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Josh Emmett vs. Ilia Topuria full fight preview | UFC Jacksonville

UFC 284: Rodriguez v Emmett Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight knockout artists Josh Emmett and Ilia Topuria will go to war TODAY (Sat., June 24, 2023) at UFC Jacksonville inside Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

Emmett’s career built up to a title opportunity against Yair Rodriguez last time out, but the wild offense of “Pantera” proved too much. Smartly, the 38-year-old contender is jumping right back into the mix, looking to rebound against a hugely dangerous opponent and remain a title threat. Meanwhile, Topuria is in the midst of an undefeated charge to the top. He’d riding a massive wave of confidence and momentum, and one more win might be enough to secure “El Matador” a title shot.

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

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 79 On ESPN+

HIGH STAKES LIGHTWEIGHT MATCHUP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC APEX on Sat., Sept. 23, 2023, with a high stakes 155-pound showdown as No. 6-ranked contender, Rafael Fiziev, takes on No. 7-seeded Mateusz Gamrot. In UFC Vegas 79’s co-main event, No. 12-ranked Featherweight contender, Bryce Mitchell, steps back into the Octagon against No. 13-seeded Dan Ige.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Josh Emmett

Record: 18-3
Key Wins: Calvin Kattar (UFC Austin), Dan Ige (UFC 269), Shane Burgos (UFC on ESPN 11), Mirsad Bektic (UFC Fight Night 174), Ricardo Lamas (UFC on FOX 26), Michael Johnson (UFC on ESPN 2)
Key Losses: Yair Rodriguez (UFC 284), Jeremy Stephens (UFC on FOX 28), Desmond Green (UFC 210)
Keys to Victory: Emmett is one of the heaviest hitters at 145-pounds. A collegiate wrestler with massive power in his right hand and left hook, Emmett tends to use a lot of lateral movement before exploding forward with combinations.

In general, Emmett’s style seems to match up well with Topuria. He’s physically strong and difficult to take down, so a striking battle seems likely. Topuria likes to advance, and Emmett likes to circle, so that lines up as well. Unlike Rodriguez, Topuria has never shown the kicking game necessary to win in that realm either.

It all reads like a boxing match.

In that case, Emmett has to focus on building combinations rather than hunting for the right hand knockout. At his best, Emmett is mixing kicks into his offense and targeting the body with heavy shots, as well as mixing up the timing on his most powerful swings. So long as he doesn’t get too right hand happy, Emmett has shown the boxing prowess necessary to land on Topuria’s chin.

Generally, that’s all it takes with the Californian.

Ilia Topuria

Record: 13-0
Key Wins: Bryce Mitchell (UFC 282), Ryan Hall (UFC 264), Damon Jackson (UFC Vegas 16), Jai Herbert (UFC London)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Topuria really has it all. He’s an excellent athlete with an incredibly rounded skill set for his age. However, he has been fairly hittable thus far in his UFC career, which is a dangerous trait in this match up.

I’ll cut to the chase: Topuria doesn’t want to get in a dick-measuring contest with Emmett. Sure, he has the power to hurt Emmett too, but trading right hands with an opponent whose best weapon is the right hand would be really, really stupid. Topuria has more weapons. He’s the more consistent offensive wrestler, and his jiu-jitsu is absolutely top-tier. If he doesn’t at least try to work in some takedown attempts, that would be a critical error.

In addition, Topuria should be looking to kick more. As mentioned, Emmett likes to circle quite a bit, and he’s surely going to try to walk Topuria into big shots. Against Mitchell, Topuria threw exactly ONE massive right calf kick that spun Mitchell in a circle. A few more low kicks would do him well here, helping to cut off Emmett’s movement and get him a bit more stationary.

Otherwise, Topuria has to keep his left hand tight to his chin and focus on moving his head in exchanges.

Bottom Line

This is a massive fight for each man and the Featherweight division.

Emmett is 38 years old, and his career has been slowed by some nasty injuries. From broken hands on the regional scene to a destroyed face and shredded knee inside the Octagon, Emmett has endured quite a bit in the climb to his current Top Five slot. It’s uncertain how much longer Emmett can compete at the highest level given his age and wear-and-tear, so bouncing back here is essential to keeping those title dreams alive.

Conversely, Topuria has all the time in the world, but he only has one opportunity to try to become an undefeated champion. There’s nothing the UFC loves to promote more than an unbeaten and elite fighter! If “El Matador” can pass this test, he may secure his place in line after Yair Rodriguez vs. Alexander Volkvanovski. At worst, he’ll need just one more win.

At UFC Jacksonville, Josh Emmett and Ilia Topuria will clash in the main event. Which man remains standing when the dust settles?

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Jacksonville fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ABC (also on ESPN+) at 3 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Jacksonville news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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