Welcome to the UFC: Robelis Despaigne

Robelis Despaigne, UFC 299
Robelis Despaigne, UFC 299 ceremonial weigh-ins Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

Olympic bronze medalist Robelis Despaigne makes his octagon debut this weekend on one of the biggest cards of the year, UFC 299 in Miami. The event is stacked, headlined by Sean O’Malley vs. Chito Vera 2 and littered with names like Dustin Poirier, Kevin Holland, Petr Yan, Rafael dos Anjos, Maycee Barber, Benoit Saint-Denis, Michael “Venom” Page (in another hotly anticipated debut, against Holland) and more. For his first octagon appearance, Despaigne goes up against the durable Josh Parisian in an early preliminary card fight.

Robelis “The Big Boy” Despaigne
Standing at six-foot-seven
Fighting at 261 lbs (heavyweight)
Fighting out of Cuba, Florida (USA)
Training out of MMA Temple
A pro record of 4-0

How Despaigne wil fare in the UFC:

Usually signing to the UFC with just four fights is frowned upon but this one is a valid exception. Despaigne is young in MMA but has an extensive background in Taekwondo. Despaigne is a black belt in Taekwondo and was a bronze medalist at the 2012 Summer Olympics. It’s worth noting that all but his last opponent were making their pro-mma debut. His last opponent however was Miles Banks who was a good prospect and someone on my radar. Despaigne dispatched of him in four seconds.

There isn’t a lot to go off of Despaigne. He’s never fought outside the first round. His last three fights have finished in a total time of nineteen seconds. What he’s shown is athleticism, power, and killer instinct. In his first fight he didn’t show much but it showed enough. The first flaw that stood out was he’s extremely wild. He throws from the hips and charges in with his chin in the air. He got pressed against the cage twice and didn’t know what to do. Both times the ref had to separate them for him to actually escape. His biggest weakness is the unknown. His cardio, chin, takedown defense, wrestling, and grappling are all a big mystery. Very few fighters seem to have that death punch, like guys like Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou. Despaigne has just that as he just needs one glancing shot to put you in a grave.

It sucks that Despaigne is 35 but it’s still prime for a heavyweight. He may not amount to anything but he may also prove to be a future champ. The writing with him is on the wall but it’s not nearly finished. I can’t expect too much because of his age and his style. The way he throws and how he holds his hands low is a disaster waiting to happen at heavyweight. Still, one of the most intriguing debuts in quite some time.

How he matches up with Parisian:

The truth is Parisian is being sent to the slaughter. Parisian has had a terrible UFC run so this fight is not only made for his potential departure but the rise of Despaigne.

Parisian has the advantage when it comes to experience. Saying that, Despaigne is going to be much bigger, has way more power, and has a crazy advantage in athleticism. Although it would be an upset if Parisian won it wouldn’t be the longer this fight goes. I like Despaigne by early knockout.