The “Nigerian Nightmare” is part of the new breed of TUF winners, in that the UFC has decided to build him up against mid-tier fighters instead of throwing him to the wolves like they often would. As a result, Kamaru Usman (10-1) is undefeated in the UFC but on the bottom end of the Top 15.
Standing 6′ 0″ with a 76″ reach, Usman is a huge welterweight and doesn’t sacrifice a lick of athleticism for it. He has great power in his hands and, more importantly, seems to carry most of the power even if his punches are thrown past his ideal strike zone. He’s not a gifted wrestler, but he understands how to mix up his punches with takedown attempts which contribute to a reasonably high success rate.
But Usman is the typical fighter who relies on athleticism and talent over technique.
His head shots are accurate and powerful, but not varied which is why a simple guard can deflect most of his blows. He can take a submission if it’s presented to him, but he’s not the type of fighter who can build up to one. There’s a reason that despite finishing every opponent before his arrival in the UFC, he has been taken the distance in his last four fights.
“The Panther” is probably most well-known (if you can call it that) for losing the TUF Brazil Finale against Cezar Ferreira. Which is a pity because Sergio Moraes (12-3-1) is easily the better fighter and now flies under the radar due to the depth of the welterweight division. After moving to welterweight, he’s undefeated in the UFC. That includes, wait for it, a submission over Neil Magny.
When Moraes really wants to, he can hit like a truck. He’s not a boxer mind you; he throws power shots with his hands near his waist. But combined with the odd kick here or there, opponents are forced to respect his power even if they hold an advantage in technique. But what we’re here to talk about is Moraes’s grappling.
He doesn’t actively hunt for the takedown like Demian Maia, but takes it when it presents itself. He’ll catch a leg, trip out of the clinch or just drag any poor soul who’s stupid enough to get close to him. From there, the way he sets up chokes is terrifying. He snakes his hands around his opponents the same way you would with an apprehensive date; firm enough that the intentions are known but gently enough that it doesn’t instill panic.
As a result, a disturbing number of his chokes appear to happen in slow motion with his arm steadily wrapping around an opponent until he suddenly applies the squeeze with the speed of a bear trap.
Most betting sites have Usman as a tremendous favorite, but it’s a lot closer than that. He’s certainly twice the athlete that Moraes is and, if the fight remains on the feet, his striking is a lot cleaner. But Usman’s advantage on the feet is absolutely dwarfed by Moraes’s advantage on the ground. If Moraes lands a single takedown, the fight could very well end soon after.
But the fight starts on the feet, and it’s more likely Usman wears Moraes down with strikes before they hit the canvas.
Usman via TKO
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?