Another weekend has arrived and in this era of mixed martial arts, you know what that means, fight fans: another Ultimate Fighting Championship card lacking in depth and intrigue. Fortunately, the upper third of the UFC Fight Night 126 lineup is filled with well-made fights. The rest? Well, no one will blame you for relying on the DVR or skipping them entirely.
In your main event on Sunday from Austin, Texas, perennial thriller Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone meets emerging brawler Yancy Medeiros in what should be a fun-as-hell dust-up. Meanwhile, your co-feature pits perhaps the biggest hitter in MMA, Derrick Lewis, against skilled Pole Marcin Tybura.
Like most MMA fans, though, you are likely more interested in the ongoing feud between welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and UFC President Dana White. Indifference aside, MMA darling Sage Northcutt is back in action. At the end of the day, what more do you need? Let us commence with the odds and analysis for UFC Fight Night 126:
WelterweightDonald Cerrone (32-10) vs. Yancy Medeiros (15-4)
ODDS: Cerrone (-160), Medeiros (+140)
ANALYSIS: How you feel about this fight essentially comes down to how boiled and shot you think “Cowboy” might be at this stage of his career. Three years ago, this contest is an absolute wipeout.
We would not have seen this kind of UFC matchmaking several years ago. Remember the Joe Silva ethos of “winners fight winners, losers fight losers?” Well, Medeiros has won three in a row in the Octagon, while “Cowboy” has suffered three straight defeats in the Octagon. However, in an era of matchmaking desperation, Cerrone has lost three in a row and still enters the fight as a betting favorite -- and with good reason.
I do not want to make this breakdown overly simplistic, but the 30-year-old Medeiros is not much more than a classic MMA brawler. He has no footwork. He has no real kicking game. The Hawaiian simply just tries to get inside of his opponent’s guard and unleash with massive punching combinations. This is not to say his approach is not a recipe for success; as I mentioned, “The Kid” has won three straight and shown legitimate skill improvements over the last 18 months. However, his elevation to main-event status is not predicted on actual development but on the fact that he has prevailed in two consecutive Octagon brawls with Erick Silva and Alex Oliveira. He has manufactured his hype on mid-card action brawls against lower opposition.
Has Cerrone lost three in a row? Absolutely, but look at the opposition those Ls came against. I think it is a fair assessment to wonder whether or not “Cowboy” has been washed as commodity. This is not the fight, though. In fact, this feels like smart matchmaking from the Sean Shelby-Mick Maynard duo. This is a make-or-break fight for the 34-year-old Jackson-Wink MMA product. All those losses came to elite fighters with a smart and stylish concept to their game. This is not Medeiros, a straight-forward brawler.
If “Cowboy” is not completely washed, even as a slow starter, he should attack the lead leg and body of Medeiros and liberally so. Even if Cerrone does not enjoy a reach advantage, he remains the better ranged striker; never mind his knack for transitioning off of the knockdown to dominant positions and submissions. Medeiros, even if he is as tough as they come, has eaten 5.19 significant strikes per minute, which is a worrying sign, on top of the fact that the Hawaiian shows zero interest in checking leg kicks or jabs -- exactly the strikes that get Cerrone’s game operating.
A slow start from Cerrone seems fundamental, but eventually, the long-distance kicking from “Cowboy” should pay dividends, whether it results in a strikes stoppage or a sassy transmission to submission. Plain and simple, unless “Cowboy” is done, this bout should end in a finish inside the first 10 minutes.
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