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UFC Fight Night 168 card: Jimmy Crute vs Michal Oleksiejczuk full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight finishers Jimmy Crute and Michal Oleksiejczuk will throw down this Saturday (Feb. 22, 2020) at UFC Fight Night 168 from inside Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.

Crute suffered his first professional loss last time out, but it really confirmed the Australian’s talent. He went back-and-forth on the mat with an excellent veteran in Misha Cirkunov, and seemed to be getting the better of exchanges before getting caught. At 23 years old, that’s not a bad result. Oleksiejczuk, meanwhile, finds himself in a similar situation, having lost in the Octagon for the first time to Ovince Saint Preux. Like Crute, he was having a ton of success against his more experience foe before “OSP” was able to turn the tide, and the 24-year-old Pole is a very solid prospect.

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

Jimmy Crute

Record: 10-1
Key Wins: Paul Craig (UFC Fight Night 142), Sam Alvey (UFC 234)
Key Losses: Misha Cirkunov (UFC Fight Night 158)
Keys to Victory: Crute is impressively well-rounded given his youth. He definitely prefers to take fights to the mat, where his submission skills and ground strikes are both quite dangerous, but Crute has proven himself a solid striker as well.

Oleksiejczuk is a dangerous man on the feet though, probably not the type of striker Crute is ready to go toe-to-toe with just yet. It’s one thing to beat up Sam Alvey on the feet, but Oleksiejczuk is scary fast and accurate — it really doesn’t take him long to find an openings, and young fighters like Crute tend not to have excellent defense just yet.

As such, there’s no time to waste in level-changing into a takedown attempt. Crute will have a solid size and strength advantage, which means that even if the shot is unsuccessful, the Aussie should at least be able to contain his foe in the clinch. As Saint Preux demonstrated, Oleksiejczuk tends to fight at a pace that he cannot maintain, so if Crute can survive the early minutes, his chances of dominating from top position grow considerably.

Michal Oleksiejczuk

Record: 14-3 (1)
Key Wins: Gadzhimurad Antigulov (UFC Fight Night 149), Gian Villante (UFC Fight Night 145)
Key Losses: Ovince Saint Preux (UFC Fight Night 160)
Keys to Victory: Oleksiejczuk is the size of most Middleweights, and that brings about both pros and cons. On the positive side, Oleksiejczuk is fast with real hand speed — his left hand is accurate and nasty. Unfortunately, being smaller makes grappling considerably more difficult, as Saint Preux showed that Oleksiejczuk can be forced to exhaust himself.

Oleksiejczuk’s key to victory here is to lead the dance and target the body. Crute likely wants to pressure Oleksiejczuk into the fence, which is much harder to do if the Polish striker is the one moving forward and firing. If Oleksiejczuk is advancing, it forces Crute to decide between exchanging with Oleksiejczuk to earn his respect or hanging back — two positive outcomes for “Lord.”

Secondly, body shots are a great way to stop takedown attempts before they happen, as it grants the attacking fighter an underhook before his foe even changes levels. Plus, as Oleksiejczuk proved against Villante, is left to the body is a potential fight-finisher.

Let ‘em rip!

Bottom Line

These two men are probably the best prospects under 25 years old that the Light Heavyweight division has to offer.

Crute is already really solid, though each aspect of his game still needs a bit more refinement if he’s to contend. Alternatively, Oleksiejczuk has a more significant single ability in his hand speed and accurate punching, but he also has more defined faults that need work.

Either way, they’re both at an age where major jumps in abilities are to be expected. Crute could come out looking more technical than ever, whereas Oleksiejczuk may have solved his defensive wrestling/conditioning issues in this past camp. Win or lose, both of these men very likely have bright futures at 205 pounds, and a rematch someday down the line shouldn’t be a surprise.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 168 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 168: “Felder vs. Hooker” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC Fight Night 168, Jimmy Crute and Michal Oleksiejczuk will collide in the co-main event. Which man will have his hand raised?

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