The featured bout for Week 5 of Dana White’s Contender Series takes place at Light Heavyweight between Bruno Lopes and Brendson Ribeiro in yet another attempt to find solid talent above 200 lbs. Both have successfully captured gold on the regional scene at 205 lbs but will be hoping to leave that behind in pursuit of a UFC contract.
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The betting line on this one is lopsided as the oddsmakers are expecting a one-sided show from Bruno Lopes.
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Bruno Lopes is an impressive striker for 205 lbs. He has technical boxing with an aggressive pace that keeps his opponent on the back foot while he patiently picks his strikes. With 11 pro fights and over 20 at the amateur level, you can see the experience he has in the octagon in the way he moves around the cage, handles incoming shots and fires back his own. This experience will be important heading into DWCS where things can get chaotic.
The most impressive part of his game, in my opinion, is his ability to start combos from different angles and with different strikes to confuse his opponent. He shows a deep understanding of timing his strikes, even mid combo, to land as his opponent comes in or gets ready to defend the area they believe Lopes is attacking. He works the body with his boxing as well as the head and even mixes in the rear leg round kick (mainly to the calf). His defense is mostly predicated on movement and seeing shots coming at him; he uses good in and out footwork with head movement to evade the shots and go right back into his own counters. Given his smaller size for light heavyweight, this could be a problem against the bigger, stronger strikers that 205 has to offer.
Lopes is confident in his grappling game but I’m not sure this is an area where he’ll excel at the UFC level. His takedown attempts looked a bit telegraphed in his most recent fights and he was only able to finish a couple where he accumulated a good amount of control but not much else. He has four submissions on his record and trusts his jiu-jitsu which may get him into trouble if he’s too willing to engage with wrestlers along the cage.
Brendson Ribeiro will be his adversary this week. Ribeiro, 14-5, isn’t on the level of Lopes when it comes to striking, but he has a good ground game with smothering top pressure and constant ground n pound that he’s found a lot of success with. Ribeiro is at his best when he’s able to cause some chaos at range with his long arms before timing a shot at his opponents hips and dragging them down. He’s not in a rush to transition once here as he tries to work ground n pound immediately though it can be less than effective at times. He’s shown to keep good top pressure on his opponent when he tries, but has also shown a bad tendency lately of trying to grab guillotines from top position and roll to his back where he loses the chole almost immediately and is forced to try and reverse position again.
On the feet, Ribeiro starts off with some high kicks and jabs when he’s moving forward. He likes to swing heavy when his opponent comes forward to try and use his power to compensate for the lack of footwork and technique. He backs himself into a squared stance where he swings from the hip trying to hit something. Though he carries a lot of power in these strikes, he’s often on the losing end of the exchanges, getting caught with flush shots that have obvious impact. He’s been rocked, dropped and stopped a few times after taking one or two shots in these exchanges where he drops quickly, so his chin is easily my biggest concern for him going into this fight with Lopes
This seems like a bit of an uneven matchup; though Ribeiro has had some good takedowns and good top pressure, Lopes is miles ahead of Ribeiro on the feet. Lopes is a very confident, technical striker who doesn’t indulge his opponents with the wild exchanges Ribeiro likes to engage in. Lopes sets up shots so well and is rarely hittable while throwing his own offense while Ribeiro doesn’t defend strikes very intelligently and usually relies on his wild counter hooks to deter his opponent.
One thing that could be a problem for Lopes is the size difference. Lopes is listed at 6’2 on Tapology and ESPN, however his recent bouts in the LFA had him as short as 6’0. He’s fought as low as 170 lbs as well and you can see in his film that he isn’t the typical big Light Heavyweight with power that the UFC has liked so much. Ribeiro is one of those bigger guys however; he’s 6’3 and long with respectable power in his hands. If Lopes gets sloppy coming into range and gives up his hips, Ribeiro may be able to rely on brute force and sheer size to take Lopes down and control him.
That said, Lopes has fought similar sized opponents at 205 lbs and Ribeiro has been knocked out by guys even smaller than Lopes. Bruno is the big favorite heading into the matchup and I agree with the odds. Lopes will be looking to find openings that don’t take long to appear for Ribeiro while Ribeiro’s lack of striking defense and chin make this a great matchup for Bruno Lopes.
Prediction: Bruno Lopes to win inside the distance