UFC Fight Night 126 main-event breakdown: Ready for a 'Cowboy' vs. Yancy Medeiros gunfight?

13 February 2018

MMAjunkie Radio cohost and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC Fight Night 126’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event.

UFC Fight Night 126 takes place Sunday at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, and it airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

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Donald Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7 UFC)

Donald Cerrone

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 34 Weight: 170 lbs. Reach: 73″
  • Last fight: TKO loss to Darren Till (Oct. 21, 2017)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/muay Thai
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:

+ Multiple muay Thai titles

^ 28-0 as a pro kickboxer

+ 8 KO victories

+ 16 submission wins

+ 13 first-round finishes

+ KO power

+ Intelligent strike setups

^ Feints, reads, reacts

+ Devastating head kicks

+ Accurate and intercepting knees

+ Hard leg kicks

^ Most landed in UFC history

+ Underrated wrestling ability

+ Excellent transitional grappler

+ Dangerous triangle choke

Yancy Medeiros (15-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC)

Yancy Medeiros

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 30 Weight: 170 lbs. Reach: 75.5″
  • Last fight: TKO win over Alex Oliveira (Dec. 2, 2017)
  • Camp: Team Hakuilua (Hawaii)
  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:

+ Regional MMA title

+ Karate and wrestling base

+ 8 KO victories

+ 4 submission wins

+ 6 first-round finishes

+ KO power

+ Consistent pace and pressure

^ High-volume striker

+ Accurate and effective left hand

^ Variates shot selection and targets

+ Solid front and round kicks

+ Underrated wrestling ability

^ Defensively and offensively

+ Good scrambles and transitions

+ Dangerous guillotine choke

Summary:

The main event in Austin features a potential welterweight war between Donald Cerrone and Yancy Medeiros.

A UFC staple who needs little introduction, Cerrone has been a fan favorite for some time. Amid the first losing streak of his career, the man who calls himself “Cowboy” will attempt to get back on the right side of the tracks.

Looking to spoil those plans is Medeiros, a hard-hitting Hawaiian who’s steadily been scraping his way up the food chain. Now, with his biggest name before him, Medeiros will be seeking to make a statement in his first headlining spot.

Starting off on the feet, we have a pairing of two fighters who are similar in spirit. Both men are high-volume strikers who work best when flowing at their preferred pace.

Medeiros, who comes from a wrestling and karate base, brings a unique style to the table.

Initially starting out as a light heavyweight, Medeiros utilized his frame well as he moved about the weight classes throughout his career.

Working off of prodding jabs and straight punches, Medeiros has always demonstrated a natural feel for range. Whether he is shifting stances into space or looking to feint and draw out his opponent’s offense, the Hawaiian has a knack for creating fight-changing collisions.

Medeiros also carries a deceptive kicking arsenal that smacks of his background in karate. From snapping front kicks to the solar plexus to round kicks that sneak behind his punches, the 30-year-old has many tools at his disposal.

That said, trading kicks may not be Medeiros’ first choice given the opposition at hand.

An excellent kickboxer, Cerrone does well at utilizing leg kicks and teeps to dictate action from a distance. Mixing in punches appropriately, Cerrone will draw out his opponent’s defenses to set up the fight-ending head kicks that comprise his highlight reel.

The 12-year pro will also provide much more than kicks and knees. Cerrone’s made strides in his overall striking in recent years, particularly inside the pocket and when throwing in combination.

Under the care of Brandon Gibson, this most recent iteration of Cerrone has him moving his head and torso offline and at angles, unloading his punches with different mechanics than before. Often punching his way out of exchanges with his left-hook, Cerrone will feed his newfound flow into his patent head kicks, as his arsenal is now much more symbiotic.

Should this battle get past the initial striking stanzas, then we may see the grappling chops of each fighter at play.

Although you will seldom see Medeiros shoot for a takedown, Cerrone has little issue in dusting off a double-leg shot. Whether he is changing his level to deal with pressure, or doing so just to get into his opponent’s head, Cerrone will likely be the man with more of a motive to take things to the mat.

Still, getting Medeiros to the ground is easier said than done. The Hawaiian, who comes from a wrestling base, has always quietly carried solid defensive abilities.

From his natural base and balance to his awareness to grips and hips, Medeiros’ long frame is harder to get in on than it appears. If Medeiros is able to shut down Cerrone in this department, then we will probably see the temperature rise even further on the feet. But if Medeiros fails to stuff the early shots, then he will be subject to dealing with Cerrone on the floor.

A slick transitional grappler, Cerrone can create and advance through scrambles like it’s second nature. The Jackson-Wink staple is a solid guard passer who parlays his pathways into quick back-takes when available. And if Cerrone misses in transition, he is consistent with punishing opponents as they try to make it back to their feet.

For that reason, Medeiros will need to be extra mindful when fighting hands and looking to stand. The Hawaiian has a dangerous guillotine and underrated ground game to boot, but exchanging on the mat with a sober Cerrone is not where he likely wants this fight.

The oddsmakers and public seem semi-tentative with their opinions, listing Cerrone -160 and Medeiros +140 as of this writing.

When looking at where each fighter currently is in his respective career, this line seems fitting to me. Medeiros, who has been undefeated since moving to welterweight, is more than a live dog in this spot.

Wielding high-volume offense that’s backed by ridiculous heart and durability, Medeiros has all the baseline tools to get the job done here. The Hawaiian also possesses superb accuracy in his left hand, and I see his left hook to the liver serving him particularly well in this matchup when looking at Cerrone’s history of assaults to his body.

That said, the same criticism can be made toward Medeiros, who has gotten hurt to the body on semi-frequent occasion inside of the octagon. Medeiros also shows a propensity eat leg kicks due to his stance, something that could bode poorly for him when facing the record holder for most leg kicks landed under the UFC banner.

Ultimately, this matchup is MMA’s equivalent to a gunfight. Both men have much more offense than they do defense, and neither will say no to a standoff. Despite me wanting to side with the Hawaiian, who is on an upswing, Medeiros’ propensity to take damage – coupled with his quick turnaround – has me feeling that Cerrone will be the last man standing come Sunday.

Official pick: Cerrone inside the distance

For more on UFC Fight Night 126, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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