Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight scrappers Anthony Pettis and Carlos Diego Ferreira will throw down this Saturday (Jan. 18, 2020) at UFC 246 from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Since 2016, Pettis has alternated wins and losses, doing so in three separate weight classes. That’s something of an impressive feat on its own, and Pettis has certainly been fighting top-notch competition, but one has to imagine that “Showtime” is hoping to turn a corner and regain consistent success. Meanwhile, Ferreira has quietly worked himself into a position as divisional dark horse. The talented Brazilian has won five straight fights, ending the win streaks of two others who were vying for that dark horse position in Rustam Khabilov and Mairbek Taisumov.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Benson Henderson (UFC 164, WEC 53), Stephen Thompson (UFC Fight Night 148), Gilbert Melendez (UFC 181), Donald Cerrone (UFC on FOX 6), Michael Chiesa (UFC 223), Charles Oliveira (UFC on FOX 21)
Key Losses: Rafael dos Anjos (UFC 185), Tony Ferguson (UFC 229), Nate Diaz (UFC 241), Max Holloway (UFC 206), Dustin Poirier (UFC Fight Night 120)
Keys to Victory: Pettis is one of the most flashy kickboxers in the sport, but his effectiveness is unquestionable. There is serious power in both Pettis’ kicks and punches, and his jiu-jitsu remains underrated and quite dangerous.
The problem continues to be pressure for the former champion. When given space to work, he’s still capable of pretty incredible things, as we saw with his flying Superman punch knockout of Stephen Thompson. However, when Nate Diaz turned up the heat and made it ugly, Pettis simply didn’t perform.
Luckily, Ferreira is not quite as devoted to forward pressure as Diaz, though he’ll likely try. Pettis is the slicker man and heavier kicker, and it’s important he set the tone early. If Pettis can really rip off a few body kicks early, that may be just the weapon needed to force Ferreira to back off and respect Pettis’ offense a bit.
Carlos Diego Ferreira
Key Wins: Rustam Khabilov (UFC Fight Night 145), Mairbek Taisumov (UFC 242), Jared Gordon (UFC Fight Night 126), Olivier Aubin-Mercier (UFC on FOX 18), Ramsey Nijem (UFC 177)
Key Losses: Dustin Poirier (UFC Fight Night 63), Beneil Dariush (UFC 179)
Keys to Victory: Ferreira is an underappreciated talent, an excellent grappler who has really developed the rest of his game. Ferreira seems to be hitting harder than ever, wrestling more efficiently, and is still downright nasty when able to gain top position.
Simply put, there isn’t a fighter on the roster who I wouldn’t advise to pressure if facing Pettis. He’s occasionally lost in other ways — such as when Edson Barboza beat up his legs from the outside — but not pressuring Pettis greatly increases the odds that he’ll pull off some type of crazy knockout.
Ferreira has to intelligently force Pettis onto his back foot. His striking has advanced to the point that he doesn’t have to force a brawl though, which is good — Pettis can still crack sloppy fighters with counters. Instead, Ferreira can advance behind his long snap kick, look to cut off the cage, and eventually time takedowns beneath Pettis’ punches or while his back is to the fence.
It’s a really good Lightweight fight.
At this point, Pettis is not really being looked at as a contender in any division. However, it’s not at all impossible for him to regain that position. His fighting style is still amazing to watch, and people simply love Pettis! Getting passed a very tough and well-rounded Ferreira would be a start, but to really reignite his career as a contender, Pettis needs consecutive wins.
As for Ferreira, this is really a make-or-break moment. The jiu-jitsu black belt has done very well to bounce back from consecutive losses back in 2015, but he’s now 34 years old. If Ferreira is to make an unlikely run at the title, it has to be on his current win streak, as losing to Pettis would prove too major a setback.
Luckily, it is also a chance to score the most high-profile victory of his career, and sixth straight wins is hard to ignore, even at 155 pounds.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 246 fight card this weekend RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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At UFC 246, Anthony Pettis and Carlos Diego Ferreira will open the main card. Which man will earn the victory?