Much like one of its headliners, Saturday’s UFC Greenville card has taken some shots, but still it rises.
A potentially thrilling rematch between John Lineker and Rob Font was cruelly taken away from the fans in South Carolina when Lineker was forced to withdraw from the co-main event less than 48 hours away from fight night, and that was after Font lost original opponent Cody Stamann. The debuting Deron Winn has also seen two potential opponents drop out, though fortunately the UFC was able to find a last-minute replacement for him (Font, sadly, will not be competing this weekend).
Nevertheless, the show must go on and the UFC could do a lot worse than a fan-friendly main event featuring budding contender Renato Moicano and one-time title challenger Chan Sung Jung b.k.a. “The Korean Zombie.” Moicano is coming off of a humbling loss to Jose Aldo, while Jung has had seven months to think about the last-second Yair Rodriguez elbow that cost him a near-certain decision victory. An impressive win for either fighter keeps them in the thick of the featherweight title chase.
In other main card action, welterweights Bryan Barberena and Randy Brown step into the co-headlining spot, Andre Ewell looks to deny Anderson dos Santos his first UFC win in their bantamweight bout, promising flyweights Andrea Lee and Montana De La Rosa face off, and middleweights Alessio Di Chirico and Kevin Holland both hunt for a third straight win.
What: UFC Greenville
Where: Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina
When: Saturday, June 22. The six-fight preliminary card begins at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and the five-fight main card continues at 7 p.m. ET on the ESPN+ streaming service.
Renato Moicano vs. Chan Sung Jung
It’s a downright tragedy that for various reasons, Chan Sung Jung has only fought twice in the last six years. And in both those appearances, he’s looked all the world like the zombie warrior who has won over fans and established himself as a legitimate top-5 featherweight.
There are few fighters in any weight class who can put the pressure on an opponent like Jung. He’ll have five rounds to work with too, so unless Renato Moicano can surprise him with something early, the Brazilian’s cardio is going to be put to the test. Jung has gone to a fourth round on three occasions, something Moicano has never had to do.
Grappling-wise, Moicano has the advantage over most men at 145 pounds, but even here we could see Jung giving him problems. “The Korean Zombie” has never been submitted and he is an expert at winning scrambles. In a straight-up jiu-jitsu contest, it’s Moicano all day; in the Octagon, tying Jung up is a whole other story.
None of this is to say that Moicano can’t hang with Jung on the feet. He’s picked apart sluggers like Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar, so Jung is not going to be able to just bulldoze through him. At some point though, he’s going to push the pace to a level where Moicano can’t keep up and then snag a late finish.
Bryan Barberena vs. Randy Brown
Just 4-3 in the UFC so far, Randy Brown is becoming one of those fighters whose bouts are increasingly difficult to predict. He’s rarely looked outmatched and has all the physical tools to be a mainstay at 170 pounds if he can avoid bizarre outcomes like his recent knockout loss to Niko Price.
One of the problems here is that Bryan Barberena has a knack for putting opponents in uncomfortable positions. Even his recent loss to Vicente Luque saw him drag Luque into deep waters before going down with less than 10 seconds remaining. Neither Barberena nor Brown will shy away from a brawl, so fans should be in for a fun one here even if slugging it out with “Bam Bam” might not be in Brown’s best interests.
I’m predicting that Brown will stand and trade with Barberena, while also being smart enough to back off when the fire gets too hot. He has the superior size and should use it. Brown earns the upset win by decision.
Andre Ewell vs. Anderson dos Santos
Even coming off of a loss, Andre Ewell remains an intriguing prospect at 135 pounds. Since debuting in late 2015, he’s already fought 19 times and can claim a convincing victory over Renan Barao. He’s got great size and speed, which gives him a leg-up on the middle of the bantamweight pack that he’s working to break away from.
He has to make a statement against Anderson dos Santos. The well-traveled Brazilian will be hungry for his first UFC win, which makes him both dangerous and unpredictable. “Berinja” brings crisp boxing to the Octagon as well as a sneaky submission game. Ewell has shown that he’s vulnerable on the ground, so if he puts an emphasis on defensive wrestling, he should be good.
Dos Santos will have a hard time getting past Ewell’s jab and a straight left that Ewell will fire early and often. I like Ewell to cruise to a decision here.
Andrea Lee vs. Montana De La Rosa
Credit to the matchmakers for not being afraid to put two fast-rising flyweights together in a bout that promises excitement. Regardless of the outcome, don’t expect either fighter’s careers to be dinged too badly by a loss.
Andrea Lee and Montana De La Rosa are as tough and well-rounded as it gets at 125 pounds. There could be some entertaining scrambles in this one, with both searching for a submission early on. I’d give Lee the slight edge on the feet due to her Muay Thai skills and De La Rosa the edge on the ground. Either way, finding a finish won’t be easy.
This one should go to the scorecards and I see Lee getting the better of a standup battle after three rounds. If I had more faith in De La Rosa’s wrestling, I’d lean towards her, but Lee has the takedown defense and a little more pop in her punches to get the job done here.
Alessio Di Chirico vs. Kevin Holland
Talk about a clash of styles.
Alessio Di Chirico brings excellent durability and solid fundamental striking to the game, which is in stark contrast to the occasionally undisciplined Kevin Holland. I actually find Di Chirico to be one of the more overlooked fighters in the middleweight division, so anyone expecting Holland to just overwhelm Di Chirico will be in for a surprise.
That said, Holland brings excellent size and a deep gas tank to the cage, which are just two reasons he’s been pegged as a future contender. He showed a lot of maturity in doing just enough to outwork submission specialist Gerald Meerschaert in their last outing, even if at times it looked like Holland was going to twist himself into a choke. It’s a cliche to say that Di Chirico needs to be prepared for anything, but that is especially true when facing a wild card like Holland.
As steady as Di Chirico is, I’m leaning more towards the effective craziness of Holland to win out on this day.
Kevin Aguilar def. Dan Ige
Ashley Yoder def. Syuri Kondo
Luis Pena def. Matt Wiman
Jairzinho Rozenstruik def. Allen Crowder
Ariane Lipski def. Molly McCann
Deron Winn def. Eric Spicely