UFC 184 Date: 02/28/15 Arena: Staples Center City: Los Angeles, CA Lightweight bout: Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson (-220) vs Gleison Tibau (+180) Fight Breakdown: Getting the action going for UFC 184’s Pay Per View card will be a lightweight contest between a couple of 31-year olds looking to crack the division’s top-15 in Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson and Gleison Tibau, with Ferguson being a -220 ($220 to win $100) betting favorite and the return on the underdog Tibau being +180 ($100 to win $180) at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson (17-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) is coming off a second round rear naked choke submission victory over Abel Trujillo and now rides a four-fight winning streak heading into Saturday night’s main event bout in his backyard of Los Angeles. “El Cucuy” is an aggressive fighter who possesses solid boxing skills and packs a lot of power behind his punches. He is flat footed, but also very fast with his movement on the feet. He works solid 1-2 combinations and also does a good job of throwing a barrage of effective punches. Possessing serious power in both hands, Ferguson works solid jabs, nice hooks and brutal uppercuts. The 31-year old is a pressure-oriented fighter, constantly moving forward and looking to hurt his opponents, not giving them a moment to rest. Despite having an incredible chin, his striking defense is very good, as he does a good job of blocking shots and firing off a few of his own. Having always been solid with his hands, the California native has recently added an effective kicking game to his striking arsenal, including noteworthy leg kicks. On top of the leg kicks, he also throws some powerful kicks to the body, and loves to implement his knees in his offensive striking attack. To compliment his skills on the feet, “El Cucuy” is an exceptional wrestler and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. He is good at scoring takedowns, as well as rolling for submissions, such leg locks, kneebars, kimuras, etc. He is definitely a risk taker, often giving up position to go for the finish. Ferguson has a great top game, being effective both with his ground and pound and submissions. He is well-versed in the submission game, but favors the d’arce choke, owning the fastest d’arce choke victory in UFC history. He is also effective from the bottom position, as he has a solid guard and constantly attacks with strikes and submission attempts. Gleison Tibau (33-10 MMA, 16-8 UFC) last saw action at last month’s UFC Fight Night 59 in Boston, where he earned a split decision victory over Irishman Norman Parke and extended his Octagon winning streak to three in a row, which is his longest since 2011, when he had managed to string together wins over Kurt Pellegrino, Rafaello Oliveira and Rafael dos Anjos, respectively. Now fresh off the win over Parke, he answered the call to step in for an injured Yancy Medeiros on short notice to take on The Ultimate Fighter season 13 winner Tony Ferguson. This Saturday night in enemy territory, the Brazilian will look to make it four in a row against Ferugson, which would be the longest winning streak he has had in his UFC career. The Brazilian is a skilled fighter, all-around. His stand-up is solid, and he has recently been showing improvements in the department. He now appears to be more fluid on the feet and does a better job of putting combinations together, including some nice 1-2’s. He also works a decent jab and likes to mix his knees into his offensive striking attack. His striking defense is pretty good, too, and he possesses a solid chin, despite the fact that he was knocked out by Michael Johnson not too long ago, which also marked the first time he had been knocked-out in his professional mixed martial arts career (he was stopped via TKO by Nick Diaz in the UFC in 2006 and had a TKO doctor stoppage against Eiji Mitsuoka on the regional circuit prior to that). Training out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL, his conditioning is another area he has made improvements recently, so I would expect him to have enough in the tank to pull through 15-mintutes of action, though I cannot say that too confidently, considering I have yet to see him in a quick-turnaround short notice bout since he started showing said improvements in his cardio. Tibau is a tough fighter who is dedicated at making a run in the division, as he has been inspired by the career resurgence of his ATT teammate and UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. At 31-years old, the Brazilian veteran appears to only be getting better with age. He has a solid ground game and owns black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is always a threat when the fight hits the mat; if he doesn’t find a submission, he settles for raining down heavy punches. His takedowns are decent and he does have a solid double-leg, but when he can’t score the takedown, he keeps his opponents pressed up against the cage and controls them there. He often finds success in controlling opponents against the cage largely in part due to his general advantages in size and strength. His size and strength, as well as strong hips benefit him in having good takedown defense. He generally does a very good job of stopping the takedown attempts of his opponents, then turning the tables on them and ending up in superior position against the cage. Tibau has long been known as the biggest 155-pounder in the division, and at 31-years of age, he is the youngest fighter to fight 20+ times inside the Octagon, this being his 25th UFC bout. Gabe’s Thoughts: You would think Ferguson is a decade younger than Tibau but he’s only a few months younger. Ferguson started his professional mixed martial arts career in 2008 at the age of 24, while the Brazilian started his in 1999 when he was only 16-years old. Despite the fact that he is continuing to improve as a mixed martial artist, he has a lot of wear and tear on his body, which is the reason one may think he is older than he is. While still a solid lightweight, I think he will be out-matched by the faster, stronger and more versatile Tony Ferguson. I think “El Cucuy” has a decent chance of ending this fight by either T/KO or submission, as well as taking it on the judges’ scorecards. I expect him to continue climbing up the UFC’s 155-pound ladder this Saturday night and likely draw a ranked opponent for his next outing. Gabe’s Call: Ferguson by T/KO (punches, 2:44 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Ferguson (-220) parlayed with Rousey/Zingao Under 1.5 rounds (-165) at +133 for 3.3u to win 4.4u
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