Seth Baczynski enters this fight having lost three of his last four, but there are worse things than losing to the likes of Thiago Alves and Mike Pierce. The Alves fight was a strange one, given that Alves had fought after such a long layoff, but Baczynski did very well for himself in that fight, landing 90 significant strikes in a competitive decision loss. It might seem like Baczynski is in danger of losing his UFC job but, even with a first-round KO loss to Brian Melancon on his record, I don’t think he should be.
Baczynski is the kind of fighter who will never be a true title contender but is also hard for opponents to look good against. Baczynski is not a wrestler; his takedown offense is at a dismal 14% and his defense is 48%. What Baczynski brings to the table is capable striking, both at distance and in the clinch, and a good guard game that neutralizes an opponent’s offense. Pierce could only muster 16 significant strikes in 15 minutes against Baczynski despite landing six takedowns.
Alan Jouban debuts with a 9-2 record and a pretty high level of competition faced. His losses were to very capable fighters in Chidi Njokuani and Mike Rhodes, and he has earned victories against quality opponents like Ricky Legere Jr. and Chris Spang. There are good reasons to believe Jouban can at least succeed against the bottom half of the UFC welterweight division.
Having watched Jouban on tape, he really is a good offensive fighter. He is a capable striker at range and he can mix in some takedowns from the clinch as well. Jouban’s problems are in his striking defense and takedown defense. Rhodes in particular had a lot of success with both strikes and takedowns against Jouban. I didn’t get the impression that Jouban was able to land offensive techniques without being in danger of eating counters.
That’s not good because Baczynski is going to hit Jouban – I have very little doubt about that. Baczynski is a tall, lanky fighter who will hit Jouban with punches and kicks standing, and elbows and knees in close. Where Jouban has the potential to upset Baczynski is with takedowns. Even though most of Jouban’s career wins are by knockout, he has some respectable ground skills, including a quite functional guard game that could make things difficult on opponents. If Jouban can consistently establish top position on Baczynski, he should have what it takes to stay out of submissions and score points with strikes from inside the guard.
However, I think it’s more likely that Baczynski’s threatening guard will cause Jouban to want to stand and bang instead. If that’s the case, I think Jouban will be fighting at a disadvantage as I see Baczynski as the better overall striker. There is some definite upset potential on the side of Jouban, but Baczynski is just a very tricky and tough draw for his UFC debut.
Pick: Seth Baczynski by decision