Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweights Antonio Carlos Junior and Patrick Cummins collide this Saturday (Dec. 20, 2014) at UFC Fight Night 58 inside the Ginasio Jose Correa in Barueri, Brazil.
One of the more credentialed submission artists inside the UFC, Carlos Junior looks to continue his winning ways at the expense of Cummins. Thus far, the Brazilian is undefeated in both his professional career and exhibition matches on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).
Meanwhile, Cummins was made a punchline by Daniel Cormier. Luckily for "Durkin," he's since proved that he possesses the skills necessary to compete inside the Octagon, as he's won his last two bouts in dominant fashion.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men.
Antonio Carlos Junior
Key Wins: Vitor Miranda (TUF Brazil 3 Finale)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Carlos Junior is an excellent grappler, having won the Pan-Ams at black belt and Worlds while still a brown belt. Of his four victories, three come via submission.
In addition, Carlos Junior is a solid prospect. With all his prior fights -- and success -- coming at heavyweight, many expect the 24 year old to find serious success inside the UFC.
In this match up, Carlos Junior will be faced with a very tough wrestler for the first time. To overcome this challenge, Carlos Junior needs to make the most of his time on the feet, as Cummins' is hardly an elite striker and is still fairly awkward while striking.
It's not that Carlos Junior is a stand-up specialist, but he should have the advantage.
When Cummins shoots for a takedown, there's a pretty decent chance he'll be able to drag Carlos Junior down. However, Carlos Junior should be able to make him pay with strikes on the way in, as Cummins often shoots from fairly far out.
Additionally, Carlos Junior needs to attempt to counter Cummins' shots with his takedown. If Carlos Junior can find Cummins' neck, he'll likely be able to reverse position. When a talented jiu-jitsu play gets on top of an inexperienced -- in mixed martial arts (MMA) -- wrestler, it tends to result in a quick submission victory.
Exactly what Carlos Junior needs at this stage in his career.
Key Wins: Kyle Kingsbury (UFC on FOX 12), Roger Narvaez (UFC Fight Night 42)
Key Losses: Daniel Cormier (UFC 170)
Keys to Victory: As a two-time All-American wrestler and NCAA championship runner up, it's clear that Cummins' path to victory lies in his wrestling. Once he gets his opponent down, he's brutal with his ground strikes and choke attempts, finishing each of his opponents except for Kingsbury.
And one judge gave Cummins a 30-24 scorecard in that bout, so it's not like he failed to do damage.
Cummins should be able to land takedowns at will. Once he takes the Brazilian down, he shouldn't have much problem avoiding submissions so long as he watches his posture and hand placement. Frankly, most larger grappling specialists -- and yes, I know there are exceptions -- are more top players than guard specialists anyway.
Since Cummins has the ability to drive this fight to the mat whenever he likes, he should use this as an opportunity to get some cage time working on his striking. If he feels uncomfortable or gets stunned, he can turn the fight back to his favor with a quick double leg.
It may not be necessary for a victory in this bout, but Cummins' comfort in striking will eventually determine whether or not he succeeds in future fights. Quite simply, elite fighters are rarely one dimensional.
Bottom Line: Despite the discrepancy in age, both men are considered solid prospects in the light heavyweight division.
Frankly, light heavyweight desperately needs rising fighters in its rank. Many of the current top-ranked fighters are well into their thirties and have already lost to Jon Jones, which is a bad combination. Therefore, the winner of this match up will likely be fast-tracked into the top of the division, with all the benefits that accompany that movement.
On the other hand, the loser of this bout will have his ascension delayed by a fair amount. Neither fighter is in any danger of being cut, but it will take a couple wins to recover from a loss and get fans interested once again.
At UFC Fight Night 58, Antonio Carlos Junior and Patrick Cummins will look to move further up the light heavyweight division. Which fighter will take home the victory?