The UFC returns to action on October 21, 2017 in Gdańsk, Poland. Headlining the event, is Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone against Darren Till. It should be a fun and entertaining striking contest and I feel as if this fight isn’t getting enough love because Till is relatively unknown. As much as people clamor over how rankings don’t matter, this is exactly that type of fight. It’s a stylistically fun matchup where rankings are completely thrown out the window. I could go on a rant about this, but that’s not what this article is about. It’s about what fighters can’t afford to lose this weekend.
Usually every card has a few fighters who are in dire need of a win, but this one in particular has more than the norm. So let’s get to it.
(In no particular order)
When Jan Błachowicz signed with the UFC, he entered as the reigning KSW Light Heavyweight Champion. He also had a solid 17-3 record, with five consecutive victories, four of which came over UFC veterans.
In Błachowicz’s UFC debut, he faced Ilir Latifi in Stockholm, Sweden. As the underdog and much to my surprise, Błachowicz TKO’d Latifi in the very first round. It would be by far Błachowicz’s biggest UFC accomplishment, as his success inside the octagon has been minimal. With a 2-4 UFC record, as well as being 1-4 in his last five fights, it’s kind of a surprise that Błachowicz is still in the UFC. However, if I’m being honest, it’s probably due to the fact that the Light Heavyweight division is very shallow.
On Saturday, Błachowicz will enter the Octagon again, looking to avoid what I believe would be his pink slip shall he be defeated. His combatant comes in the form of Devin Clark, who was scouted and signed by Dana White off the show “Dana White: Looking for a Fight”. Clark, lost his UFC debut, but has since bounced back with two straight victories. Mainly a wrestler, Clark would seem to have the upper hand on Blachowicz, who has seen defeat by his inability to stuff a take down. Corey Anderson, Alexander Gustafsson and Patrick Cummins combined for 11 takedowns on Blachowicz, who according to the UFC has been able to only avoid 50% of takedowns. So in other words, it would be in the best interest of the Poland native to show better takedown defense and keep this fight standing.
After suffering a 24-second knockout defeat to Daniel Spitz at UFC Fight Night 116, Hamilton seemed to insist that he was retiring. It would be his third consecutive loss, with all three coming via finish in the first round. Hamilton seemed to understand that at Heavyweight, the margin for error is slim and he’d already endured his fair share of rough defeats.
However, Hamilton has decided against retirement and steps into this fight on short notice. Now remember, UFC Fight Night 116 happened on September 16, 2017. So, in just over a month, Hamilton has decided against retirement and steps back into the octagon after just recently suffering a 24-second knockout. Eek!
Hamilton’s opponent, Adam Wieczorek will be making his UFC debut. With a 7-1 record and 100% finish rate, this could be short night either man. In my opinion, Hamilton is one of the more skilled Heavyweight striking-wise, but his chin has been his downfall. It’s led to a 3-6 UFC record and it’s shame because the Heavyweight division could always use some more top contenders.
This is the most surprising talent on the list, given his previous success while in Bellator. Held, a toe hold submission specialist was 11-3 with Bellator, with his only defeats coming to the likes of Michael Chandler, Dave Jansen and Will Brooks. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, given that Chandler and Brooks were Bellator Lightweight Champions. Also, Held avenged his defeat to Dave Jansen in his last fight in Bellator.
Since crossing over from Bellator to the UFC, it’s been tough sledding for Held. It started with a debut defeat to Diego Sanchez, which was a tough debut in it’s own right. Then, in Held’s second fight in the UFC, the judges shafted him. Opponent Joe Lauzon was awarded a split decision victory and said in his post fight interview that the wrong man won. Fine. However, Held got another opportunity against Damir Hadžović. That opportunity was spoiled by a perfectly timed knee on a takedown attempt by Held, which led to a knockout defeat.
With three fights in the UFC and three losses, it’s kind of surprising that Held got another opportunity. Then again, the kid has talent and maybe you chalk up this rough start in the UFC to a string of bad luck. Either way, Held gets another shot in his home country Poland against newcomer Nasrat Haqparast.
In 2015, Jonathan Wilson stepped into the octagon for the first time with a perfect 6-0 record and debuted at Light Heavyweight. The fight couldn’t of gone any better, as Wilson knocked out Chris Dempsey in just 50 seconds. It was a breath of fresh air to see a young talent introduce himself to the Light Heavyweight division with a quick knockout. God knows that the Light heavyweight division could use the infusion of youth and talent.
However, Wilson couldn’t duplicate the same success in his next two fights. At UFC 199, Wilson faced off against the debuting Henrique da Silva (Currently has lost four straight UFC fights). It wasn’t pretty, as Wilson succumbed to da Silva via TKO in the second round. The defeat was Wilson’s first professionally. Then at UFC Fight Night 96, Wilson tried to get back in the win column against Ion Cutelaba. Unfortunately, Wilson couldn’t pull the trigger all night and Cutelaba swept him on all three scorecards 30-27.
Now, Wilson with two consecutive losses will have to not only overcome an over year off layoff, but also avoid the potential pink slip with another loss. Inexperience could be the issue with Wilson’s latest rough patch, but the UFC waits for no man, so it would be in Wilson’s best interest to get a win here against newcomer Oskar Piechota. It won’t be easy too, as Piechota is a perfect 9-0, with all his wins coming via finish.