Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight hitters Justin Tafa and Parker Porter will kick off this weekend (Saturday, February 11, 2023) at UFC 284 inside RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.
I would consider myself a Porter fan, which certainly sounds like a minority opinion. It makes sense why on both sides: Porter is 37 and he’s not suddenly going to rise up the division ladder. Likewise, he doesn’t blow his opponents en route to flashy saves. He does, however, have an underrated and unexpected level of technical skill, and he’s found more success in the UFC than most would have expected – I respect that tremendously.
My fandom, however, can’t explain why he’s on the main card of a UFC pay-per-view (PPV) event. The other half of the equation is Tafa, a completely standard heavyweight puncher with a 2-3 UFC record, which also doesn’t explain the positioning of this fight. Apparently the UFC is aiming for a quick knockout that completes the main card, but that outcome seems less than guaranteed.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Main wins: Chase Sherman (UFC Vegas 48), Alan Baudot (UFC Vegas 34), Josh Parisian (UFC Vegas 15)
Key losses: JON JONES AT A REGIONAL SHOW 2008, Jailton Almeida (UFC Vegas 55), Chris Daukaus (UFC 252)
Keys to Victory: Porter is not a man with enormous power in his hands or shocking athletic ability. However, he brings solid boxing to the table, alongside a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and the ability to push a pretty decent pace for 15 minutes. He’s not flashy, but he’s often able to outrun mid-level heavyweight enemies who hold speed and power advantages.
Porter has the skills to trade with Tafa, but as usual he’s on the wrong side of the power equation. Tafa is clearly the meaner finisher between the two, and I wouldn’t expect Porter’s boxing to be clean enough to engage with “Bad Man” and walk away totally unscathed.
On the contrary, Porter should box enough to stage his takedowns along the fence. He can wrestle pretty well on the cage, and that style should wear down Tafa, who is used to finishing fights within seven minutes. The more Porter can avoid the early barrage and extend this fight, the better the chance his cardio and experience will take over.
Main wins: Juan Adams (UFC 247), Harry Hunsucker (UFC Vegas 45)
Key losses: Jared Vanderaa (UFC Vegas 27), Yorgan de Castro (UFC 243), Carlos Felipe (UFC Fight Island 7)
Keys to Victory: Tafa is not far removed from the typical heavyweight mold. He’s a big boy with big power, and he’s the 265-pound guy who can really surprise an opponent with his speed (think Mark Hunt or Ben Rothwell back then). He stopped all five of his wins by knockout, and he’s also one of only two men in UFC history to miss the 265-pound limit.
Tafa’s best bet here seems to be a quick start. He is considerably more dynamic and punishing than Porter, and this advantage will never be more present than in the opening frame. Also, Tafa often has to fight his way through a range and height disadvantage, and that won’t be the case here.
He should be able to find his range quickly and do some damage.
Once Porter gets a taste of Tafa’s power, the Aussie should be looking to break down his opponent. He can’t be too impatient and give up a takedown or get exhausted. Instead, he can set the pace, avoid potential pitfalls and progress to the finish.
This is a low to mid level heavyweight fight.
As mentioned, Porter is in his late thirties. It’s not exactly unusual at Heavyweight, but it really limits expectations for future growth. Porter is probably about as good as he will be, and that seems to position him as a top-half keeper in the division. This fight seems unlikely to change his stance, one way or another.
Tafa, meanwhile, is only 29 years old. The victory here would be the biggest of his young career, as well as the start of his first UFC winning streak. If the technical side of his game can catch up with his athleticism a bit, then maybe Tafa can move up the ranks. Specifically, Tafa has a chance here to really shine for Aussie fight fans.
At UFC 284, Justin Tafa and Parker Porter will go to war. What heavyweight will remain standing once the dust settles?
remember that MMAmania.com will provide live, round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 284 fight card right herestarting from the beginning ESPN+ Online “preliminary” matches, which are due to start at 6 p.m. ET, then the rest of the undercard on ESPN /ESPN+ at 8:00 p.m. ET, prior to the PPV main card start time at 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+ VPP.
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