UFC 282: Fighters to Watch For

UFC 282: Fighters to Watch For


UFC 282: Fighters to Watch For


Via Chris Curtis Instagram

Chris Curtis 

Chris “The Action Man” Curtis is a veteran in the MMA game that finally broke through the doors of the UFC in November of 2021. Riding a five-fight win streak across several regional promotions, Curtis accepted a late replacement bout against Phil Hawes on just one day’s notice for UFC Vegas 31 in October. However, Hawes declined the late replacement bout, and instead the two were rescheduled to fight at UFC 268 on November 2, 2021. 

Hawes entered the bout a -400 favorite and looked like it early, using his reach advantage to prod front kicks and straight punches. After being vastly out-struck for the first four minutes of the fight, it may have appeared Curtis was outmatched on the feet with Hawes. In reality, he was just looking for the perfect opportunity to counter. Just as Joe Rogan proclaimed, “Curtis has got to do something to stop this momentum.” He did just that, cracking Hawes with a precise and powerful left hook. With just over 30 seconds remaining in the round, Curtis knew he had to capitalize on the opportunity. He finished him with a two-punch combination and a perfectly placed spearing knee to the body. 

In his next two bouts he would prove to be far more than a one punch wonder, immediately following up his debut with a second round knockout of Brendan Allen less than a month later. After investing in body shots for the entire first round, he finished Allen with a lethal barrage of body-head combinations and knees against the fence. After just two fights with the promotion, he had a legitimate case to be one of the best boxers in the UFC. Curtis’ next fight wouldn’t be for another six months due to injury. 

Highly decorated, world class grappler Rodolfo Vieira would take Curtis the distance for the first time in his UFC career. The fight was a masterful showcase of Curtis’ body work and takedown defense. He Successfully defended all 20 of Vieira’s takedown attempts in the fight and won by unanimous decision. 

Confident in the strength of his win streak, Curtis stepped in on late notice to fight eighth ranked middleweight Jack Hermansson in July at UFC London. The task proved too much too soon, as Curtis found himself frustrated in the bout and never able to get inside and land on Hermansson. Nevertheless, the self-titled “Action Man” is someone you’re always on the edge of your seat while watching. He will be back in action, this time with a full training camp, this Saturday against fellow fan favorite Joaquin Buckley. The two combine for an impressive highlight reel and are sure to leave it all in the octagon. 


Dricus Du Plessis

Dricus Du Plessis joined the UFC with quite a bit of hype behind him as the EFC Middleweight Champion and former KSW Welterweight Champion. He also carried a 100% finish rate with him to the promotion. Du Plessis would keep his perfect finish rate just three minutes into his UFC debut, knocking out Markus Perez with an unorthodox combination of a lead leg high kick, followed by straight right, and left hook. Perez was out cold, and the MMA community was all collectively intrigued by Du Plessis’ explosive striking style. Du Plessis is the definition of controlled chaos. Often literally running forward, throwing four to five straight punches at a time and cage superman punches reminiscent of a prime Anthony Pettis. 

Du Plessis continued to display his unique movement in his sophomore effort against Trevin Giles, switching his stance eight times, and throwing a jumping switch kick in just the first 30 seconds of the fight. Following a competitive but lackluster first round, the two would get right to scrapping in the second round. About a minute and a half into the round, Du Plessis faced his first UFC adversity, defending a heavy elbow and two punch combination with his textbook high guard defense. Du Plessis felt his back to the fence and exploded off, sleeping Giles with his aforementioned cage superman punch. After backing up his hype in his first two bouts, the UFC would match Du Plessis up with 12th ranked Brad Tavares at UFC 276 this past July. 

In one of the bloodiest and most underrated three round fights of the year, Du Plessis would leave victorious but lose his 100% finish rate along the way. In a true war that tested the will of each fighter, Du Plessis simply edged Tavares out in violence. After a competitive first two rounds, Du Plessis out-landed Tavares 60 to 39, leaving his face a broken and bloody mess. This Saturday Du Plessis will fight perennial contender and former Welterweight title challenger Darren Till. The fight is a striker’s paradise on paper, and an absolute must win for Till. Tune into UFC 282 this weekend and expect fireworks. 


Paddy Pimblett

Paddy Pimblett is undeniably the fastest rising star in the sport, and despite his detractors, he has shown he has the skill set to back up the hype. Maybe the most famous man in Liverpool right now next to Paul McCartney, Pimblett has blown up on social media due to his engaging sense of humor and personality. He’s called out Mark Zuckerberg to fight, been captured on a strangers ring camera apologizing for dog poop, and started a YouTube channel with 764,000 subscribers. More importantly, he’s gone 3-0 in the UFC, finishing all three fights in the first two rounds. 

His UFC debut against Luigi Vendramini caused many fans to question his fight IQ, with many commenting that he had poor striking defense and kept his chin too high. To their defense, Vendramini did land a massive left hook a minute into the fight that cocked Paddy’s head back like a pistol. Pimblett ate the punch like a post-fight meal and responded accordingly, biting down on his mouthpiece and making it a brawl. After re-establishing control of the fight, he dropped Vendramini to one knee with a flush right hook. Vendramini got right back to his feet and appeared composed, but Pimblett knew he had his opponent hurt and swarmed him with a flurry of power punches. With Vendramini somehow still on his feet, Paddy took just a moment to reset before throwing himself into a jumping switch knee to the face. 

Essentially out on his feet, Vendramini was unable to defend himself during the final 10-punch finishing sequence that thrusted Paddy Pimblett into UFC stardom. After displaying his striking chops for the doubters, Pimblett would go back to his bread and butter and win his next two fights by submission. His sophomore effort was in front of a hometown London, England crowd against Rodrigo “Kazula” Vargas. Pimblett attempted a takedown in the first 20 seconds of the fight, and even though he found himself in bottom position, it was immediately clear he had the advantage grappling. Pimblett used his extremely active guard to quickly get back to his feet, and then successfully took Vargas down with a Judo throw against the fence. Paddy promptly transitioned to the back and finished the fight with a rear naked choke three minutes into the first round. 

His last fight against Jordan Leavitt would be the first to take him past the first round in the UFC. Leavitt is a solid wrestler that many believed would have the top control to subdue Paddy’s jiu jitsu. Pimblett would prove that narrative wrong two minutes into the second round when he used a front headlock to drop Leavitt with a flush knee to the face, promptly take his back and tap him with a rear naked choke. Two back-to-back submission finishes on two back-to-back London cards and Paddy Pimblett was successfully the biggest international star in the sport of MMA. This weekend he’s slotted in the co-main event of UFC 282 against veteran grinder Jared Gordon. Unlike most of Paddy’s other opponents, the two have actually been friendly in the lead up to the fight. Be that as it may, Pimblett has guaranteed another first round finish in his first Pay-Per-View appearance.

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