Welcome to UFC: Josh Van

Rogers Arena, UFC 289, Vancouver, Canada Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

The UFC hits Jacksonville, Florida this Saturday for UFC on ABC 5, with an mid-day card (or early morning if you’re on the west coast). Among a handful of newcomers on the docket, Josh Van has stepped up to fight Zhalgas Zhumagulov, after Zhumagulov’s fight against Felipe Bunes a week ago fell through.

Josh “The Fearless” Van
Standing at five-foot-five
Fighting at 125 lbs (flyweight)
Fighting out of Myanmar/Texas
Training out of 4 oz. Fight Club
A pro record of 7-1
5 KO/TKOs, 2 Submissions

How will Van fare in the UFC:

It’s nice to see Josh Van in the UFC. He comes to the promotion after winning the vacant Fury FC title last December. He was set to fight on the Contender Series this season but a short notice spot needed filling up and in comes Van.

Van’s only loss comes to an underrated prospect in Devon Jackson. His breakout performance came to Paris Moran who was a win or two away from a UFC call-up. He’s a winner of his last five and has yet to go the distance in his pro career.

Van has one glaring hole and that’s his takedown defense. He’s been taken down nearly in all of his fights. That being said everybody is going to be taken down eventually so it’s how you can get back to your feet. Van has only been controlled by one guy and that was Jackson. Jackson is an excellent wrestler and Van still put up a solid effort. Van does well off his back always working never staying complacent. Takedown defense is definitely a big problem to have at a high level, but 21 is still very young so I’m sure he’ll sharpen it up after a while.

Even though Van is mainly a striker he has a creative submission game as well. Last time we saw Van he finished with a standing rear-naked choke after a sneaky good transition onto the back. Van also has a submission win from a slick calf slicer that was perfectly executed. He definitely knows what he’s doing Jiu-Jitsu wise.

Van is constantly pressing on the feet looking for striking lanes to exploit. He would benefit throwing more straight punches but does good enough with setups and fast release. He’s at his best when he’s getting up from being taken down and then letting it go. Van throws a sneaky head kick that he sets up well with his punches and feints. He has the power and speed to score the finish at anytime. I call him an opportunist because he knows when to attack. He doesn’t throw anything with wasted motion. The only thing that needs to improve  striking-wise is he isn’t the cleanest striker. He needs to use the jab more and straight punches to get on the inside.

How Van and Zhumagulov match up:

Zhalgas Zhumagulov is a tough one to take on in your debut. The experience gap between the two is massive. Van started MMA just in 2020 whereas Zhumagulov debuted in 2014. Zhumagulov has double the fights and is thirteen years the elder. Van has a 100% finish rate but Zhumagulov is notoriously hard to put away.
Zhumagulov isn’t a great wrestler but is the best wrestler Van’s fought. Van is going to be the faster fighter but experience has to play a factor. I look for Zhumagulov to grind on Van dragging him deep in the fight and winning minutes. I see Van having his moments but I see him getting controlled most of the fight.