It’s one of the most anticipated fights of 2019 and it all goes down on Saturday night as Donald Cerrone takes on Tony Ferguson at 155lbs.
Donald Cerrone (36-11) is arguably one of the most celebrated fighters in all of mixed martial arts. His fighting style, his care free attitude and his risk taking at various weight classes are why fans flock to see “Cowboy” perform.
The same could be said about his opponent on Saturday night. Tony Ferguson (24-3) is (to borrow a phrase from UFC colour commentator Joe Rogan) “a wild man”.
He has a very awkward style that usually sees him put pressure on his opponents or is happy enough to stick and move with ease.
This is what makes this fight so interesting and yet incredibly difficult to analyse but we’ll just have to do our best.
A NEW SIDE TO CERRONE
Currently riding a three fight win streak including a highlight reel finish over Alexander Hernandez, Cerrone has been a very different animal inside the cage and since having a child, there has been a new side to Cerrone in how he performs.
There is no doubt that Cerrone is still an absolute stud inside the cage and although he has serious weapons in his leg kicks, “Cowboy” has certainly upped his striking skills especially in the pocket which has been successful of late.
NEW MENTAL TOUGHNESS
For a while, it appeared that Tony Ferguson’s world was collapsing in around him with a recent spate of mental health issues that forced his wife to issue a restraining order against him.
Having sought the help he needs outside of the Octagon, Ferguson must now find a new mental toughness going up against Donald Cerrone.
There is no doubt in many people’s mind that Ferguson’s fighting style is unlikely to change much as he looks to close distance early and shoot that laser jab of his early and often. A weapon that has served him well in the past.
COUNTERING OR UNRELENTNG PRESSURE
Ferguson’s constant forward movement has caused a lot of fighter’s issues in the past but when he faces off against Donald Cerrone, what happens when your opponent doesn’t step back either?
Will it be countering or unrelenting pressure that wins out in the early exchanges?
With Cerrone’s new found boxing skills, Ferguson’s style could really suit “Cowboy” in this fight. “El Cucuy” has been countered on several occasions when attempting to out work his opponents on the feet.
Ferguson has rallied more than not in these circumstances but Cerrone is proving to be a different beast inside the Octagon these days and must be wary that taking two punches to give three may not be the best option to take here.
It’s fair to say that Tony Ferguson has some of the best ground game in the lightweight division outside of Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Despite having more TKO/KO wins to his credit, Ferguson’s submission skills are where he really excels and his long limbs can and will continue to cause havoc to opponents who find themselves in the grasp of “El Cucuy” on the canvas.
Cerrone is very much Ferguson’s equal on the canvas with 17 submission victories of his own including an armbar submission over Mike Perry.
HARD TO CALL
This is an incredibly difficult match up to analyse due to how equal these two fighters are on paper. It’s almost a fight that’s two hard to call.
Wherever the fight goes, it could be absolute fireworks. A wild back and forth brawl with two heavy hitters or a chess match of jiu-jitsu.
It certainly won’t be a boring fight that’s for sure. The volatile ingredients both are bringing to the table suggest that it will be anything but bland.
If Cerrone gets his boxing together and gets his timing down early, he’ll have a huge chance.
If Ferguson can make Cerrone take a step back and not rush in with anything wild too early, there’s a good case for him to take an early advantage.
If the fight goes to the ground….. Well, it’s anybody’s game.
UFC 238 is live on BT Sport 1 from 1am on Saturday 8th June.