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UFC Fight Night 118 card: Donald Cerrone vs Darren Till preview

MMA: UFC 206- Cerrone vs Brown Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight kickboxers Donald Cerrone and Darren Till will clash this Saturday (Oct. 21, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 118 inside Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland.

Cerrone is deep into a long and successful career that consists of kicking the hell out of people. That said, “Cowboy” is currently facing a two-fight skid for the first time ever, thus the reason he’s taking a step back in competition against a relative unknown in Till.

Unknown or not, Till is a dangerous man. “The Gorilla” brings with him an undefeated professional record and a ton of kickboxing experience, as well as enough confidence for a dozen fighters. He’ll be looking to take Cerrone’s head off, make no mistakes about it.

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man.

Donald Cerrone

Record: 32-9 (1)

Key Wins: Rick Story (UFC 202), Matt Brown (UFC 206), Eddie Alvarez (UFC 178), Benson Henderson (UFC Fight Night 59)

Key Losses: Jorge Masvidal (UFC on FOX 23), Robbie Lawler (UFC 214), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC on FOX 17, UFC Fight Night 27), Anthony Pettis (UFC on FOX 6)

Keys to Victory: Cerrone is one of the sport’s nastiest kickboxers. His hands have improved quite a bit recently, but his strength remains maintaining distance and brutalizing his foes with whipping kicks to the leg, body, and head.

On paper, Cerrone has a few advantages here. He’s the more experienced and likely better striker — although that second part is likely the big question that will be answered with this bout. However, he’s undoubtedly the more skilled grappler, and his history shows more success wrestling as well.

Could Cerrone switch it up and shoot? It’s a viable strategy for him, and one he’s been more willing to use in the last couple years. If Till gives him more trouble than expected, don’t be surprised to see Cerrone change levels.

That said, Till showed some problems with his low kick defense last time around. If that issue — Till leaning his head back to avoid punches but leaving his leg in danger — Cerrone will pick up on it and capitalize. There are few better at destroying legs than “Cowboy,” and he’ll build from it to set up other strikes too.

Darren Till

Record: 15-0-1

Key Wins: Bojan Velickovic (UFC Fight Night 115), Jessin Ayari (UFC Fight Night 109), Wendell de Oliveira (UFC Fight Night 67)

Key Losses: None

Keys to Victory: It’s clear just from looking at Till’s key wins that he’s not faced anyone quite like “Cowboy,” but undefeated is undefeated. Plus, Till has experience in professional kickboxing and Muay Thai, which should help him out against the striking specialist.

This is definitely an interesting match up, a potential change of the guard moment. Till came into the UFC as a tough 22 year old with some heavy kicks, but he’s developed into a well-rounded striker very quickly.

Being able to kick with Cerrone helps his chances, but Till will likely want to get Cerrone throwing hands. Cerrone struggles in the boxing range more than anywhere else, while Till’s cross has been accurate and powerful as of late.

Beyond that, Till would be wise to mix in his elbows. He’ll be the larger man, so closing in with a hard elbow and continuing to work from the clinch isn’t a bad strategy either.

Bottom Line: It’s an important fight for both men.

As the favorite, the real narrative for Cerrone here is to avoid losing. Till is unknown and unranked; losing to him isn’t the same as losing to Jorge Masvidal or Robbie Lawler, two fighters who have been great for a long time. It’s a defeat that would set Cerrone back tremendously, forcing him out of the title mix.

A win sets him back on track. It doesn’t get Cerrone particularly close to a title shot, but “Cowboy” is active as hell and can build momentum. A foe back in the top 10 next wouldn’t be unreasonable.

There’s also quite a bit of pressure on Till. Welterweight is surging with a new class of up-and-coming talent, meaning those top 15 slots are filling fast. It’s difficult to climb in a division like that, so opportunities cannot be squandered. This is Till’s chance to make his name known and jump to contender status, and another one won’t come quickly.

If he comes up short, he’ll still have a lot of work to do.

At UFC Fight Night 118, Donald Cerrone and Darren Till will throw down in the main event. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?

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