Octagon Oracles: Genaro Valdéz

James Colwell:

Grade: C+

At first glance, Valdez seems like exactly the sort of fighter the UFC should be signing. He’s 10-0 and all of those wins have come by finishes, and he trains in one of Mexico’s top camps, Entram Gym. However, his competition on the regional scene has been pretty weak and has rarely provided much of a test, and while his Contender Series fight was exciting and ended with a big KO win, it also highlighted plenty of holes in his game that could be problems against better opponents.

Valdez is a strong boxer who has also learned good wrestling skills, as was shown in some of the takedowns and cage work he engaged in at the start of his DWCS bout against Alaskan can-crusher Patrik White (9-1). He’s won plenty of fights with ground and pound and also has some decent chokes on his record, so it looked like he was going to take the path of least resistance and work his way to a relatively easy win through grappling. However, White started throwing wild haymakers whenever he found a little bit of space and Valdez got drawn into an all-out brawl, where both men essentially threw defense out the window in order to land huge shots on one another. The pace they set and the power in each swing saw both fighters gassed by the end of the first round, but Valdez recovered much better between rounds and was able to pick up a TKO win early in the 2nd round thanks to a powerful overhand right and some ground and pound.

While it was exciting to watch and earned a standing ovation from Dana White, it was hardly a technical affair, which raises some questions about whether Valdez’s striking will hold up against UFC talents. His willingness to brawl against someone who was clearly a worse grappler also makes me question his fight IQ, and while anyone would have been tired after the first round of that fight, it also showed that his gas tank is average at best. He looks better in some of his other fights, but his opponents were all so much lower-level than anyone he will face in the UFC, so its hard to read too much into those performances. Matt Frevola is a good first test for Valdez, as he’s shown in his UFC tenure that he has the wrestling credentials to cause problems for unprepared opponents but is far from the most threatening member of the lightweight division in terms of KO power. I have Valdez losing a decision in this one, and he hasn’t shown me enough to make me think that he’ll ever develop into something more than an exciting prelim-level fighter in the UFC.

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