5 Takeaways From UFC Orlando

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5Mike Perry needs to evolve as a striker

Over Perry’s last few bouts, it’s become increasingly clear that his headhunting ways will not be effective at the highest-level. Max Griffin absolutely picked Perry apart on Saturday, handing “Platinum” his third loss in 5 bouts. The fight unfolded in a very similar manner to Perry’s previous fight against Santiago Ponzinibbio. Perry’s biggest problem is that he’s constantly waiting for an opening to land a one-punch knockout. He needs to realize that against elite competition, he has to create those openings rather than wait for them. Of course, Perry has serious power in his hands and is never out of a fight, but he doesn’t give himself much of a chance to win on the scorecards.

On the bright side, Perry exhibited some impressive grappling in a scramble at the end of round 1. Furthermore, he also showed off improved cardio, although his conditioning could still use some work. Perry is only 26 and possesses all the tools to carve out a long and successful UFC career, he just needs to make some fundamental changes to his game plan.

4Renan Barao is a shell of his former self

As Barao made his return to the bantamweight division, there was hope that he would regain his “pre-Dillashaw” form. The optimism quickly faded, as the former 135 lb. champion was completely outclassed by Brian Kelleher in all phases. Barao looked slow and tired quickly. The 31-year-old’s weight-cutting struggles have been well-documented over the past few years and very well could have impacted his performance. If this is what 135 lb. Barao looks like, he’s better off continuing as a 145’er.

3Sam Alvey, light heavyweight contender?

After a string of uninspiring performances as a middleweight, Alvey reminded fans this weekend that he absolutely belongs in the UFC. The veteran found instant gratification with his move to 205, as he knocked out newcomer Marcin Prachnio in the 1st round of their bout. After going to 5 straight decisions, Alvey desperately needed an exciting fight and that’s what he delivered. This performance could breathe new life into his career and may be the be the start of a light heavyweight title-run for “Smile’n” Sam. One thing’s for sure, the 205 lb. division needs to be shaken up — looking at the top-15, I see several fighters who Alvey stands a decent chance against

2A fresh face at 125

On Saturday, Alex Perez made his 2nd UFC appearance and registered his 7th win in a row. Perez made a big splash on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series last August, locking in an anaconda choke for a 1st round finish. In December, he made his UFC debut and once again was victorious, via 2nd round submission.

Perez’ opponent last weekend, Eric Shelton, certainly represented a step up in competition, but he took it in stride and picked up a dominant victory on the judges’ scorecards. Only 25-years-old, Perez has a wealth of fighting experience, competing professionally since 2011. Perez’ wrestling background has translated nicely to MMA — his grappling is definitely his strongest asset — but he’s a serviceable striker and should have a chance to crack the top-15 in the near future.

1And the award for most ridiculous call-out goes to…

After choking out Ovince St. Preux within a round, Ilir Latifi called out current light heavyweight champ, Daniel Cormier. It was definitely the biggest win of Latifi’s career, but he can’t get ahead of himself here. The 34-year-old is now 7-3 in the UFC, but he needs a couple more wins before fighting for the belt. Personally, I’d like to see Latifi face any of the division’s top 3 (Gustafsson, Oezdemir, Teixeira) or the winner of the Manuwa-Blachowicz fight.

As for St. Preux — he suffered a huge setback to his title hopes on Sunday but the division is shallow and he can get his name back into the conversation by stringing together a couple of wins. Misha Cirkunov is coming off of 2 straight losses and would make for a suitable matchup in the near future.