Top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight contenders Henry Cejudo and Jussier Formiga will go to war this Saturday (Nov. 21, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 78 inside Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico.
Since entering UFC, Cejudo has been quite impressive. His combination of pressure boxing and high-level wrestling has been very difficult to deal with and allowed him to control the pace and distance.
Meanwhile, Formiga has rallied back from a rough start to his UFC career to get back into the Top 5. If the Brazilian can extend his win streak to four, he'll very likely receive the title shot many expected him to earn several years ago.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter:
Key Wins: Chico Camus (UFC 185), Chris Cariaso (UFC 185), Dustin Kimura (UFC on FOX 13)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: A Olympic gold medalist, Cejudo is one of the most decorated and naturally talented athletes to ever step into the Octagon. Despite that impressive background, Cejudo has done most of his work with his boxing, attacking with flurries of combinations.
In this match up, the standard attack should be rather effective for Cejudo. Formiga does not do particularly well when he is bullied, and Cejudo's combination of forward pressure, sudden takedowns, and punches in bunches fits that description quite well.
Plus, Formiga will have a rather difficult time taking down Cejudo. Without the reactive shot in his back pocket, Formiga will be fairly hittable, much like he was opposite Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson.
Finally, Cejudo should not abandon his wrestling, but he does need to be careful in grappling exchanges. The smart plan for Cejudo would be to use wrestling to score brief takedowns that allow him to punish his opponent as he returns to his feet or on the exit of clinches.
Key Wins: Zach Makovsky (UFC Fight Night 47), Wilson Reis (UFC Fight Night 67), Scott Jorgensen (UFC Fight Night 38)
Key Losses: Joseph Benavidez (UFC Fight Night 28), John Dodson (UFC on FX 5)
Keys to Victory: Formiga, a jiu-jitsu black belt, is one of the more dangerous submission fighters in the division, known for his excellent back control. In addition, he's really rounded out the rest of his game in the last couple years, developing an aggressive Muay Thai attack.
In this bout, it's vital for Formiga to control the center of the Octagon. If he allows Cejudo to pressure him and tries to fight from his back foot, he's almost certainly going to come up short.
Simply put, Formiga is at his best when he's the one moving forward, attacking and controlling range. Otherwise, his offense begins to shut down.
In this match up, Formiga has an opportunity to put his kicks to great use. Cejudo primarily relies on his hands, which means that Formiga has a far large effective range than his opponent.
The danger of kicking is obviously the takedown. However, Cejudo has not really demonstrated a strong top control game in MMA, meaning that Formiga could work back up and force Cejudo to waste energy.
Plus, every attempted takedown is an opportunity for Formiga to reverse or threaten with his jiu-jitsu.
Bottom Line: In all likelihood, the winner of this bout will face Demetrious Johnson for his title.
At this point, Cejudo has more hype behind him than any other Flyweight besides the champ. Deserved or not, Cejudo is in a great position to capitalize and earn a title shot with a win over Formiga here.
On the other hand, a loss really ruins UFC's plans for Cejudo -- the promotion has clearly been building him up as a challenger to "Mighty Mouse." He could still eventually make it back into the title picture, but "undefeated Olympian" has a certain marketing ring to it.
While Formiga is a large underdog according to the betting odds, he has the opportunity to steal his opponent's momentum and make it his own. As one of the few top Flyweights that Johnson hasn't already squared off against, that would undoubtedly be enough to earn Formiga a shot at the belt.
Alternatively, a loss would be quite disappointing for Formiga, who already has losses to three of the Top 5 men at Flyweight. If he losses here as well, it's unlikely that he ever clears that ceiling.
At UFC Fight Night 78, Henry Cejudo and Jussier Formiga will battle in a pivotal Flyweight match up. Which fighter will earn the victory?