Octagon Oracles: LFA Middleweight Champ Gregory Rodrigues

Gregory Rodrigues poses with two cornerman in the LFA cage while wearing an LFA belt and hoisting the Brazilian flag. Gregory Rodrigues is getting the UFC call-up shortly after earning an LFA belt. Photo Credit: LFA / UFC Fight Pass

Back in May, Gregory Rodrigues stopped Josh Fremd within a round to become the new LFA Middleweight Champion. The victory certainly didn’t go unnoticed, as now a matter of weeks later he is set to make his UFC debut.

Rodrigues, 29, will be making his first UFC appearance on Saturday, facing Dusko Todorovic on a “Fight Night” card. As is the case with the two other debutants on the card, Rodrigues joined the lineup to replace someone else. He took the fight on short notice, stepping in for Maki Pitolo.

The Octagon Oracles team looked at the LFA champ before his UFC walk.

Richard Felicetti

Grade: A-
Watching Rodrigues fight in an empty arena felt like I was watching something I shouldn’t. With each thunderous punch and kick, I found myself wincing at “Robocop’s” power. In his first fight after his “Contenders Series” loss, he put on a display of brutal striking and dominant grappling against the always-tough Al Matavao. The win earned him a spot in the finals of the LFA middleweight tournament and a shot at the vacant title against Josh Fremd (7-2), who is still a highly touted prospect himself. I recall seeing Fremd hover at around -250 for gambling odds, but Rodrigues simply didn’t care. In one of the most brutal KOs of this year, he ended Fremd’s night as his corner frantically called for their fighter to clinch.

In his UFC debut, he’s got about as tall of a task as it gets against rebounding Dusko Tudorovic (10-1). At 29 years of age, he already has a seemingly “complete” MMA game and it appears he is only getting better. I believe he has the power to end anyone’s night at 185-pounds and the ground game to out-grapple those he can’t KO. Of note, he was knocked out by Jordan Williams (9-4) on the “Contender Series,” which I realize you wouldn’t expect from my characterization of him thus far. It’s MMA, and everyone gives their pound of flesh at some point. I think that was a necessary growth experience and that “Robocop” is entering the prime of his career.

I don’t know if he’ll get past Tudorovic, but in all honesty, he also might be the future of the division. I’d like to see his chin tested again and also see how his speed matches up with the UFC middleweights. He’s also only gone the distance twice, dropping one of them. There’s more to be discovered about Rodrigues, but I must say I’m hopeful.

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

Zac Herbison

Grade: B
Rodrigues has fought solid competition his whole career, and it shows. He’s very aggressive, whether he’s striking or grappling. He throws heavy punches, and mixes in a wide variety of strikes when he has his opponent cornered. He’s quick to control scrambles and start inflicting damage, whether it be with slams or strikes from a control position. Being a BJJ black belt, he’s also a submission threat. In addition, he has surprisingly good cardio for such a large 185-er, and stays dangerous in the third round.

My main concern is his lack of defense. He doesn’t move his head while he strikes, nor does he roll with punches. He doesn’t block either. When he got knocked out on the “Contender Series,” the finishing sequence saw him trying to smother the offense with clinching, never considering any other form of defense. Even when he’s in control, he’s often eating some punches clean on the chin. There were, however, some signs of improvement in his fight with Josh Fremd, which featured him avoiding punches in exchanges.

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

Kristen King

Grade: B
At long last, “Robocop” is gracing us with his presence in the octagon and it comes just two weeks removed from him becoming a champion under the LFA banner. Rodrigues was already knocking on the door of the UFC, but was halted after being knocked out by Jordan Williams on an episode of “Dana White’s Contender Series” last year. Prior to that, he looked good in other promotions and went on a six-fight win streak that saw him rack up knockouts and submissions.

We know what we can expect from Rodrigues. He is a world champion in jiu-jitsu, so if the fight goes to the ground, then you know what comes next. Rodrigues is aggressive as ever on the ground and he is constantly looking for a submission. His striking has improved over the years and he is just as lethal in the stand-up, but there is one obvious problem. As we saw in his fight against Williams, Rodrigues had his chin straight in the air and his hands nowhere near his head. Chin up and hands down is never a good combination, so he needs to avoid doing that as he cannot afford to make that mistake against these middleweights. He is fun to watch, so hopefully he sticks around for a while.

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