Jai Herbert (+126) vs. Francisco Trinaldo (-148)
Weight Class: Lightweight (155lbs)
Where? Yas Island, UAE
When? 5PM, Eastern Time on ESPN and ESPN +
This featured prelim bout will pin the veteran Francisco Trinaldo against UFC newcomer Jai Herbert. Trinaldo – who will be 42 in August – has won his last two fights over Bobby Green and John Makdessi respectively. I personally thought he won his fight with Alexander Hernandez last July, which would have brought his current winning streak up to four.
For 41 years old, Francisco Trinaldo still looks fresh. He looked fantastic in the Makdessi fight, cruising to a unanimous decision win. The veteran also looked very strong in the Bobby Green fight, muscling his way out of dangerous positions on the ground while showing great cardio for his age.
As for Jai Herbert, he is one of several Cage Warriors alums fighting on the UFC’s Fight Island finale. The 32 year old has only one loss on his record, which came against Rhys McKee back in 2016. McKee will also be making his UFC debut on this card, the biggest underdog available in fact.
Anyways, Herbert has turned in a solid MMA career thus far. He most recently held the Cage Warriors lightweight belt, defending it once against Cain Carrizosa. He looked great in both Cage Warriors title appearances, securing a finish in both.
With that said, Herbert has only seen a third round twice in his career. The most recent (and noteworthy) third round appearance for Herbert was against Jack Grant for the vacant lightweight title. Though he went to the third round, Herbert was controlling the fight for much of the second and into the third, meaning that he’s never really had to swim in deep water.
Trinaldo on the other hand, has gone the distance several times throughout his UFC career. The Brazilian has gone the distance in his last three fights and has shown no sign of age in any of these appearances. I think that this alone gives Trinaldo a huge edge, seeing as how UFC debuts are tough enough. To face a grizzled veteran in Trinaldo for a first UFC fight – a fighter with a great gas tank – is a tall order.
With that said, I certainly see a path for Jai Herbert. I could definitely see him being the more active fighter, which may or may not work to his benefit. Trinaldo is a patient but powerful striker who is oftentimes content to pick his shots. Sometimes the output really isn’t there for Trinaldo, but that usually comes against counter fighters. Jai Herbert -like Trinaldo – is a pressure fighter, so I expect this one to be highly entertaining.
However, I think that Trinaldo will ultimately be able to secure the decision win against Herbert in this one. The Brazilian has excellent striking defense – nearly 60% – and has never allowed more than 65 significant strikes in a fight. Even if Herbert comes out swinging, I don’t think it will be enough to beat Trinaldo unless he can knock him out. That will be tough, as the veteran certainly has a chin.
The ground edge also has to go to Trinaldo, as Herbert is not a ground fighter first. I don’t expect Trinaldo to be landing take downs, but he is certainly a submission threat on the ground and he’s tossed around stronger fighters than Herbert.
I like Trinaldo by decision here, though I could see Herbert winning a round. I do think it will be by decision, but I could see a finish as well. Herbert took some damage in his Cage Warriors fights against far lesser fighters, so I don’t foresee Trinaldo having trouble in hitting the target. I do like Herbert’s potential, however, and think that he will be able to dog out a decision loss.