UFC 91 Breakdown: The Undercard

Gurgel vs. Riley

Nov 13, 2008
While everyone ponders which wild animal Brock Lesnar best resembles and which mythic dragon slayer heavyweight champion Randy Couture favors most, there’s a whole preliminary card that’s screaming to be properly prognosticated at UFC 91 this Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

So strap in, get down with “McLovin,” help me figure out what kind of dirt Jorge Gurgel has on the Fertittas and solve the riddle of what happens when a “Tank Engine” meets an “Immortal.” Don’t blame me for the shortage of quality nicknames.

Jorge Gurgel vs. Aaron Riley

Gurgel Scouting Report
Ht/Wt: 5’9”/155 lbs.
Age: 31
Hometown: Fortaleza, Brazil
Fighting out of: Cincinnati
Record: 12-4

The stakes: As long as Gurgel remains Rich Franklin’s BFF, no fight in the UFC will mean much to him. Sure, he’ll come into the cage and look to throw down from the opening bell, but Gurgel has yet to grasp the concept of a game plan and continues to squander opportunity after opportunity with his utter lack of discipline and fighting IQ. That’s sad, considering he has real talent but finds himself relegated to the role of low-level gatekeeper. Don’t expect Gurgel’s seventh UFC bout to be any different than his first six, which means that win, lose or draw, he’ll be back in the Octagon sooner rather than later.

The breakdown: Despite having the submission game to give others fits, Gurgel favors a more reckless approach that often plays into his opponent’s style. That’s not a good idea against Riley’s heavy hands and fallout-shelter chin. A far more prudent approach would be to take Riley to the mat, where Gurgel can actually put his jiu-jitsu black belt to good use. Granted, Riley’s hardly a pushover when it comes to grappling, but it’s the only recourse for Gurgel if he plans on winning.

Riley Scouting Report
Ht/Wt: 5’8”/155 lbs.
Age: 27
Hometown: Tell City, Ind.
Fighting out of: Seattle
Record: 26-10-1

The stakes: After nearly three years outside the Octagon, Riley returns to his former home as a lightweight loaded with dreams of picking up the UFC win that eluded him twice as a welterweight. A victory’s absolutely essential for the 27-year-old veteran, who was released by the UFC after both of his losses inside the cage. With the lightweight division still sorting itself out, this may be Riley’s last chance to go from old dog to young buck.

The breakdown: The rugged brawler of old has given way to a more versatile but no less dangerous fighter, and Riley must use that versatility against Gurgel. Mixing it up standing and goading Gurgel into a brawl as you pick your spots on the ground is the tried-and-true formula for beating him. Riley has both the experience and skill to make that happen.

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The bottom line: If nothing else, Gurgel has resolve for days and the cardio to keep his body going for 15 minutes. The problem is that he often takes too much punishment and ends up scrambling just to stay alive. Those aren’t manageable flaws, and Riley will take advantage early and often en route to a unanimous decision.
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