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UFC Fight Night 51 card: Gleison Tibau vs Piotr Hallmann fight preview

Powerhouse lightweights Gleison Tibau and Piotr Hallmann look to build momentum in a crowded division at UFC Fight Night 51, which takes place this Saturday night (Sept. 13, 2014) in Brasilia, Brazil. As two of the largest men in the division, what should each fighter do to gain an advantage? Read our fight preview and find out!

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Gleison Tibau and Piotr Hallmann will go to war at UFC Fight Night 51 this Saturday night (Sept. 13, 2014) at the Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia, Brazil.

Gleison Tibau is the definition of consistent. The American Top Team (ATT) product has had an astounding 22 fights inside the Octagon across eight years, but he has yet to establish himself as a contender. On the bright side, Tibau has proven himself a strong gatekeeper, pushing away any fighter unworthy of a UFC ranking.

In addition, Tibau has become quite well known for his massive weight cut. It's rumored that the jiu-jitsu black belt packs on an extra 30 pounds after the weigh ins. He certainly holds a strength advantage over most of the division.

Although, "Pletwal" might have something to say about that. Hallmann is also a monstrous lightweight and has thus far had great success imposing his physical style of grappling on his UFC opponents. Now, the question becomes what each man can do to handle a fellow fighter with similar physique and strength.

Let's take a look at their keys to victory.

Gleison Tibau

Record: 29-10

Key Wins: Rafael dos Anjos (UFC 139), Jamie Varner (UFC 164), Pat Healy (UFC Fight Night 45)

Key Losses: Michael Johnson (UFC 168), Evan Dunham (UFC 158)

Keys to Victory: Tibau possesses a rather well-rounded game. He's a jiu-jitsu black belt with a powerful, top heavy game that emphasizes chokes, has a beautiful blast double and incredible takedown defense, and a sound boxing game that is punctuated by his straight left hand.

All together, that makes Tibau a tough man to beat. In order to defeat him, his opponent must be much sharper in one aspect of the game or have excellent conditioning. Otherwise, Tibau is likely to grind him out for a decision victory or possible submission finish.

"Pletwall" is an aggressive fighter with some solid skill, but Tibau has beaten plenty of fighters just like him. For instance, Tibau defeated another large, physical grappler in Pat Healy just a few months ago.

Therefore, Tibau just needs to stick to his usual game plan in order to find success. On the feet, he needs to watch for Hallmann's punches, which pack a good amount of power. However, it's unlikely that Hallmann has any speed advantage -- let alone anything major -- so Tibau's experience should keep him safe.

Since both of these two combatants are primarily grapplers, it's only a matter of time until someone shoots. Either way, Tibau has an advantage. Not even Khabib Nurmagomedov had success wrestling with Tibau, and the Dagestani is currently acting like a wood chipper towards the lightweight elite.

In most of Tibau's fights, he slows down near the third round and clearly loses it. This often results in a split or close decision. Luckily, Hallmann carries a similar amount of muscle and does not have a significant cardio advantage, which means that Tibau's overall superior skill set should still hold strong in the final frame.

Piotr Hallmann

Record: 15-2

Key Wins: Yves Edwards (UFC Fight Night 42), Francisco Trinaldo (UFC Fight Night 28)

Key Losses: Al Iaquinta (UFC Fight Night 30)

Keys to Victory: Hallmann is a talented grinder with all but one of his 15 wins evenly divided into submissions and knockouts. The 27-year old currently trains out of the MMA Lab, so his skills can only get sharper.

"Pletwall" has a very in-your-face style of fighting. He pushes forward consistently and uses the threat of his punches to open up takedown opportunities. In addition, Hallmann's conditioning is pretty strong, especially when he's in control of the bout.

It's not perfect -- as Hallmann did slow down against Iaquinta -- but it's likely a touch better than Tibau's.

Hallmann's conditioning, aided by youth and 20 fewer weight cuts, is likely his only advantage over Tibau, and it's a minor one at that. Still, Hallmann could pull off the victory if he fights perfectly or has improved since his last couple bouts.

In order to slow Tibau down, Hallmann is going to have to pressure him. Plus, that's his fighting style anyway. That said, Hallmann cannot swing recklessly or lose his footing.

Simply put, Tibau is accustomed to his opponents chasing after him. He counters excellently with his left hand or changes levels and blows through his opponent's hips with a takedown. Hallmann doesn't want to needlessly absorb damage and especially should avoid winding up on his back.

Tibau will not slow down if he's in control from the top position.

Instead, Hallmann needs to cut off the cage, throw a high volume of punches, and be ready to wrestle at all times. If he can do that, it's possible that Hallmann's aggression/Octagon control and volume could win him rounds. Should he fail to win rounds, he'd at least be ready to explode in the final frame.

Finally, Hallmann needs to save his takedowns for the third round or not use them at all. Tibau at full strength is basically impossible for lightweights to take down, so it's simply a waste of energy. By the third, however, it's a difficult but possible task.

And once on top, Hallmann can aggressively attack with submissions, which is his best chance of securing a finish.

Bottom Line: This fight will very likely establish the direction in which each man is heading in the division. It's not a make-or-break bout for either fighter, but it's still fairly important.

Tibau has it pretty good. He may be stuck in the role of gatekeeper, but his lengthy stay in the UFC ensures that he makes a solid amount of money and is a recognizable name. In addition, he's showed absolutely zero signs of slowing down. With a win here, Tibau can continue doing exactly what he's been doing so well the last eight years: hanging just outside the top 15 of a crowded division.

However, a loss could be a sign of descent for the massive Brazilian. Hallmann is a strong fighter with good skills, but he's nothing Tibau hasn't beaten before. The ATT-trained fighter should pull off a victory without too many issues; anything less could be credited to Tibau's decline.

Hallmann does not have a lot of pressure on him going into this fight. It's highly unlikely that he's anything but a large underdog, so he can simply go out and try to make something happen. Plenty of talented fighters have lost to Tibau, and Hallmann is young and exciting enough to recover from a loss.

A win, on the other hand, would be very impressive. If Hallmann is able to overcome such a tough match up of styles, it would show that he's ready for a ranked fighter. Hallmann likely wants to make a run toward the top, and the best time to start is always now.

At UFC Fight Night 51, two bulky lightweights will collide over their place in the lightweight division. Who will emerge victorious?

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