As we enter the home stretch of 2017, the UFC is bringing us a ton of great fights to close out the year. From now till the end of the year, the UFC will be holding an event every weekend minus Christmas weekend. That is eleven straight weeks of action with two events during the first weekend of December.
A few weeks ago I wrote a column about ten fights you cannot miss to close out 2017. This weekend we get one of those fights in our main event of UFC Fight Night 118 from Gdansk, Poland as Donald Cerrone takes on undefeated Darren Till in welterweight showdown that has fight of the night written all over it. This card may not be stacked with house hold names but it is full of young fighters looking to prove themselves which can always lead to a great night of fights.
Darren Till (15-0-1) vs. Donald Cerrone (32-9, 1 NC) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
This fight has the potential to be one of the best all year and potential fireworks no matter if it goes the distance or just one round. Donald Cerrone is one of the most durable and battle tested fighters in all of MMA and will be a big step up in competition for Darren Till.
The England native Till is only 24 years old but already has an impressive resume with a 15-0 record with 9 KO/TKO. Till is a very aggressive fighter with a strong Muay Thai background.
Cerrone is coming off back to back losses for the first time in a long career. Cerrone will want to keep his distance, throw leg kicks, wait for Till to make mistakes and then execute a take down. I think Till will take advantage of Cerrone being a slow starter and finish the fight in a huge upset.
The Pick: Darren Till by 1st round TKO
Jodie Esquibel (6-2) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-2) – Strawweight 115 lbs.
Coming off back to back losses the Poland native, Karolina Kowalkiewicz is looking to get back on track when she faces UFC newcomer Jodie Esquibel. Kowalkiewicz is one of the top handful of fighters in the women’s strawweight division and was able to be very competitive in a loss against current strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Esquibel is going to have a tough hill to climb in this fight. She has spent most of her career at the 105 lbs. weight class and is only 1-1 at strawweight. Kowalkiewicz is not the type of fighter you want to fight in your UFC debut, but an upset win would be huge for Esquibel’s career.
Kowalkiewicz will have the height, reach and size advantage that I just do not think Esquibel will be able to overcome. She just has not faced someone as well rounded as Kowalkiewicz and will need to pull of a flash KO or submission to come out on top in this one.
The Pick: Karolina Kowalkiewicz 2nd round TKO
Jan Blachowicz (19-7) vs. Devin Clark (8-1) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
This light heavyweight match up could turn into an all out brawl. The Poland native Jan Blachowicsz will most likely try to put on a show for his home country and Devin Clark will be looking to make a name for himself. Blachowicz was regarded by many to be one of the next great prospects in the 205 lb. division when he entered the UFC in 2014, but he has not lived up to that potential. After losing four out of his last five, Blachowicsz could really use a win.
Clark is starting to make a name for himself winning his first two fights at 205 lbs. after moving up from the 185 lb. middleweight division. Clark is a former junior college national champion wrestler at Rochester Tech and has great condition and is not afraid to throw hands with anyone. He may want to avoid that against Blachowicsz who will come out very aggressively looking for an early knockout.
Clark will look to keep moving and pick his spots in order to wear down Blachowicsz. I really think the deciding factors in this fight is the cardio and take down defense of Blachowicsz . If he has improved in those areas then this should be his fight to lose. If not, Clark should be able to impose his will in the later rounds. This is a statement fight for both guys who can really move up in a thin 205 lb. division quickly with a few wins.
The Pick: Devin Clark by unanimous decision
Oskar Piechota (9-0) vs. Jonathan Wilson (7-2) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Poland will get to see the UFC debut of one of their own as Polish grappling champion Oskar Piechota takes on Jonathan Wilson in a middleweight clash. Piechota enters the octagon undefeated with a 9-0-1 record .
Wilson will be making his debut at middleweight dropping down from light-heavyweight after back to back losses. Wilson still has an impressive 7-2 record in his career and will be looking to use his height and reach advantage in this fight. Wilson has great raw power with six of his seven wins coming by KO/TKO. He will look to use the old Chuck Liddell style of sprawl and brawl to avoid the take down and then land heavy shots.
Piechota’s strategy will be pretty clear. Get the takedowna and dominant position. The veteran of Abu Dhabi Combat Club is one of the best grappling prospects at any weight class. Piechota has shown that his striking is improving with two straight knockout wins, but Wilson is not the fighter he wants to get into a slugfest with.
The Pick: Oskar Piechota by unanimous decision
NOW CHECK OUT THE THIS ARTICLE: UFC FIGHT NIGHT 118 PRIMER: Culver’s preview & predictions for the Donald Cerrone vs. Darren Till headlined main card