UFC Fight Night 118 - Main Card Breakdown

Date: Saturday 21st October, 8pm (UK)

Location: Gdansk, Poland

Venue: Ergo Arena

Donald Cerrone vs Darren Till

A surprise match-up for Donald Cerrone but a dream match-up for Darren Till. In just his last fight, Cerrone narrowly lost a decision to the former welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler, and now travels to Poland to take on the young and unbeaten Liverpudlian.

‘Cowboy’ has seen and done it all in the UFC, fighting the very best lightweights and welterweights in the world with wins over the likes of Matt Brown, Rick Story, Benson Henderson, Eddie Alvarez, Jim Miller and Edson Barboza. Cerrone is one on the most popular fighters in the world with one of the most thrilling and well-rounded skillsets on the roster to compliment his ‘fight anyone, anywhere’ attitude.

However, this attitude has guided him onto the path of a very dangerous and hungry fighter for a fight that has more risk than reward. Till is overflowing with confidence and ambition and has stated that he will run through Cerrone with an early knockout. Although the young Brit is unbeaten, he doesn’t boast any names like Cerrone’s record and truly has everything to gain and little to lose against one of the most seasoned and talented fighters in the UFC.

Till is an aggressive and powerful striker evolving from a Muay Thai background. Starting his promising career in Brazil, he now finds himself back on European soil for the biggest fight of his life. He has all the confidence that he will dictate the tempo, going toe-to-toe with Cerrone on the feet; a bold move against a fighter with a track record of dismembering top ranked fighters with elite striking and lethal combinations.

This will be Till’s best option though, as Cerrone has struggled against aggressive and high pressure southpaw’s. His last two losses came against Jorge Masvidal and Robbie Lawler who are notorious in pressing and controlling the stand-up battle. Although Cerrone will be the heavy favourite, the fight will be even in the early stages but as the fight goes on, Cerrone has all the back-up weapons at his disposal with experience and a complete ground game.

See below for a statistical breakdown of the fight. The key stat is their respective fight record and age, highlighting the illustrious experience of Cerrone.

Cerrone v Till.JPG

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Jodie Esquibel

Karolina Kowalkiewicz is in unfamiliar waters. In her last two fights she has suffered her first two defeats of her career, forcing her to go back to the drawing board for her first UFC fight on home soil. She is looking to pick herself up and bounce back after losing against the strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and number one contender, Claudia Gadelha.

She was particularly disappointed with her last loss against Gadelha as the Brazilian’s game plan was predictable. Kowalkiewicz seemed surprised and overwhelmed with Gadelha's strength as she was taken down and submitted with a rear-naked choke in the first round. She is now desperate to get back in the cage and prove her credentials against the UFC newcomer, Jodie Esquibel.

This is Esquibel’s third fight as a strawweight after losing a decision to Alexa Grasso and winning a decision over DeAnna Bennett since moving up in weight. The American started her career in the boxing ring with a mixed record of 7-7-1 but has grabbed the attention of fans with her striking skills under the Invicta banner.

Esquibel will fancy her chances of out-striking Kowalkiewicz but the only fighter who has managed this feat is the best striker in the division and current undisputed champion, Jedrzejczyk. Kowalkiewicz is not far behind the champion in terms of striking ability with elite level Muay Thai skills and a devastating clinch. This is a huge step up in competition for Esquibel as this match-up could fall straight into the hands of the home favourite.

The key stat highlighted below is Kowalkiewicz’s last two results. These were the first two losses of her career, however they could easily be the making of her. They were against the two best fighters in the division and she will have learnt more about herself in these two fights than all the wins she has had and will now be as motivated as ever to make a big statement on her return. As this is Esquibel’s UFC debut there are no striking/grappling stats to go on so we have broken down their finishing:

Kowalkiewicz v Esquibel.JPG

Jan Blachowicz vs Devin Clark

Jan Blachowicz desperately seeks a win and will be grateful he has the chance in his home nation. He has lost four of his last five fights which has very much dampened his previous six-fight win streak. Although a string of losses can be detrimental to a UFC career, he has succumbed to impeccable competition.

His most recent losses were to Patrick Cummins and Alexander Gustafsson. Prior to picking up a win against Igor Pokrajac he lost to Corey Anderson and Jimi Manuwa. The key factor in these losses was that they all came via decisions which has raised many questions regarding the endurance and gas tank of Blachowicz which does not bode well for this fight.

Devin Clark is a wrestler who will take the fight to the ground and look to control and grind Blachowicz down into defeat. Blachowicz is an aggressive striker and no slouch on the mat as a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but Clark is a powerful athlete who will test the takedown defence of the Pole and will simply wear him out if he obtains top control.

The key stat highlighted is their reach; Blachowicz has a healthy advantage which will be crucial to keeping the distance and avoiding the takedowns of Clark. 

See below for the statistical breakdown:

Blachowicz v Clark.JPG

Oskar Piechota vs Johnathan Wilson

The unbeaten hometown middleweight kicks off the main card in Gdansk by welcoming Jonathan Wilson for his first fight outside the United States.

Oskar Piechota has fought for numerous promotions but the UFC have grabbed the prospect after several spectacular finishes. Despite one draw early in his career, he has submitted or knocked out all of his opponents by the second round which is exactly the type of fighter the UFC desire and he will be hoping to ignite his UFC journey in similar fashion.

Wilson will be looking to spoil the show as he returns to the octagon after a year on the sidelines. He has been in a very similar situation to Piechota as he also arrived to the UFC undefeated with a plethora of finishes. However, he couldn't continue his form after the step-up in UFC competition, suffering losses against Henrique da Silva and Ion Cutelaba.

It will be interesting to see how Wilson responds after his first defeats and a long lay-off. He may be more cautious than usual but Piechota will still have to be wary and rely on his sound technical ability in this one.

The key stats highlighted is their win breakdown, proving they both hunt the finish with success which could produce a swashbuckling start to the main card. 

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Piechota v Wilson.JPG