Diggin’ Deep on UFC Austin: Fight Pass prelims preview

Get the scoop on the early action of UFC Austin, featuring a middleweight clash between newcomer Tim Williams and Polish prospect Oskar Piechota. Though the Fight Pass prelims have been relegated to hosting the fights with the least interest or intrigue on the card, you can usually find a nugget worth mining. In the case of UFC Austin, it’s Polish prospect Oskar Piechota. You’re forgiven if you’re unfamiliar with him as his only UFC appearance came on a Fight Pass exclusive event in Poland, but he made a nice impression dominating Jonathan Wilson. He isn’t as flashy as Israel Adesanya – the standout striker who made his debut last week in Australia – but Piechota is more well-rounded and polished at this point.
The UFC Austin Fight Pass Prelims begin at 6:00 PM ET/3:00 PM PT on Sunday.
Joshua Burkman (29-16, 1 NC) vs. Alex Morono (13-4, 1 NC), Welterweight
How in the hell is Burkman still in the UFC’s employ? I’m a fan of Burkman, but the man has gone 1-6 since returning to the UFC and that isn’t counting his no contest to Hector Lombard that was originally a loss. Rather than give the 37-year old chance after chance, wouldn’t it be more productive to give the opportunity to a prospect looking to make their mark? We already know what Burkman brings to the table.
Having recently watched footage of Burkman in his first UFC run, the difference in him from then up to now is astonishing. Formerly a hyperactive puncher, the current iteration of Burkman is defined by a lack of activity more than anything. He rarely seems to know what he wants to do in the cage, content to wait for the opportunity to counter. However, he appears to have lost a step as he no longer can avoid nor absorb damage the way he used to. Burkman has also been at his best in this UFC run when he’s the one pursuing the takedown, but that hasn’t been a frequent enough occasion.
Morono offers a mixed bag of skills, often frustrating prognosticators and analysts for reckless striking that makes him appear far more active than he is. Fortunately for Morono, his technique has slowly been improving to the point he’s been able to put together functional punching combinations. Regardless, Morono is still strongest on the ground as his submission skills have allowed him to walk home with an unexpected victory when opponents don’t give him enough respect for his abilities.
Though I can see a path to victory for Burkman given Morono’s poor takedown defense, it’s become impossible to trust Burkman as his durability has faded over the last year or so. Given he has given thought to retirement after a career approaching 50 career fights, it feels like Burkman has already checked out mentally. You can’t be half-assing things at the highest level of MMA. Morono scores a club and sub. Morono via submission of RD1
Oskar Piechota (10-0-1) vs. Tim Williams (15-3), Middleweight
Given that most MMA fans pass over on TUF anymore – and have for many years – it’s a strong likelihood that most have never seen Williams do his thing. The New Jersey native has won five straight since dropping a pair of contests to UFC veteran Anthony Smith in 2015. Despite not being the most physically imposing specimen, Williams is a dangerous grappler with a real knack for snagging his opponent’s neck. Most of his takedowns come from the clinch with trips and body-lock takedowns, though his standup is limited for the UFC level.
Piechota appears to have the grappling credentials to exceed Williams on the ground, though it could be argued he hasn’t faced the same level of competition as the American. Nonetheless, he put the aforementioned Wilson into precarious positions in every round, coming this close to submitting the athletic striker before Wilson was saved by the bell. Piechota showed potential on the feet too with a simple approach largely consisting of low kicks and jabs. He even showed a bit of power, knocking Wilson to his ass for one of his near-finishes.
I’ll be shocked to see Williams come out on top. Piechota dominated Wilson and though Williams should be a tougher opponent, he still doesn’t appear to be on Piechota’s level. Williams has yet to go the distance in a fight that he lost, thus I’ll go with Piechota to pick up a finish before 15 minutes is up. Piechota via submission of RD2
Source: bloody