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UFC 202 Photos

The UFC will be hosting its second event in Poland, and it has brought a decent card packed with European talent. Headlining UFC Gdansk is a welterweight bout between former UFC title challenger Donald Cerrone and English prospect Darren Till. Apart from the great main event, UFC Gdansk also has some interesting fights as it features the promotional debut of undefeated prospect Aspen Ladd, and few fun matchups in Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jodie Esquibel, Andre Fili vs. Artem Lobov, and Josh Emmett vs. Felipe Arantes.

What: UFC Gdansk (UFC Fight Night 118)

Where: Ergo Arena, Gdansk, Poland.

When: Saturday, Oct. 21. The eight-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 12 p.m. ET, and the four-fight main card begins at 3 p.m. ET also on UFC Fight Pass.

Donald Cerrone vs. Darren Till

Here is an interesting matchup that perhaps has not been given the attention it deserves. Sure, this is a fun fight pitting two very exciting fighters against each other, but this contest is also a bit more than that. This bout could turn Darren Till into a fresh title contender or it can reinstate Donald Cerrone as a threat to welterweight crown. Safe to say Cerrone vs. Till is an important bout for the 170-pound division.

At this point, we know what we’re getting every time Cerrone steps in the cage. “Cowboy” is a great Muay Thai striker that can mix things ups well with knees, kicks, elbows and punches. Cerrone is also a great grappler with dangerous submissions and surprisingly good takedowns. Cerrone’s criticisms over the years have been that he’s not the best at taking damage to the body, and that he tends to choke in big fights where there is a lot on the line.

Luckily for Cerrone, this bout with Till is not a for any title or even for a No. 1 contender slot.

Meanwhile, Till is maybe one of the most underrated fighters in the division. The Englishman might not be ranked in the UFC, but he has the skills to pose many problems to anyone outside the top 10 of the division. Till is quick and accurate with his striking, can attack from many angles, and perhaps most importantly, he strikes with confidence. The 24-year-old fighter is also a good grappler with solid takedown defense and good top control.

I’m a bit split in this fight. Technically, Cerrone should be able to get a win here. After all, Cerrone has more tools, he’s more experienced, and causes more damage than Till. However, Cerrone is 34 and has seen plenty of wars. Till is just 24 years old, he seems to be coming in to his own and has the tools needed to attack Cerrone’s body, as Till has good knees from the clinch. Yet, I think Till is not so great at defending leg kicks and I can see Cerrone taking advantage of that. I can also see Cerrone implementing takedowns here. Tough pick, but I think Cerrone gets a win.

Pick: Cerrone

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jodie Esquibel

This bout should be a lot of fun.

Kowalkiewicz, a former UFC title challenger, is one of the best strawweights on the UFC roster. Kowalkiewicz is quick, well conditioned, and keeps up a high striking output throughout her fights. Not counting Joanna Jedrzejczyk, I’d say Kowalkiewicz is the best striker in the division. She’s extremely technical, manages distance very well, and attacks with a very diverse striking arsenal. Kowalkiewicz also has great takedown defense and decent grappling.

Being a newcomer and fighting an established name in the UFC’s strawweight division, many are writing Jodie Esquibel off in this fight. Yet, Esquibel is very game. The Invicta FC veteran is a powerhouse at 115 pounds and she uses that attribute well with her skillset. Esquibel has solid takedowns, she’s good at controlling her opponents in the clinch while using dirty boxing, and hits hard.

I think this will be a very fun bout that will feature two very different styles of fighting. Yet, Kowalkiewicz is way more advanced than Esquibel in the striking department, and I don’t see Esquibel controlling Kowalkiewicz enough to win on the scorecards.

Pick: Kowalkiewicz

Jan Blachowicz vs. Devin Clark

Jan Blachowicz vs. Devin Clark may not mean much for the light heavyweight division, but it’s still an interesting fight stylistically.

Blachowicz is a seasoned veteran that has been fighting professionally for 10 years and has over 25 fights under his belt. Although Blachowicz might not be in his athletic prime, the 34-year-old has proven he can still get in excellent shape and compete against world class competition. The Polish fighter is very durable and has fine striking technique. Blachowicz is has a solid takedown defense and solid grappling.

Clark is far less experienced than Blachowicz and probably a level below in the striking department. Yet, Clark possesses advantages over Blachowicz in other areas such as wrestling, youth and athleticism. Clark can hold his own on the feet, but he’s most effective in the clinch and shooting for takedowns.

I can see a scenario where Clark overwhelms Blachowicz with his strength and explosiveness in the clinch and takedowns to win a decision. However, I don’t think that’s the most likely outcome. I think Blachowicz paces himself a lot better and I see him outlasting Clark over the course of three rounds. Blachowicz will likely get the better of the striking and stuff enough takedowns to not lose on the scorecards.

Pick: Blachowicz

Oskar Piechota vs. Jonathan Wilson

This is supposed to be huge mismatch, and I’m not quite sure why. Many believe that Oskar Piechota will just run through Jonathan Wilson, but I disagree.

Sure, Piechota is a decorated grappler that’s unbeaten in his career as a mixed martial artist. The promising fighter is not only skilled on the ground, but has also proven to have some power behind his strikes. Yet, despite all his skills, I don’t think he has the takedowns needed to beat Jonathan Wilson, at least from what I’ve seen. And without that, I see the fight mostly playing out on the feet where Wilson has a slight edge.

I see Wilson avoiding any takedowns, and using his durability and decent stand up to get a decision win.

Pick: Wilson


Marcin Held def. Nasrat Haqparast

Brian Kelleher def. Damian Stasiak

Ramazan Emeev def. Sam Alvey

Andre Fili def. Artem Lobov

Warlley Alves def. Salim Touahri

Aspen Ladd def. Lina Lansberg

Josh Emmett def. Felipe Arantes