Octagon Oracles: Combate Americas Veteran Marcelo Rojo

Marcelo Rojo stands ready inside the MMA cage. Marcelo Rojo before his 2019 bout against John Castaneda. Photo Credit: Combate Americas

Argentinan fighter Marcelo Rojo makes his long-awaited debut in the UFC on Saturday night. Rojo is a Combate Americas veteran with eight fights for the promotion. Rojo brings an exciting fighting style to the table.

Rojo was originally gonna debut last month against the red-hot Raoni Barcelos. However, that fight didn’t happen due to Barcelos testing positive for COVID-19. Willing to step in against a killer, Rojo was kept around and now fighting Canada’s Charles Jourdain. Jourdain has been in the cage with T.J. Laramie, Andre Fili, Des Green, Damien Lapilus, and Doo Ho Choi. This is a stiff test for Rojo in his first UFC appearance.

Shawn Bitter

Grade: C+
Rojo is an exciting fighter who seemingly isn’t capable of a boring fight. He right away asserts himself in the fights by pressing forward and bringing the action. He loves to throw the leg kicks to the lower calf and does an excellent job throwing his hands behind and in front of kicks. From the clinch, Rojo is a stud in the Thai plum position, landing an abundance of lethal knees. He likes to use a lot of fakes and feints to set up bigger strikes. While his grappling defense could use some adjustment, his offensive grappling is good when it comes to attacking submissions.

Offensively he’s a lethal fighter but he’s the opposite of defensively sound. Rojo has been taken down many times and against a good grappler, he’s probably gonna have a hard time. I’m not too confident in his durability. He’s been cracked before and I’m not sure he can take one right on the jaw and survive in the UFC.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
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Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Vince Rodemer

Grade: B-
Rojo is an interesting case. He’s a debuting 32-year-old bantamweight. He has a clear hole in his game. His last four losses have come by submission. He also has multiple wins by armbar. Most of his career has been spent in Combate after he piled up a bunch of wins on the Argentinian regional scene. He’s taking the fight at featherweight against a guy in Charles Jourdain (10-3) that I consider a pretty good prospect. He also hasn’t fought since September of 2019. He’s quick, he loves the Thai clinch and has power in all his limbs.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
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Title Contender
Champion

Kristen King

Grade: B
Rojo is on the shortlist of most exciting prospect signing of the year (so far). He is a fast, heavy-hitting bantamweight that has the tendency to stop a fight from making it out of the first round. His last couple of wins have come by first-round knockout, so we know what Rojo aims for whenever he steps inside of the cage. There are some fights, however, that he has not been able to keep from going longer than he would like and that is where we encounter a glaring hole in the game of Rojo. As decent as his jiu-jitsu is, Rojo has shown to have a hard time with wrestling defense. Once he gets taken to the ground, he is outworked and sometimes submitted. Apart from that obvious issue, Rojo is still a fun, dangerous addition to the roster and I like his chances at getting a few bonus checks during his time with the UFC.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
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Title Contender
Champion

Tom Albano

Grade: C+
After Raoni Barcelos testing positive for COVID-19 pushed back his Octagon debut, we’ll finally get the chance to see Rojo, one of Latin America’s top MMA prospects, in the Octagon. The Entram Gym product is well-rounded and a big finisher, with all six of his victories in Combate Americas coming via a first-round finish. However, he will turn 33 in July, so time isn’t on his side when it comes to doing big things in the UFC. A fight with Charles Jourdain could make for a potentially fun fight. But between his age, missing all of 2020, and competing up a weight class here, more needs to be seen from Rojo to consider a higher-level of Octagon success.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion