UFC 226: Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree Fight Breakdown
MMA Record: 1-1
UFC Record: 1-0
Notable Wins: Henrique Da Silva
Notable Losses: None
Last Fight: KO win over Henrique Da Silva
Fighter Profile: One of the greatest kickboxers ever to make the move over to MMA, Saki impressed UFC fans in his Octagon debut last year when he brutally knocked out Da Silva. He showed that he is on another level with his striking in that fight and his chin and cardio held up in what was his first MMA bout in over a decade. Saki still has yet to prove that he's a complete MMA fighter and he definitely showed some holes in his striking defense in the fight against Da Silva, but there's no doubt his striking is top notch, and his ability to land the knockout blow should help him win fights and quickly climb the ladder in the UFC light heavyweight division.
MMA Record: 6-2, 1 NC
UFC Record: 2-3, 1 NC
Notable Wins: Paul Craig
Notable Losses: Andrew Sanchez, Tyson Pedro
Last Fight: No Contest against Michael Oleksiejczuk
Fighter Profile: A former TUF standout, Rountree has been inconsistent and disappointing overall so far in the UFC. At times he has looked brilliant, such as when he brutally knocked out Craig, but at other times he has looked terrible, such as when Sanchez dominated him in the TUF Finale and when Pedro tapped him out. Rountree is a very dangerous striker and has a ton of knockout power, but he has a lot of other holes in his game, especially in his grappling. He is still young enough that if he can improve his wrestling he could make a run in a weak light heavyweight division, but from what we've seen he's just an action fighter. That should keep him around the UFC for a while, but I'm not sure he ever cracks the top-10 in the weak 205lbs division.
Fight Breakdown: Both Saki and Rountree are strikers and I see this fight staying standing for as long as it lasts, which I don't believe will be long as I think a stoppage is very likely here. Both guys have knockout power but to me Saki is the more technical, proven striker and if this fight stays standing like it should, he should be able to find a way to catch Rountree. I just feel like Saki will get the better of the exchanges and I see him eventually landing the knockout blow on Rountree and finishing him. Though Saki is in his mid 30s right now, I still feel like he can be fast-tracked up the 205lbs ladder, and if he wins this fight in impressive fashion like I believe he will I will be interested to see if the UFC gives him a top-10 opponent his next time out. I think this is going to be one of the best fights on the whole card, and I think the UFC made the right call having these two strikers open up the pay-per-view.
Prediction: Gokhan Sakia via KO
Tags: betting preview
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Mixed martial arts journalist. Lead writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com and also featured at @MMARatingsNet, @mmanews_com and @fightodds_io.
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