UFC Fight Night 158 Preview – Strikers, Sluggers and Salvation

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UFC Fight Night 158 Preview

This Saturday (September 14, 2019), the UFC returns to Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada, for UFC Fight Night 158. In the main event of the evening, Donald Cerrone faces Justin Gaethje in a lightweight bout which promises fireworks. Canada is being treated to one of the best UFC ‘Fight Night’ events in recent memory. Here is a closer look at some of the most exciting bouts to watch out for this weekend.

Title Hope for ‘The Highlight’

Donald Cerrone (36-12-1NC) and Justin Gaethje (20-2) meet in what promises to be a fight of the year candidate. In a bout with title implications, here’s why the mixed martial arts community is so excited for the UFC Fight Night 158 main event.

The New Blood

Justin Gaethje is one of the most exciting fighters on the UFC’s roster today. Bringing new meaning to the word ‘brawler’, Gaethje’s fighting style guarantees entertainment. His relentless pressure complemented with vicious leg kicks and powerful swinging hooks demonstrate that ‘The Highlight’ is always looking to both physically and mentally break his opponents. Of his 20 wins, Gaethje boasts 17 stoppages via strikes, giving the Arizona native an astonishing 85% KO/TKO rate.

Due to his fearless intent to brawl, Gaethje also leaves himself open to strikes. This ultimately means that whenever he enters a cage, the result is a phenomenal fight. Gaethje has won six performance bonuses in his five UFC appearances, and there is every expectation he could add to this impressive list this weekend. Coming off two straight first-round knockout victories over top contenders Edson Barboza and James Vick, Gaethje has hope that one more victory will put him into title contention. Standing in the way of his dream is none other than Donald Cerrone.

The Old Dog

Aging like a fine wine, Donald Cerrone has looked more dangerous than ever in his last few bouts. Winning three of his last four contests, losing only to Tony Ferguson, Cerrone has re-established himself as one of the lightweight division’s elite. Cerrone’s striking has looked sharper than ever. In recent appearances, Cerrone finished Alexander Hernandez with a trademark head kick and dismantled tidy boxer Al Iaquinta in a fashion many thought Cerrone was unable to achieve.

The Lowdown

In what promises to be a compelling main event, Justin Gaethje is the betting favourite for good reason. Donald Cerrone has struggled against pressure fighters his whole career. Tony Ferguson proved that this tactic was still effective against ‘Cowboy’ in the latter’s last appearance. Justin Gaethje has proven that he has dynamite in his hands and after brutal knockout loses to the likes of Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal, there will be questions over how Cerrone’s chin will handle his power. However, if Cerrone makes Gaethje pay for his aggressiveness with well-timed counters and can wear Gaethje down from a distance with kicks to the body, Cerrone could stop Gaethje’s title charge in its tracks.

Last shot at the ‘Primetime’

Uriah Hall (14-9) faces Antonio Carlos Junior (10-3-1NC) in a middleweight contest. In what could be Hall’s final opportunity to hang with the divisions elite, this bout will unfold as a classic striker vs grappler matchup.

The Curious Case of Uriah Hall

Uriah Hall is one of the greatest enigmas of modern MMA. At times, Hall has shown that he is championship material in the middleweight division. However, far too often Hall has appeared disinterested and preoccupied in the cage, contributing to four losses in his last six bouts. With a win this weekend, Hall has the opportunity to prove that he’s ready to realise his monumental potential.

When he’s in the mood, Uriah Hall has it all. Precision, power and technique. Hall has a frighteningly fast jab and some of the best kicks to grace the octagon. In his last appearance, Hall knocked out rising prospect Bevon Lewis in a dramatic comeback. Hall dedicated the win to his sister, who is battling depression. With the right motivation and discipline, Hall is a problem for anyone on the UFC roster.

Slick Shoeface

Carlos Junior is a menace on the mat. Eight of the Brazillian’s ten wins have come by way of submission, specialising in rear-naked chokes. However, Hall has shown great competence in his takedown defence and will prove a challenge for Carlos Junior to drag to the floor.

Carlos Junior’s greatest weakness is his cardio. If ‘Shoeface’ has not addressed the issues that lead to Ian Heinisch defeating him in his last octagon performance, Uriah Hall could easily weather the early takedowns and dominate Carlos Junior on the feet later in the bout. Carlos Junior’s path to victory lies in pressure. Hall has often looked overwhelmed by pressure and frequently finds himself with his back to the cage with little space to work. If Carlos Junior can overcome his cardio issues and set a heavy pace on Hall, it could be a long night for the Jamaican.

Diagnosis Murder

No matter which way this bout goes, it will likely be in dominating fashion. If Hall can unleash one of his patented kicks it could spell a merciless knockout loss for Carlos Junior. However, if the Brazillian is able to pressure Hall into surrendering a takedown he will almost certainly dominate on the mat and could hand Hall his first submission loss.

Weird, Wacky and Downright Dangerous

Michel Pereira (23-9-2NC) takes on UFC debutant Tristan Connelly (13-6) in the welterweight division. Stepping in on short notice, can Connelly derail the unpredictable Brazilian’s hype train?

Backflips and Spinning Kicks

The UFC has never seen anything like Michel Pereira before. Pereira fought Dae-Sung Kim at Road FC 52 and instantly became a viral sensation after a spectacular performance. After knocking down his opponent with an impressive spinning kick, Pereira went into overdrive. The Brazillian began to backflip off the cage onto his downed opponent with some crazy strikes that epitomise his unique character.

After signing with the UFC, in March many believed that Pereira would be exposed.” However, on his debut, Pereira knocked out Danny Roberts with a perfect flying knee in the very first round. Pereira has proven that he belongs in the UFC and will look to extend his winning streak to four this weekend.

The Hometown Hero

British Columbia native Tristan Connelly will have no issues playing the stylistic villain against Pereira. Although relatively unknown, Connelly will pose a real threat to the Brazillian. Connely has won his last four fights, claiming the Rise FC lightweight title in the process.

Connelly is stepping in on under a weeks notice for this bout. Pereira was originally scheduled to fight Sergey Khandozhko, who was forced to withdraw due to VISA issues. Connelly now has the opportunity of a lifetime and will look to prove that he is a UFC-calibre athlete with a win this Saturday.

‘Demolidor’ vs ‘Boondock’

Connelly is something of a grappling ace, with nine of his thirteen wins coming by way of submission. However, Pereira will prove difficult to tap out, with only one of his nine losses being via submission. In reality, Pereira will be heavily favoured against Connelly, with the UFC providing a favourable matchup in order to build up a potential star. However, this will not deter the driven Canadian who has every chance of causing a major upset.

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