November 21, 2015

Flyweights In the Ointment: Cejudo and Formiga Will Mix it Up at UFC Fight Night 78

By Raphael Garcia

UFC Fight Night 78 might be considered a victim of poor timing following UFC 193, but it features a very important fight on its main card. This bout features two flyweight contenders that are on the cusp of earning a shot at Demetrious Johnson’s title. Henry Cejudo and Jussier da Silva will square off, with the winner practically being pushed to the front of the divisional ladder. With such title implications in place, this is clearly the fight on the card that for sure should not be missed.

On one side is Jussier da Silva. Da Silva joined the UFC back in 2012 with relatively little hype, but at the time he was one of the best fighters in the lightest men’s division in the sport. Since then, he’s put together a 4-2 campaign. Those losses to Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson at UFC Fight Night 28 and UFC on FX 5 pushed him down the ladder slightly, but not far enough to completely eliminate “Formiga” from title contention. And now that both men have fallen to the champion a second time, da Silva is poised to slide into the spot they vacated.

The other side of the cage is occupied by Henry Cejudo. Cejudo is perhaps the best pure wrestler to ever step into the Octagon, and he’s translated those skills well to mixed martial arts. He will bring an undefeated record with him into this bout, but the biggest question is whether he will struggle to make weight; he’s had multiple issues with that in the past. The UFC has been cracking down on fighters missing weight, and this is an important factor in determining whether Cejudo should be considered a true contender at 125 pounds.

On paper this is a grappler versus grappler matchup, as Cejudo’s wrestling will go against da Silva’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu abilities. For Cejudo, getting the fight to the floor will be important, but it will be interesting to see if he can control positioning, as he’s facing a very aggressive grappler.

But what is also worth paying attention to is the way Cejudo has continued to improve his striking ability. In his three UFC bouts he has developed into a more complete fighter with each outing. For example, he defeated Dustin Kimura at UFC on Fox 13 without taking the fight to the floor. Against Chico Camus at UFC 188, he scored one takedown en route to that decision win. The only fight that he leaned heavily on his wrestling was the bout with Chris Cariaso at UFC 185, in which he scored six takedowns. It will be interesting to watch for when or if Cejudo implements wrestling into his game on Saturday night.

MMA Oddsbreaker lists Cejudo as a big favorite at -450 compared to da Silva’s +360 underdog. That’s a pretty big gap. But regardless of its perceived lack of competitiveness, Cejudo vs. Formiga is clearly the most valuable fight on this weekend’s card, as the winner of this matchup will be in a solid position to demand a title shot in a weight class that is devoid of top contenders.

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UFC Fight Night 78: Magny vs. Gastelum (formerly UFC Fight Night 78: Brown vs. Gastelum) takes place on November 21, 2015 at Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico.


Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC Fight Night 78 will be.




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