Octagon Oracles: Nick Maximov vs. Cody Brundage

Nick Maximov stands in an MMA cage. Nick Maximov will make his UFC debut on Saturday. Photo Credit: 559 Fights / Youtube

As is usually the case for UFC pay-per-view events, there is almost too much to discuss. Two title fights, the return of Nick Diaz, a big fight in the heavyweight division, the list goes on for UFC 266 on Saturday.

Among the many things that people anticipated this weekend as the UFC debut of undefeated Diaz brothers protege Nick Maximov. His already interesting debut fight became arguably even more worth discussing recently when the fight received a surprising twist: he was given an opponent who is debuting as well.

Maximov was first scheduled to meet Karl Roberson, but that fight fell through early this week. Stepping in to save the matchup is Cody Brundage, who was preparing for an appearance on “Dana White’s Contender Series.” Both making their first impressions, the middleweight fight on Saturday’s prelims is a big night for both prospects.

Before the biggest fights of their careers, the Octagon Oracles crew discussed the newcomers.

Nick Maximov

Kristen King

Grace: C
Maximov is one of two Nick Diaz protégés making their promotional debut on Saturday, and the undefeated middleweight is worth keeping an eye on.

Maximov has competed for a number of promotions throughout his professional career, but the most notable one was LFA, where he debuted against Johnny James Jr. at LFA 91. He earned a second-round rear naked choke over James Jr. and went on to fight on an episode of “Dana White’s Contender Series” just two months later. Maximov fought and bested a heavyweight (!) in Oscar Cota, who he out grappled despite being at a weight disadvantage of about 50 pounds. The 23-year-old did not get a UFC contract that night, but remained on the radar of the promotion and was eventually signed.

Maximov is a strong wrestler and grappler. He is relentless with his pursuit of takedowns and easily finds himself in dominant positions once the fight inevitably hits the mat. The submission attempts will soon follow and that should come as no surprise as Maximov is well-known for his grappling matches under Submission Underground (SUG). I like what I have seen from Maximov on the ground, but I do have some concerns about his striking and his lack of defense. I hope that he has improved in those areas and does more than just throw a few punches before a takedown attempt, so that is something to keep in mind when Maximov fights this weekend. Overall, I think Maximov has a high ceiling and will look better as time goes on.

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

Jack Wannan

Grade: C-
On paper, Maximov has all the makings of a prospect that UFC or Bellator loves. Undefeated? Yep. Finisher? Definitely. Trained by a big name in the sport? How about two big names that both end in Diaz?

It’s no surprise that Maximov’s seventh pro fight is at a high level when looking at how he fits the prospect criteria. It becomes even less surprising when you see him fight. He displays a high level of grappling and an awareness of how to mix in ground and pound as well. It’s even apparent when you go back numerous years and watch tape from his amateur career.

While the aforementioned facts on paper make Maximov an interesting name, there are certainly counterpoints as well. For one, his run hasn’t come against many big names. The combined record of his opponents is 13-16. When taking his last opponent out of the equation, the record dips to a concerning 2-13. It goes without saying that it will only get harder for him. Can he handle that leap in competition? We’ll have to wait and see.

I’m rating Maximov with some hesitancy as I don’t know how he will do against more experienced fighters.

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

Cody Brundage

Vince Rodemer

Grade: B+
My outlook on Cody Brundage is way different than it was about a year ago when I wrote about him ahead of his “Contender Series” fight. My biggest concern then was training in Michigan, as I felt he needed to leave the state to make great improvements on his skills. Brundage finally did just that, and he is at Factory X in Colorado with an outstanding coach in Marc Montoya. Brundage has experience in all phases of MMA. He wrestled in college at Division II Newberry College and uses that as his base. Obviously, that failed him when he got hit with elbows trying to take down William Knight on “Contender Series.” I don’t see that experience deterring him from going after takedowns though. He has shown knockout power in his first three pro fights and has a pair of submissions on his record as well. I see him as a guy that is going to get better with time now that he has a great place to train. I’ll say he’s eventually a top 15 guy in a weak division.

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
Brundage forgoes a second appearance on “Dana White’s Contender Series” and signs with the UFC as a short-notice replacement for Karl Roberson, who was supposed to welcome Nick Maximov to the Octagon on the early preliminary portion of UFC 266 on Saturday. This is a good signing and matchup as Brundage not only deserves a spot on the UFC roster, but also gets to meet someone he was already expected to fight on a previous episode of the “Contender Series.”

Brundage is a former high school and collegiate wrestler and a two-time NCAA Division II national qualifier, so his wrestling is his greatest strength. He does a great job at using his strikes to set up a takedown, which often comes in the form of a double leg. Like his upcoming opponent, Brundage is pretty slick on the ground and can quickly move his way into dominant positions. The Factory X fighter does well on the feet with a nice combination or overhand right as his primary weapons, but he definitely needs help defensively. Brundage is hittable at times as his hands stay a little too low, so hopefully he has spent some time working on those holes. Other than that, the 27-year-old is still a promising addition to the UFC.

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