Under the Radar UFC Buenos Aires: Ian Heinisch

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UFC, Getty Images (Getty Images)

Prior to every event, Under the Radar will cast the spotlight on an up-and-coming talent who shows the potential for growth in their division and isn’t getting enough attention as they head into battle.

Name: Ian Heinisch

Record: 11-1 overall, UFC debut

Division: Middleweight

Team: Factory X Muay Thai

A blistering performance on the Contender Series this summer earned Ian Heinisch a UFC contract and this weekend, “The Hurricane” has a chance to make an instant impact in the middleweight division.

Stepping in for the injured Tom Breese, the 30-year-old former LFA standout squares off with Cezar Ferreira in his promotional debut in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although “Mutante” currently resides outside of the rankings, the former TUF Brazil standout has been on a roll of late, winning five of his last six bouts since returning to the division and is widely regarded as a tough out in the 185-pound weight class.

Beating Ferreira is tough.

Taking him down on short notice is even tougher.

Doing it in South America after accepting the bout seven days earlier is a tall order, so it tells you a lot about Heinisch that he jumped at the chance to jump in the cage with the 33-year-old UFC veteran.

While Heinisch didn’t have a fight of his own coming up prior to stepping in to replace Breese, he trains under Marc Montoya as part of the crew at Factory X Muay Thai in Edgewood, Colorado, which has not only been one of the breakthrough teams of the year, but has also been exceptionally busy in recent weeks.

Rising light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith and welterweight veteran Court McGee both fought and won in Moncton, New Brunswick at the end of October. Chris Camozzi just scored a win at Glory 61 in New York City, and last weekend, Mark de la Rosa, Devonte Smith and Maycee Barber all registered wins at home in Denver to add to the team’s impressive run of success.

They’re a team that operates on the “stay ready so you don’t have to get ready” principle and Heinisch was very much a part of helping his teammates prepare, which should ensure that he’s in good shape and ready to go heading into his short-notice debut.

And if his performance in the UFC cage this summer on the Contender Series is any indication of what to expect from the 30-year-old newcomer this weekend, this main card middleweight affair could be a firefight:

Despite some dicey moments, that finishing sequence and the force behind those elbows was intense.

Heinisch is a little undersized for the division, but brandishes the kind of power and explosiveness that can make up the difference. Though he put himself in a couple tough positions in his Contender Series bout with Sumter, he also worked his way out of them and wasted little time finishing once he got to top position and postured up.

The technical miscues and gaps in his skill set you can work on — and are somewhat expected from a fighter with just a dozen bouts under his belt — but the obvious athleticism, power and finishing instincts Heinisch displayed in that fight and some of his other key victories are things that can’t be taught and set him apart from your typical UFC newcomer.

This card as a whole is flying under the radar, as international events featuring few top contenders often do, but there are a handful of intriguing bouts on the card and Heinisch’s debut against Ferreira is near the top of that list.

Only Elias Theodorou has been able to best “Mutante” since his one-off appearance at welterweight and his recent run of success includes submission wins over Karl Roberson and Jack Hermansson, as well as a unanimous decision nod over Heinisch’s teammate, Anthony Smith. That means Montoya and the team have already prepared for the Brazilian once before and having that experience to draw upon — and “Lionheart” to look to for in-cage insights — will be invaluable as he looks to turn a call-up on seven-days notice into the biggest win of his career.

Even if Heinisch doesn’t come away from Argentina with a victory, he remains someone to watch in the division going forward.

He lobbied for the opportunity to face the three other former LFA middleweight champions on the roster after beating Sumter this summer, and while it obviously didn’t come together, throwing down the gauntlet in front of Eryk Anders, Anthony Hernandez, and Markus Perez, who handed Heinisch his only career loss, is the kind of confident display that should put a guy on your radar.

And if he were to beat “Mutante” this weekend in Buenos Aires, it would be impossible not to pay attention to “The Hurricane” going forward.