There’s not a lot to choose, it appears, between Albuquerque MMA flyweight Jordan Espinosa and his opponent on Saturday.
It’s up to Espinosa, then, to make the distinction.
Espinosa and Matt Schnell of Shreveport, Louisiana are scheduled to face each other on the prelim portion (10 a.m., ESPN/ESPN3.com) of a UFC card at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The two fighters’ career arcs are strikingly similar.
Schnell has a career record of 13-4. Espinosa, who trains at Luttrell-Yee and is a product of the storied West Mesa wrestling program, is 14-5.
They both will enter the Octagon as fighters on the rise. Espinosa, 29, is 10-1 with one no-decision in his last 12 fights. Schnell, also 29, is 10-2 over the same span.
Each fighter has seven victories by submission.
Schnell, at 5-foot-8, does have a 2-inch height advantage and has more UFC experience, a 3-0 record compared to Espinosa’s 1-0.
But oddsmakers have made Espinosa a slight betting favorite.
In an interview with cagedminds.com, Espinosa said he respects Schnell as a well-rounded fighter who has paid his dues. But, he said, “I think there are some weaknesses I can exploit and some strengths I can utilize against him.”
BOXING: For the second time this year, New Mexico’s two leading promoters are planning shows within a week of each other.
There is, though, a twist: Santa Fe-based Holmes Promotions is coming to Albuquerque for the second time, and Albuquerque-based Legacy Promotions is heading north.
After a successful April 6 card at the Embassy Suites with Albuquerque with junior welterweight Fidel Maldonado Jr. in the main event, Holmes is using the same formula and the same venue for a card on Aug. 17. This time, Maldonado (27-4-1, 19 KOs) is matched against Denver’s Juan Santiago (16-16-2, nine KOs).
Santiago has been idle since July 2017, when he defeated fellow Coloradoan Robert Rodriguez by split decision. Santiago had lost five fights in a row before the victory over Rodriguez. He has lost twice to Johnny Rodriguez (no relation to Robert), whom Maldonado defeated by unanimous decision on Holmes’ first Embassy Suites card in March.
Highly regarded Albuquerque amateur Santiago “Santi” Giron, whose scheduled pro debut in March fell through, is booked on the Aug. 17 card. Longtime Albuquerque MMA fighter Donald Sanchez (3-2, two KOs as a boxer) and Espanola flyweight Leanna Martinez (4-1, two KOs) also are listed as on the card.
Legacy staged a card at the Manuel Lujan building on March 30, a week before the Homes card at the Embassy Suites on April 6. Now, Legacy is planning an Aug. 24 show at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino in Pojoaque, where Holmes has promoted most of his cards.
For its main event, Legacy is going the seniors route. At age 41, Santa Fe junior middleweight Joaquin Zamora (22-4-1, 12 KOs) is matched against 38-year-old Ernesto Berrospe (11-13, six KOs) of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Aaron “Angel Baby” Perez (7-0, five KOs), son and nephew of Legacy co-promoters Aaron and Jordan Perez, is matched against Mexico City’s Danny Flores (15-16-1, eight knockouts, loser of his last seven).
In an intrastate clash between veterans who might have fought each other years ago but didn’t, Aztec’s Joe Gomez Martinez (22-8-1, 10 KOs) is scheduled to face Arturo Crespin (13-8-1, four KOs) of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Other boxers listed on the Legacy card include Albuquerque welterweight Matthew Esquibel (12-0-1, five KOs) and Las Cruces super flyweight Amy Salinas (2-0, no KOs).