BY: ERIC ELLISON
Glad to see you sliced your way through the internet to dissect another great UFC fight headed our way. This time, Zuffa bestows upon us UFC 178: Johnson Vs Cariaso, a card dotted with a handful of very interesting and exciting bouts. Today, let us take a look at Donald Cerrone Vs Eddie Alvarez, no doubt one of the most exciting fights, not just on this card, but on any ever. Certainly this fight will have a major effect on the Lightweight division, and the best part is, both guys are fully aware.
Each “Under the Knife” article is broken down into three sections; The Wrap Sheet, Cross Examination, and The Winning Path. In The Wrap Sheet, we will take a closer look at each fighters statistics individually. The Cross Examination is where the fighters are compared to one another. Finally, The Winning Path takes the previous results and draws a bit of a numerical map as to how each fighter may win.
Ready? Here we go.
THE WRAP SHEET
First up is the “Cowboy,” (24-6-1) one of the UFC’s ocean of fans favorites since coming over from the WEC. A Fight of the Night machine and constant contender, Donald Cerrone enters this fight with an amazing opportunity. Yes, Cerrone is #4 in the UFC division, but Eddie Alvarez is considered to be one of the greatest potential fighters to do it on the big stages.
So what’s “Cowboy” bringing into this one? Well, despite becoming known to fans for his striking, Cerrone is an all out submission killer. 15 of his 24 wins come via sub, and the rest run about even between KO and decision. He seldom has a cardio problem, has only been stopped twice as a pro, and is no doubt dangerous in every department. Almost all of Donalds stats float around or just above 50%, so he really is a well rounded guy in the cage. In the end, what he brings Saturday night is the kind of fighter that can beat the best in the world if they slip up for just one second.
Eddie Alvarez (25-3-0) is a beast. He has that ability to slap your brain in the face with his wrestling like GSP used to do. He boasts a takedown rating higher just about anybody, and the TD defense is right there too (88%). Although his 56% success rating may seem a little off putting, watching it in action makes 56% feel like 85%. Alvarez is not slouch on the feet either, clocking in with 14 knockout wins despite a 41% striking accuracy. That translates into power, which is never a bad thing. Top off the cake with 7 subs and having never gone, let me repeat that, never gone to a decision makes this one a tasty treat indeed.
My immediate thought here is the takedown aspect of the fight. Not so much on it`s own, but in connection to what happens once someone gets rocked or hit a little too many times. Alvarez has a take down offense that statistically is right there with Cerrone`s defense. However, when reversed Donald´s offensive takedown rating of 47% is dwarfed by Alvarez and his 88%. If this fight goes to the ground, Eddie is the one who will most likely dictate when that happens. Of course, once it does Alvarez defiantly has to be concerned with the submission game. He is well versed and himself deadly there, but Cerrone has twice the submission wins here.
As far as the striking goes, this is where Alvarez seems to pull ahead a little. Cerrone`s kicks will be great for the range and slowing down the Alvarez train, but Eddie wins the power battle. Donald is sort of like the Diaz brothers are, he gets in there and racks up volume with a few critically well places strikes. Alvarez has more of a bomber approach. Aside from the power Vs volume aspect, the only real strike stats that have a gap is when it comes to Strikes Absorbed. Donald takes more damage and gets hit more often, which shines a bit of a light on what we may end up seeing Saturday night.
THE WINNING PATH
Lets start with Donald Cerrone again. Does he have the capabilities to defeat Eddie Alvarez? Certainly, but his mission to do so will have to be focused, sharp, and about as top notch as he can manage. His kicks, range advantage, and speed can totally turn this into an all night boxing match. However, MMA is far from just boxing, and he will be playing with fire should he decide to go straight toe-to-toe with Alvarez. I think his greatest chance of taking this W home aside from a perfectly placed body kick (even then) will actually be to end up on bottom from an Alvarez takedown and work his submission magick.
For Alvarez, I think he needs to bully Cerrone, cut the cage off, and suffocate him with relentless pressure. Cerrone has been to the cards many times and Eddie never has. Alvarez may be able to lull Cowboy into that rhythm and then once again produce a fight ending move. He has done it 99% of the time otherwise. His power makes any exchange potentially fight changing, and the back up of solid wrestling stats states that Cerrone will not be ragdolling Eddie by no means. If he can stay out of the web on the ground, I don’t see why Eddie Alvarez doesn’t kick his UFC career off with a splashing knockout. As a last thought however, Eddies and Donald`s opponent level of experience is modest and Alvarez going to the cards for the first time ever wouldn’t surprise.
(Photo Courtesy of Getty)