Octagon Oracles: Caio Borralho vs. Gahdzi Omargadzhiev

Grade: B+


It may have taken two wins on Contender Series to earn a UFC contract, but Brazil’s Caio Borralho certainly made a statement in his second appearance when he moved up to light heavyweight and finished Jesse Murray in the first round.


A southpaw, Borralho settles into a karate stance right from the start of his bouts with lots of bouncy, in and out movement. He usually gets to work with his jab early, using it in combination with kicks to stay at range and gauge his opponent’s timing. “The Natural” isn’t the tallest middleweight, but he does make use of a long reach to work his jab which he’ll follow with a sharp left straight once he starts to land successfully. An array of kicks are also a staple of his game on the feet, and he’s particularly adept at throwing them with his lead leg. Borralho will use side kicks to punish the midsection of his opponents as well as their lead knee, and can mix in step-up kicks to the body and head. His lead leg hook kick to the head is particularly dangerous, and the Brazilian is happy to throw in some flying knee attempts on the feet as well.


Although he’s most comfortable striking, Borralho is a willing grappler and has largely been able to dictate where his fights takes place thus far in his career. His takedown defense held up well against a high-pressure game plan in his first Contender Series fight with Aaron Jeffery, and on the occasions he was taken down Borralho was able to get back to his feet quickly. “The Natural” also showed a willingness to mix in takedowns attempts of his own during that fight, as he out-struck Jeffery during the first round before immediately going for a takedown to start the second round. Additionally, Borralho also has good strength from the clinch and will look for body lock and trip takedowns from this position where possible.


While Borralho was able to control large periods of that bout with Jeffery, the Canadian did start to have some more success in the third round. One judge awarded Borralho all three rounds, but two of the judges scored it 29-28 with Jeffery’s relentless forward pressure having the most success later in the fight. As almost all of Jeffery’s takedowns and attempts came up against the cage, I’d like to see whether or not Borralho is able to scramble to his feet as quickly without being able to use the fence and how well he can operate from his back.


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Grade: B


Undefeated Russian middleweight Gahdzi Omargadzhiev scored an impressive kneebar finish in his Contender Series 2021 appearance, and now he’ll make his UFC debut against fellow Contender Series alum and UFC debutante Caio Borralho on Saturday.


The twenty-nine year old Omargadzhiev opens bouts with lots of in and out movement, as well as kicks to the inside and outside of his opponent’s lead leg. Omargadzhiev will start to mix in kicks to the body once he settles into the fight, but his favored strike is a big overhand right. While he’ll throw it as a solo shot, one of his most effective combos is when he follows it up with a quick lead leg head kick. The Russian does have a tendency to duck his head down a bit when throwing this overhand, so following it up with that head kick helps to protect him from a potential counter and also catch his opponents off guard.


While he’s decent on the feet, for the most part Omargadzhiev uses his striking to help set up opportunities to get the fight to the ground. He’s very good at timing takedown attempts when his opponents come in, and he’ll also fake or throw his overhand right and immediately look for a follow-up takedown. Once on the ground the Russian prefers to at least get to half guard right away, but ultimately he wants to get into side control as quickly as possible. From this position Omargadzhiev will land hard knees to the body of his opponents, which serve to both do damage and also set up opportunities for Omargadzhiev to either get mount or isolate an arm to set up a crucifix position. He used this position to great effect in his bout with Aleksey Novikov, as Novikov decided to tap out in the first round once he realized he wasn’t going be able to get Omargadzhiev off of him and would just continue eating strikes.


If he can’t pass into his preferred positions or an opponent manages to reestablish his guard, the undefeated Russian still excels at applying top pressure to keep things on the ground. From guard he’ll posture up in order to throw ground and pound and particularly likes to throw elbows to the head, but he also showed an ability to drop back from this position and attack a leg in his Contender Series win.


At first-glance, this debut matchup with Caio Barralho appears like it might be a fairly standard striker vs. grappler affair. Barralho will most certainly hold the edge on the feet, and the Brazilian will hold a considerable eight-inch reach advantage to go along with his dynamic striking. “The Natural” has shown solid takedown defense, but his kick-heavy style will almost certainly provide chances for Omargadzhiev to take him down. It remains to be seen how well Barralho can work off his back if he isn’t able to spring up quickly, so this should be a very good test for both fighters to see how well they can deal with a contrasting style matchup in 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