If there's one fight that could end in an instant this weekend, it's this one.
Both fighters are powerful knockout artists who have momentum in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Manuwa has a bit more with his undefeated mixed martial arts (MMA) record. He sits at 2-0 inside the Octagon and was last seen forcing Cyrille Diabate to retire at UFC on FUEL TV 7. The Nigerian-English "Poster Boy" has exhibited an extremely lethal stand-up game that he's used to knock out 12 of his 13 foes. That's an alarming finishing rate and Manuwa will look to make it even better in Manchester.
Jimmo, on the other hand, has a 2-1 record in UFC and most recently defeated Igor Pokrajac via unanimous decision at June's UFC 161. He's a likable fighter known for his insane power and celebratory pop-and-lock moves. Jimmo was disappointed that he couldn't earn a finish at UFC 161, so he should come into UFN 30 with a knockout on his mind. He has the power to match his dangerous opponent on the feet, but he may want to take it elsewhere.
This bout has all the makings of a striking war. Let's examine the keys to victory for Jimi Manuwa vs. Ryan Jimmo:
Record: 13-0 overall, 2-0 UFC
Key Wins: Cyrille Diabate (UFC on FUEL TV 7), Kyle Kingsbury (UFC on FUEL TV 5)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Manuwa is a vicious striker who has never seen one of his fights go to the judges' scorecards. He made a name for himself by destroying all comers in London's Ultimate Challenge MMA (UCMMA). Manuwa won their light heavyweight title in only his fifth MMA bout and successfully defended it five times.
No one has been able to combat the relentless aggression of Manuwa's striking game. At this point, his strategy is rather predictable. His opponents know he's going to come out with a high volume of punches from the opening bell; they just haven't been able to stop it. Manuwa knocked out all six of his opponents in his UCMMA title fights and he's finished the only two fighters he's faced inside the Octagon.
He does have one submission to his name, but it's unlikely that he'll look for another against Jimmo. Since Jimmo may look to take Manuwa out of his comfort zone on the feet, "Poster Boy" will need to have his takedown defense on point at UFN 30. Jimmo isn't especially known for his grappling prowess, but he's smart enough to know where Manuwa is the most dangerous.
Jimmo won't be easy to finish off with strikes. He's only been knocked out once and that was in his first MMA bout back in 2007. His only other loss was a decision to James Te Huna so Manuwa is in for a war. If he can finish Jimmo, he'll stretch his undefeated record to 14-0 and most likely find himself matched up with a top-level light heavyweight for his next trip to the Octagon.
Record: 18-2 overall, 2-1 UFC
Key Wins: Igor Pokrajac (UFC 161), Anthony Perosh (UFC 149)
Key Losses: James Te Huna (UFC on FUEL TV 7)
Keys to Victory: The key to victory for the entertaining "Big Deal" may be to turn this fight into an ugly one. That may not earn him any fans in England, but it's a better plan to keep him conscious. Manuwa is one of the least talked-about knockout specialists in UFC so there's not much point in standing toe-to-toe with him and trading strikes.
The stand-up game is where Jimmo shines, evident by the seven knockouts on his record, but perhaps his plan should be to take Manuwa down. That's not to say that he won't look to prove his striking is superior to Manuwa's, because he definitely might.
If he does, this fight will into a barnburner of a match-up and Jimmo could either have his hand raised or be staring up at the lights.
The former Maximum Fighting Championship (MFC) light heavyweight champion is a karate black belt who shares the record for fastest UFC knockout at seven seconds. That's going to be tough to repeat against Manuwa, so testing "Poster Boy's" grappling with a few takedowns and submission attempts will be paramount in controlling where this fight goes.
Manuwa is an absolute wrecking ball in the striking department. However, he hasn't shown a whole lot of ground prowess despite his training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
This is where Jimmo should look to exercise an advantage.
If he can get the fight to the ground and utilize transitions to take Manuwa's back, he'll neutralize his opponent's kickboxing. That's easier said than done, but it's still the safest way to win.
Bottom Line from Manchester: The bottom line is that we have two freight trains colliding at UFN 30. There's a ton of similarities between the careers of both fighters here: both were light heavyweight champs in smaller promotions before making their way to UFC and both defended their belts.
There's no doubt these two combatants are up-and-coming prospects in the ultra-competitive UFC 205-pound arena. It's a shame that one of them has to have their momentum derailed at UFN 30, but this bout will be a major proving ground.
With the fight most likely to end by way of knockout, the winner will get a huge boost up the rankings and may face a big name next. Manuwa and Jimmo love to throw heavy leather and they constantly push the pace toward their opponents.
This fight could come down to who lands the biggest shot first. It'll be Manuwa's vaunted Muay Thai versus Jimmo's high-level karate skills and something's got to give. If Jimmo has formulated a precise gameplan, he'll use the wrestling skills he's learned at Jaco Hybrid Training Center to make Manuwa fight on the ground.
Barring any unforeseen developments, Manuwa will look to knockout Jimmo right away. He's done it to all but one of his prior opponents, so there's no reason to expect anything different at UFN 30. This fight has all the pieces to lock up "Fight of the Night," so enjoy it!
Jimi Manuwa and Ryan Jimmo are two of the light heavyweight division's best up-and-coming prospects. Whose power striking will come out on top in Manchester?