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 co-main event at UFC on Fox 21 as Anthony Pettis drops down to featherweight to take on Charles Oliveira in Vancouver, Canada. Charles Oliveira (Record: 21-5, +180 Underdog, Fighter Grade: B+) The 26-year old Brazilian has won five of his last six fights inside the octagon. He’s beaten the likes of Myles Jury and Jeremy Stephens during his solid run as he moves closer to the top of the featherweight rankings. The Macaco Gold Team fighter has been fighting in the UFC for over 5 years. His striking game is still rather basic, but it has improved over time. He has an aggressive offensive style and is willing to take a punch to move inside so he can work in the clinch and for takedowns. Oliveira’s ground game is one of the most dangerous in MMA. He’s as creative as it comes in submission grappling. He will hunt for submissions in any position and his ability to secure different types of submissions is at the top of MMA. In short, it’s a bad idea to get into a grappling situation with “Do Bronx.” Where Oliveira is vulnerable is when forced into standing exchanges. He’s susceptible to being hurt with body shots and being finished with them. Anthony Pettis (Record: 18-5, -220 Favorite, Fighter Grade: A) Anthony Pettis enters his fight on Saturday at a crossroads in his career. The former lightweight champion has lost his last three fights in the Octagon. He drops down to featherweight for the first time at UFC on Fox 21. The longtime Duke Roufus apprentice is one of the rare fighters currently in MMA who has been training in martial arts since a young age. He began learning taekwondo and boxing at just five years of age. It’s this long time training that has given him the foundation to be a world class fighter. Pettis is first and foremost an excellent striker. He’s a third degree black belt in taekwondo. His technique is absolutely beautiful to witness as he’s able to land anywhere and with strong precision. He does well to mix up his strikes peppering his opponents all over making him difficult to predict. He’s only a brown belt in jiu jitsu, but his submission is very crafty and he’s shown capable of submitting world class fighters; most notably Ben Henderson to win the lightweight championship. Wrestlers have long been Pettis’ big issue. His takedown is decent, but when tasked to face quality wrestlers he can be taken to the mat and controlled thus losing rounds. In more recent fights, he’s lost against higher volume strikers. While his technique is excellent, his output can at times be problematic in getting needed results. Match-up A really good matchup as Anthony Pettis drops down to featherweight. This is a huge fight for both fighters. Charles Oliveira is looking for the biggest win of his career, while Anthony Pettis needs a win to stay relevant after losing three fights in a row. Oliveira will certainly look to be aggressive in this matchup. He needs to keep Pettis on the back foot if he’s going to have a chance to win in this bout. Oliveira certainly has the advantage if this fight goes to the ground, but I expect Pettis to keep distance and be able to fend off Oliveira’s takedown attempts. Oliveira is susceptible to the body shot and Pettis’ leg kicks are very accurate. All Pettis needs to do is land one big leg kick to the body and he’ll be able to stun Oliveira and finish him off with strikes. Dropping down in weight presents a fresh start for Pettis and one he is primed to take advantage of. Pettis by KO / TKO (+145) is the best bet to make in this bout.
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