In only the second event of the new year, a battle between former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos and Curtis “Razor” Blaydes tops the UFC Raleigh card. The co-main event, meanwhile, features another former champion, Rafael dos Anjos, taking on Michael Chiesa.
Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll find a handful of prospects making their fist walk to the octagon. When it comes to debuting fighters, the event will host a trio of Dana White’s Contender Series contract winners, and a former champion from Russia.
This week, the panel gives their take on how Nate Landwehr, Herbert Burns, Tony Gravely, and Jamahal Hill will fare in their respective debuts.
Nate Landwehr (13-2) Vs. Herbert Burns (9-2)
Narrative: Both Landwehr and Burns are making their debut in a prospect vs. prospect clash. Landwehr, from Clarksville, Tennessee is the former M-1 Challenge featherweight champion out of Russia. The ultra-exciting Landwehr is on a seven-fight win streak with a few underrated wars in his back pocket. Also looking to go 1-0 in the UFC is Herbert Burns. Herbert is the younger brother of current UFC welterweight contender Gilbert Burns. Herbert is a decorated BJJ black belt who has accomplishments such as Brazilian No-Gi Nationals and the Brazilian Teams tournament winner.
Shawn Bitter: Herbert Burns is a decorated grappler holding a number of accomplishments, and is a black belt in BJJ. With that said, Landwehr will look to keep this fight standing to stay away from danger and keep it where he has a big advantage. Burns isn’t the wrestler he should be but it could only take just one takedown to get the fight over with. Landwehr has always shown good defense off his back fighting the wrists, as he knows what he’s doing. I feel if Landwehr can survive round one he will take over. Over the course of his fights, Burns has telegraphed his takedown attempts and Landwehr just gets better over time. I think this is a tough but a very winnable fight for Landwehr.
Marcel Dorff: The first fight in 2020 where we have two debuting fighters against each other. Nate Landwehr comes over from the strong M-1 Global organization where he was the champion. Landwehr is a very complete fighter who fought very legit competition. Herbert Burns is the younger brother of Gilbert Burns and also makes his debut. Burns did pretty well in the ONE Championship organization and had an impressive performance during the Contender Series against Darrick Minner. I expect a very close fight where Burns probably has the advantage on the ground. Although I think Landwehr is too quick and to strategic. Landwehr via Unanimous Decision.
Ryan Fortune: In the match-up between fellow debutants, I’ll take Landwehr over Burns. I believe that if Landwehr can survive the first half of the fight, that his chances of winning will increase significantly. Although Burns being able to submit Landwehr here early is possible, the more likely outcome in my eyes is Landwehr surviving early and turning up the pressure as the fight goes on, which will turn the tide of the fight massively in his favor. Landwehr via late TKO stoppage or decision.
Max Freedman: This is a cracker of a newcomer match-up here. While Burns is probably the more dangerous grappler and can very well finish a fight in the first round, Landwehr has been competing in five-round fights the last couple years in the M-1 promotion. I expect Burns to score takedowns early but Landwehr to take over in the second half and ultimately get his hand raised on the judges scorecards.
Kristen King: As cliché as it may sound, Nate Landwehr and Herbert Burns is the perfect example of a striker vs. grappler matchup. Landwehr is known for his forward pressure and striking, which should be at the forefront of his game plan as it relates to his upcoming opponent in Burns. Despite having some decent wrestling, I think Landwehr is better off trying to keep the fight standing and completely avoiding the ground with Burns. He is susceptible to takedowns and that will certainly be costly against Burns, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with the majority of his professional wins coming by way of submission. Burns is quick on the ground and will wrap up a submission with ease, and if Landwehr is not careful, it could be a short night for him. I think Burns gets the win with a first-round submission.
Anthony Walker: I do love a fight between opposing styles and two UFC debuts makes it even sweeter. I’ll go with Nate Landwehr to get the win. That’s simply because he has consistently faced better opponents and has championship fights on his resume
Keith Shillan: Landwehr.