clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jimi Manuwa, UFC 191's 'Fighter to Watch' tonight in Las Vegas


Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to "Sin City" TONIGHT (Sat. Sept. 5, 2015) after a short hiatus with UFC 191, which takes place inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

To check out the full UFC 191 pay-per-view (PPV) fight card click here.

A Flyweight championship bout between 125-pound king Demetrious Johnson (22-2-1) and two-time title challenger John Dodson (17-6) takes headlining duties. The duo last fought at UFC on FOX 6 in Jan. 2013, with "Mighty Mouse" emerging victorious (watch their first fight in full here) in a buzz-worthy contest over "The Magician."

Other main card bouts of importance include a 205-pound contest featuring Anthony Johnson (19-5) versus Jimi Manuwa (15-1). The former Light Heavyweight No. 1 contender Johnson returns to the cage following a loss versus current 205-pound titleholder Daniel Cormier at UFC 187.

Perhaps the "Fighter to Watch" on this PPV main card is the one with everything to gain and nothing to lose, Jimi Manuwa. "Poster Boy" goes up against the aforementioned Johnson in what will be his biggest test to date and a surefire slugfest.

The British striker boasts a 15-1 overall MMA record and is 4-1 in five UFC fights. He began his career shortly after his 28th birthday, fighting mostly around London, England, in 2008. His first two bouts, against Tom King and Dave Rintoul, resulted in quick, first-round technical knockout stoppages.

In both victories, Manuwa came out unscathed thanks to his solid ground-and-pound, as well as his excellent throws. What stood out -- specifically a weakness that was visible early in his career -- was his ability to be controlled on the bottom.

Manuwa looked especially uncomfortable in his first professional tilt against King, where he was grounded for a brief period in the beginning of the fight. He didn't appear to look for any submissions, or reversals.

This was definitely glossed over for the fact he was straight bum-rushing his opponents.

Over his next two fights, Manuwa showed us new wrinkles in his MMA repertoire, particularly with his clinch game. We saw in his first couple of fights that he had a decent sprawl, but we never witnessed his ability to throw damaging knee strikes from the clinch.

Manuwa's grip when he gains control of an opponent's neck is almost vice-like, where he can ragdoll a foe for as long as he wants. He did just that during his fight with Chris Greig in Dec. 2008.

Though he was grounded for a bit, and put on his back, Manuwa was able to make the most of his opportunities for offense once they presented themselves (i.e. the clinch), getting the finish in round two. Then, just two months later, he walloped Jamie Hearn on the feet with leg kicks and hooks to stop the latter in round one.

The Greig and Hearn fights were contested under the renowned United Kingdom promotion Ultimate Challenge MMA (UCMMA). Following those two victories, Manuwa competed for the promotion's 205-pound title, conquering Ryan Robinson in just 123 seconds.

He defended his belt for the first time in Aug. 2009 against Luke Blythe in what was a mostly one-sided contest.

The takeaways from his near spotless performance here -- aside from the fact he throttled his opponent every which way the fight went -- was that on two separate occasions, Manuwa was able to get out from the bottom of Blythe; first by getting back to north-south position from side control and then exploding into his opponents' hip to sit in full-guard, in top position.

Not to mention, he was also able to escape a fairly deep triangle choke.

Needless to say, he ultimately won via knockout towards the end of round two and continued to hoist his UCMMA Light Heavyweight title for the next two years.

Despite being adept at pummeling his opponents on the ground,  Manuwa went on to defend his belt on the feet, only using following up punches when necessary. His remaining title defenses were all first-round stoppages, which showcased his ability to strike from a distance, in the clinch and even his ability to go for submissions from his back.

Head to the 6:47 mark of the below video to see the belly-down armbar attempt from Manuwa.

After his fifth and final title defense over Nick Chapman in Oct. 2011, UFC signed him to a contract in July 2012. His first Octagon appearance took place in England -- as did his next four -- against Kyle Kingsbury.

The American Kickboxing Academy staple wilted under the high-level striking and pressure of Manuwa and had his left eye closed by the stinging right hand of the Brit. Kingsbury lost via second-round doctor stoppage.

Manuwa faced increased opposition in his next two appearances against Cyrille Diabate and Ryan Jimmo. The pair were effective at points in closing the distance by clinching with Manuwa, but ultimately felt the wrath of his heavy hands and knees.

His stiffest test to date was his fight with two-time UFC 205-pound title challenger Alexander Gustafsson at UFC Fight Night 37 in March 2014. For a good portion of the opening frame, Manuwa was controlled on the bottom by "The Mauler" after a quick takedown.

He survived multiple kimura attempts, eventually making it back to his feet, where he landed a couple of body shots. However, in round two, while up against the cage, Gustafsson landed a huge knee to the face of Manuwa and follow-up uppercuts, to hand the latter his first professional loss.

Manuwa dealt with a broken foot, which kept him out of a fight with Shogun Rua last November, and rebounded 13 months later against Polish MMA star Jan Blachowicz, blanking the 32-year-old over three rounds back at UFC Fight Night 64 back in April.

It was revealed after his fight with Blachowicz that Manuwa fought after tearing his ACL and MCL in preparation, which would explain his rather lethargic performance.

He's going to need full mobility in his knee if he wants to escape the pressure of his fellow 205-pound contender, Johnson.

"Rumble" was previously on a nine-fight win streak prior to his title loss versus "DC." Johnson possesses wins over Gustafsson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Phil Davis since rejoining UFC in April 2014.

His MMA game is predicated on power just as much as Manuwa's. In fact, they have eerily similar striking styles.

They can both fight long, or trade in the pocket; however, he'd probably want to avoid the underrated takedowns of Manuwa.

It will indeed be close, but an upset? We'll have to wait and see. Personally, I'm all for it, because as we saw versus Cormier, old habits die hard in Johnson's case.

Prediction: Manuwa via second-round technical knockout

For more UFC 191: "Johnson vs. Dodson 2" news and notes click here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania