UFC Fight Night 118: A high-stakes event for 3 fighters

Three fighters at UFC Fight Night 118 have more at stake than anyone else competing in Poland.

There’s always plenty to lose by stepping inside the UFC’s octagon, but these three fighters are desperate for a win at the UFC’s return to Poland.

Donald Cerrone

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone finds himself in one of the most dangerous high-risk, low-reward matchups in recent UFC history.

Cerrone will headline UFC Fight Night 118 in a welterweight scrap with up-and-coming fighter Darren Till. For Till, this is a tremendous jump up in competition and many fans are wondering how “Cowboy” has found himself about to enter the same cage as the 24-year-old.

Yet, here we are.

After his move to the welterweight division in February 2016, Donald Cerrone put together four consecutive wins against tough competition including Rick Story and Alex Oliveira. One of these wins was his video game finish of Matt Brown at UFC 206. After he was beginning to look unstoppable, it all went downhill when “Cowboy” stepped into the cage with Jorge Masvidal just under two months after knocking out Matt Brown.

Masvidal provided the blueprint on how to defeat Donald Cerrone. Pressure him and don’t allow him to plant his feet and set up his powerful Muay Thai style of striking. Robbie Lawler used this same strategy against “Cowboy” in the first round at UFC 214 and nearly finished him. Although Cerrone survived the round, he lost via decision.

At UFC Fight Night 118, Darren Till has everything to gain while Donald Cerrone has everything to lose. “Cowboy” is largely expected to defeat his younger and less experienced opponent. If he doesn’t, Cerrone’s chances of competing at the highest level inside the UFC are severely diminished.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Karolina Kowalkiewicz enters UFC Fight Night 118 after losing to two of the toughest women's strawweights on earth, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Claudia Gadelha.

The last 12 months have been difficult for Kowalkiewicz. Before losing to Jedrzejczyk at UFC 205, she was undefeated with nine wins and was regarded as one of the best in the division. Despite making it through five rounds with the champion, she was overwhelmed by Joanna's striking for the majority of the contest. At UFC 212, Kowalkiewicz would suffer a much more brutal defeat at the hands of Claudia Gadelha. Gadelha submitted Kowalkiewicz in just three minutes and revealed fundamental weaknesses in Karolina's jiu-jitsu that future opponents of Karolina will surely look to exploit.

If a two-fight losing streak isn't already high stakes, then being matched with a UFC newcomer who has previously suffered losses to Alexa Grasso and Ashley Yoder will push it over the line. Grasso and Yoder aren't top ten contenders in the division and it's clear that Jodie Esquibel, Karolina's opponent at UFC Fight Night 118, isn't a top-level mixed martial artist.

If Karolina Kowalkiewicz slips to three straight defeats with a loss against Esquibel, it will be a long road back to a shot at the title considering the current success of Jessica Andrade and Cynthia Calvillo.

Marcin Held

While the first two fighters will still have plenty to offer the UFC if they suffer defeat at UFC Fight Night 118, Marcin Held might not.

Held enters this contest after losing his first three fights in the organization. He lost his debut to Diego Sanchez, who seemed to have the performance of his lifetime that day at UFC Fight Night 98. It was really the only time that Held has been 'dominated' inside the octagon as Sanchez controlled the tempo of the entire fight by neutralizing Held's only real advantage; submission offense.

Held's loss to Joe Lauzon was controversial. Lauzon would win the fight at UFC Fight Night 103 by split decision, but nearly everyone who was watching the contest had scored the fight in Held's favor. MMA Decisions lists that not one of 18 media scores that were submitted for the fight were in favor of Lauzon.

Ready to redeem himself, finally, Marcin Held started his latest fight with Damir Hadzovic in fine form and controlled the first two rounds. A brief lapse in concentration saw Held shoot in for a takedown with poor form and Hadzovic landed an intercepting knee right on Held's face that knocked him out instantly.

If Marcin Held loses to UFC debutant Nasrat Haqparast at UFC Fight Night 118, it's likely it could be his last chance in the organization. Essentially, Marcin Held is fighting for his career next weekend in Poland.

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