Mike Easton’s first three UFC fights (all Easton victories) were against opponents who, to be brutally honest, were not very strong competitors in the UFC bantamweight division. Easton defeated Byron Bloodworth, Jared Papazian, and Ivan Menjivar. Bloodworth and Papazian didn’t last long in the UFC; Menjivar is a much more respected name but a fighter whose actual performances and statistics indicated that he simply was a below-average UFC competitor.
Easton performed well enough to win those fights, but the performances themselves should have indicated that Easton wasn’t going to succeed against top ten opponents. An aspiring title contender should be able to blow out at least one of Bloodworth, Papazian, or Menjivar, but all three fights were quite competitive. The significant strike counts in those fights were: Easton 31 Bloodworth 17, Easton 85 Papazian 68, and Easton 44 Menjivar 40. The common theme of those fights was that Easton didn’t have particularly good striking defense.
In his last three fights, Easton took on much tougher opponents in Raphael Assuncao, Brad Pickett, and T.J. Dillashaw, and lost all three of them. To be fair, his fight against Pickett was very close, but once again Easton absorbed more significant strikes than I would like to see (68).
I’ve been calling for Easton to use his takedowns and grappling instead of his striking, but I’m starting to wonder if the problem is less an unwillingness to land takedowns and more an inability. Through six UFC fights total, Easton has landed just five out of 18 takedown attempts, three of which were against Pickett. Easton’s resulting 0.88 takedowns per 15 minutes at 28 percent accuracy suggests that he’s simply not a good offensive wrestler.
That means he’ll probably have to settle for a striking match against Yves Jabouin, whose takedown defense is surprisingly good at 78 percent. Jabouin is primarily known as a striker, but once again, his performances indicate that he’s not particularly good at it. Through ten UFC/WEC fights, Jabouin has landed 342 significant strikes and absorbed 331. He’s landed two knockdowns but has been knocked down three times. He’s 0-3 in fights ending by KO/TKO.
The good news for Jabouin is that Easton doesn’t hit particularly hard, as he’s landed just one knockdown out of 309 significant strikes. The bad news is that while Easton hasn’t been winning emphatically, Jabouin’s wins have been even closer. Three of Jabouin’s five wins in the UFC/WEC have been by split decision, against opponents in Dustin Pague, Walel Watson, and Ian Loveland who are all out of the UFC now. In fact, everybody Jabouin has defeated is now out of the UFC.
With how Easton and Jabouin match up, I expect the fight to stay standing, and if it goes the distance, I think it will be a very close call. However, there are little advantages that swing the fight to Easton in my mind. He’s competed against tougher opponents, he’s more likely to finish the fight, and if it happens to go to the ground, he should have a decisive advantage there also. Balanced against this is the fact that this fight will be in Jabouin’s home country of Canada, but that alone isn’t enough for me to favor Jabouin in this one.
Pick: Mike Easton by decision