Closing out the prelims of UFC Vegas 86 will be the welterweights Trevin Giles and Carlos Prates.
Prates was a standout on the latest season of Dana White’s Contender Series and is looking to make a statement in his UFC debut. However, with seven UFC wins, Giles is far from an easy draw as his first opponent.
Despite Giles being the 12-fight UFC veteran, the odds heavily favor the debutant Carlos Prates
The 31-year-old Trevin Giles has a record of 16-5 and is 7-5 in the UFC. Giles’ game consists of a mix of wrestling and rangy striking. His striking isn’t super diverse but he has a great jab that’s timed well as his opponent enters range. While he can begin to telegraph those straight shots as his opponent applies more forward pressure, he’s shown improvements in hiding the jab behind more movement and feints.
Giles is a strong grappler but hasn’t used it much offensively in his last few fights. In his fight with Michael Morales, he was able to hurt Morales, get a nice sweep and was close to getting a submission win with an awkward head and arm choke. There are times against stronger welterweights where he can get a bit overpowered on the ground and in the clinch and he ends up in bottom position.
Trevin’s big downside is his defense. He likes to leave his hands low and doesn’t often rely on them to block incoming strikes. Giles keeps a flatfooted stance with a slight lean forward to make it harder for his opponent to gauge the distance. He’ll lean back when his opponent does enter and use his feet to move backward. While this usually works to avoid the one big power punch, it leaves him wide open to take the subsequent punches and kicks as he’s standing straight up with his hands out of position and his chin in the air.
That said, this was another area where we saw some improvements in his last fight against Gabriel Bonfim. While it was a short fight that ended in Giles getting choked out, Giles at least showed a willingness to raise his guard a bit and avoid strikes with head movement. I’d like to see more of that defensive movement going forward because we’ve seen his chin get tested and fail on more than a few occasions.
His opponent, Carlos Prates, will make his UFC debut after an impressive knockout win on the Contender Series this past fall. Prates, 30 years old is a southpaw with precise striking at range. His left high kick and straight left are his two favorite shots and he uses them to set up one another. His left kick has little telegraph and he varies it up to the body and leg enough to keep his opponent guessing. They land heavy and require his opponent to address them and that’s when he fires the lightning quick left down the middle. I’d like to see him incorporate his lead hand more with the length and timing he has; a jab would be a great addition to his already impressive striking arsenal.
Defensively, Prates keeps his rear hand close to the chin and his chin tucked behind his shoulders. HIs right hand’s low but he raises it quickly when his opponent begins to move forward. He’s very calm when he needs to defend strikes coming in but that active striking defense leaves him open for takedowns. He gets too caught up looking for a counter and is willing to back up to the fence for a few seconds before moving laterally to find distance. He needs to improve that spatial awareness in those scenarios to avoid the risk of the takedown.
When his opponents have gone for takedowns, his defense was serviceable in the LFA but he was taken down easily by Mitch Ramirez in their Contender Series bout. He was able to get back to his feet quickly with a butterfly sweep however and didn’t allow the fight to get back to the mat after that. It’ll be interesting to see how his takedown stacks up against UFC talent and I expect Giles to have that same thought.
The motor of Prates is still a question mark for me. In his current seven fight win streak, only one has gone more than seven minutes. Against Ramirez, he didn’t look fresh going into the second round and with a kick heavy game, I’m still not confident his striking will hold over fifteen minutes with UFC level strikers.
Giles is going to have to test the wrestling of Prates if he’s going to have a chance at winning this one. Since moving down to Welterweight, Giles has only faced one fighter with a longer range than him (Michael Morales) and was knocked out in the first. Prates is a high level striker with dangerous weapons at range. Giles likes to operate at range with his striking as well so he’s going to need to close the distance with his grappling. Prates has a bad habit of backing himself to the cage when he wants to counter and this could give Giles opportunities to grab the clinch.
If Prates can avoid the takedowns, he should have no problem winning this one. That’ll start with him keeping himself off the fence; if he wants to counter he needs to be aware of his positioning and angle out when he begins to approach the cage.
Giles doesn’t have great striking defense and Prates showed off his expertise on the feet in his last bout. He has smart shot selection and the power to end the fight at any moment so if he can stay off the fence, he should take care of this one inside the distance. I’ll be taking Prates on the moneyline in a parlay but he’s currently getting plus odds to win by knockout which is too good to pass on.
Prediction: Carlos Prates to win by KO (+105 at BetUS)