WelterweightsDonald Cerrone (36-15) vs. Niko Price (14-4)
ODDS: Price (-150), Cerrone (+130)
Despite four straight losses, Cerrone is not quite done yet. “Cowboy” is still the archetype for someone willing to accept a fight anywhere at any time against anyone, and that has made him one of the most beloved figures in UFC history. It has also had its benefits inside the cage. While Cerrone has suffered his fair share of damaging and one-sided losses, his breakneck schedule has typically meant that he could find himself back on a winning streak within a matter of months. Looking back, the first few years of Cerrone’s UFC career are quite impressive and proved he was just as much an elite fighter as a beloved veteran. From 2011 to 2016, he packed in a whopping 23 fights and only lost four of them: two to Rafael dos Anjos and one each to Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz. However, it has been a rough go from 2017 forward, with that calendar year being particularly harrowing. Cerrone lost a solid decision to Robbie Lawler, but that was sandwiched between quick knockout losses to Jorge Masvidal and Darren Till. After splitting his next two fights, Cerrone went on a bit of a run that showed he could still turn back a flawed upstart. Mike Perry was no match for Cerrone’s underrated submission game, while Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta did little except charge repeatedly into danger. Cerrone’s reward was a particularly nightmarish slate of opposition. Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje and Conor McGregor were all opponents that would have handily beaten Cerrone at his peak, and that was certainly true now, with the latter two serving up especially quick and brutal knockouts. A rematch with Pettis in May—a close decision loss that many felt Cerrone should have won—was a solid affair that showed “Cowboy” can still do well in a slower-paced fight. With that said, he gets another violent collision here against Price.
When Florida’s Price made his UFC debut, there was not much to differentiate him from other raw prospects, but over time, it has become clear that he has a legitimately special ability to knock people out. The first sign was his one-shot knockout of the typically durable Alan Jouban in 2017, but his 2018 finish of Randy Brown is probably the most emblematic of the constant danger that “The Hybrid” can bring. The fight was cruising along normally enough with Brown in top position, but Price threw some hammerfists from the bottom that shockingly knocked the former Ring of Combat champion unconscious, earning a peculiarly spectacular win. Price’s losses have shown that he can still be picked apart by a more technical fighter who can stay out of trouble, but his wins have continued to provide some spectacular violence. He absolutely folded Tim Means with a come-from-behind knockout in 2019, and his most recent victory resulted from an upkick—yet another finish from his back—against James Vick. It seems doubtful Price will ever rein in things enough to become a true contender, but he is fun enough that nobody seems to mind.
Cerrone finally gets a step back in competition here, but despite all of the technical advantages that “Cowboy” may possess, this is still a difficult fight. Cerrone’s issues are well-known at this point, as he struggles with slow starts and against more aggressive opponents who can knock him out. If nothing else, Price is a more aggressive opponent that can certainly knock out Cerrone; and with his wins over Brown and Vick, Price has shown that controlling a fight is not an avenue to avoiding that constant danger. He only needs the briefest bit of time and space to generate a shocking amount of power. Over 15 minutes, Price should be able to find an opening that turns this fight in his favor, and it will probably happen sooner rather than later. The pick is Price via first-round knockout.
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