A strong main draw at UFC Fight Night 179 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, trickles down to a solid slate of prelims full of some high-ceiling prospects. Tom Breese gets the featured slot—and rightfully so, as he still seems ready-made to make an impact despite his recent troubles. However, the undercard also features the latest outing from undefeated middleweight Impa Kasanganay and the promotional debut of promising flyweight Tagir Ulanbekov. Even the heavyweight clash between Chris Daukaus and Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira could carry some meaning as both men develop.
Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night 179 “Moraes vs. Sandhagen” prelims:
MiddleweightsTom Breese (11-2) vs. K.B. Bhullar (8-0)
ODDS: Breese (-265), Bhullar (+225)
Breese in early 2016 looked like one of the UFC’s best long-term prospects. The Englishman came from a grappling background but kicked off his UFC career with two knockout wins over Luiz Jorge Dutra Jr. and Cathal Pendred. Add in that Breese was both gigantic and athletic for the middleweight division and still in his early 20s, and Breese figured to be one of the future pillars of British MMA. He started 2016 with a win over Keita Nakamura that was not particularly spectacular but did nothing to derail his hype train. However, since his next bout against Sean Strickland at UFC 199, things have essentially gone sideways. As a fighter with similar size, Strickland managed to neutralize Breese and prevent him from building any momentum, which was enough to take a split decision. Between injuries and anxiety issues, Breese had only made it to the cage twice in the four-plus years since. He looked fine in a 2018 appearance against Daniel Kelly that ended in a quick knockout win, but his February performance against Brendan Allen was concerning. Allen took the initiative and grappled with Breese. Once Allen took over, Breese did not do much of anything before getting pounded on the mat and turtling up until the referee stepped in. Hopefully for Breese, that flat performance was just an outlier, as there is a chance for him to recapture some momentum here against an organizational newcomer and late replacement. Bhullar is a total question mark, mostly since there is very little film of him since he returned from a five-year hiatus in 2018. Bhullar is certainly ready for a chance in the UFC, given that he is coming off of a win over Matt Dwyer and was slated to compete on Dana White’s Contender Series in a few weeks. Even so, an opponent as talented as Breese figures to represent a big step up for “The Bengal.” Based on what highlights are available, Bhullar has the size and power to make things interesting if he takes the initiative and immediately makes Breese uncomfortable. However, given such a blank slate, Breese’s talent has to make him the pick by default. The pick is Breese via second-round stoppage.
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