen and you’ll see that Hebeisen is left almost completely unable to do anything to Scoggins, including trying takedowns. Fair warning, it’s a long watch and the commentary is brutal:
As for Scoggins’ overall ability to grapple, check out his UFC debut against Vaculik. Scoggins landed two takedowns, passed guard five times, and won the fight by TKO with strikes from Vaculik’s back. Scoggins also has a submission victory on his record – I have yet to see signs that Scoggins’ takedown game or submission game are weaknesses.
Put it all together, and I see Scoggins as a prospect who will make a lot of noise in the flyweight division. This is a fighter I believe has championship potential. The only knock I have against Scoggins is his record; only two of his eight wins were against opponents with a winning record. However, when I look at Scoggins’ overall game, I see a complete fighter with exceptional striking ability and power. Perhaps there’s something I’m missing but I really think we’ll see Scoggins in the top five in the flyweight division at the least.
So what does Campuzano do to beat him? To be honest, the best way I can think of is for Campuzano to play the volume game and try to win on points with striking. I don’t love his chances in that scenario, especially because of Scoggins’ knockout power, but I can’t think of a better way.
Pick: Justin Scoggins by KO
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
I’m betting on Scoggins if he’s at plus money. If Scoggins is the favorite, I’ll probably bet him anyway at a reasonable price, despite my relative lack of data on him. I often mention how I want prospects to look like Conor McGregor, a fighter who made opponents on the regional circuit look like they didn’t belong in the cage with him. Scoggins is very much like McGregor in that respect. I’m confident he’ll get this victory against Campuzano.