This Saturday night (Oct. 19, 2013) heavyweights Gabriel Gonzaga and Shawn Jordan will square off on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card of UFC 166: "Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 3" from Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Each fighter is currently at a different point in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, with the experienced Gonzaga looking to derail the momentum of the quickly-rising Jordan.
Gonzaga had an up-and-down year so far, finishing Ben Rothwell at UFC on FX 7 before being destroyed by a series of supposedly controversial elbows from Travis Browne at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 Finale. "Napao" rebounded well by knocking out punching bag Dave Herman at UFC 162 this July.
The Brazilian will look to win two in a row in Houston.
Jordan recently finished Pat Barry with a first round technical knockout at UFC 161. The "Knockout of the Night"-winning performance has him looking to extend his win streak to three against former title challenger Gonzaga.
Both fighters are heavy hitters, but Jordan is a true knockout machine. Gonzaga, on the other hand, will have the huge advantage in terms of submissions. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Shawn Jordan vs. Gabriel Gonzaga:
Record: 15-7 overall, 11-6 UFC
Key Wins: Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (UFC 70)
Keys to Victory: Gonzaga is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who possesses one of the better pure submission games in the UFC heavyweight division. Gonzaga has tapped out nine of his opponents while finishing six foes via knockout.
That's a potent mix of victories, but Gonzaga always seems to wilt when it comes to facing top-level opposition.
Just check out his key losses.
After Gonzaga destroyed "Cro Cop" in what was easily 2007's MMA moment to remember, he had a rollercoaster career trajectory that saw UFC release him at one point. He's since righted the ship by winning four out of his last five, but it's still very questionable if he can hang with the best heavyweights inside the Octagon.
Gonzaga has never been submitted but he's been knocked out an incredible six times in seven losses. That doesn't bode well when you're facing an opponent with Jordan's striking power.
To win at UFC 166, Gonzaga's striking defense will have to be at a new level. "Napao" is never one to shy away from striking exchanges, but that won't be to his benefit here. Sure, if he can land a huge shot or two and put Jordan away early, more power to him. But his best bet is to try to drag this fight to the ground to look for controlling positions.
Jordan exhibited that he can be shut down in his lackluster affair versus Cheick Kongo at UFC 149. He's at his best when he's allowed some free space to unleash a flurry of power shots. Gonzaga simply can't allow that to happen because he undoubtedly has the skills to dominate Jordan in grappling.
It's just a matter of if he throws caution to the wind or not. This fight could definitely end with one big punch, so Gonzaga will be best served to make this fight play into his strengths on the ground.
Record: 15-4 overall, 3-1 UFC
Key Wins: Pat Barry (UFC 162)
Key Losses: Cheick Kongo (UFC 149)
Keys to Victory: Jordan is a bruiser who has knocked out 11 foes on his way to 15 total victories. That's a Carlos Condit-esque finishing percentage and he's matched up against the perfect opponent in Gonzaga.
It's not rocket science to figure that Jordan is going to come in throwing heavy leather from the opening bell. He did it against an accomplished kickboxer in Barry at UFC 161, so there's no reason he shouldn't against a lesser striker like Gonzaga.
On the other hand, Jordan has shown glimpses that he can be knocked out, as his only two stoppage losses were from strikes. If he's too careless while rushing in against Gonzaga, he could easily get nailed with a fight changing shot, or get taken down. If he does get thrown to the mat, Jordan will give up the edge in a big way.
He has three submission victories to his name, but one is going to be nigh impossible against the black belt Gonzaga.
Jordan's striking looks to propel him into dark horse status in the Octagon, and his power could make this bout the quickest one on the card. Jordan will be looking to add another "Knockout of the Night" to his resume at UFC 166. If he can pull it off, that will mark three striking victories in the Octagon this year. That's an impressive feat, one that could have Jordan knocking on the door of a top 10 ranking spot.
First he'll have to get past an experienced veteran in Gonzaga. While Gonzaga has fought the best, he's been destroyed by them in doing so. Jordan isn't at the level of a Dos Santos or Werdum, but this fight will gauge how ready he is to fight the best heavyweights. Jordan has a knack for finishing fights with ruthless efficiency; he's primed for another one at Toyota Center.
Bottom Line from Houston: The bottom line here is that this fight is most likely to end with a knockout on Saturday. Both fighters have never been submitted, but they've been on both ends of several knockout finishes.
That's going to translate to a potentially exciting bout for the fans. While Jordan should have the edge when the fight begins on the feet, Gonzaga has obviously shown he can end any fight in an instant.
All technical dissection aside, it's going to come down to who lands the biggest shot first. Jordan has the momentum in his favor with two wins in a row. Gonzaga won his last bout via knockout, but Jordan should be a tougher out than Herman.
It would be strategically correct for Gonzaga to have trained wrestling in a big way so he can get Jordan to the ground and look for a submission. At the very least, he could gain some dominant positions to neutralize Jordan's glaring strength of striking and score some big points with the judges.
However, it's more likely to turn into a slugfest from the get-go, as Gonzaga seems to get away from his Brazilian jiu-jitsu quite often. He could catch Jordan with a guillotine, but this one will probably end quickly with a flurry of punches.
Enjoy the fight!
Two heavyweight power hitters will take to the Octagon in Houston. Who is your pick to extend their win streak at UFC 166?