UFC 179 Fight Breakdown: Yan Cabral vs. Naoyuki Kotani

cabral-cummings One of the prelims at UFC 179 is a three-round lightweight bout between Yan Cabral and Naoyuki Kotani. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Cabral is a -650 favorite (bet $650 to win $100) while Kotani is a +475 underdog (bet $100 to win $475). MMA linesetter Nick Kalikas opened up Cabral at -555 and Kotani at +365, and the bettors have been all over Cabral so far. I believe Cabral is one of the most likely winners on the entire card and agree with the public being all over him in this spot. Here’s why. Cabral (11-1) was a cast member on TUF Brazil 2 but was injured during the show and therefore couldn’t make it to the finals. Since the show has ended, the 31-year-old Brazilian is 1-1 in the UFC with a decision win over David Mitchell and a decision loss to Zak Cummings. Prior to entering the UFC, Cabral fought for DREAM where he picked up a submission win over legend Kazushi Sakuraba to get the UFC’s attention. He is an excellent grappler with strong top control skills and the ability to finish fights from a variety of positions with a variety of different submissions. He is a true finisher, with 10 submission wins in his 11 wins. His striking is improving as well, and so far he has shown no signs of having a bad chin although it has yet to be truly tested. His cardio is something that has failed him in the past, specifically against Cummings, and it will be interested to see how it looks at 155lbs, as this will be his official UFC lightweight debut. If he can’t submit Kotani early, he could potentially tire and gas late. But Kotani does’t have the wrestler’s pace and I don’t think Cabral’s cardio will fail him in this matchup. The UFC seems to like Cabral and they are trying to get him back on track with a big win in Brazil in what is a grappler vs. grappler matchup, and I think he will come out on top, and I am not shocked based on the matchup of styles that he’s such a big favorite here. Kotani (33-11-7) is one of the most well-traveled lightweight fighters on the UFC roster. The 32-year-old Japanese fighter has been fighting in MMA since the year 2000 and has quietly put together a decent resume fighting on the regional circuit. He originally made his UFC debut back in 2007, losing to Thiago Tavares by decision and then Dennis Siver by knockout. After picking up a number of wins fighting in Japan, Kotani was re-signed by the UFC and returned to the Octagon against Norman Parke back at UFC Fight Night 46, losing by second-round TKO. Kotani looked overmatched against Parke and judging from that fight he is one of those fighters who can’t win when he steps up to the next level. If you look through his record, you’ll see that he has lost to just about every “name” fighter he has ever fought, picking up his wins over less-than-stellar competition. There’s no doubt Kotani’s ground game is legit — he has 25 career wins by submission — but other than that, he doesn’t bring much else to the table. He has a chance to beat Cabral if he can take the fight late and maybe get a submission if Cabral tires, but outside of that he seems very overmatched and it makes sense he’s such a big underdog. I personally don’t feel like this is a particularly difficult fight to call. In fact, I will go on the record and say it’s the easiest bout on the call to pick. Cabral is simply a better fighter than Kotani and absolutely should win this fight in impressive fashion. Kotani has had multiple tries to succeed in the UFC and each time he comes up short and I expect that to happen here once again. Cabral is better on the feet, has better wrestling, and his BJJ matches up well with Kotani, although the Japanese fighter is always a threat on the ground. The only thing I’m slightly worried about is Cabral’s cardio at 155lbs, because he already had mediocre cardio and the weight cut could make it even worse, but even with that in mind I still think he wins this fight in impressive fashion more times than not. At -650 the line is high, but regardless I think Cabral is a safe pick for parlays as he is one of the most likely winners on the entire card.

Written by Adam Martin.

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