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UFC Fight Night 123 card: Scott Holtzman vs Darrell Horcher full fight preview

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Holtzman vs McBride Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight bruisers Scott Holtzman and Darrell Horcher will square off this Saturday (Dec. 9, 2017) inside Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

Holtzman is five fights into his UFC career, and he admittedly isn’t much closer to the Top 15 than when he started. At the moment, it looks like those rankings may be outside of his ceiling, but Holtzman has earned his spot at 155 pounds as a high-action fighter. On the other hand, Horcher drew the unfortunate role of accepting a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov on short-notice. It predictably did not end well, but Horcher bounced back with a win in his next match up.

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter:

Scott Holtzman
Record: 10-2
Key Wins: Cody Pfister (UFC Fight Night 91), Michael McBride (UFC Fight Night 108)
Key Losses: Josh Emmett (UFC on FOX 22), Drew Dober (UFC 195)
Keys to Victory: Holtzman is a strong athlete who fights out of The MMA Lab. He’s reasonably well-rounded but prefers to scrap, overwhelming his opponents with physicality and power shots.

Holtzman does his best work from his front foot. When he’s leading, he tends to find success, whereas foes that put him on the defensive have an easier time landing shots and takedowns. This was noticeable in both of his losses, as Emmett and Dober found their best success when Holtzman was pushed into the fence or covering up.

Horcher is a veteran of the regional scene with a good deal of size and strength, and he’ll probably look to bully Holtzman. Luckily, “Hot Sauce” seems to be the heavier puncher, which gives him a better chance of keeping Horcher off him. In fact, the best way for Holtzman to keep this fighting standing is to move forward. That may sound contradictory, but Holtzman cannot have his back to the fence if Horcher is the one being pushed around.

VS.

Darrell Horcher
Record: 13-2
Key Wins: Devin Powell (UFC Fight Night 112), Alex Ricci (CFFC 40)
Key Losses: Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC on FOX 19)
Keys to Victory: Like his opponent, Horcher is a strong Lightweight with a reasonably well-rounded game. While Holtzman prefers close range brawls, Horcher likes to duck into takedowns and dominate from top position.

“The Saint” has stopped six opponents via knockout.

Reading the above section explains Horcher’s game plan as well. Both fighters like to use their strength to force their opponents into uncomfortable exchanges -- in Horcher’s case, wrestling exchanges — and slowly overwhelm them.

As the wrestler in this match up, it should be a bit easier for Horcher to be the one moving forward. If he mixes takedown feints into his attack, Holtzman will be forced to respect them and give up ground. Otherwise, Horcher will be able to score easy takedowns. If Holtzman is backing up, Horcher’s odds of winning the takedown battle and the fight increase.

Bottom Line: It should be a fun fight between two men looking to prove themselves at 155 pounds.

Holtzman looked really sharp in his last bout and is still just five years into his professional career. He has been unable to score consecutive victories just yet, making this a potentially big moment for him. If the 34-year-old wants to make a big impact, he has to win this fight and show some improved takedown defense in the process.

Horcher is less proven, which has its pros and cons. On the bright side, his only loss came to Khabib Nurmagomedov, a man who has shown himself utterly capable of dominating just about anyone. That defeat won’t be held against him, so Horcher could really pick up some momentum with a strong performance here. There’s not a lot of room to slide in the Lightweight division. Neither man is going to be released with a loss, but it will make it much more difficult to climb up the ladder.

At UFC Fight Night 123, Scott Holtzman and Darrell Horcher will battle on the main card. Which fighter will have his hand raised?