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UFC Vegas 78 – New Blood: ‘The Midwest Choppa’ rides into ‘Sin City’

UFC Vegas 78, which takes place this Saturday night (Aug. 11, 2023) inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the first in a string of weekends with limited newcomers. On this edition of New Blood, the series where sometimes I wish fighters would carry their opponents a bit so I could learn more about their games, we look at a factoryX-trained product with five first-round finishes and a young Judo specialist from Brazil.

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 78 On ESPN+

ELECTRIFYING WELTERWEIGHT SHOWDOWN! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Aug. 12, 2023, with a fantastic 170-pound showdown as No. 10-ranked contender, Vicente Luque, takes on former UFC Lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos. In UFC Vegas 78’s co-main event, fan-favorite, Cub Swanson, looks to deliver another exciting performance at the expense of Hakeem Dawodu.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Isaac “The Midwest Choppa” Dulgarian

Weight Class: Featherweight
Age: 27
Record: 5-0 (3 KO, 2 SUB)
Notable Victories: TeeJay Britton

factoryX’s Dulagrian ended all four of his amateur victories in the first round ahead of his 2021 professional debut. The momentum has yet to let up, as he dispatched his five professional foes in less than three minutes apiece.

Dulgarian is one of those fighters who wins too quickly for any in-depth analysis. He’ll toss out a few kicks or jabs, blast through for a double-leg, and then maul from mount or the back until his opponent opens himself up for a submission or can’t take the punishment anymore. He was a decorated high school and collegiate wrestler, so it’s not like he’s just bulldozing people with raw athleticism, but he’s not short on that, either. He actually put TeeJay Britton to sleep with punches from the top last time out.

Though his cardio and technical striking remain open questions, Dulgarian’s background, physical abilities, and solid coaching support make him a genuinely intriguing addition to the roster. That said, he’s in for a tough debut against another stout wrestler in Francis Marshall. Marshall was befuddled by William Gomis’ movement, but he’s got the striking and grappling skills to push the more direct Dulgarian to the limit.

His FAC bouts are on Fight Pass.

UFC Fight Night: Luque v Dos Anjos - Weigh-in

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Luana Santos

Weight Class: Flyweight
Age: 23
Record: 5-1 (3 SUB)
Notable Victories: None

Santos — a decorated Judoka — won three amateur bouts and three professional bouts before dropping a decision to former no-gi world champion, Jena Bishop, in her Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) debut. She’s since bounced back with a wide decision over Waleska Sousa and a quick club-and-sub finish of Bartiara Rodrigues.

It was quite interesting to go through Santos’ recent fight tape. Though she possesses an excellent judo pedigree, she struggled with decision-making early in her professional career. She largely employed a striking strategy against Bishop, stiff-arming her way out of takedown attempts and quickly turning and separating whenever Bishop tied up. Bishop still found her way onto Santos’ back twice, once when Santos attempted a head-and-arm throw and again when Santos tried one too many whizzer throws in response to Bishop forcing her way into teh clinch

Four months later against Sousa, she switched gears and leaned on a quick, well-timed double-leg to spend most of the fight in top position. Sousa had no success getting off her back, though it’s worth noting that Santos couldn’t get much done from top position. Her ground-and-pound was limited outside of a couple of brief bursts and her attempts to pass usually ended in Sousa ultimately regaining guard.

The control’s there, at least, and the rest of her ground attack should open up more once she gets some more seasoning. She was admittedly more fearsome from the top against lesser opposition, scoring two tapouts via scarf hold armlock.

Her striking is likewise developing well. While she’s yet to score a (technical) knockout in the pros, she’s got genuine, thudding punching power. Against Bishop, she relied almost exclusively on straight rights and left hooks that produced a lot of early success. Unfortunately, Bishop soon realized that Santos backed straight up without moving her head, allowing Bishop to beat her up with blitzing combinations.

Santos has looked a lot less robotic of late, adding a lot more kicks from both stances and some sharp counter-punching. She still has a tendency to lean forward when punching and bring her hands back low, but she’s clearly making a lot of progress; she managed to drop recent foe Bartira Rodrigues with a counter right off a low kick to set up the guillotine finish.

The big concern right now is her gas tank. She was visibly spent after two rounds against Bishop and showed a much more mobile, energy-intensive striking style against Rodrigues. After watching another standout Brazilian grappler in Jacqueline Amorim gas to death in her UFC debut, I’m a bit wary.

All that said, Santos is an extremely promising young fighter. She’s got a strong grappling foundation, natural power, and looks to be improving fight to fight. Debut foe Juliana Miller showed extremely limited wrestling and striking last time out, so Santos should be able to beat her up on the feet.

Her LFA bouts are on Fight Pass.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 78 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 78: “dos Anjos vs. Luque” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

This story originally appeared on MMA Mania

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