Former Jungle Fight flyweight champion Kleydson Rodrigues put on a dominant display against Santo Curatolo on Contender Series 2021, and the Brazilian is now scheduled to make his UFC debut on Saturday against C.J. Vergara.
Undefeated since losing his second pro fight in 2015, “KR” has earned stoppages in five of his seven career victories. The twenty-six year old has shown off a dynamic and varied striking game, utilizing kicks and spinning attacks to go along with his jab and straight right hands. His lead left kick has proven particularly effective, as the Brazilian will step up with it to attack both the body and head of his opponents. Rodrigues likes to batter his opponent’s bodies with kicks from both legs and boasts a very accurate spinning back kick, but he’s just as likely to buzz the opposing fighter with a wheel kick or take flight with a flying knee attempt.
While he’s dangerous on the feet, Rodrigues is willing to change things up and go to the mat as well. The Brazilian has shown considerable strength from the clinch and mixed in great takedowns from this position in his fights with Antonio da Silva and Eduardo Henrique da Silva. From top position, Rodrigues uses strong chest pressure to maintain control while landing ground and pound that includes hammer fists and hard short elbows. If his opponent gets careless Rodrigues is also able to lock up submissions, although if he doesn’t like how things are going on the ground he’s also happy to stand up and kick away at their legs.
The exciting offensive display was certainly a talking point from his Contender Series win, but arguably the most impressive part of that fight was how well Rodrigues’s cardio held up throughout the fight. “KR” kept up a high pace but was still throwing spinning attacks and maintaining high-energy offense well into the third round. There’s always concern around fighters with his style as far as still being effective later in the fight, so that unanimous decision over Santo Curatolo was a promising look for his overall potential.
Rodrigues will face off with fellow Contender Series alum and former Fury FC flyweight champion C.J. Vergara, who came up short in his own UFC debut last November with a decision loss to Ode Osbourne. While his striking defense does still need some work, Rodrigues’s skillset should give him the advantage in this debut matchup and set the young Brazilian up for an exciting career in the UFC.
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