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We have an intriguing fight in the Bantamweight division, as Youssef Zalal takes on newcomer Da’Mon Blackshear. A loser of three straight, albeit against stiff competition, Zalal returns to the octagon seeking a victory. Seemingly undoing the four-fight win streak prior to the skid, Zalal will have to prove himself against a debutant in Blackshear. A well traveled fighter, Blackshear has competed for Bellator, Titan FC and CFFC. Currently on a four-fight win streak, with three of the fights ending via submission, Blackshear heads into his debut with solid momentum.

A Champion for CFFC, Blackshear appears UFC ready. Known for his grappling and very active in grappling competitions, Blackshear’s best work in the cage comes on the mat. With eight of his twelve wins coming via submission, it would be wise to avoid tangling with Blackshear on the ground. Evolving on the feet, as well as with good durability and decent cardio, Blackshear should find success in the octagon. Hoping that success won’t come too quickly is Zalal. A well rounded fighter, Zalal has proven that he is capable wherever the fight goes. With a emphasis on mixing his attack, Zalal does a good job notching a few takedowns throughout the fight. The one problem that has seemingly plagued Zalal though, is inactivity. Landing only 2.51 significant strikes per minute, don’t expect Zalal to light you up like a Christmas tree throughout the fight.

As for a prediction, I’m siding with Zalal. Known to be a tough out and having faced tougher competition of late, I’m certain that Zalal will pull out all the stops to put an end to this three-fight skid. While I am slightly concerned about his takedown defense and Blackshear’s grappling, Zalal has never been submitted or stopped in his career. Given his well rounded abilities and the sheer dog in him, I expect Zalal to get the better of Blackshear on the feet and perhaps mix in a few takedowns en route to a decision victory.

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