UFC Fight Night 92 Breakdown: Cub Swanson vs Tatsuya Kawajiri

UFCPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at a bout between top 15 featherweights as Tatsuya Kawajiri takes on Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night 92.   Tatsuya Kawajiri (Record: 35-9, +265 Underdog, Fighter Grade: B-) The Japanese legend has nearly 50 professional MMA fights to his name fighting in nearly all of the top promotions in the sport over the last 15 years. During his time in Pride, Kawajiri was considered one of, if not the best lightweight in the world. Despite being 38 years of age, Kawajiri is still going strong and fighting competitively against top level fighters. Kawajiri’s ability to win fights all comes down to his grappling game. Kawajiri is relentless with his wrestling. He secures 3.66 takedowns per 15 minutes inside the octagon. Along with that, he’s succeeding on 50% of his takedown attempts; one of the highest percentages in the division. Kawajiri’s top game is suffocating. He does an excellent job holding his opponent down and working to keep that position to dominate rounds. He will work in ground and pound, but his primary focus is controlling his opponent to ensure winning rounds. He also holds ten submission wins to his name; so he’s capable in all facets on the ground. Kawajiri’s issues arise from when he’s not able to secure takedowns. If forced into prolonged standup exchanges, he will struggle.   Cub Swanson (Record: 22-7, -325 Favorite, Fighter Grade: B) The long time Jackson’s MMA product is a veteran of both the WEC and the UFC. He’s fought the top featherweights in the world including Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, and Max Holloway. He won his last bout earlier this year against Hacran Dias and is looking to develop some momentum in this division. The featherweight contender holds a black belt in both jiu jitsu and judo. While he certainly is accomplished in the submission game, where he truly excels in MMA is in the striking. Swanson has really good footwork and he combines that with an excellent striking arsenal. He has some of the best hands in the division. He strikes well in combination landing to both the body and the head. He’s got a really good MMA mind when it comes to his striking. He’s creative, yet calculated and is certainly capable of finishing with 15 of his 22 wins coming inside the distance. At this point, Swanson has nearly abandoned the ground game having not converted a takedown in his past four fights. What Swanson wants to do is strike and if he’s able to do so, he’ll be successful in nearly all of his fights.   Match-up A top 15 featherweight clash is a really good fight to headline the Fight Pass card at Fight Night 92. This is an interesting clash of styles as Kawajiri will be looking to get this fight to the ground, while Swanson wants this to be a standing exchange.  For as successful as Kawajiri has been with securing takedowns, I’m quite surprised by the current odds on this bout. Outside of his last two bouts, Swanson had given up takedowns in six consecutive fights and has only defended 50% of takedown attempts successfully. Kawajiri will struggle mightily if he can’t succeed in the ground game and likely will be finished in the stand up. If he does get takedowns, and I think he will, he has a great shot to win two out of three rounds winning a decision. Kawajiri is not going to win this fight with a finish, so I really like the odds of him winning by decision at +480. Nearly 5 to 1 odds on his only path to victory, albeit a good one, is worthy of consideration.

Written by Jay Primetown

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