The UFC is on big Fox for the second time this year when the Octagon takes refuge in Orlando, Florida on February 24. The main event could have huge implications for the featherweight division, as Josh Emmett takes on Jeremy Stephens.
Though the card doesn’t feature a ton of sexy names, it should be a fun event from top to bottom with fighters like Jessica Andrade, Mike Perry and Alan Jouban.
Josh Emmett (+135) is a jack-of-all-trades fighter who has parlayed his athleticism into a quick rise through the UFC ranks. Emmett throws punches in bunches and does so with fight-ending power. The punches don’t always find their mark – he has just two KO victories in his last nine bouts – but his pace and footwork make him a great point fighter as well.
Emmett is a former NAIA wrestler who will aggressively attack takedowns if he sees that as his path to victory. Once on the mat, he tends to capitalize on scrambles more than anything else.
Jeremy Stephens (-165) is a puncher through and through. “Lil’ Heathen” is not going to overwhelm opponents with volume but has a sharp counter-striking game that is backed by good punching power. There is no doubt that his punching power is overrated in some MMA circles, though, as Stephens has just four knockout victories in his past 19 fights.
The rest of his game is competent, for the most part. He is not exactly a great grappler but he has some solid takedown defense that allows him to keep a fight standing.
This is actually a razor-thin fight. Stephens has the advantage standing thanks to his counter-striking and Emmett’s aggressive striking. However, Emmett has a clear edge once the fight goes to the ground. This is a fight that could be won or lost on what could be brief clinch exchanges.
Jessica Andrade (-300) is a whirling dervish of violence. She is small for the division but an aggressive striking attack overwhelms her opponent. “Bate Estaca” tries to get her opponents back on the fence where she can unleash a flurry of strikes. Her short stature and lack of head movement mean that a skilled, speedy opponent can pick her apart from a distance.
If Andrade gets top control, she will violently rain down strikes on her opponent but is also plenty capable of grabbing a hold of submissions. Her strength and wrestling ability make it hard to move her once she gets her hands on you.
Despite being dubbed “The Tiny Tornado,” Tecia Torres (+230) has the style of a much bigger fighter. Torres prefers to fight from the outside and does so thanks to her kick-heavy striking arsenal and athleticism. Primarily, her striking game is built upon a foundation of footwork and volume.
She is strong, which makes her a competent fighter in the clinch, but she is not exactly a world-class grappler. When she lands a takedown – a rarity – she doesn’t tend to do much with it.
If Torres can keep the fast-charging Andrade at distance, then Tiny Tornado has a very real opportunity to gain a decision victory. But Andrade’s aggressive style and strength will likely overwhelm Torres.
Mike Perry (-360) is a violent man who is out to take his opponent’s head off from the Sportsbook bell. The former pro boxer has good head movement and hand speed, though he can get a little sloppy. Perry’s leg kicks are underrated, as “Platinum” uses them effectively to slow opponents.
The rest of his game is still raw, to say the least. He has some solid takedown defense but it is far from perfect, as he relies more on natural gifts than technique.
Max Griffin (+270) is still green but there are some intriguing pieces. When he settles down and patiently works behind his jab, he does a good job at setting up his powerful strikes. However, when he lets his hands fly, he leans forward and leaves himself wide open to counter-strikes.
Offensive grappling is basically non-existent for Griffin. He can defend some takedowns thanks to his strength but that’s about it.
This is going to be a firefight. Both Perry and Griffin come out looking to render their opponent unconscious, so anything can happen. That being said, Griffin’s questionable striking defense could make easy work for Perry.