Welcome to the UFC: Diego Lopes

Diego Lopes, UFC 288 weigh-in
Diego Lopes, UFC 288 weigh-in Credit: Jake Noecker/Cageside Press

Stepping up on less than a week’s notice, Diego Lopes, BJJ coach of upcoming title challenger Irene Aldana, takes on Movsar Evloev at UFC 288. The Contender Series alum came up short on the show, but gets a higher-profile assignment filling in for Bryce Mitchell on a card headlined by Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo.

Diego Lopes
Standing at five-foot-eleven
Fighting at 145 lbs (featherweight)
Fighting out of Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil
Training out of Lobo Gym/Brazilian Warriors
A pro record of 21-5
8 KO/TKOs, 11 Submissions

How will Lopes fare in the UFC:

It’s nice to get Lopes in the UFC after a rough 2021. He lost on the Contender Series due to a foul going to a technical decision. He then lost his next fight to Nate Richardson — a fight I thought he clearly won. Lopes has a lot of experience fighting as a pro ever since 2012. Crazy enough he’s still young being just 28.

Lopes has gotten away from it recently but he’s a strong jiu-jitsu player. I don’t think his wrestling is all that great but he is good enough in that area. My biggest concern with his grappling is he’s a little too confident off his back. He is really dangerous there but we’ve seen jiu-jitsu is least effective in MMA when you’re on your back. Still, Lopes is a huge submission threat no matter where he’s at and his submission attack is diverse. He has five wins coming by submission. His jiu-jitsu is very glue-like and that includes on the back where he’s so good at moving to. Along with good grappling his ground and pound is fight ending as well.

Over the last few years, Lopes has rounded out his skillset and tends to strike more. Lopes does hold his head on the centerline but keeps a high guard so it hides the lacking head movement. Lopes throws in volume and mixes up his attack. You will see Lopes actively land kicks to the lead leg, throw the jab, he has a sneaky good uppercut, and his right hand is a huge weapon. Lopes can drop anyone at any time as his cardio has held up and holds a lot of pop in his hands.

I really like Lopes and I like his future in the UFC. He’s in a deep division so I don’t see him ever in the top 15. I do see him as a mainstay in the UFC for years. I would put him right in the middle of the division. Not saying he can’t improve even more because he’s only 28 so he has a lot of time for improvement.

How he matches up against Movsar Evloev:

Lopes is getting a hell of a welcome to the UFC from one of the best featherweights rising through the rankings. All credit to Lopes as most people in the UFC won’t even fight Evloev. Lopes is coming into this fight with very little to lose as all the pressure is on Evloev. Evloev is the one preparing for a different fighter and he is the ranked guy. I do see Evloev as a big threat but -1000 is a bit excessive. I have Evloev as the better wrestler and striker. Evloev I believe will have a lot of success with the jab. His hands are a lot more sharp having a big technical advantage. I see Evloev being able to get this fight down when he wants and score some top control.