Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight talents Mark Madsen and Danilo Belluardo will throw down this Saturday (Sept. 28, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 160 from inside Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Lightweight division grows ever more crowded. Just when one thinks that surely UFC has scooped up every possible bit of top talent, it adds an Olympic silver medalist to the roster. Admittedly, Madsen is not a true prospect at 35 years of age, but the undefeated newcomer will look to prove he’s already prepared for the best. On the other hand, Italy’s Belluardo made his debut in June, starting strong before getting reversed and finished from his back. He receives no easy match up here, but Belluardo does have more experience than his foe and has finished half of his victories via knockout.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Thibaud Larchet (Cage Warriors 103), Alexandre Bordin (Cage Warriors Academy Denmark 1)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Madsen earned the silver medal as a Greco-Roman wrestler at the 2016 Olympics, but his professional career actually includes a couple wins from before that accomplishment. It’s really in the last two years that Madsen has fully focused on mixed martial arts (MMA), however, fighting six times in that span.
As I wrote in a previous “X-Factor” prediction post (read it), it’s important not to overcomplicate things in MMA. Madsen is still relatively new to the sport and thus developing the rest of his game, but he’s genuinely world-class in the clinch and from top position, and he’s facing a foe who was finished last time out the first time he was put on his back.
Sounds to me like “The Olympian” should lock onto a clinch, throw his opponent through the air, and then beat him up from top position.
Key Wins: Denilson Neves (Venator FC 5)
Key Losses: Joel Alvarez (UFC Fight Night 153), Stefan Paterno (Venator Fight Night 1), Luke Jelcic (Final Fight Championship 27)
Keys to Victory: Belluardo is something of a jack-of-all-trades. The 25-year-old “Caterpillar” has a good mix of knockouts and submissions on his record, and he showed in his debut that he’s quite comfortable both kickboxing and shooting for takedowns.
Belluardo is a massive underdog here for pretty good reason. On the whole, Olympic wrestlers do not lose fights very often, usually only to pretty elite fighters. Worse still, it’s a rough style match up for Belluardo, as a specialist of Madsen’s caliber is always tough for a generalist. Still, the standard anti-wrestler strategies should be applied no matter the odds. If Belluardo makes a conscience effort to avoid the fence, that alone gives him a better chance. Plus, Madsen’s background as a Greco wrestler means that he’s more likely to clinch than shoot, which is far more difficult in the center.
If Belluardo can keep the fight in the center and throw powerful range strikes, that’s his best chance.
Bottom Line: This is a showcase fight for Madsen’s debut in his home country.
At 35 years of age, this is not really time for Madsen to have any missteps. Though larger men with similarly elite wrestling backgrounds like Randy Couture and Daniel Cormier have succeeded later in life, that’s more difficult to do in a division like Lightweight where speed is such a critical factor. If he’s to contend, Madsen has to win this fight in impressive fashion and return to the cage fairly quickly.
This is something of a make-or-break fight for Belluardo, at least in terms of his immediate UFC future. He’s a full decade younger than Madsen, so there’s plenty of time for Belluardo to improve, but a second consecutive loss very likely sees Belluardo released back to the regional scene. At the same time, dispatching an Olympic silver medalist for his first UFC victory would be quite the moment for “Caterpillar” and serve as strong evidence that he’s a fighter to watch moving forward.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 160 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET, then the main card portion that will stream on ESPN+ at 2 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 160: “Hermansson vs. Cannonier” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC Fight Night 160, Mark Madsen and Danilo Belluardo will collide in the co-main event. Which man will have his hand raised?