If you’re a fan of MMA in the Midwest, then this week you’re in for a treat. Two fighters who rose to prominence fighting in the Kansas City fight scene will lock horns in hopes of earning a trip back to the big show when Tyler Stinson squares off with Rob Kimmons on June 29. The pair will headline Epic Fight Night 1 from the KCI Expo Center.

Kimmons fought seven times in the UFC Octagon, going 3-4 while competing at middleweight. After a rough stretch in which he lost three straight bouts, the Missouri native dropped to the welterweight division. He now rides a three-fight winning streak, with all three wins coming by stoppage. The 32-year-old carries a record of 26-8.

Now living in Denver and training at the Grudge Training Center, the 27-year-old Stinson has competed for both Strikeforce and Bellator. After going 2-2 under the Bellator banner, Stinson went 1-2 for Strikeforce, with one of those losses coming via split decision to the promotion’s final 170-pound champion, Tarec Saffiedine. Stinson got back in the win column with a first-round knockout victory in December, taking his record to 24-9.

Let’s take a deeper look at the match-up. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills match up against one another using similar scoring to the unified rules.

Striking: Stinson – 10, Kimmons – 9

On the feet, this fight heavily favors the younger Stinson. Sixteen of his 24 wins have come via strikes and his lanky 6-foot-3 frame is a significant obstacle for most of his opponents in the 170-pound division. Stinson excels in fights where he can establish his range quickly and keep his opponent guessing. Of his 16 wins by strikes, 12 have come in the first round and six within the first minute. Where Stinson has struggled in the stand-up department is against fighters that are patient and counter him. His final Strikeforce appearance against Jordan Mein is a perfect example of this. Luckily for Stinson, Kimmons does not possess anything close to the boxing technique of Mein.

Kimmons is not a striker by any means, but after 34 career fights and a lengthy UFC stint, it’s safe to say that he’s not afraid to mix it up on the feet. And by moving to the welterweight division, he will no longer face a significant size disadvantage against most foes. However, against Stinson, he will give up five inches in height and three inches in reach. Having succumbed to strikes on three occasions in his career, Kimmons is going to have to be cautious with Stinson early on and look for a clinch. If he stays on the outside, he will get picked apart.

Ground Game: Stinson – 9, Kimmons – 10

The tables are turned when it comes to the ground game. More than half of Stinson’s nine defeats have come via submission. That could spell trouble against an experienced grappler of Kimmons’ prowess. Without question, Stinson wants to keep this fight upright, but his losses should not take away from his own guard game. He has scored four of his six submission wins from off his back—three by triangle choke—thanks to his long frame. If Stinson finds himself planted on his back, he has the tools to keep Kimmons honest.

Much the way that Stinson wants to keep this fight standing, Kimmons will want this fight on the mat. The 32-year-old has notched 14 of his 26 wins by tapout, all inside the opening round. The Grindhouse product possesses a vicious guillotine choke that has produced half of his submission wins. Because Stinson is unlikely to be shooting for takedowns in this match-up, Kimmons will need to clinch and hope for an opening to latch onto his go-to move. And even if he can’t find a guillotine, if Kimmons can find the top position, the crafty veteran will hold the edge.

Wrestling: Stinson – 9, Kimmons – 10

First things first, neither of these fighters are typically praised for their wrestling skills. However, with nearly 70 fights between them, they’ve both experienced just about everything you can inside of a cage.

Stinson’s lengthy frame is a huge asset in the stand-up department, but it can be troublesome against an opponent looking for takedowns. He fared well against Nate James in Bellator, and he’ll need to keep a wide base when Kimmons aims to get this fight to the mat.

Kimmons’ frame is much more compact and lends itself to the wrestling game much more so than Stinson’s. But, even armed with a lethal submission game, Kimmons’ ability to get a fight to the ground involves more clinching and brute strength than well-timed power doubles. Against Stinson, he’ll want to employ that same strategy to drag this contest to his comfort zone.


This is an intriguing fight on many levels. Although Stinson and Kimmons have never faced each other, they are undoubtedly familiar with one another. With each having tasted the big show in the past, a win for either fighter could go a long way toward another call up from the UFC. The questions is, who wants it more? Kimmons has looked reinvented at welterweight, as evidenced by his three-fight winning streak, but how will he perform against a tall, hard-hitting foe like Stinson? Can Stinson score yet another highlight-reel, first-round stoppage that captures the attention of Zuffa brass?

Total: Stinson – 28, Kimmons – 29

Verdict: On paper, Kimmons has faced tougher competition and has the grappling arsenal to submit Stinson. But I’m not convinced he can get inside without eating some big shots from the far more explosive Stinson. In this contrast of styles, look for Stinson to wobble Kimmons late in the first round and finish him off with ground-and-pound.

Top Photo: Tyler Stinson (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)