The Prelim Breakout Star is a once per event article that helps fans get to know those who will be entertaining them from the undercard. The intention of the article is not to bring attention to the most talented fighter on the preliminary card, but rather one that the common fan may have overlooked or underestimated.
When you think of MMA in New Zealand or Australia, the first name that comes to your mind is probably Mark Hunt. This weekend, one of his teammates will fight on the card, but it’s his opponent that we think will remind you more of the legend.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: De Castro has been promoted to the main card following Holly Holm’s withdrawal. This piece was written before that promotion)
Affiliation – Regiment Training Center
From – Fall River, Massachusetts
Height – 5’11”
Weight – 253 lbs (Heavyweight)
Record – 5-0 (0-0 UFC)
What makes him impressive
De Castro may not have a physique or a natural frame that wows the crowd, but what he does have is a top notch kickboxing game. In his Contender Series fight against Alton Meeks, he not only scored with the hands plenty of times, but he picked up a TKO by leg kicks. Although it’s never surprising to see big power at heavyweight, the key here is the technique. There’s not a lot of wasted movement in his strikes and he doesn’t telegraph them. The allows his cardio to be surprisingly strong and makes him a KO threat at all parts of the fight.
Why he has been overlooked
At 31 years old, it’s sort of surprising to see him with just five professional fights. However, in addition to an amateur career that was used to sure up his defense, De Castro also fought Muay Thai and kickboxing while he was living in Portugal. So although he appears to have very little experience, he’s logged plenty of high level ring time, which has led him to this level of success on the pro circuit.
What makes this a good match-up
Justin Tafa is being billed as the new version of Mark Hunt. He has the powerful KOs and several of them come via uppercut much like Hunt. The difference here is that Hunt was always able to do damage from distance too. Tafa seems to have strikes from distance, but they aren’t particularly accurate and wind up being more of a means to get to the area he wants to strike in, the clinch. With the kicks that De Castro throws, that’ll be tricky for Tafa. He’ll definitely eat more than his fair share as he works to the inside, and that could be enough to zap his power.
Prelim Breakout Star Record: 183-77-1 (2 NC) (7 DNF)
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View the original article on MMA Manifesto: UFC 243 Prelim Breakout Star: Yorgan De Castro