UFC Fight Night 126 Texas - Breakdown and Predictions
Donald Cerrone vs Yancy Medeiros
Yancy Medeiros has been awarded with a headlining act in Texas against a legend and thorough fan-favourite in Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. This is off the back of an incredible TKO finish, ‘Performance of the Night’ and potential ‘Fight of the Year’ contender against Alex Oliveira at UFC 218.
Earning his place alongside Cowboy, the Hawaiian is in great nick, winning his last three fights via spectacular finishes – submitting Sean Spencer and finishing Erick Silva via TKO to set up his unforgettable fight with Oliveira.
Cowboy is in contrasting form however. After a blazing four-fight win streak after moving up to welterweight, the veteran has lost three on the bounce against the elite of the division in Jorge Masvidal, Robbie Lawler and Darren Till.
Who wins will really depend on Cowboy’s mood. On paper it is very even - they are extremely well-rounded with immense skill on the feet and on the ground which is displayed in their finishing stats. The key stat highlighted is their strikes landed per minute which are both very high and a portrayal of their aggressive styles.
However, Cerrone is slicker with devastating power and combinations thrown from all angles and is very underrated on the ground so he just gets the nod providing he is motivated and not complacent with the skills and form of the Hawaiian.
Winner: Cerrone vis KO/TKO
Derrick Lewis vs Marcin Tybura
Derrick ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis returns to the octagon and claims he has never felt better after chronic back injuries have plagued his recent career. That said, he pulled off an explosive six-fight win streak until he got stopped in his last fight against Mark Hunt.
Desperate to bounce back and earn his pay check, he has to get past Marcin Tybura which will be one of his toughest tests so far. The Polish native is also coming off a loss which was to Fabricio Werdum, and although Tybura lasted the five rounds, he was simply outclassed and now has a very different and dangerous opponent in the form of the Black Beast.
Lewis is a strong grappler but makes no attempts to hide the fact that all he wants to do is knock his opponents out. Tybura has to prepare for his power as one mistake will turn the lights off. So, Tybura may look to close the distance and attempt to get Lewis on his back to look for a submission but more importantly - negate the Black Beast’s strengths.
The most likely outcomes are a knockout finish for Lewis or a decision for Tybura. So, the striking accuracy of Lewis has to be the key stat as he requires only one connection to end the fight. However, Tybura’s loss to Werdum will provide a steep learning curve and after enduring the five rounds, he is in good shape to squeak out a decision but if Lewis is feeling as good as he says he is and is over his back pain – we could see a rejuvenated knockout machine.
Winner: Lewis via KO/TKO
Thiago Alves vs Curtis Millender
Thiago Alves has been fighting in the UFC since 2005 but despite a lot of hype he never lived up to his potential after a series of debilitating injuries. However, he is now grateful to be fighting again and welcomes an up-and-coming slugger for his UFC debut.
That slugger is Curtis Millender who is riding a six-fight winning streak with two spectacular head kick knockouts in his last two outings for the Legacy Fighting Alliance. Alves will be by far the biggest name on his record and he is desperate to register a W next to his name and begin his journey in the monster-littered welterweight division.
The Brazilian’s form is as consistent as his fitness but if the Alves of old turns up, Millender will be in for a painful and humbling evening. The debutant is in the form of his life though, and those two knockouts combined with his significant reach advantage may just give him the confidence of toppling the veteran.
Winner: Millender via Decision
James Vick vs Francisco Trinaldo
After loudly staking a claim to fight a top-10 ranked opponent, James Vick has not quite got his wish but has been handed the opportunity of fighting in his home state for UFC Fight Night 126. This opportunity is against the veteran Francisco Trinaldo, who has won eight of his last nine fights with that loss coming via a submission at the hands of top contender, Kevin Lee.
So, the Brazilian is clearly still dangerous even at 39 years old but Vick is on his own march towards the top of the stacked lightweight division, carrying a ton of his own confidence with only one loss to his name. Crucially he has a significant size advantage which he has used effectively in all his fights and has enabled him to finish eight of his 12 wins.
Winner: Vick via Submission
Sage Northcutt vs Thibault Gouti
The young prodigy Sage Northcutt is now getting the appropriate promotion which involves building him up gradually and not putting on pressure of becoming a superstar. The kid is unique and has talents that many fighters can only dream of. He is unbelievably athletic with explosive speed but has also developed dangerous striking and grappling ability. He has all the tools to be a champion but at only 21 years old, needs time to grow and mature.
An important stepping stone comes in the form Thibault Gouti who will be a very tricky assignment. Although he has lost three of his last four fights, the Frenchman has a lot of experience and possesses dangerous finishing ability of his own with four knockouts and six submissions out of his 12 wins.
As you can see in the stats, they are both very well-rounded and evenly matched but Northcutt has the edge in speed and explosiveness which will only enable his blistering takedowns. So, we could easily see Northcutt assume control on the mat if he decides to take the fight down that route. He also looked sensational in his last fight against Michel Quinones where he extended his unbeaten record at lightweight which will give some much-needed confidence.
Winner: Northcutt via Submission