UFC 160 fight card: Donald Cerrone vs. K.J. Noons fight prediction, preview and breakdown

Photo by Esther Lin for MMAFighting.com

Donald Cerrone and K.J. Noons will both look to return to the win column at each others' expense when the lightweights clash tonight (Sat., May 25, 2013) at UFC 160, which takes place from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Will "Cowboy" get back on the horse with a vintage performance or will "King" earn his first-ever victory inside the Octagon? Jason Probst for MMAmania.com breaks it all down below.

Featuring a potentially explosive Lightweight fight between Donald Cerrone and K.J. Noons as the first fight for the televised portion of the UFC 160 main card is ideal because it's a showdown between two of the best strikers in the deepest division of mixed martial arts (MMA).

Noons, making his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut, was very impressive in Strikeforce, displaying his toughness and tactical smarts, especially in his five-round decision loss in the rematch with Nick Diaz. However, Noons has hit a plateau, losing three of his next four bouts after the Diaz fight.

There will be no fears of him getting wrestle-smashed in this one because Cerrone has never met a stand up battle he didn’t like. And the duo figure to kick off the night in high-octane style.

Check out a complete breakdown of the UFC 160 main card Lightweight bout between Donald Cerrone vs. K.J. Noons below:

The Breakdown

The eminently durable Cerrone suffered the first knockout loss of his long career thanks to the wicked kicks of Anthony Pettis. You have to wonder if, after a long road of numerous wars, as well as 28 professional kickboxing bouts, if "The Cowboy" is showing some wear.

For a UFC first-timer, Noons won’t have much time to get acclimated because Cerrone loves to pounce on opponents early and force exchanges, asserting his solid stand up and imposing his will. The bout doesn’t figure to go to the ground much, but if it does, Cerrone should have a solid edge. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu is outstanding, which is the reason many opponents are more willing to stand with him than they should be.

Noons’ style has a ton of the tricks and moves of camp-mate Dominick Cruz -- their feints and odd angles are very similar. Noons can really put together some flashy combinations and defensive smarts when he wants to, and he has a solid chin, to boot.

He’s going to need it.

The Pick

Cerrone’s big edge is in his range and his better Muay Thai and kicking game -- Noons is essentially a boxer who presents little threat with the feet or knees. Cerrone’s great at using push kicks, knees and chained combinations to keep opponents on the defense, and like Noons, he has an outstanding chin.

Expect some great exchanges early, as both guys tend to fire back immediately when hit. Cerrone will push the pace and mix in solid body-head combinations, as Noons dips, weaves and fires back power punches, trying to counter from arm’s length and drive off Cerrone.

Both are likely to get rocked in this one, but at the end of the day, Cerrone has enough of a Plan B – taking it to the ground, if he needs to, along with relying on a ton of experience against better competition – to wrest himself out of tough spots. He’ll wear down Noons while eating some big shots, hammering "King" in a three-round war en route to a unanimous, crowd-pleasing, decision win.

Cerrone via decision

Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 160 fight card on fight night (May 25, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6:35 p.m. ET, right on through the FX-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card pay-per-view (PPV) action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.

Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst

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