UFC Raleigh’s Debuting Fighters: How Will Nate Landwehr, Herbert Burns, Tony Gravely, and Jamahal Hill Fare?

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Tony Gravely, UFC Raleigh Weigh-In Credit: Bryson Hester/Cageside Press

Brett Johns (15-2) vs. Tony Gravely (19-5)

Narrative: In an intriguing bantamweight bout, Tony Gravely — a DWCS winner last Summer — will be making his long-awaited UFC debut. This also marks the return of Brett Johns after a layoff of over a year. Gravely actually has more experience than his opponent in this fight and has been fighting good competition for a long time. Johns made his UFC debut in 2016 as he was 12-0 coming into the UFC. “Pikey” is on a two-fight skid and a loss here would really put a heavy anchor on his career.

Shawn Bitter: This is a very interesting and extremely tough fight to call. I’d consider it a wrestler in Gravely vs. a jiu-jitsu guy in Johns. I would say Gravely has more power on the feet but Johns has better boxing. I think Gravely should have a huge speed advantage which might set him ahead in this fight. Gravely no doubt is the better wrestler and if he gets top position I don’t think Johns will pose any threat. There is always the threat of Johns winning a scramble and catching a submission. I’m taking Gravely because he’s been more active and just riding a lot more momentum.

Marcel Dorff: Brett Johns vs. Tony Gravely is a fight I absolutely hate and love at the same time. Both men are very talented. Johns impressed in the UFC when he arrived with some solid wins. He lost his last two fights against top contenders and hasn’t fought since 2018. Gravely had one of the best fights during the Contender Series last year and being signed by the UFC was long overdue. Gravely absolutely smashed it in the regional scene and was the CES MMA champion. I expect an extremely competitive fight with Johns coming out on top. After his win I expect Johns to do “The Ledley”. Johns via Unanimous Decision.

Ryan Fortune: This is a very close match-up. Johns is the UFC veteran who has been in the promotion over three years but is coming off a 17-month hiatus due to injury. Although the Welshman has lost his last two fights, he has lost to top contenders in Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz so there is no shame there at all. Meanwhile, Gravely is coming off a hot streak on the regional scene which led to him earning a Contender Series shot in which he earned his UFC contract with a TKO win over Ray Rodríguez. The former CES bantamweight champion has won his last seven fights, all via stoppage so he is a proven finisher. In the match-up itself, I’d favor Gravely in positional wrestling but I think Johns is the better submission grappler and on the feet, I favor Johns slightly with his boxing and combination punching. Give me Johns via decision in a competitive bout.

Max Freedman: Hate to see this fight made since both are such fun talents. It will be interesting to see how Johns handles the lengthy layoff. Meanwhile, Gravely seems to have everything clicking for him right now. He’s won 7 straight and 11 of 12 with the lone loss to Bellator’s Patrick Mix. Gravely rides the momentum into a debut decision win.

Kristen King: Brett Johns and Tony Gravely is, in my humble opinion, the potential ‘Fight of the Night’ at UFC Raleigh. Both Johns and Gravely are some of the most exciting bantamweights in the division right now, so this fight could really go anywhere, and I would not be surprised if it ended in either an early technical knockout or a wild submission in the later rounds. As close as this fight is, I am leaning more towards Gravely getting the job done against Johns because of his wrestling background and how well he utilizes it in fights. If Gravely is able to get you down and keep you there, be prepared for some hellacious ground-and-pound. Although Johns definitely has a chance to sweep and immediately go for a submission, I do not see that happening and am picking Gravely to win by decision.

Anthony Walker: Gravely is promising and looked great during his CES run. I just don’t think it will be enough against Brett Johns. Johns having losses to Aljo (the rightful title challenger) and Munhoz (who was also in that conversation before facing Aljo) shouldn’t be weighed too heavily against him. This could be too steep of a hill to climb for Gravely even if his future is bright.

Keith Shillan: Gravely.

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