Welcome to the UFC: Fernando Padilla

Fernando Padilla, UFC Vegas 72 weigh-in
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 28: Fernando Padilla of Mexico poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on April 28, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The octagon returns to the Apex once again for UFC Vegas 72, and with the card comes the long-awaited debut of Fernando Padilla. Padilla signed with the promotion two years ago, but visa issues have kept him out until now. He gets a ridiculously tough test for a newcomer against Julian “Juicy J” Erosa this Saturday.

Fernando Padilla
Standing at six-foot-one
Fighting at 145 lbs (featherweight)
Fighting out of Chihuahua, Mexico
Training out of Team Oyama
A pro record of 14-4
4 KO/TKOs, 8 Submissions

How Padilla will fare in the UFC:

Padilla is only 26 but has been around for a long time. He’s fought notable guys like Dan Ige, Spike Carlyle, and Darrick Minner. Padilla has four losses but none of them are bad losses. He’s coming off two wins off good regional guys in Cameron Graves and Nate Richardson. His win over Graves was on Dana White’s Looking For A Fight and he was given a contract at the end.

Padilla is a striker with a dangerous submission game. On the feet for being so lanky he thrives in the pocket. The way he rips short combinations on the inside is fun to watch. He throws a sneaky-good uppercut worked into combos. His clinch work is nasty with his sharp elbows and knees. In space, Padilla throws sharp straight punches and pays a lot of attention to chopping with leg kicks. Padilla is sharp on the feet and defensively he does get hit a bit but takes shots well.

His biggest weakness is by far his takedown defense. Part of it is because he’s pretty comfortable fighting off his back. His rubber guard is really good and knows how to use his length very well. While there are some guys Padilla can submit off his back only legit high-level BJJ guys should fight off their back. Padilla has good jiu-jitsu but at a UFC level, he will pay for his style of grappling.

Takedown defense will be what holds Padilla back but if he can work on that he’d be so much more dangerous. He also needs some work on his conditioning and needs to create a little better head movement. Only 26 so he has a high ceiling. As of right now, I think any good wrestler beats him.

How he matches up with Julian Erosa:

Erosa is another lanky fighter that knows how to use his long limbs. Erosa can hang with Padilla on the feet but his best path to victory is to use his wrestling. I don’t think he’s a great wrestler but it’s good enough to take Padilla down.

Padilla has lost four times and none of those losses were by submission so I don’t see Erosa catching him off his back. Erosa is chinny and has been knocked out a few times. Padilla can certainly put Erosa away if he puts his hands together quickly. A lot of things are going against Padilla. Padilla has the poor TTD, probably has to finish inside five minutes or he will gas, and he hasn’t fought in two years. I’m picking Erosa to win but not confidently because you can never be sure with Erosa.