UFC Fight Night 39 Prelims: 5 Reasons to Watch

By: Mike Whitman
Mar 19, 2014
Scott Jorgensen has lost four of his last five fights. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com



When Scott Jorgensen first announced his move to 125 pounds, I was quite pleased.

Finally, Jorgensen would no longer be forced to punch above his weight while competing as a 135-pounder. Much in the same way that a drop to flyweight benefitted reigning champion and all-around studly guy Demetrious Johnson, I believed cutting down to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightest class would only serve to enhance the qualities that had already made “Young Guns” a bantamweight contender.

This may still be the case, but unfortunately for Jorgensen, he made his divisional debut against another man who benefitted from a flyweight cut: former Bellator MMA bantamweight king Zach Makovsky. “Fun Size” was just a little better than Jorgensen in December, edging him in most of the scrambles and then taking his back to seal the deal near the end of their fight.

Still, it would be wise to remember that even Johnson -- a fighter now widely acclaimed for his flawless technique and undeniable excellence -- was met with some adversity in his first appearances in a new class. Only recently has Johnson finished opponents with the seemingly effortless beauty to which we have become accustomed. The powerful and explosive John Dodson gave “Mighty Mouse” all he could handle last year, and Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall were both competitive in their first encounters with Matt Hume’s prized pupil. Given these examples, I think it would be foolhardy to write off a fighter as talented as Jorgensen after a setback in his first flyweight appearance.

“Young Guns” now has the opportunity to get back in the win column and make some noise in his second cut to 125 pounds, but he will have to go through onetime Shooto South American champ and former top-ranked flyweight Jussier da Silva to do so. Jorgensen’s next Octagon appearance takes place Sunday at Nelio Dias Gymnasium in Natal, Brazil, and it is just one reason to watch the UFC Fight Night 39 undercard live on Fox Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass. Here are four more:

FINDING ‘FORMIGA’


It was not so long ago that da Silva was on top of the flyweight world, but times have undoubtedly changed.

The top 10 that “Formiga” sat atop barely resembles the crop of fighters that currently comprise Sherdog’s list of top flyweight guns. The UFC had not yet created its 125-pound division, meaning that fighters like Johnson, Benavidez, Makovsky and Jorgensen were all still competing at bantamweight. This, coupled with the natural surge of awareness that came with the world’s largest promotion recognizing the little men, resulted in a growing and competitive UFC division that seems to be getting better every day.

Da Silva has gone 1-2 in the Octagon, but defeats at the hands of destroyers like Benavidez and Dodson are anything but shameful. “Formiga” still possesses a top-notch jiu-jitsu games and underrated takedowns. The Brazilian is also a master of catching the back of his opponents when they make the slightest error -- undoubtedly a skill of which Jorgensen should be keenly aware.

As is the case with most da Silva fights, if this one hits the mat, it should favor him. The question: Can he bring the hard-punching American to the canvas and keep him there?

CHOPE NO CHUMP


Photo: James Goyder/Sherdog.com

Chope owns 16 finishes.
Will Chope might have come up short against Max Holloway in his UFC debut, but he nevertheless impressed me with his gameness and lack of respect for the highly regarded Hawaiian.

Making an Octagon debut against the likes of Holloway is the exact opposite of taking a warm-up fight in order to gain some big-show confidence. This seemed to matter little to Chope, who used his massive reach to launch some audacious offense early in their UFC Fight Night 34 showdown.

Though Holloway eventually found Chope’s timing and lit him up, “The Kill” refused to die quietly, absorbing plenty of punishment and fighting a losing battle until the bitter end. That is exactly the type of spunk I love to see in a 23-year-old, and, provided he collects some more Octagon experience, Chope could easily be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.

BRANDAO REBOUND


In Diego Brandao, Chope faces a striker arguably as dangerous as Holloway, though in a different way.

Brandao is a no-frills power puncher, period. His skills, both standing and on the canvas, make him a tough customer, but Brandao has not quite been able to put it all together against the division’s upper echelon, despite posting a 4-2 UFC record and winning “The Ultimate Fighter 14.”

Much like the aforementioned losses of “Formiga,” Brandao’s defeats to Darren Elkins and Dustin Poirier should not diminish “DB’s” reputation. Regardless of whether you believe that Brandao’s latter defeat was aided by an alleged car accident that prevented him from making weight, I hope we can all agree that Poirier is undoubtedly one of the world’s best 10 featherweights.

I think Brandao has more than enough talent to crack into that coveted club if he can improve his cardio and keep himself under control. Provided the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts product can find a way to sustain his offense against top-shelf talent over the course of three rounds, these are fights he has a real chance to win. First, however, he must get past Chope.

MARKES’ MOVE


Ronny Markes may have suffered his first loss in three years in November, but he is still a fine middleweight prospect.

The 25-year-old fought a competitive bout with Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero Palacio, but “The Soldier of God” proved to be the better man in their UFC Fight Night 31 confrontation. Though Markes was able to briefly take down the hulking southpaw and land some solid strikes standing, the 36-year-old caught the Brazilian in the third round with a dynamite left hand that basically blew him to bits.

The setback served as Markes’ first Octagon defeat after posting three straight decision wins to begin his UFC stint, outpointing Karlos Vemola, Aaron Simpson and Andrew Craig. The Brazilian will now square off with countryman Thiago Santos. Can Markes right his ship and return to his winning ways?

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