A couple of New England natives will be fighting on the big stage tomorrow night, as Fall River's Yorgan De Castro, and Connecticut's William Knight will both be featured on the 14 fight UFC on ABC 2 card out in Las Vegas. Both fighter's are on the same card, but they are in very different positions in their UFC careers.
Yorgan De Castro (6-2) vs. Jarjis Danho (5-1-1)
De Castro won his UFC audition in impressive fashion when he beat a heavily favored Alton Meeks on The Contender Series via vicious leg kicks and ground N pound. He was a +450 underdog going into that fight, but his heavy striking game proved to be too much for Meeks. The audition in front of Dana White himself, was enough to secure the Regiment Training Center product a multi-fight deal with the world's biggest promotion, and his UFC career was underway.
His 1st appearance on an actual UFC card was in October of 2019 when he took on the heavy-handed Australian, Justin Tafa, at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia. The debut couldn't have gone any better for De Castro, as he slept Tafa with a short right cross as the Australian charged in with his chin exposed at 2:10 of the first round. "The Mad Titan" had showed the world that he has the death touch when he lands cleanly.
Unfortunately, De Castro's momentum would be halted in his next fight as he lost a lackluster decision to Greg Hardy in May of 2020. He endured an early fight foot injury which essentially halted his ability to move and throw his heavy-handed striking game at Hardy. It is worth noting that Hardy was a -250 favorite going into that fight, but De Castro didn't look anything like his first two appearances with the promotion. His next fight didn't go any better, as he lost another decision to Brazilian Carlos Felipe in October of last year. De Castro was an almost 3/1 favorite going into the fight against Felipe, but a well-executed gameplan by the Brazilian proved to be the difference in this fight.
Now on a 2 fight skid, "The Mad Titan" is in a tough spot, and in desperate need of a win. Typically if you lose 3 fights in a row with the UFC, they hand you your walking papers. That very likely could be the situation in his upcoming fight tomorrow night, but with how thin the heavyweight division is in the UFC, he may still be able to stick around if he loses with an impressive performance Saturday night. Don't expect De Castro to lose this one though, as he's taking on Jarjis Danho; a German striker who hasn't fought in 4.5 years. Danho is currently 0-1-1 with the UFC, making both of his appearances with the promotion back in 2016.
De Castro is currently a -310 betting favorite to beat the German, but he'll need to execute his gameplan effectively and let his hands go in order to best the 6'3" 260 pound Danho. This is a very good setup for De Castro. The UFC giving him a very winnable fight tells us that they'd like to keep him around and build around the fact that he's the first Cape Verdean to ever fight in the UFC, and a very likable guy in general.
William Knight (9-1) vs. Da Un Jung (13-2-1)
Thornton Martial Arts light heavyweight, William "The Knightmare" Knight, steps back into the cage after 2 canceled bouts over the past two months. Knight was originally scheduled to take on Alonzo Menifield first in late February, and then again just two weeks ago, but both fights were canceled due to covid protocols. Initially Menifield had to be pulled from the bout due to covid, and most recently Knight was forced to withdraw due to protocol violations.
Obviously the bout with Menifield wasn't meant to be, but Knight was able to book a quick turnaround bout against Da Un Jung, a hard-hitting South Korean who's had 3 fights inside the UFC's Octagon (2-0-1). He most recently fought to a draw with UFC vet Sam Alvey, but the fight before that he beat fellow New Englander Mike Rodriguez via TKO in round 1.
Jung will be able to compete with Knight on the feet, but I can't see the South Korean competing on the mat with Knight. A takedown and ground N pound is the best path to victory for the Connecticut native, but Knight's evolving standup game may be something that he wants to try and show off for the UFC brass.
Knight is currently 3-0 under the UFC banner, with two of those victories coming on The Contender Series, earning himself a full-fledged UFC contract in the process. In his 2nd Contender Series bout, he beat an undefeated fighter in Cody Brundage, and finding his way onto the UFC roster. He also took down another undefeated fighter in his first official UFC fight when he beat a very tough Aleksa Camur via unanimous decision back in September of last year.
The UFC obviously has high hopes for Knight, as they gave him a developmental deal back in 2019 after a solid victory on the Contender Series. He eventually capitalized on the opportunities, and has been very impressive out of the gates with the organization.
The fight with Jung is a little bit of a letdown, as the matchup with Menifield would have been exciting, and would have told us exactly where Knight stands in the UFC ranks. Although the betting lines essentially have this fight a coin flip, Jung is currently a slight betting favorite at -130, but I honestly don't think this fight will be that close. I believe there is a lot of value in Knight's current +130 line, so if you're a betting man (or woman), make sure you put some money down on "The Knightmare" tomorrow night. It will be a good investment.
2 of New England's higher-ceiling fighters will be taking center stage under the brightest lights in the sport Saturday night, and although they are both competing on the same card, their positions are totally different. De Castro needs a win to stick around the organization, while Knight is continuing to build his path to stardom, and has the potential to insert himself into many conversations within the UFC war room in the near future.