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UFC on ESPN 16: Yorgan De Castro vs. Carlos Felipe Breakdown

Saturday night, in Abu Dhabi on Yas island, two heavyweight titans are set to take the stage. In the ‘UFC on ESPN 16’, co main event, we are treated to Yorgan De Castro (6-1), taking on Carlos Felipe (8-1) in a 3 round bout. Both men are known for their vicious knockouts, and are coming off of losses by decision. Strap in, because the breakdown begins.

Grudge Match?

Before we discuss each fighter, let’s talk about the energy coming into this matchup. In an open interview at the UFC media day, Carlos Felipe labeled Yorgan De Castro a “hypocrite.”
A Brazilian journalist asked Felipe a question in Portuguese about some of the things De Castro has been saying coming into the lead up to their match. The following is a quote from the translator explaining the question and then the response from Carlos Felipe.

”Yorgan mentioned some stuff about Brazilian culture. He talked about some Brazilian soap operas and made some puns.”

The translator continues with: “Carlos said; ‘you know, I feel like he’s a hypocrite, because he (De Castro) said don’t come in with your trash talk’ and Carlos is like, ‘hey I’m not saying anything’ he (De Castro) is the one who’s coming out saying things.”

Apparently, one of the puns Yorgan De Castro made about a Brazilian soap opera basically insinuated Carlos was “getting cheated on,” something Carlos Felipe would obviously take offense to. This could give our co-main event a dark undertone Saturday night. In a division where it only takes one punch to turn out the lights, can this exchanging of puns and insults inspire chaos in the cage?

Yorgan De Castro

Yorgan De Castro (Right) as he lands a furious counter right hand, that KO’s Justin Tafa (Left)

Yorgan De Castro is 32 years old, born in Cape Verde and now living in Falls River, Massachusetts. The man is a dominant beast in the cage. Yorgan earned a contract in season 3 of Dana White’s Contender Series with a knockout we’ll go over in depth later on. De Castro was undefeated until his last fight, which was against Greg Hardy. Yorgan would lose in a hard fought battle, by decision. Out of his 6 wins, De Castro has 5 KO/TKO’s on his record.

Here, we can see De Castro land a beautiful leg kick against Alton Miller on DWCS. Yorgan is quite the athlete for a heavyweight. He utilizes quick movement, and explosive techniques.

A flying knee landed by Yorgan De Castro, displaying his striking versatility and explosiveness.

As they so often do, the leg kicks would add up and prove one too many for Alton Miller. Yorgan De Castro drops him with another well timed leg kick, and drops a few hammer fists to cause the stoppage and secure the contract. Next, Yorgan De Castro would be paired up against the kiwi Justin Tafa at UFC 243.

The Tafa walkoff KO

Within the first ten seconds, you could tell it was going to be a banger. Justin Tafa came froward and landed a huge left straight, De Castro wisely grabbed for the clinch. He spins Tafa up against the cage, and disengages to throw hooks. At this point both men are winging huge hooks at each other, and the crowds going wild. Gaining some distance, Castro throws a few punches, then lands a big roundhouse kick to Tafa’s stomach before rushing in and pushing him up against the cage in the clinch.

Here, the fight would drag on for about a minute and a half, with Tafa turning De Castro against the cage and largely winning the control time. At about 3 minutes and 10 seconds left the men would disengage and strike for a bit. De Castro landed another great body kick, while Tafa looked impressive on an occasion where he landed a huge uppercut in the pocket. After, the pair would disengage once more. A brief moment later, Justin Tafa would rush in a bit too aggressively and get caught with a savage punch from De Castro that knocked him unconscious.

Yorgan De Castro making a bang on PPV at UFC 243 against Justin Tafa

A look into the Greg Hardy fight

After making a statement at UFC 243, the UFC would pair Yorgan De Castro up against fellow Contender series alum Greg Hardy. The pair would be fighting on another PPV card at UFC 249, and they came out swinging hard leather early. The story of the first round would have to be the leg kicks. Both men were throwing a lot, and neither seemed to check any of them. Yorgan had Hardy’s leg visibly red and stiff by the time there were 2 minutes left.

As the round drew down, Hardy seemed to slowly start to take advantage. He utilized front kicks, and his jab to maximize his reach advantage. Hardy feinted particularly well at certain points too.

Notice the erratic movement from Hardy. The rocking back and forth on his feet, with the shifting of his head and hands to eventually disguise his next move.

In the second round, Yorgan De Castro landed some beautiful leg kicks but also hurt his foot throwing one. After that incident, he wouldn’t throw very many strikes and he looked to be waiting for something. Greg Hardy stayed fairly active behind a good jab and kicks of his own, to seemingly edge the round.

In the final round, De Castro and Hardy opened up with a furious pace. Slowly, the tempo died down to a steady rhythm. Hardy would feint, feint, feint. Throw a jab, and maybe a leg kick. De Castro was having a huge problem dealing with the feints, he kept biting on them and leaving himself vulnerable for a real strike. Being the shorter fighter, Yorgan’s only option was to either kick at a distance with Hardy, or rush in with a flurry of strikes. Which he did so, but to no particular avail.

Greg Hard would go on to win by decision, and one was left wondering if Yorgan De Castro could’ve kept his streak alive if only he had been more active in the second round. My biggest takeaways from this loss, was that De Castro reminds me of a Yoel Romero in the sense that he almost lulls you to sleep; then explodes.

De Castro just kinda stands there, moving very little. He doesn’t fake much with his head, but he does often wave his hands around in an unconvincing kind of fashion. Where he catches you, is where suddenly he goes from waving the hands like I mentioned; to a big leg kick, or goes from standing and waiting, to a bull rush; throwing deadly combos. I will say, he displayed pretty competent grappling defense in his Contender Series bout and the fight against Tafa. Although, Tafa didn’t attempt a takedown as much as he just tried to wear De Castro down against the fence.

Carlos Felipe

They call him “Boi” and that boy is a knockout artist.

Carlos Felipe was born in Feira De Santana, Bahia, Brazil. He is coming off of a loss to Serghei Spivac by decision in his UFC debut. Carlos was a dominant figure on the Brazilian mma scene, with 6 of his 8 wins coming via KO/TKO. In his fight against Spivac. Felipe utilized great head movement to open up some shots. However, he spammed his overhand right to the point of predictability, and he marched into Serghei’s stiff jab too many times.

This, is what Carlos Felipe needs to do more often. Here, he gets into range while using his head movement to freeze Serghei. Throwing a couple jabs, he draws a strike from Spivac. Carlos slips the lazy jab and opens up the opportunity for this beautiful counter uppercut to the body.

Another obvious flaw for Felipe is he doesn’t throw any kicks. His boxing is very smooth though. Carlos is always moving his head and as the fight with Spivac grew long, he was slipping more and more strikes. Felipe lets his strikes go in combos, albeit sometimes in predictable patterns. Very rarely will you see him just throw a single jab or punch not followed up with another.

I will say, I could see why Yorgan told this man to “not talk trash.” Carlos Felipe is much like the Diaz brothers in the way he reacts to strikes, and trash talks his opponent in the cage. At the end of the second round, Carlos followed Serghei toward his corner saying something like, “Cmon, we still go one more round,” it was almost comical, and the referee had to lightly grab him and turn him towards the appropriate corner.

Keys to victory, and my prediction!

Keys to victory: Yorgan De Castro

For Yorgan, I believe his #1 key to victory is his kicks. Felipe is more of a pressure fighter, but if De Castro can chop at that lead leg; he will severely weaken the advance. Additionally, another huge key to victory will need to be not biting on all the fakes he is likely to get from Felipe. If Yorgan can stay calm, avoid the vicious overhand rights that Carlos loves to throw and chop at that lead leg, then I believe the outcome looks bright for him.

Keys to victory: Carlos Felipe

For Carlos, I’d say his #1 key to victory will be striking versatility. I’d like to see some sort of kicks from him this time out. Also, Felipe was spamming the overhand way too much while fighting Spivac. Against someone like De Castro, you don’t want to get timed and countered because that could be lights out. I’ll also say, that a key to victory for Carlos will be to stay out of kicking range and stay away from those devastating leg kicks of De Castro.

Prediction!

In fights like these, it’s really a coin toss. Either of these man could very well land one punch and win this fight, at any moment. After a lot of deliberation, I’m going with De Castro. I just see him as the more versatile striker, and I do believe his leg kicks will severely weaken the advance of Carlos Felipe. I say that De Castro gets it done in the first round by knockout, or by decision. Thank you all for reading this monster of a breakdown, and furthermore, enjoy the fights!


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Makoa Goble
19 years old, MMA enthusiast and article writer for @mma_oth
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