UFC on EPSN+ 17: Underrated and Overlooked –
This weekend UFC on ESPN+ 17 takes place in Mexico City, Mexico. The event is headlined by a fight with assured violence and excitement, with Yair Rodriguez (11-2) and Jeremy Stephens (28-16) going at it. Yair is ranked 8 in the featherweight division and Stephens in number 9. The fight doesn’t mean much in terms of ranking but it means a lot in the eyes of fans, who are gunning to see Yair reach the potential he showed early on in his UFC career.
Yair did beat the Korean Zombie in his last fight, but he was most definitely losing until and almost last second overhand elbow that knocked out the Korean Zombie in a 5 round war. Stephens is coming off two losses and is looking to get back on track again yet another time in his career. It is no doubt a fun fight, but you can’t help but think this is all for nothing. It seems as though it is simply to fill a Mexican card with a top name Mexican fighter.
As usual though, I am hunting further down the card for an exciting match up, that you wouldn’t necessarily think about. It was hard this week. 17 out of 24 fighters on the card are coming off of losses and only two fights have ranked fighters competing against one another. The other being the co-main event of Carla Esparza (14-6) and Alexa Grasso (11-2), which is just a second fight to woo over the Mexican crowd.
However, I did find a fight worth the excitement. That fight is Jose Alberto Quinones (7-3) vs Carlos Huachin (10-4-2) being contested at Bantamweight. Quinones is a former Ultimate Fighter Latin America finalist losing out to Alejandro Perez in what I believe was a robbery. Since that fight Quinones went 4-0 before stepping up to face rising British star Nathaniel Wood, who is certainly no slouch. All of a sudden Quinones is back looking for the next step up the ladder in a stacked division.
Quinones is your classic all rounder, a great striker who mixes in takedowns to score points with deadly BJJ skills too. Jose can take the fight wherever he wants and so far he has shown extremely difficult to get the better off. Qunones likes to trade from distance, before getting you into the clinch at the fence and attempting to get you down from there. He will look to do exactly the same against Carlos Huachin,
Huachin on the other hand is a power puncher who likes to end his opponents quickly. Out of 10 wins, 8 out those have been via KO or TKO, with two submissions to his name. Huachin is a natural finisher. Although Carlos is coming off a loss in his debut for the UFC, he took a short notice fight against highly regarded Raoni Barcelos and lost by ground and pound in the second round. Before that loss Huachin was on a 6 fight win streak.
This fight interests me for a few reasons. The old saying of ‘styles make fights’ is pertinent here. How will Huachin deal with the constant pressure and moving forward of Quinones? Does Quinones have the chin to withstand Huachin’s power punches? How will Huachin look after a full fight camp? The fact both of these fighters are coming off losses to highly touted competition, also makes this a tasty affair.
Neither will want to lose ground in the 135 division and both were on impressive streaks before their losses. Huachin is also only 23 years old and is getting better by the day, however Quinones is 29 and in his athletic prime. Another interesting factor I see is that Huachin knows that if he loses, he most likely gets cut, going 0-2 in the world’s biggest promotion. All these factors set us up to see an absolute corker tomorrow night.
I personally believe Quinones will take this, he is tough and hard to put away, he can fight on the front or back foot and knows that one more slip in the UFC could see him falling further down the pecking order. Huachin has a bright future in the sport, but he needs a little time to develop. Of course Huachin will come out swinging and anything can happen, but I think Quinones will weather the storm, take control and see out a unanimous decision victory.