The Prelim Breakout Star is a once-per-event article that helps fans get to know those who will be entertaining them from the undercard. The intention of the article is not to bring attention to the most talented fighter on the preliminary card, but rather one that the common fan may have overlooked or underestimated.
While not the most star-studded cards at the top, the UFC’s second trip to ABC is absolutely loaded with fun stylistic matchups and interesting debuts. We’ll take a look at one of the latter here.
Affiliation – Fight Ready MMA
From – Des Moines, Iowa
Height – 5’11”
Weight – 145 lbs (Featherweight)
Record – 14-6 (0-0 UFC)
What makes him impressive
The obvious answer to this question, when the man has just picked up a front kick KO, is the striking. Saldana is as flashy as they come with his striking and his kicks are for real. The Contender Series bout wasn’t the only time he’s put someone away with his feet, including some walk-off head kicks. However, what makes him a threat in the UFC is the fact that he actually is very dangerous on the ground too. His control positions and the elbows he throws from there are nightmare fuel for prospective opponents.
Why he has been overlooked
Despite being only 30 years old, Saldana has been fighting as a professional for over a decade. In that time, he’s really come into his own with some growing pains along the way. While those losses are part of what makes him great now, people get hyped far more on undefeated prospects who are a tad younger. It is much harder for someone of his age with his record to get people excited. Another performance like the Contender Series should do precisely the trick.
What makes this a good match-up
Jordan Griffin is now 1-3 in the UFC. In those bouts, the few bright spots for him has been his grappling. He picked up a Marcelotine choke over TJ Brown for his only win and when he is on top, he looks fairly good. With the distance Saldana keeps, in addition to his underrated wrestling, it is going to be hard to get into any of those quality positions for Griffin. And while he can get submissions from the bottom, Saldana is dangerous on top, while being safe enough to avoid danger himself.
Prelim Breakout Star Record: 215-99-1 (2 NC) (13 DNF)
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