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MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC on FOX 29’s top bouts. Today we look at the co-main event.
UFC on FOX 29 takes place Saturday at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
+ Former UFC interim champion
+ WEC welterweight title
+ 15 KO victories
+ 13 submission wins
+ 21 first-round finishes
+ Consistent pace and pressure
^ High-volume strikerl
+ Good footwork and movement
^ Stance-switches/combination flow
+ Solid clinch striker
^ Dangerous knees
+ Excellent transitional grappler
+ Crafty guard game
^ Slick sweeps and submissions
+ Active and attacking guard
^ Explosive hips
+ Pro muay Thai experience
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt
+ 11 KO victories
+ 3 submission wins
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ KO Power
+ Aggressive pace and pressure
+ Manages distance well
+/- Heavily reliant on head movement
^ Slips and rolls well
+ Dangerous right hand
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Favors bodylock takedowns
+ Improved transitional grappling
A staple of the mixed martial arts scene for many years, Condit has produced fights that resonate in the memory banks of anyone who has followed the sport. But after a few losses and some time off, Condit now appears to be at a crossroads in his career.
Originally slated to face a familiar name in Matt Brown, Condit will now take on Oliveira, who is stepping in on just over two weeks notice. With this not being the Brazilian’s first short-notice affair, the man who calls himself “Cowboy” was more than happy to step up to the plate.
Starting off on the feet, we have a matchup between two fighters who seem to enjoy fires of battle like few can.
A poster child for multi-dimensional offense, Condit has a long history of cutting his teeth against some of the best that his division has offered. From fighting in the legendary Rumble on Rock tournaments to the highlight-reel stomps he scored in Pancrase, Condit started to refine his striking techniques under the care of Jackson-Wink MMA.
By the time he hit the WEC, the New Mexican native was well equipped with a muay Thai arsenal that was crucial in his crusade toward the title.
Like many Mike Winkeljohn-trained fighters, Condit has no issue circling along the outside of the cage until finding an angle of approach to his liking. Coupled with his preternatural striking flow, Condit will put together combinations in a tricky but efficient economy, often punctuating his presence with a high kick over the shoulder.
Condit has also made notable improvements at boxing range in recent years, though I am not sure Oliveira is the fighter he will want to be trading with in that space.
From his fan-friendly style to his unmistakable smile, there is a lot to like about the former bull-riding Brazilian.
A long and physical presence, the former lightweight moves deceptively well, utilizing his fast feet for finding angles or pressing forward. Although he keeps his hands low, Oliveira does a decent job of slipping or rolling with punches.
Despite his shown senses and comfortability inside the pocket, the Brazilian is a bit too reliant on his head movement for my liking. And considering that Condit’s kicks and knees are the most accurate strikes in his arsenal, Oliveira could run into some heavy gunfire should he not protect himself when slipping and rolling.
Regardless of who strikes first standing, I believe that the outcome of this fight could hinge within the clinch.
Condit is often associated with his killer Thai clinch – and rightfully so. Akin to a wood-chipper wearing fight shorts, Condit will shred all-comers with elbows and intercept any poor soul who changes their level at the wrong time with knees.
That said, Condit can also be stifled inside of the clinch, particularly when pressed against the fence in a wrestling effort. Given that cage and clinch wrestling is one of Oliveira’s strong suits, then I suspect that the Brazilian’s bodylock could play a factor in this fight.
Not only is the bodylock a position that Oliveira is strong from, but it is also a position that traditionally kills space for the Thai clinch and knees he will be trying to avoid.
In a borderline head-butting fashion, Oliveira will also drive his forehead into and underneath the chin of his opponents, a la a rougher version of Randy Couture. From there, the 31-year-old will use a mix of collar ties, throat grabs and wrist pins to open up unrelenting elbows, knees and uppercuts.
Should Oliveira follow his recent trend and look to ground Condit, then we could see him start to take the grinding path that many before him have. But if Oliveira does have intentions of tangling with Condit, then he will need to be on his best behavior.
Condit has crafty guard variations that he uses to set up slick sweeps and submissions, which in turn keeps his opponents honest (or even off balance) at all times. Even if the former WEC champion doesn’t hit his mark, he does well at creating scrambles to get back to his feet. And if Oliveira continues to show his trend of transitional and fundamental improvements, then I expect grappling stanzas to be entertaining for as long as they last.
The oddsmakers and public are currently fading the fan favorite, listing Oliveira -200 and Condit +170 as of this writing.
Though this might surprise some at first glance, I can understand the line movement in backing the short-notice fighter. Sure, Oliveira’s state of combat readiness is not entirely known, but he was preparing to get back into action prior to receiving the call, nor is this his first last-minute rodeo.
More importantly, I believe this could be a bad matchup for Condit on paper. Despite facing a former lightweight, Condit will be dealing with a faster and more powerful fighter who can come close to matching him in both length and range management. Furthermore, Oliveira has a propensity to start fast, something that Condit has had issues with before.
If Condit fails to dissuade bodylock entanglements and dictate striking exchanges, then I see this being a battle that slips away from the former interim titleholder. As much as it pains me, the pick is Oliveira, who I see surviving a few close scares en route to a somewhat surprising stoppage victory.
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