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 ahead to a battle of top 15 welterweights as Donald Cerrone takes on Rick Story at UFC 202 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Donald Cerrone (Record: 30-7, -165 Favorite, Fighter Grade: B) The long time Jackson’s MMA trained fighter has transitioned well from lightweight to welterweight winning his first two fights in the division. His work at welterweight is highlighted by being the first fighter to knockout Canadian Patrick Cote. Cerrone continues to keep a busy fight schedule as this will be his third fight of 2016. “Cowboy” Cerrone is one of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC. His anyone, anytime, anyplace mentality has made him one of the biggest fan favorites in the sport. His game begins with his striking. He has an excellent kickboxing base with heavy kicks landing just over four significant strikes a minute. His length (73 inches) is still long even with the move to welterweight. In addition to his exciting stand up, he’s got an underrated submission game. In the UFC, he holds submission wins over quality veterans Edson Barboza, Evan Dunham, and Alex Oliveira. Cerrone has had his struggles with fighters who can land to the body in the past. Very much like Matt Brown, if there is a striking weakness it’s his ability to withstand shots to the body. Rick Story (Record: 19-8, +145 Underdog, Fighter Grade: B) The former NAIA All-American wrestler had been out on an 18 month hiatus prior to a victory over Tarec Saffiedine at UFC 202. Has worked his way into the top ten finding himself in a position to move close to the top five of the division with a win on Saturday. Story has long trained at the MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona. Like many of the fighters who have trained there Story is a volume fighter (3.84 significant strikes per minute) and can hurt opponents in different ways. To start, Story has heavy hands and combines his strikes well on the feet. While he likes to go head hunting, he’s one of the best body strikers in the division. Story is the type of striker that puts power in every strike and looks to hurt opponents, not just land. He combines that with a very good offensive wrestling background. He secures 2.54 takedowns per 15 minutes in the cage; so nearly one per round securing takedowns at a very good 50% clip. One thing Story doesn’t get enough credit for is his striking defense. He absorbs a miniscule 2.04 strikes per minute and defending 63% of attempts thrown at him; one of the best in the division. Match-up This is an excellent match-up between top 15 welterweights. Both of these fighters are aggressive and look for the finish. Cerrone has had success in the welterweight division so far, but this is a different type of fight. Story is one of the strongest fighters in the division and will be very difficult for Cerrone to control on the ground. I expect this fight to be a competitive striking match. Cerrone will look to keep Story at distance, but the MMA Lab product excels at getting inside and landing at his range. Story’s best work on the feet is his focus on the body and Cerrone is certainly vulnerable in that regard. Story has the necessary offensive skill set to hurt Cerrone and potentially put him away. He should be able to land with regularity and slow Cerrone down throughout the fight. He will need to watch out for the head kicks and potential submissions, but as an underdog Story is very much capable of winning this fight. Cerrone is a fighter that continues to see favorable betting action, but I believe this is the match-up that will see him exposed in his new weight class.
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