At UFC São Paulo, Jailton Almeida will face Derrick Lewis in a clash of styles at Heavyweight. Whilst not the grappling test that most were hoping for against originally booked Curtis Blaydes, Almeida will have to deal with the power-puncher’s attempts to counter his often predictable grappling entries. In this piece I aim to outline, simply, what Jailton Almeida will be looking to do to Derrick Lewis this weekend, from his simple and untested standup to his methodical, Dagestani-inspired ground game.
Jailton Almeida On The Feet: If It Ain’t Broke…
On the feet, Almeida’s weapons are all in service of his transition to the ground. He opens his fights, without fail, with a front kick to the face as he utilises his reach and relative mobility as a heavyweight. He does this to get his opponent’s guard high and vision occupied so that he can, typically, follow up with a double-leg takedown. Almeida also likes a lead left hook if he finds himself in the pocket his with his opponent, which he tries to avoid. Almeida has also shown himself a willing low-kicker although has never had to commit to them heavily. Ultimately, Almeida has always had success taking his opponents down and therefore his striking has remained relatively untested. If Lewis can remain standing and stigmatise Almeida’s entries, we may have to see Almeida’s striking explored more.
Jailton Almeida’s Grappling: Double Legs and Clinch Trips
In his Dana White’s Contender Series debut, Almeida described his way of fighting as “Khabib Style”. After watching through his career, the grappling inspiration is clear. Whilst his double-leg takedown may not be pretty, it’s shockingly quick when he’s feeling comfortable and certainly has the pop to put down most heavyweights. His reactive takedowns haven’t been as effective, often a little lumbering and sloppy, but when Almeida shoots against the fence he’s put down every opponent he’s fought to date. In the clinch, Almeida will look to extend his opponent’s legs and trip them down. He’ll do this in open space if forced, but would much prefer to use these trips and throws in a cage-clinch. From this position, Almeida also chooses the body-lock around the back of his opponent in order to slam and throw.
Dagestani Basics For The Heavier Man
Once on the ground, Almeida likes the familiar Dagestani tricks. On top, Almeida will happily hang around in half-guard and land strikes. This is particularly nice at Heavyweight, as the typically heavyweight solution to being stuck on the bottom is to turn onto one’s knees and try to build up. Insisting upon half-guard allows Almeida to take advantage of this common escape; when his man turns their back Almeida can ride this transition and keep his hook in.
In the instance that a fighter is aware of Almeida’s affinity for working on his opponent’s back (such as Jairzinho Rozenstruik), they may refuse to turn their back and instead look for other getups. Here Almeida will happily pass into mount and get to work on his lovingly coined “Donkey Kong” ground and pound in the form of hammerfists at a 12-6 angle. This can either force his opponent to turn and give up the back as in Rozenstruik’s case, or simply allow themselves to be hit and try to deal with that issue in itself.
Jailton Almeida On The Back
Of course, Almeida would prefer to be on or around his opponent’s back at all times. After his opponent predictably gives up their back, Almeida typically works from back-side. Here, he uses one hand to collapse his opponent’s cage-side wrist under their own chest. This places the opponent’s weight upon their wrist and traps it in place, ensuring they’re unable to use it to base and build up to their feet. Here, Almeida can begin to land heavy ground and pound or choose to get his hooks in. After taking his opponent’s back, Almeida can begin to work his rear naked chokes; a skill he is undoubtedly the at in the heavyweight division. If his opponents bring their hand up to defend the choke, Almeida will switch to an arm triangle seamlessly.
Jailton Almeida’s style is a unique one in the heavyweight division, presenting often unseen challenges at that weight class. As a result, most heavyweights quickly succumb to the power, pressure and speed that the Brazilian grappler brings. Derrick Lewis could absolutely be the guy to punish Almeida’s predictable style, but it seems more than likely that Almeida will continue surging to the top until (if ever) he meets real resistance to his grappling. Even so, this may prove a decent test for Almeida for now.
Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images