Five Fights To Get You Excited For UFC 182

This column highlights five past bouts from fighters competing on this weekend’s UFC 182. These fights represent some of the highest moments in the careers of their respective participants, and should serve to pique your interest heading into the event. Before we run down these five fights, a quick explanation of why there’s no Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier on this list. Essentially, if you follow MMA in any way shape or form, you’ve probably seen more than enough build up of their title fight (even if only a limited amount of that is actual fight footage). These days I rarely ever watch anything other than previous bouts in the lead up to an event, and even I found myself clicking over to the ‘Bad Blood’ special the UFC did for this fight. If you’re into the hype aspect of a fight, go check that (or a million other pieces that have been done on Jones and/or Cormier) leading up to this fight. If you like watching fights to get excited for fights, any of Jones’ UFC appearances are worth going back and watching. For Cormier, any of the: Barnett, Bigfoot, Nelson, or Henderson thrashings should do the trick. With that out of the way… 1. Donald Cerrone vs. Rob McCullough – WEC 36 Upcoming Bout: Donald Cerrone vs. Myles Jury

I’ll rarely use a video that isn’t published by the UFC itself if I’m trying to post Zuffa content, but if you’re at all aware of the circumstances surrounding this fight, it’s kind of fitting that it would be a random Russian YouTube account I found it on. Basically, for those who were even paying attention to the WEC back in 2008, we had all heard about this fantastic preliminary bout between Donald Cerrone and Rob McCullough… but nobody could watch it.

Eventually, an episode of WEC Wreckage (or it may have been the promotion’s ‘Best of 2008’ DVD) came out, and people could finally see the fight. It did not disappoint. Seen primarily as a submission artist up until that point, Cerrone decided to trade with the dangerous McCullough, and what resulted was possibly the round of the year for 2008 (the first round), and a fight of the year contender.

Cerrone shows off his resiliency early, and his kickboxing skills once he gets his customary slow start out of the way. Myles Jury will prove much more difficult to find than McCullough (and Cerrone is far more polished these days), but ‘Cowboy’ certainly has the tools.

2. Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari – Vale Tudo Japan VTJ 2nd Upcoming Bout: Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Louis Gaudinot

Kyoji Horiguchi is normally in fun fights because he’s a dynamic offensive fighter. He shows that in both his striking and grappling against Shintaro Ishiwatari, but he also shows why there’s the slightest glimmer of hope for Louis Gaudinot on Saturday night.

Horiguchi is a far more talented and more dangerous striker than Gaudinot, but he is susceptible to falling into brawls, and we’ve seen that Gaudinot can take some punishment to deliver a bit back. He can also overcommit to his strikes, which in this fight was the cause of the majority of Ishiwatari’s takedowns. Either lunging punches that got ducked under or kicks that lead to slips could give Gaudinot some easy access to top position.

What makes this an extremely difficult task for Gaudinot however is how Horiguchi reacts once he’s on the ground or in a bad position. He stays calm, does the right things technically, and works his way out. The first grappling exchange in the fight shows that well, as does his guillotine defense later on. He can also get back to his feet well against a decent sized bantamweight in Ishiwatari, a feat which will be much easier against Gaudinot. Horiguchi is a big favorite for a reason in this one, and even some of the bad things in this fight show why.

3. Josh Burkman vs. Aaron Simpson – WSOF 2 Upcoming Bout: Josh Burkman vs. Hector Lombard

Josh Burkman was supposed to come into the World Series of Fighting and lose to a bunch of the guys they wanted to promote. Instead he upset Gerald Harris, and then pulled off this knockout of Aaron Simpson. The first time Burkman stuns Simpson in this bout is similar to the punch he landed as Jon Fitch tried to the close the distance on him. That right hand seems to set everything up for Burkman.

Lombard’s southpaw stance will give Burkman a different look than the two orthodox wrestlers he caught with that punch, not to mention the fact that the former Olympic Judoka is a faster, more powerful, and overall better striker than either of those two men. He’s also never been knocked out in his MMA career. Unfortunately for Burkman, landing this punch again is the only way I see him winning. If the fight stays at distance, Lombard is the more accurate and powerful striker, and in the clinch there are few who can match him.

4. Cody Garbrandt vs. Dominic Mazzotta – GOTC 4 Upcoming Bout: Cody Garbrandt vs. Marcus Brimage

There has been quite a bit of hype surrounding Cody Garbrandt heading into his UFC debut this weekend. He looks like a talented striker on tape, and he should have the opportunity to show off those skills against Marcus Brimage. Garbrandt has run though his competition thus far, but this bout with Dominic Mazzotta has been his most competitive to date. Mazzotta lands a few shots, where a striker like Brimage may be able to put a bit more offense together.

It’s hard to tell where Garbrandt is at right now, and that’s why it’s a bit surprising to see him face a mid-tier bantamweight like Brimage rather than a lesser fighter. It will certainly be the biggest test of Garbrandt’s career, and I expect we’ll learn quite a bit about him, win or lose.

5. Rodrigo Damm vs. Jorge Masvidal – Sengoku 3 Upcoming Bout: Rodrigo Damm vs. Evan Dunham

Rodrigo Damm seems to be in tough against Evan Dunham at UFC 182, but the same could have been said prior to his bout with Jorge Masvidal back in 2008. Of course, Masvidal wasn’t the fighter back then we’ve come to know, but he was still riding an eight-fight win streak which included victories over UFC vets Yves Edwards, Keith Wisniewski, and Steve Berger. To see Damm put a fighter like Masvidal down after being competitive with him in the striking was surprising, even if the stoppage wasn’t great.

Like some of the other large underdogs on this card (Gaudinot and Burkman), Damm will likely need that sort of shot against Evan Dunham, but at least we’ve seen it out of him before, and against fairly decent competition.

WVR: Sengoku 3 – Rodrigo Damm vs. Jorge Masvidal by mmasmashup

Written by Brad Taschuk

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