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MMA THOUGHT OF THE DAY: BET STEPHENS AT UFC ON FUEL TV 3...

Question: What do Donald Cerrone’s chin and Lindsey Lohan’s breasts have in common? They’ve been touched more than a Vegas slot machine with a dead battery. Pardon the ungraceful beginning, but with only 48 hours of bet-placing time remaining I figured I would get to the point and lay bare my argument for why you should put your hard earned money down on one Jeremy Stephens as a +220 underdog to defeat The Cowboy Tuesday evening....



Fuel TV (which my loathsome cable “provider” has yet to carry) will be bringing us its third night of fights on May 15th, a promising card that will include a battle of aggressive strikers, a clash certain to entertain. Stephens is coming off of a decision loss to Anthony Pettis, who displayed his newfound ability to control position en route to a decision. Cerrone arrives at this fight on the heels of the notoriously one-sided battering he received at the hands of Nate Diaz, a loss that, in Cerrone’s defense, seems all the more forgivable now that Diaz has become the first man to stop Jim Miller and emerge as the number one contender to the 155 throne.


Both fighters are coming off defeat and the similarities only continue. Both fighters possess a fearsome striking offense. Both fighters have displayed solid chins and gritty durability. Both fighters, to the enjoyment of fans everywhere, favor action over strategy. And yet, the two are hardly mirror images-Cerrone employing diverse Muay Thai striking and a quicksand-like guard, Stephens channeling a Robbie Lawler-esque sprawl and brawl approach.


The difference maker here will be one of The Cowboy’s very few weak points: the frequency with which he allows himself to be hit. Let me put it this way, I once asked Dana White if he had ever seen the Jodie Foster movie “Contact”, he thought it was a documentary about Donald Cerrone’s career. Cerrone is no Pernell Whitaker. Instead of a solid defense he has relied on his very reliable chin to weather the storm of his opponents offense while he proceeds to throw the kitchen sink at them in the form of punches, kick, elbows and knees. This approach has brought him, primarily, success, but it becomes a problem in two cases: when his opponent is able to keep him off balance and dazed with technical boxing (a la Diaz) or when his opponent possesses truly devastating KO power. It is true that Cerrone has never been knocked out, but he was dropped repeatedly by Rob McCullough in their highly entertaining 3 round war of 2008. Cerrone’s problem here is that is biggest weak point is going to allow Stephens to do exactly what Stephens does as well as anyone else in the division: Land Bombs.


Stephens, who has survived the distance with deadly KO artists Melvin Guillard and Anthony Pettis, will have a back stage pass to Donald Cerrone’s Mandible for a full three rounds. The bottom line: Lil’ Heathen’s power is better than The Cowboys chin. He may not knock him out, but Stephens will be able to hurt Cerrone often enough and bad enough to win rounds. As long as Stephens plays it safe and does not follow Cerrone to the ground he should be fine.


Another strike against Cerrone is that he has displayed an inability to adapt his strategy mid-fight. This was on full display in the Diaz fight when Cerrone continued, round after round, to walk face first into the buzz saw that was Nate Diaz’s superior boxing. The first time Stephens connects Cerrone is going to realize he is in there with a different kind of striker and he will not be willing or able to adjust. Stephen’s confidence will grow as the fight proceeds and as long as he does not allow this confidence to divert him from smart strategy and dive headfirst into Cerrone’s triangle he will gradually take over the fight.


Whether by KO or decision, Stephens gets this done and stays relevant at 155.

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