stephens vs barao headerHow will Renan Barao fair in his UFC Featherweight debut?

Just when you thought you’ve seen some great fights in 2016, UFC Fight Night 88 has reared its head and the matches that are on display are all fun and exciting bouts. The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 88 is a barnburner of a match up. The former Bantamweight champion looks to move up in weight and will clash with the gritty veteran Jeremy Stephens. Both men are out to prove something with this next fight, particularly Barao who is coming off of a one-sided beat down against former champion TJ Dillashaw.hi-res-cc0b1e036e97a3a9d13c866f495c41c1_crop_north Ever since his first defeat against Dillashaw, Renan Barao hasn’t been the same man inside the Octagon. A win over Mitch Gagnon granted him a rematch with then champion Dillashaw, but he looked less than stellar in that performance. Gagnon had success in both the stand up and ground portions of the match. Ever since his loss to Dillashaw at UFC 173 its become apparent that Barao’s biggest weakness is his lack of lateral movement. He tends to come straight in or straight out which eventually was the reason for his beatdown at the hands of Dillashaw. If he hopes to have better success against Jeremy Stephens then he’ll have to play aggressive counter fighter, always throwing short shots to keep Stephens at bay while at the same time landing heavy leg kicks to take away from his opponents highly regarded power. Jeremy Stephens isn’t called “Lil Heathen” for nothing. All of his strikes pack a tremendous punch and capable of ending a fight in the blink of an eye. In recent years Stephens has become of a technical brawler than just the slugger he used to be at the start of his career. Rather than just relying on punching combinations, he mixes things up with kicks and some underrated wrestling. Where Stephens could have some trouble in this bout is fighting at range. He’s going to want to close the distance on Barao consistently in order to take away Barao’s kicking game. Stephens will have to enter close quarters on angles and throw in the occasional takedown attempt to keep Barao honest.gettyimages-480441208_1 It may not be an entirely easy task, but look for Jeremy Stephens to use his experience, power, and well rounded game to give Barao difficulty. Things will only get worse for the former Batamweight champion as the fight drags on as Stephens uses his superior conditioning and turns the fight into a technical brawl resulting in a knock out victory for “Lil Heathen.” Who do you think will be victorious at UFC Fight Night 88: Barao or Stephens? Follow Generation Iron MMA on Facebook and Twitter. Also, be sure to share, like, and comment to show your support.

Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics

Jonathan Salmon
Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.