UFC Fight Night on ESPN 16: Underrated and Overlooked – Cole Smith vs. Miles Johns

This Saturday 14th September Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-12-1) and Justin Gaethje (20-2) square off in the main event of UFC on ESPN 16. A dream fight for many and one certainly not to be missed. It’ll an all-out violence fest and that’s all I have to say. Who cares about skills or advantages in this one, we all win just by watching.

In the co-main Brazilian legend Glover Teixeira (29-7) makes his return against always touted up and comer Nikita Krylov (25-6) in a fight many may underestimate. 39-year-old Glover is looking to make another statement and extend his winning streak against the 27-year-old well rounded Krylov. Both have had their ups and downs in the UFC and both are extremely well rounded. We could see either a knockout or a submission in this fight, but I don’t believe we’ll see it go the distance. Just like the aforementioned Cerrone vs Gaethje, the fans win in this fight no matter what.
On a card that is generally looking exciting, as always I look lower down the card for the fight that not many will be looking out for. That fight is Cole “The Cole Train” Smith (7-0) vs Miles “Chapo” Johns (9-0). Both are undefeated and looking to make a statement in the already stacked Bantamweight division. Both fighters are well rounded and have wins by decision, submission and TKO to their records. I feel we may be in for another barn burner.

Cole Smith made his debut earlier this year in the UFC defeating veteran Mitch Gagnon. It wasn’t the most interesting fight of the year but it most certainly showed us what Cole Smith is about. Using his superior striking, whilst mixing in takedowns in the first and second Smith controlled Gagnon from the start. Smith used his leg kicks to the body and legs to stifle any attack Gagnon tried to impose.

Smith used a smart game plan and added in takedowns to finish off the rounds to secure more points, however, Gagnon served up more strikes than Cole while on the ground. Noting that, Cole took it easy in the third round using only his striking sparingly, whilst using his footwork to evade Gagnon and secured a victory in his extremely controlled performance. While only 7-0, Smith appears to have a fight IQ beyond his experience.

Miles Johns will be making his UFC debut, however, he has fought under the banner previously for Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, winning a unanimous decision vs Richie Santiago. Johns is a former LFA bantamweight champion and is certainly no slouch.

In his fight with Richie Santiago, Johns used sharp striking, good takedowns and excellent striking defence to win all three rounds of the fight. Santiago was game and attempted a takedown or two himself which Johns defended, somewhat with ease, only ending up on his back after he attempted a guillotine. Johns even ended up wobbling Santiago in the third with a huge uppercut that saw Santiago clinging on desperately to make it through. Johns spent the entire fight in dominant positions against an extremely game Santiago.

What intrigues me most about this fight is that they are both undefeated and both have similar game plans, although Smith’s approach will be more defensive from what we have seen in his debut. Johns will look to impose his will and dominate Smith from the out. Smith will undoubtedly look for the takedown after peppering with some leg kicks, but can Smith pull it off with Johns having such impressive takedown defence. In my opinion, Smith won’t be able to.

For me, Johns is younger (Johns is 25 and Smith is 30), hungrier and training with a much better class of fighter down at the constantly improving Fortis MMA camp. Johns is only getting better day by day and unfortunately, at 30 years old Smith’s progress will be slowing. Not to say Smith is a slouch, but I don’t think he has any advantages over Johns. My prediction is a 3rd round sub for Johns.

Either way, I think it will be an intriguing fight between the older headed Smith coming in with a strong game plan to stop the young, hungry and talented fighter who needs refining. We often see young bucks get stopped in their tracks, but I don’t think that time is now for Johns.

Author: Sam Vickery


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