Expert Analysis

Will Marc Diakiese Wrestle at UFC London?

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Returning for his second outing of the year, Britain’s Marc Diakiese is looking to go back to back for the first time since 2019. Standing across from him will be Bosnia’s, Damir Hadzovic. Hadzovic himself will also be looking to go back to back after defeating Yancy Medeiros back in June 2021. 

Diakiese surprised a lot of people last time out, none more so than his opponent, Viacheslav Borshchev. The Brit is a stunning striker, with a number of highlight reel finishes on his record. He isn’t opposed to throwing flashy, spinning attacks and prefers life in the kickboxing range above anything else.

What surprised everyone last time out is that Diakiese came out as a wrestler. He landed a brilliant 11 takedowns, outworking his opponent and not giving him a chance of victory. Not only did he secure the takedowns, but he was able to clock up 12:24 control time over 15 minutes, proving that he’s more than just a striker. Will he employ a similar game plan against Hadzovic at the O2 this weekend? We take a look at some of his works and look at whether the statistics game gives a hint to his game plan.

Marc Diakiese’s Takedown History

The interesting thing about Marc Diakiese is that he now has one more huge string to his bow. He’s now a much more well-rounded mixed martial artist, being a threat on both the ground and on the feet. After two knockouts in his first three wins, including a phenomenal, vicious one-punch knockout over Teemu Packalen in his first outing in the O2 arena, Diakiese seemed to fall in love with his striking. He’s always been regarded as a striker, despite a high number of takedowns per fight on average.

During his first three UFC bouts, he landed seven takedowns, of which six were landed against Frankie Perez. With that being said, Diakiese’s four takedowns in the first round wear far more reactive, rather than a gameplan. He caught a kick of Perez’s and landed the takedown. He then chained a number of takedowns from clinch positions and initiated takedowns from scrambles. The takedowns in the third round were a means to an end and actively looked to ground the fight in the final round due to bad cuts suffered throughout the bout.

The takedowns he landed against Lando Vannata later on in his career were extremely similar to those he landed against Perez three years previously. He reacts to a strong body kick from Vannata and ran the pipe to secure a double leg takedown. Later on in the round, he landed multiple takedowns from the clinch.

The Borshchev fight was a turning point for Diakiese. After dropping two straight fights, one of which lasted under two minutes, Diakiese became a wrestling-heavy fighter. Borshchev was coming off the back of four straight finish victories, including a performance of the night-winning liver shot TKO.

Again, the first round against Borshchev saw Diakiese land three takedowns, of which all came via the clinch. It was the second round which saw ‘Bonecrusher’ mix it up slightly. He landed an impressive takedown after fainting the low kick and attempting a takedown and settling for the clinch. He then was able to drop his weight and take the back of his opponent, eventually getting it to the floor by taking Borshchev’s weight over his heels. The whole sequence can be seen here:

The final round saw Diakiese land his first takedown in the open against a visibly tired Borshchev. All other takedowns were then achieved after clinch positions that were dominated by Diakiese.

Gameplan

It would certainly be beneficial for Diakiese to mix it up throughout the fight. His opponent in London, Hadzovic only has a 37% takedown defence, having been taken down nine times in his last three fights, including six times against Christos Giagos. He was also taken down nine times early on in his UFC career against Alan Patrick. Last time out, Hadzovic’s strike output was phenomenal. He threw a total of 241 strikes across 15 minutes, including 113 in the second round. If Diakiese can bait his opponent into a striking battle and force Hadzovic into overswinging and overcommitting, it will then lead to a more straightforward takedown for the Brit. Diakiese has also been training at All Stars Gym in Sweden alongside names including Khamzat Chimaev and Guram Kutateladze, so expect his wrestling to be on point yet again.

With that being said, Diakiese should still look to light Hadzovic up on the feet. He absorbed 3.70 strikes per minute, with a defensive percentage of 62%. No one has really ever attacked the legs of Hadzovic, which is something that Diakese can certainly make use of. We don’t know how effective the Bosnian is at defending leg kicks and it is something that Bonecrusher is certainly good at. Against Vannata, Diakiese regularly attacked the legs of his opponent, spinning him around multiple times, and landed big strikes to his lower legs throughout the first two rounds.

It’s undeniable that Hadzovic isn’t a wrestler. He’s only landed five takedowns through eight UFC fights, landing at a clip of 62%. With that in mind, Diakiese can do his thing will little danger of being taken down. He shouldn’t be afraid to stand with Hadzovic because he doesn’t have to worry too much about the threat of the takedown.

Britain’s own, Diakiese does have to be aware that he can’t let the crowd get the better of him. He hasn’t fought in his home country since 2019 and there’s no doubt that the crowd will be right behind him. If he lets the crowd get the better of him, he could be drawn into a slugfest against Hadzovic. He has to be on his toes, elusive and willing to take the fight to the ground and dominate when the opportunity presents itself.

Ultimately, we won’t know until Saturday night how Marc Diakiese will fight, but what we do know is that it will be exciting!

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Frazer is a 24 year old MMA and boxing enthusiast from Coventry, England. You can follow Frazer on twitter @Frazer_Krohn

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