Dillashaw vs Cruz
The upcoming UFC Fight Night Boston is set to be a gripping event featuring the bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw, defending his title against Dominick Cruz. Cruz’s route to this title defence has been unconventional and frustrating, and the former bantamweight champion hopes to regain a title which he was to forced to vacate due to injury.
Dillashaw (13-2) comes into this fight on the back of two title defences against Joe Soto and former champ Renan Barao. The champion is a hard-working wrestler and boasts a 39% takedown success rate and a staggering 100% takedown defence rate. Dillashaw is a hard grappler indeed but also strikes with a 45% success rate. ‘The Viper’ is no stranger to hard work and his last three victories have come by TKO in the fourth or fifth round.
The challenger, Dominick Cruz, is far from a card filler. The inaugural UFC bantamweight champion has successfully defended the title against UFC big guns Urijah Faber and Demetrious Johnson before being forced to vacate the title due to injury.
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A three-year hiatus between 2011 and 2014 has inspired a new hunger in Cruz who maintains an exceptional 20-1 professional record. Cruz is a heavy hitter with big punching power but an 83% takedown defence record indicates he could be a match for Dillashaw’s wrestling. With 31% of punches landed and 76% avoided, Cruz has a well-rounded game which will be difficult to penetrate.
Dominick Cruz has had a tough road back from injury but he was back to winning ways at UFC 178 with a first round TKO victory against Takeya Mizugaki to earn himself a title shot. However, I cannot argue against TJ Dillashaw’s performances to date and I think his technical ability should take him to a stoppage victory.
Verdict: Dillashaw wins by stoppage.
Pettis vs Alvarez
Anthony Pettis’ name is now synonymous with the UFC lightweight division. The former champion comes into this fight with an 18-3 record and his creativity both on his feet and from the floor are renowned in the MMA world. ‘Showtime’ won the lightweight title from Benson Henderson at UFC 164 before a successful defence against Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181.
Both wins came by way of submission in the first and second rounds respectively. Widely expected to beat Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 185, Pettis was defeated by unanimous decision in a gruelling contest. Dos Anjos’ hard striking and domination were too much for Pettis, who remains number one in the division and continues his quest to return to the top of the lightweight pile. With a 42% successful strike rate and 71% successful takedown rate, Pettis has a number of tricks up his sleeve and his approach will be unpredictable.
This is only the third UFC outing for Eddie Alvarez who maintains an overall professional record of 26-4. After losing out to Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision at UFC 178, Alvarez returned resiliently to defeat Gilbert Melendez at UFC 188. Alvarez is a worthy opponent and his 92% successful takedown defense rate will be tested against Pettis’ grappling and general technical game plan. Takedowns are not a feature of Alvarez’ game and Pettis’ flair for grappling and general floor work could prove a distinct advantage.
We are certainly in for an entertaining bout due to the mix of styles on offer, but I’m backing ‘Showtime’ Pettis to take this one from the floor.
Verdict: Pettis win by submission.