Cerrone vs Masvidal
Photo Credit: Andre Ringuette/Zuffa LLC

UFC on FOX 23: Cerrone vs Masvidal Preview

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal is a welterweight bout taking place this weekend in Denver. The UFC will be putting its big show live on FOX starting at 7pm ET. We already detailed the main event between Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena, so now let’s look at the co-main event:

Cerrone vs Masvidal

Cerrone vs Masvidal

Let’s start with the Cowboy

#5 ranked Donald Cerrone has been on an absolute tear since moving to 170 lbs. He is currently 4-0 at this heavier weight with 4 finishes. It seems to be the optimum weight for him.

Previously, at lightweight, Cerrone was a top contender. He captured some great wins, racking up a 15-4 UFC record, but ultimately failed to capture the title. This prompted Cerrone’s ambitious decision to move up to welterweight.

I’d say Cerrone isn’t too far off from fighting for the 170 lb title either. He is taking all comers, and defeating them in impressive fashion. His thrilling performances can not be denied, and I really look forward to this fight against Jorge Masvidal.

If he is victorious, I think he’ll move be one mark off from fighting for a title.

Cerrone’s skills

Cerrone brings in a pretty standard Dutch kickboxing style. With that said, he executes on a level that so many of his opponents aren’t ready for. His kicks are his most dangerous weapon, and he attacks the leg, body, and head to no avail. Furthermore, he sets up beautiful combinations where he transitions between punches and kicks, setting up kill shots in the mix.

You rarely see him moving away from opponents too. When they chase him, he’ll look to intercept them with shots like a knee to the body.

Cerrones step-in knee to the body

He’s just an all-round phenomenal striker.

However, Cerrone isn’t known to be a brawler, and in fact has looked his worst when fighters swarm him. I believe this is largely due to Cerrone’s lack of footwork; it works to set up his explosive offense, but not so much for explosive attacks coming his way.

Against Matt Brown, we saw Cerrone in trouble when Brown would commit to him 100%. But once Brown started standing still and not pressuring, we saw Cerrone’s skill take over. Cerrone eventually knocked Brown out with a head kick, a strike he landed several times before that moment.

Cerrones kicks are lethal

He will also seek out takedown attempts where he can utilize his vastly underrated grappling. We saw him surprise several of his larger previous welterweight foes by putting them on their back. While Cerrone may not be able to keep guys down, it’s another thing for his opponents to watch out for.

Cerrone is a serious threat on the feet or on the ground. As long as he’s dictating the pace, his offense is unstoppable.

Now onto Gamebred

#12 Jorge Masvidal has been on the journeyman’s path.

He fought in several different promotions ranging from World Victory Road in Japan to Bellator, Strikeforce, and now the UFC here in the United States. Oh, and don’t forget Masvidal’s infamous backyard brawls from when he rolled with Kimbo Slice in Florida.

But that’s not to say Masvidal can’t hang with the best of them. In fact, he can, and he has.

Masvidal is 8-4 in the UFC, but out of his 4 losses, 3 of them are by split decision. One of these contests was a 5-round loss to former lightweight champion Benson Henderson; many had thought Masvidal did enough to win the fight. With different judges, there’s no reason to think Masvidal couldn’t be a top 5 welterweight right now.

Currently, Masvidal is on a 2-fight win streak. A win over Donald Cerrone is exactly what he needs to show everyone how good he is. It would also put Masvidal well into the top 10.

Masvidal’s skills

Much like Cerrone, Masvidal comes from a striking background.

Back in his street fighting days, Masvidal actually displayed some solid boxing fundamentals. I believe this is why Masvidal is so comfortable trading punches in the pocket with his opponents; he’s been doing it his whole life.

Masvidal has no problem trading shots

It’s also the main thing that separates his striking from Cerrone’s – movement.

Masvidal is slick, silky, and smooth with how he weaves in and out of distances. He’s hard to hit, and even when he sits down to trade shots with his opponent, he’s mindful of his defense. He may not have the pop on his punches and kicks that Cerrone does, but his defensive skill is perhaps the best in the division.

However, the main critique of Masvidal has always been his aggression. The reason why so many of his fights come down to the wire is because he tends to let off the gas, even when he’s winning. A perfect example is his fight with Al Iaquinta. Masvidal was dominating the fight until he let Al come back and out-work with him aggression alone.

Like Cerrone, Masvidal has an underrated grappling game. As Masvidal has matured and gotten more experience, we have seen Masvidal embrace grappling more and more. Now, it’s common for Masvidal to go for takedowns to clinch control just to keep his opponents guessing. He’ll also dive on a neck if it’s left out.

Masvidal is a complete fighter with some slick movement and fighting reflexes that he’s been working on all his life.

The Match Up

Cerrone vs Masvidal isn’t just a match up between strikers, it’s a match up between purebred fighters through-and-trough. Both guys are game as hell when it comes to fighting, and aren’t known to back down to anyone. This is seen in their personalities, but also in their style.

Cerrone is a powerhouse when he’s moving forward. The power he generates in his kicks are enough to stifle anybody, and he has been tweaking his style to allow for more of that. However, Masvidal is elusive, and very hard to hit clean. I suspect we’re going to see Cerrone’s destructive offense finally meet a defensive test that it can’t knockout.

That being said, Masvidal’s aggression and output issues could seriously hurt him. We know Cerrone struggles against aggression, high-pressure fighters, and Masvidal is not that type of fighter to maintain a solid pace the entire fight.

Whoever wins Cerrone vs Masvidal has a serious chance at working his way to a title shot.

I can’t wait for this fight! You can Cerrone vs Masvidal this Saturday on FOX! In case you missed it, here’s a preview of the main event: Shevchenko vs Pena.

About Casey Hodgin

Casey is a passionate MMA writer and journalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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