UFC 251 this Saturday, July 11 sees the promotion debut on Fight Island. That, of course, is actually Yas Island, residing in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The card is a major event headlined by three title fights. Kamaru Usman defends his welterweight title against
Gilbert Burns. Wait, no, it’s Jorge Masvidal on six days notice! Alexander Volkanovski defends his featherweight title for the first time against Max Holloway in a rematch. You also have Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title.
Lower on this very stacked card you will find Brazilian Leonardo Santos, who is looking to move his winning streak (17-3-1 MMA, 6-0-1 UFC) to twelve. He will go up against newcomer Roman Bogatov who is the former M-1 lightweight champion.
How will Bogatov fare in the UFC:
Roman Bogatov has an extensive background in freestyle wrestling. Overall, I’m not impressed with the MMA wrestling Bogatov has shown in his career. He’s pretty predictable as you know he is going to wrestle, and shots from the outside most of the time are telegraphed, just reaching for the most part.
However, when he can get to the inside and grab a leg, that is when he’s a pitbull. Bogatov will just try to pull guys down leading with his head first to the mat putting himself in bad positions and giving up his back. He’s still usually able to get to top position just because of his strength and position on the single leg. He does have solid top control passing the guard with ease getting into better positions. While Bogatov isn’t really a threat with ground and pound, he will soften opponents up to find head and arm chokes.
For how hard he pushes the pace and being relentless with his takedowns, it’s a good thing Bogatov has solid cardio. That being one of his better features. Bogatov is nothing but a wrestler as with his striking he will reach a lot, and just has issues finding his range. He makes up with it with his heavy pressure but if he can’t close the distance he’s going to get battered. He deserves the opportunity for what he has done in M-1 but I don’t see him having nearly the same success in the UFC.
How Bogatov matches up with Santos:
Even though he is 40-years-old Santos doesn’t have a lot of fight millage on him, only fighting once in almost four years. He still has a lot of hype behind him as he has wins over Kevin Lee, Stevie Ray, and Anthony Rocco Martin.
Here, you have a BJJ guy in Santos versus a wrestler in Bagatov. So with that said, if the fight stays on the feet I’m positive Santos would knock out Bagatov, as he’s so much better in every aspect standing. It just boils down to if Bagatov can get Santos on his back. I do think Bogatov can take Santos down but I don’t think he can hold him down. Even on his back, Santos is far more dangerous with superior jiu-jitsu. I think Santos wins as he’s the more well-rounded fighter with more ways to win.