I’m a looking forward to this fight.
There I said it. This is not going to be so much a preview as an evangelist preaching about why you too should look forward to this match. Because when you say ‘Fight of the Night’, Donald Cerrone vs Charles Oliveira is only an ‘was awarded to’ away.
The Cowboy is a man who could fight to the beat of Morricone’s finest. He’s the all-action embodiment of World Extreme Cagefighting’s lightweight division, a group of fighters who’s worth is being rapidly reevaluated after the likes of Cerrone and his former adversary Ben Henderson (who’s also on this card) proved so impressive in their first fights in the Octagon. Since he first stepped into the Octagon after just hearing that his grandfather had died he has defeated the durable Brit Paul Kelly and UFC debutant Vagner Rocha. The Rocha fight is extremely instructive for this fight as it saw Cerrone come in with a very clear gameplan – keep the fight standing against a dangerous grappler. A tactic that made sense against Rocha because while Cerrone is no slouch on the ground, he was whole precients ahead of his opponent on the feet.
In many ways you would exspect Cerrone to employ the same gameplan against Oliveria. Not only is Oliveria just as unproven standing as Rocha was but he’s much, much more dangerous on the ground. Oliveira has two Submission of the Night victories and has seven career submission victories. He is by far the best grappler in the lightweight division, combining both dangerous submissions with breathtakingly smooth transitions. He is however under pressure after being submitted by Jim Miller and then snatching a no contest from the jaws of victory by illegally kneeing a downed Nick Lentz before submitting him.
What makes this fight so intriguing is my belief that Oliveira has the takedowns to get Cerrone to the ground. Cerrone won’t to go there but he won’t have the choice. But forced onto the mat, Cerrone has only one way to fight – scramble, scrap and survive. He may be a cowboy but he can hang with anybody, anywhere in a cage. But whether its on the feet or on the ground, Cerrone has only one way to fight – aggressively. Cerrone cannot stall – just soft pedaling his acting instinctive at UFC 131 brought him out in hives, actually fighting on the defensive may make him retch right there in the center of the Octagon.
And what’s more, Cerrone doesn’t have may not have the grappling pedigree of Oliveira but his killer instinct gives him an impressive 12 submission career victories. This is the contest we see on Sunday night – can the toughness and determination of Cerrone overcome the technique of his once much hyped opponent. Whoever comes out ontop of this archetypal battle will be a serious contender at 155Ibs and most likely the winner of UFC on Versus 5’s Fight of the Night.
This fight is going to come down to whether the tough, street smarts of the American Cerrone can scratch out enough of a niche to prevail against the technical skills of the UFC’s latest Brazilian prodigy.
Tags: Charles Oliveira, Donald Cerrone, Jim Miller, Mixed Martial Arts, ufc lightweight division, UFC on Versus 5