Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight talents Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura will duel this weekend (Sat., June 5, 2021) at UFC Vegas 28 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After a violent four-fight unbeaten streak saw him break into the Top 15, but a pair of veteran kickboxers shut him down soon afterward. Now, Harris is looking to rebound and begin a new climb up the ladder ... though his competition does not grow much easier. Tybura has had his own experience of picking up momentum and climbing the ranks only to get squashed by the division’s elite, but he’s rebounded from those defeats admirable, dare I say even growing better as a result. The Polish veteran has picked up four straight wins, once again putting him in position for an assault on the title mix.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 13-9 (1)
Key Wins: Aleksei Oleinik (UFC on ESPN 4), Sergey Spivak (UFC Fight Night 151), Chase Sherman (UFC Fight Night 103), Cyril Asker (UFC Fight Night 111), Cody East (UFC 197)
Key Losses: Alistair Overeem (UFC on ESPN 8), Alexander Volkov (UFC 254), Fabricio Werdum (UFC 216), Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC Fight Night 96), Nikita Krylov (UFC on FOX 10)
Keys to Victory: Harris is a majorly powerful man. Tall and long for the Heavyweight division, the Southpaw looks to time his left hand and left kick to put his opponent away. It may not be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be when one can so quickly deliver serious impacts.
Perhaps the largest determining factor in Harris’ success or failure is how quickly he sets the tone. Tybura is the more well-rounded and more technical competitor, but he’s decidedly less athletic and has been put on the defensive (or worse) by big hitters in the past.
If Harris takes his time and allows Tybura to start finding range and setting traps, it would be a mistake. “The Big Ticket” would be far better off firing hard early, when Tybura is without his reads and forced to accept more of an event exchange. Harris immediately blowing Tybura out of the water is of course the best case scenario, but even if that does not happen, putting hands on his Polish opponent early will help Harris stay ahead in the long run.
Key Wins: Andrei Arlovski (UFC Fight Night 111), Ben Rothwell (UFC Fight Night 179), Maxim Grishin (UFC 251), Greg Hardy (UFC Vegas 17)
Key Losses: Fabricio Werdum (UFC Fight Night 121), Augusto Sakai (UFC Fight Night 158), Derrick Lewis (UFC Fight Night 126), Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC Fight Night 149)
Keys to Victory: Tybura is a rarity among big men. He does not often send his opponent’s crashing down with powerful punches, preferring instead to chase victory on the strength of his wrestling game or sneaky high kicks.
In this bout, Tybura’s slick kicks are definitely important. Against a tall and rangy Southpaw, Tybura can not solely try to box to close the distance — that would be conceding even more range! Instead, he should try to take a page from Alexander Volkov’s book and stab front kicks up the middle. Even without “Drago’s” build, a right front kick up the middle from an open stance engagement can be quite punishing.
Of course, the end goal is the takedown. In his last bout with Greg Hardy, Tybura showcased some real grit in walking through heavy shots to eventually find his way to the hips. That same moxie may be required here, as Tybura cannot allow Harris to comfortable set his own pace and distance.
This is a fairly high-level Heavyweight contest. I don’t mean to imply that either man is in the title mix currently, but a Top 10 position is on the line. Harris has it at No. 8, whereas No. 11-ranked Tybura wants that rung on the ladder.
Harris was given a major opportunity against Alistair Overeem, a chance to climb into the Top 5. Two losses later, Harris is looking to stop the bleeding. Turning away Tybura justifies his current position, and it may have him looking back up the ladder next. Alternatively, a third consecutive loss suggests that a bigger step back in competition is necessary.
It proved to be Tybura’s year in 2020, rebounding from a bad streak with four straight wins. That’s a fair bit of momentum among big men, so if Tybura can ascend into the Top 10 and make it five in a row, that could be enough to justify a seriously high-profile match up next. If not, at least the Polish fighter has experience recovering from defeat.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 28 fight card tonight right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
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At UFC Vegas 28, Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura will square off in the co-main event. Which man will earn the victory?