It’s funny how some fighters just hang around in the UFC for what seems like forever. Thiago Tavares has been in the UFC since 2007 and has never been a title contender in the lightweight division. He’s made a career out of beating the Sam Stouts and Spencer Fishers of the world, but when Tavares takes on a tougher opponent such as Matt Wiman (or Khabib Nurmagomedov)*, he gets defeated. Tavares is an average UFC lightweight and nothing more. There’s no shame in that, it’s just who Tavares is.
*If I remember right, I think I picked Tavares to beat Nurmagomedov in that fight. Can I have that one back please?
The question is – how good is Robbie Peralta? If the betting markets are to be believed, Peralta isn’t that good. He was a substantial underdog in his last fight against Rony Jason, closing in the +260 to +290 range in a fight I though Peralta would win. That line seemed insane to me, and I was proven right when Peralta won by split decision. Now Peralta is the underdog again, listed at +155 against the pure grappler in Tavares.
If there’s an argument to be made that Tavares is the favorite, it’s that he has the clear advantage on the ground. Tavares is a career 12-0 in fights ending by submission while Peralta is 2-2. Tavares is also a capable wrestler, landing 3.4 takedowns per 15 minutes at 39 percent accuracy. Tavares has landed at least one takedown in all of his UFC fights except his quick loss to Nurmagomedov, and I think he can be forgiven for that one.
With that having been said, Tavares’s rate of submissions attempted is surprisingly low. His 32 takedowns landed have led to 14 submission attempts, while his opponents have actually attempted ten submissions against him. I was surprised to find out that Tavares only has three submission wins in the UFC. It’s just as likely that Tavares will win a decision based on takedowns and positional control.
By no means am I ready to suggest that Tavares won’t submit Peralta in this fight – but I don’t think it’s as likely as it might appear. Peralta has only had one submission attempted against him in seven UFC fights, although most of his opponents were not known for their submissions. Peralta has defended takedowns at a 73 percent rate – that’s strong enough to suggest he’ll make Tavares work hard to get him down, but not strong enough to shut Tavares down completely.
Even then, I feel like Peralta’s advantage standing should be more than enough to make up for Tavares’s advantage on the ground. Peralta enters with a significant strike margin of +1.22 and is 5-0 in knockdowns. Tavares is -0.44 in significant strikes per minute and is 0-5 in knockdowns. Peralta is a serious threat to win by quick knockout in this fight.
Ultimately, I see this fight coming down to how well Peralta can force Tavares to stand and strike against him. If Peralta has a tough time defending takedowns then he’s likely to lose by decision or submission. Otherwise, Peralta’s striking should be enough to get the TKO finish. I happen to think Peralta is a very overlooked and underrated featherweight, a fighter who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. I like Peralta to win what should be a very competitive fight.
Pick: Robbie Peralta by TKO