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UFC Fight Night 151: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy - Predictions and Picks

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
3.54K   //    01 May 2019, 19:10 IST

Al Iaquinta and Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone clash in this weekend's main event
Al Iaquinta and Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone clash in this weekend's main event

The UFC returns to Canada this weekend with UFC Fight Night 151: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy, from Ottowa, Ontario. It’s an interesting card – as per usual for these ESPN+ Fight Nights, it’s relatively low on name value, but like last week’s show from Florida, some of the fights that Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard have put together sound wildly exciting.

Like the majority of UFC cards these days there’s been plenty of injuries that have affected and changed the card, but thankfully – at the time of writing at least! – there have been no changes at the top.

Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night 151: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy.

#1 Donald Cerrone vs. Al Iaquinta

Donald Cerrone might be the most exciting fighter in the UFC today
Donald Cerrone might be the most exciting fighter in the UFC today

Well, so much for all those rumours of a Donald Cerrone vs. Conor McGregor clash. Realistically that fight was never going to happen – Cowboy is an all-time great in my opinion and is arguably the most exciting fighter in UFC history, but I don’t think he’s a big enough draw to entice Conor in – but with a win this weekend, you could perhaps make an argument for Cerrone deserving the next title shot after Dustin Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov face off later in 2019.

At any rate, this is a pretty great fight in its own right, particularly when you consider that Al Iaquinta defeated Kevin Lee – who’s looked like a monster recently – in his last fight. It’s also a clash of two of the most fascinating personalities in the UFC – the laid-back, company man Cerrone against ‘Ragin’ Al’, the outspoken firecracker who’s been pushing against his employers for the past couple of years.

So who comes out on top? I’m honestly struggling for a pick here and it’s for a number of different reasons. Stylistically speaking, I’m favouring Cowboy. Iaquinta is a pretty straightforward fighter; he’s almost purely a boxer in a striking sense and while he does throw some excellent combinations, has a tremendous grasp of footwork and movement, and throws with a lot of power, he’s also proven to be a bit susceptible to opponents who can either catch him continually from range.

As a grappler, he’s pretty straightforward too. Iaquinta is a stout wrestler with some extremely good takedown defense, and while he’s got some decent takedowns of his own, it’s rare to see him use them. The fact that he went the distance with Khabib Nurmagomedov and stopped the Dagestani from really dominating him on the ground should tell you a lot, but he also gave up position to Lee and got into trouble on numerous occasions, and two of his three UFC losses came by submission.

Cowboy meanwhile has fought enough times inside the Octagon for everyone to know pretty much exactly what he looks to do. Essentially the definition of an eight-limbed striker, Cerrone throws incredible combinations from all kinds of angles. His favored weapons tend to be leg kicks, head kicks and jabs, and he’s also fond of throwing a step-in knee at his opponents, particularly on the counter.

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Cerrone has become an underrated wrestler over the years, as he’s now more than capable of taking opponents down, but where he’s most dangerous in his grappling is arguably from his guard. Sure, his takedown defense isn’t the best, but does it matter all that much when you’re so dangerous from your back, as we saw when he submitted Mike Perry with a nasty armbar late last year? Basically, anyone with 17 submission wins on their ledger is not to be underestimated on the ground.

All that makes it sound like Cerrone’s a fighter with no weaknesses, but that’s not entirely true. Traditionally, Cerrone’s always had two problems. One is that he’s usually a slow starter, and so opponents can often open up a lead on him – or finish him off – before he’s even kicked into second gear. And the second, and more worrying one, is that he finds himself in trouble if an opponent can really corral him and back him up. That isn’t easy to do, but excellent strikers have been able to do it, and unsurprisingly for a man with 47 professional fights – 30 of them inside the UFC (!) – his durability isn’t quite as good as it once was.

Most notably, Cowboy has always had problems when his opponents have gone after his body. For whatever reason, Cerrone is vulnerable to body shots, and it was shots to the body – as well as a ramrod jab – that allowed Iaquinta to break Lee down in their fight. He’s also no stranger to backing up and overwhelming his opponents with punches, as the likes of Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon and Diego Sanchez have all found out.

It must be said however that Cerrone is a better striker than anyone Iaquinta has faced recently with the exception of Jorge Masvidal, and really, with different judges, Masvidal probably would’ve been given the nod in that fight. All of this adds up to a really tricky fight to pick.

After much soul-searching, I’m going with Cowboy. To steal a quote (sort of) from Wyatt Earp in the movie Tombstone, Iaquinta might be able to get Cerrone in a rush, but if that initial rush fails then the likelihood is that Cowboy is going to turn his head into a canoe. Iaquinta’s chin might be solid – he’s never been stopped by strikes – but I think Cerrone can hit him enough to throw him off his gameplan, and if this fight hits the ground then I’m betting that Cowboy can seal the deal once again.

I see a fight in which Cowboy will probably go through hell in the first round, but as long as he can last it out I think he’ll turn the tables on Iaquinta, and submit him late in the fight.

The Pick: Cerrone via fourth-round submission

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