UFC 202 Breakdown: Cody Garbrandt vs Takeya Mizugaki

Cody GarbrandtPrior 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 ahead to a battle of top 15 bantamweights as undefeated bantamweight contender Cody Garbrandt takes on veteran Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 202 in Las Vegas, Nevada.   Cody Garbrandt (Record: 9-0, -475 Favorite, Fighter Grade: B+) The Ohio born and raised Garbrandt was a high school wrestling standout winning a state championship in his freshman year. Garbrandt has been fighting professionally for about four years. He enters his this bout on the back of the biggest win of his career beating Thomas Almeida in a battle of undefeated prospects. In addition to his wrestling accolades, Garbrandt was an accomplished amateur boxing with a 32-1 career record. He started his career in Ohio, but he made a big decision to move west in 2014 and train at Team Alpha Male. That decision completely changed his career path as he would go on to have daily training with some of the top fighters in the world. That tremendously built his confidence and his all-around game. Garbrandt has successfully landed 44% of his takedown attempts in the UFC with over 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes in the octagon. He combines that with a boxing focused striking attack in which he lands 3.92 significant strikes per minute, while only absorbing 2.67 strikes per minute. His striking prowess is near the top of the division in punching power with eight of his nine career wins by knockout. The way he dominated a tremendous striker in Thomas Almeida gives me confidence to believe he’s one of the top fighters in the division.   Takeya Mizugaki (Record: 21-9, +420 Underdog, Fighter Grade: C+) A former Shooto star in Japan prior to making a move to North America to fight in the WEC and ultimately the UFC, Mizugaki is a long time veteran having fought the best in the bantamweight division. This is Mizugaki’s first fight in 11 months; a win over George Roop. Prior to that he had lost two in a row in decisive fashion to Dominick Cruz and Aljamain Sterling. Mizugaki continues to be one of the top fighters out of Japan. A veteran of over 10 fights in the UFC, Mizugaki is a quality veteran who has been able to contend for so long with a solid all-around game. He lands 3.35 significant strikes per minutes and absorbs 3.23 strikes a minute. He has good boxing fundamentals, but his lack of power is a real issue. He hasn’t finished an opponent since UFC 135 in September 2011. Mizugaki needs to rely on movement and out striking opponents with volume. When faced against a powerful striker, he has gone to his wrestling to get the job done. Mizugaki secures just under 1.5 takedowns every 15 minutes in the octagon. With that said, he hasn’t had any takedowns in his last four UFC fights so one has to wonder if age is starting to creep on him reducing his ability to drive in and work for takedowns.   Match-up Cody Garbrandt is the largest favorite on the UFC 202 card at nearly 5 to 1. Mizugaki is a savvy veteran, but this is a bad matchup for him. The American lands with more volume, more power, and has the wrestling chops to defend Mizugaki’s takedown attempts. In his last few fights, Mizugaki’s chin has been more vulnerable as well. Garbrandt’s dynamic approach to fighting will give Mizugaki all sorts of problems. It’s tough seeing a scenario in which Mizugaki can win. He’s not going to be able out strike or out point Garbrandt. He’ll be forced into a standing exchange and it’s difficult to see him being able to stay upright for 15 minutes. Garbrandt wins this fight by knockout and gets a top five opponent in his next bout. A Garbrandt win Inside the Distance (-120) is one of the best bets on the preliminary portion of the fight card.

Written by Jay Primetown

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