Calling Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo (21-5) well-traveled is an understatement; at 39 years old he has been fighting in the UFC almost three times a year at a steady clip since 2011. He’s 7-1 in his last eight with a lone loss coming to the monstrously talented Kevin Lee.
There are fighters who have no discernable talent and make a name for themselves with nothing but hard work. Trinaldo almost fits that archetype except he’s strong for his weight class with solid power. Weirdly though, he’s most effective when he’s wrestling. He’s a “punch and clutch” fighter in that he’ll throw massive power and run into his opponent to grab a hold of them.
The funny thing is he didn’t start out this way; he came in as a Brazilian kickboxing champion with a limited gas tank. You still see it in spurts when has an opponent rocked, but tempering his aggressiveness and building on his grappling has done wonders. He’s 10-4 in his UFC career so something’s working.
Outside of his punch and clutch or a lucky power shot, Trinaldo’s offense is fairly limited. Trinaldo consistently loses to superior wrestlers who can beat him at his own game. Not just offensive wrestlers, but men whose base is solid enough to deter Trinaldo’s grappling.
Don’t let the recent skid fool you; Jim Miller (29-10 1 NC) has stuck around this long in the lightweight division for a reason. There was a stretch in his career when the only men who beat Miller were the very best in the world like Benson Henderson, Nate Diaz, and Donald Cerrone. As the years and wounds have caught up with him, his place in the division has slipped but he’s still very tough.
See, Miller has no real weaknesses. He can kickbox and grapple equally well and he has cardio for days. He owns two wins over Joe Lauzon and a submission victory over Charles Oliveira. For those who don’t understand the significance, it’s like breaking Kyrie Irving’s ankles or painting a happier tree than Bob Ross.
But what sets Miller apart is his durability. It’s easy to hurt Miller, but putting him away is a different story. In many of his “decision” losses, his opponent had him badly hurt but couldn’t convince Miller to give up. Heck, people didn’t start knocking Miller out until the miles caught up to him.
Perhaps that’s his biggest weakness: age. He’s not tough enough to endure what he once could while he has gotten a step slower.
Trinaldo has the better record coming in, but his quality of opposition has been so-so. Before Kevin Lee submitted him, the best fighter on his win streak was Paul Felder. That’s respectable but not contender-level competition. Miller’s last four opponents were Anthony Pettis, Dustin Poirier, Thiago Alves and Joe Lauzon. He may be 2-2 in that run, but he wasn’t finished in either of his losses.
But Trinaldo has retained some of his explosiveness while Miller increasingly looks like a ’96 Camry.
It’s a coin flip. Trinaldo has enough power to knock down Miller while the opposite may not be true anymore so he gets the edge.
Trinaldo via Decision
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