WelterweightsDonald Cerrone (33-11) vs. Mike Perry (12-3)
ODDS: Perry (-220), Cerrone (+180)
A move to welterweight was supposed to give Cerrone’s career new life, but instead, “Cowboy” just seems directionless. For years, Cerrone’s slot was well-defined. He would take whatever fight was available at lightweight, fight roughly 100 times per year and remain both a reliable action fighter and fan favorite. A brief attempt at acting like a normal fighter did not take. After securing a lightweight title shot against Rafael dos Anjos in 2015, Cerrone waited for dos Anjos to get healthy, only to fall victim to one of his infamous slow starts and get blown out in just 66 seconds. After that setback, Cerrone returned to taking whatever fight was available at the moment, this time at welterweight, and results through 2016 were stellar: four wins in four fights, with highlight-reel knockouts of Rick Story and Matt Brown along the way. However, once 2017 came around, years of wars, weight cuts and just fighting way too often than any sane man should seemed to finally catch up to Cerrone. It was the first winless year of his career. Cerrone got knocked loopy by Jorge Masvidal and did not look a ton better after a UFC-imposed break, losing a decent fight to Robbie Lawler before getting run over by Darren Till. A win over Yancy Medeiros showed that Cerrone still has a decent amount to offer, but the UFC now seems to have slotted him as a name to help get rising fighters over; four losses in his last five fights has not exactly suggested things are getting much better. There is also drama concerning Cerrone’s training situation, as he has split with longtime camp Jackson-Wink MMA, mostly due to the presence of his opponent here.
Perry was an interesting if raw prospect on film before his UFC debut, and the Flint, Michigan, native quickly made a name for himself as soon as he hit the big time. Perry’s limited but effective power striking game gave him some big knockouts and entertaining fights, and the UFC looked past all of his problematic issues in favor of promoting him; racial insensitivity is nothing compared to charisma and a highlight reel, I suppose. The UFC getting in Perry’s corner has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he has gotten some featured spots, but on the other, the UFC did eventually give into its worst tendencies and attempted to rush Perry up the ladder. A loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio did little for Perry outside of causing him some damage, and a quick turnaround to face Max Griffin in Orlando, Florida, resulted in a shocking upset loss, as Griffin exposed Perry’s lack of a game plan beyond stalking forward and hunting for a knockout. A move to Jackson-Wink MMA does seem like a cause for optimism, though. Perry did fight a bit smarter against Paul Felder, even if Felder turned out to be a better style matchup than expected. This fight is a big opportunity for Perry to finally break through to the level that the UFC seems to want him at, though with Cerrone being another banger, there is the ever-present risk that the UFC is just going to burn him out. Whether or not that is a cause for concern depends on whether you view Perry as a problematic favorite or just problematic.
This looks like a terrible style matchup for Cerrone. His chin is not that faded just yet, but the main concern for “Cowboy” -- particularly at welterweight -- is that he just does not seem capable of scaring off opponents once they decide to pressure or swarm him. Perry is at his best when deciding to pressure. Add in that Perry’s chin has looked virtually indestructible thus far, and this looks like a fairly straightforward win for the man they call “Platinum.” Cerrone could have success for a bit, but as soon as Perry decides to march forward, the fight is probably close to over. The pick is Perry via late first-round knockout.
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