At UFC Fight Night 147 in London, many might be tempted to look past a 14-6 Jordan Rinaldi. After all, he’s taking on a 13-1 British talent in Arnold Allen, who is 4-0 in the UFC.
But looking a bit deeper into the matchup, you can see evidence from each man’s last fight that suggests this is a bout which favors Rinaldi.
Through GIFs and a bit of analysis, let’s reflect on Jordan Rinaldi vs. Jason Knight and Arnold Allen vs. Mads Burnell.
For the gamblers out there, Rinaldi is a +120 underdog. If you’re a New Jersey resident, you can use a SugarHouse Sportsbook promo code to put some money down on the native New Yorker.
Jordan Rinaldi vs. Jason Knight
Jason Knight seemed fairly promising early in his UFC career. His guard, in particular, excited many fans. An aggressive, developing striker who was dangerous off his back? What’s not to love? Unfortunately, Knight’s progress has stalled, and his in-fight decision making doesn’t seem to be fantastic. Nonetheless, he’s a tough out for most at 145.
I don’t think many saw Jordan Rinaldi coming. His only UFC win was over an unimpressive Alvaro Herrera, and he was nearly a year removed from his last fight, a TKO loss to Gregor Gillespie.
But the wrestling-based grappler put on a surprising performance.
Knight’s active guard has worked against him in his career, he’s too willing to fight for submissions over standing up at times, losing rounds because of it. Confident in his top game, Rinaldi pursued a grappling-focused gameplan.
Most of Rinaldi’s takedowns were leg attacks, but he did show some promising approaches to entering the clinch.
Here Rinaldi is seen purposely hooking short at waist level, “punches” that are mostly designed to become underhooks. Rinaldi is strong like an ox at 145, and Knight showed urgency in disengaging from those positions. His preoccupation with stopping Rinaldi’s clinch left him open to a left hook up top.
It’s nothing brilliant, but it shows you Rinaldi is intentional with these techniques, and knows how his game works together.
As far as leg attacks go, Rinaldi showed an important concept for wrestling, but especially for wrestling in MMA. He played the outside against Knight, who followed him predictably. Circling off to his left, Rinaldi waited until Knight stepped so that his legs were lined up, shortening his base.
It’s the perfect time to hit a double leg. you can drive straight back, but it makes more sense to turn the corner and knock your man down with your head on the hip.
Rinaldi shouldn’t have to hit multiple takedowns in a round, his top game is sound. You can see him immediately looking to pin a leg and pass to half or side control after the takedown.
As Knight turned into him, Rinaldi threatened with a kimura grip, Knight tangled him up to defend. As soon as Knight went to scramble, Rinaldi outmaneuvered him, freed the leg and took the back.
It’s possible Rinaldi could have finished that with a Gable grip, cranking the face.
In the third round, Knight had his moment to strike. Rinaldi, who isn’t the cleanest striker, punched himself past Knight and exposed his back. On the way to the ground, Rinaldi grabbed the near arm and rolled through to get to his hip and gain the height needed to end up on top. It looked to me like a standing fat man’s roll.
Regardless, Rinaldi succeeded at least in getting his back on the mat so Knight couldn’t secure a solid back mount. From there he attacked Knight’s waist cinch with the kimura grip and hit a beautiful sweep into side control.
It’s also encouraging to see Rinaldi is tough to shake from dominant positions, surviving the kamikaze somersault of Knight.
So, what does this say for his chances against Arnold Allen?
Arnold Allen vs. Mads Burnell
It’s criminal that Mads Burnell was cut after this fight. His boxing looked fantastic, and his setups into his wrestling were smooth. Getting caught in a front choke at the end of an amazing performance shouldn’t even count as a loss. One opinion.
Arnold Allen is a decent enough striker, he put out a good amount of volume and varied his attacks against Burnell. But Burnell was advancing off head movement and boxing up a storm, mixing in double legs and knee taps. Allen was second guessing whether a motion was a lead right hand, head movement or a takedown entry.
Burnell had a ton of success blending his strikes and level changes. He didn’t have an easy time keeping Allen down, he certainly wasn’t advancing position often, but Arnold offered next to nothing off his back until the very end of the fight.
If Rinaldi can draw Allen into following him, as he did with Knight, he should be able to get at least one takedown per round. From what I’ve seen, his top game is a little more clinical than Burnell’s. One takedown could mean the end of the round for Allen.
You can watch Jordan Rinaldi vs. Arnold Allen as the headliner of the ESPN+ Prelims for UFC Fight Night 147 in London on Saturday, March 16th. If you’re a betting man or simply like to make picks, don’t sleep on Jordan Rinaldi.
If you like seeing the crafty entries of wrestlers in MMA, I recommend Dominick Cruz.
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