UFC 131 Preview Part Four: Donald Cerrone vs. Vagner Rocha

The opening bout of the night usually sets the pace for the rest of the pay-per-view broadcast. If it’s an exciting first fight, it’ll pull in the fans’ interest and get their blood pumping. If it’s a “snoozefest”, some fickle fans will instantly regret buying the broadcast and will critique every bit of the next fights until something exciting happens. Luckily for the UFC, Joe Silva made a match with all the ingredients it needs to be an explosive bout: Donald Cerrone vs. Vagner Rocha.

Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone is on a no-nonsense mission in the UFC to prove that he is the toughest and baddest lightweight to come from the WEC. Cerrone is looking to prove all the naysayers wrong and pick up his second victory in the UFC. Throughout his five year career, Cerrone has showed us time and time again why he was constantly in the top mix over in WEC. “Cowboy” has one of the best Muay Thai skill sets in the lightweight division and currently sports eleven submission victories in his record. He has already defeated a UFC veteran in Paul Kelly at UFC 126 and is looking to drop the hammer on Vagner Rocha’s dream at UFC 131.

Despite touting a BJJ black belt and an impressive record of six wins and one loss, Vagner Rocha is making his UFC debut this Saturday and has his hands full, to say the least. Rocha has shown impressive grappling skills in the past after defeating the likes of Igor Gracie and Francisco Soares, but none of his past opponents can compare to Donald Cerrone’s unique style. There’s no need to question if Rocha will give it his all in the Octagon this Saturday night because he surely will, but what does need to be answered is whether or not he can keep up with Cerrone’s scrappy style.

If we go back and look at Donald Cerrone’s past fights and had to notice one thing, it’s that he is always trying to finish the fight. Whether they’re standing or on the ground, Cerrone is constantly striking or constantly looking for openings to submit his opponent. Cerrone is another unorthodox fighter that has adapted well to Greg Jackson’s training, and he is even more dangerous now than ever before now that he walks into the octagon with a proper game plan. While Rocha has shown improvement in every fight, this is such a high jump up in competition from his past opponents that he may be in over his head here. From what he’s shown us in past fights, Rocha displays decent octagon control and, when composed, can dictate where he wants the fight to go. Once he got on the ground, he showed his weakness: if the fight is moving at a fast pace and the two start scrambling for a better position, he usually ends up in an unfavorable position. Donald Cerrone is the one fighter you don’t want to face if you can’t keep your composure, because he’ll see an opening and finish the fight. And as a natural welterweight and with such a short layoff between fights (his last fight was on May 11th), expect Rocha to walk into the fight with lackluster conditioning. Cerrone will work him down until he sees an opening and will submit him in the second round.

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