Ugas vs. Dallas: Fighting For That Next Step Forward

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Cuba’s Ugas has proven to be elite, and wants another crack at a world title, but must first get past the rejuvenated Dallas Jr. Saturday night on FS1.

The welterweight division is on fire as the best 147-pounders in the world continue to jockey for position and a shot at the big money and big fame atop the historical glamor division.  

This Saturday, February 1, headlining an FS1 PBC Fight Night and FOX Deportes card (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) live from Beau Rivage Resort Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, highly-ranked Cuban welterweight Yordenis Ugas (24-4, 11 KOs) meets veteran Mike Dallas Jr. (23-3-2, 11 KOs) in a twelve-round contest with big divisional implications. 

The Story

Yordenis Ugas stock continues to rise despite having lost to Shawn Porter last March. If anything, the close and widely disputed split decision loss proved that he belonged among the elite of the sport. A follow-up one-sided win over previously undefeated Omar Figueroa Jr. four months later affirmed that Ugas was still very much a player in the top-heavy welterweight division.

The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Cuba has made a habit of overcoming difficulties. From his 2010 defection to the US to back-to-back defeats in 2014 that stalled his career for two years and led to a move up to the welterweight division, Ugas has persevered.

Now, on the verge of entering the land of the welterweight elite, it’s hard to imagine him letting up now. This upcoming bout is an important one if he wants to keep up the forward momentum following his shutout of Figueroa. 

Mike Dallas Jr., meanwhile, has to be viewing this Super Bowl-eve showdown as his very own Super Bowl.

Once a well-regarded top prospect, the third-generation fighter failed to deliver in next-level bouts with Josesito Lopez, Mauricio Herrera, and Lucas Matthysse. After those letdowns, everything went off the rails and what followed was about seven years of inactivity and general underachieving. 

Clearly talented and skilled, Dallas, at 33 years of age, is hoping to mount a comeback and has put up a 4-0-1 record in his last five bouts, with a draw against undefeated prospect Dusty Hernandez Harrison being the high-water mark performance of that run. 

The Stakes

Ugas will be battling to keep his spot near the top of the welterweight division and continue his pursuit of a world title.

For Dallas, a win over Ugas would pretty much wipe his career slate clean and earn him a shortcut to other big fights at 147.

The Matchup

Ugas is a smart, well-schooled adaptive fighter with a bit of an aggressive edge. He likes to fight at a calculated pace and is very good at forcing opposition into fighting at his preferred pace and distance. 

The 33-year-old’s best offensive weapon may be his overhand right, but his body work, delivered with earnest intensity, is an underrated aspect of his game. 

Defensively, Ugas’ best assets are his reflexes and positioning—two attributes that also keep him safe from counters when he gets too wide with his punches.

I'm looking to put on a Super Bowl worthy performance. Welterweight Contender - Yordenis Ugas

Dallas employs a classic American boxer style dependent on a strong jab, quick reflexes, and movement. The Bakersfield, California native is talented enough to pull off that style and is most effective working from a distance where his long reach and general athleticism work to his benefit. 

The problem with Dallas has not been a lack of ability, but a failure to execute against next-level opposition. A nearly two-year layoff after his KO loss to Matthysse, followed by almost five years of semi-activity against mostly low-level opposition could be leaving him utterly incapable of challenging a high-end opponent right now. Optimistically, though, it’s possible that his seven-year professional and personal journey could’ve provided him with the opportunity for a positive mental and emotional reset. 

The Words

Yordenis Ugas

"I'm very excited to be returning to the ring. This is a huge weekend for sports fans and I'm very motivated fighting one day before the Super Bowl. You know when you get a Ugas fight you get all action, all the time and I'm looking to put on a Super Bowl worthy performance. Mike Dallas is a smart tricky fighter with a lot of heart and I know he'll be at his best. I'm fully focused on the task at hand but after I handle business, I want to fight the best welterweights in the world."

Mike Dallas Jr.

"I just want to say that I'm ready to take advantage of this opportunity. I'm ready to give it my all in the ring on February 1. This is going to be a great fight and I'm working extremely hard to be at my best when we step in there."

The Breakdown

It’s hard to bet against Ugas in this Saturday’s bout. He is, arguably, more skilled and is without a doubt the more active and more accomplished of the two fighters. Dallas, on the other hand, is burdened with question marks when it comes to what he can do and the kind of performance he can deliver at this stage of his career. 

If everything clicks for Dallas, though, he does have the kind of style that could give Ugas real trouble. Being able to move and effectively control the distance would put the Cuban in the uncomfortable spot of having to come forward and force the fight. 

For the underdog, all of this is a possibility—on paper—and there certainly should be no absence of motivation coming into a high profile bout like this one where he, literally, could be having his last shot at professional redemption. 

Ugas, however, is at the top of his game and within reach of the money and glory he’s been burning for ever since he came to the US with little more than his hopes and dreams for a better life. 

It’s going to take a lot to keep Ugas from taking that last half-step forward, likely more than Dallas can offer at this point. 

For a closer look at Ugas vs Dallas, check out our fight night page.

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