The UFC is once again returning to its Apex arena for the fifth straight time card this weekend. This time out, the show is headlined by Dan Hooker and Dustin Poitier in an important lightweight bout. Other notable fighters on the card are Mike Perry, Aspen Ladd, Sara McMann, and Luis Pena.
In a welterweight bout, Takashi Sato (15-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) is looking to bounce back after a loss to Belal Muhammad. He will be going against newcomer and Fortis MMA product Ramiz Brahimaj, a veteran of Legacy Fighting Alliance.
Rockwall, Texas, US
How will Brahimaj fare in the UFC:
From the start of the bell Ramiz Brahimaj fights at a ferocious pace stomping on the gas. He has finished fights in 0:20, 0:55, 0:24, 0:36 and 0:55. Quite clearly, Brahimaj is a finisher having a 100% finish rate with seven first-round finishes. He’s an excellent wrestler and has a background as an IBJJF NoGi world champion and it shows. He’ll bull rush opponents against the fence to drop levels, and once he gets his hands together he will get the emphatic takedown. His explosiveness and speed into his entrances to the double leg or single leg and his strength to complete the takedowns are done very well.
On the mat, Brahimaj is even better. His jiu-jitsu is slick as he quickly passes the guard and can easily slice into the mount and take the back. Brahimaj is not a guy you want make a mistake against, like giving up your back, because he will get that rear-naked choke. You don’t even want duck your head, because Ramiz has that instinct to just snatch up that guillotine real quick and put you to sleep.
On the feet, Brahimaj throws a heavy overhand right but uses those big shots to close the distance to take the fight down. Brahimaj is such a dangerous fighter, but it looks so far like he’s mainly a one-round fighter. The pace he brings early on, he presses so hard that he empties his gas tank early. He quickly starts to telegraph what he’s going to throw much earlier. And while he still can very well get the takedown, it’s tougher for him to close the distance. On the feet, he’s definitely open to the jab as he doesn’t move his head and over the course of the fight, he takes a lot of damage. Ramiz Brahimaj is very tough and always a threat but his labored movement and poor striking defense have hurt him in the later rounds.
How Brahimaj matches up with Sato:
On the feet, Sato is the much more proven fighter. Sato doesn’t throw a lot of output but is accurate in what he throws. Sato isn’t some huge threat on the feet but overall has a striking advantage over Brahimaj, especially as the fight goes on where Brahimaj will tire. The clear and probably only path to victory for Brahimaj is to wrestle early and get Sato out of there as soon as possible, but the question is, can he even take Sato down? Sato doesn’t have bad takedown defense but has the tendency to defend a takedown giving up his back against the cage — or even when he gets taken down he’ll give up his back trying to escape. If he does that in this fight, and with the pressure of Brahimaj I’m sure he will, Brahimaj will quickly jump on the back. It’s a tough fight because Brahikaj can get it done in the first but if he doesn’t Sato could take over in the later rounds. I’m leaning Brahimaj because with his wrestling and ability to quickly take the back I think he can get Sato out of there quickly.