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The slate of prelims at UFC Fight Night 175 this Saturday in Las Vegas may not live up to the surprisingly high standard of the main card, but it still offers more than the typical Ultimate Fighting Championship undercard. The return of top welterweight prospect Sean Brady kicks off festivities, and Season 4 of Dana White’s Contender Series officially impacts the UFC roster, as Impa Kasanganay gets a quick turnaround and faces Maki Pitolo in the featured slot. Throw in a few other solid veterans—it is always nice to see Alex Caceres—and there appears to be enough meat on the preliminary bone.
Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night “Smith vs. Rakic” prelims:
MiddleweightsImpa Kasanganay (7-0) vs. Maki Pitolo (13-6)
ODDS: Kasanganay (-135), Pitolo (+115)
Kasanganay becomes the first graduate the 2020 season of Dana White’s Contender Series to make his UFC debut, and part of that was his willingness to fight on a quick turnaround. Kasanganay has a ton of physical talent but is extremely raw, owing to the fact that he only made his pro debut in January 2019. The result has been some workmanlike wins; Kasanganay still has not found enough surprise in his game to leverage his physical power into any sort of consistency as a finisher, but he has been able to grind out wins as needed while showing a solid one-shot-at-a-time striking game. For the second year in a row, UFC President Dana White did not seem particularly interested in signing Kasanganay, who still needs some seasoning, but with the UFC certainly signing worse talent during the pandemic and the undefeated Gym-O rep willing to fight as soon as possible, he still got a contract. He will take on Pitolo, who looks to rebound from a disappointing loss to Darren Stewart three weeks ago. It is a thing of beauty when Pitolo can get his combination striking game going, but his complete lack of defensive awareness looks like it will be his downfall. He just looks to survive everything rather than plan for what is coming his way, and the result was a shocking submission loss to Stewart—the first such finish of the Brit’s career. Kasanganay’s lack of finishing ability is good news for the Hawaiian, though there is the risk that the UFC newcomer can just mire Pitolo in an ugly grind to get the victory. However, Pitolo does have some sneakily effective defensive wrestling and grappling, and he should be able to overwhelm Kasanganay in any sort of extended striking change, even if it might take a while to get there. The pick is Pitolo via second-round stoppage.
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