Prior 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 the UFC Fight Night 83 main event as we see a battle of cowboys. American Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone takes on Brazilian Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira. Donald Cerrone is certainly no stranger to the spotlight having fought in many big fights in the past. This is his first bout after losing to Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight championship in December. For Alex Oliveira, this is his first ever UFC main event. He enters this matchup on a three-fight winning streak. Donald Cerrone (Record: 28-7, -280 Favorite, Fighter Grade: A-) Longtime WEC and UFC title contender Donald Cerrone has been one of the most active fighters in the UFC over the past few years. He’s been training out of Jackson’s MMA for several years with some of the best fighters in the sport. Cerrone had been on an eight fight winning streak prior to facing Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight championship. In those eight fights, he earned five wins by stoppage with three coming by decision. Not only did he win, but he beat many quality fighters such as Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, and Ben Henderson. Since his time in the UFC, Cerrone’s only loss to someone who was not a current or former UFC champion was to former title challenger Nate Diaz. Cerrone is a fighter who has dominated inferior competition. “Cowboy” is one of the more entertaining fighters in the UFC. He has an excellent kickboxing base with heavy kicks. His length certainly creates problems for his competition. In addition to his exciting stand up, he’s got a very underrated submission game. In the UFC, he holds submission wins over quality veterans Evan Dunham, Dennis Siver, and the aforementioned Barboza. One reason why Cerrone is viewed so positively is his willingness to push forward and be the aggressor in his fights. He’s willing to take risks and far more often than not is rewarded for it. Alex Oliveira (Record: 14-2, +240 Underdog, Fighter Grade: C+) In many ways, Alex Oliveira is the Brazilian version of Donald Cerrone. Since signing with the UFC in 2015, he has already fought four times. This will be his sixth fight overall in just over one calendar year. The Brazilian, like Cerrone, has a propensity to take fights on short notice. He doesn’t like to spend much time out of action and it’s a reason why “Cowboy” has developed a small, yet dedicated following of fans. Outside of the loss to Gilbert Burns in his promotional debut, he’s collected some decent wins over veteran fighters. Submitting KJ Noons is his best win to date. The soon to be 28-year old Tata Fight Team product has only been fighting professionally since 2011. Oliveira has proven to be a finisher with 12 of his 14 wins coming inside the distance. Physically he matches up well with Cerrone; only a one inch difference in height and the reach is even. In the stand up, he’s at his best as the aggressor utilizing the creativity he possesses on the feet. He has a blue belt in jiu jitsu, but when forced to face someone with a more advanced grappling game he’s at a real disadvantage. That is an area he really needs to improve in if he’s going to take his career to the next level. Match-up While Donald Cerrone vs. Alex Oliveira wasn’t the planned main event, it does make for an action packed matchup. Both guys like to press forward making for an interesting style matchup on the feet. Cerrone has been known to be a slow starter, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Oliveira gets the better of the exchanges in the first couple minutes of this bout. Like several times in the past, look for Cerrone to take over the fight once he finally gets going. The talent difference is pretty significant in this matchup and once Cerrone is able to get into the fight he should be able to run away with it. He has the more crisp standup, the better chin, and a much better ground game. I’d anticipate Cerrone landing a heavy shot either late in the first round or midway in the second round dropping Oliveira and then Cerrone swarming for either a TKO or submission stoppage. While Cerrone inside the distance is a bit juicy at (-160), that’s the way to bet this fight.
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