When we last left our heroes...This is one of those oddball matchups that is either forgotten for being predictable, or remembered for not belonging on the main card in the first place.
I think this fight will reside somewhere in between. In part because a win for Manuwa means a lot. Manuwa has fought the majority of his career in the UK. In that time he's finished each of his bouts. 12 of those victories are by KO/TKO. There's some justifiable hype surrounding the 33 year old Nigerian. Only three of his TKO/KO finishes have occurred outside of the second round.
Following his spinning back fist into head kick KO over Antony Rea at BAMMA 8, the UFC took notice and signed him. He's 2-0 thus far, with wins over the decent-ish Kyle Kingsbury, and Cyrille Diabate.
For both fighters this bout is simply a step towards relevancy. Both guys have 2 wins in their UFC careers, and both have a lot to prove in the division.
What both men can do: Manuwa's game is all about his boxing. He flashes an incredible jab from his traditional stance. Unlike most jabs, even good ones, Manuwa jabs to hurt. He's quick on the draw with it and is willing to step into said strikes for maximum efficiency.
His money punch is his left hook. Often following it up off his jab, he'll be looking to land that left hook on Jimmo when he's at range. While he boxes well in general, these are the two strikes that are most prevalent.
Jimmo is a plus-sized wrestler with incredible power that he doesn't always use. While he's adept on dictating where the fight takes place (an issue that will fall into the next category, fallacies be damned), his real strength is keeping opponents honest with his surprisingly quickness, and power in his hands and legs.
As he displayed against Igor Pokrajac, he has a very imposing and effective clinch. Granted, this was done to the dismay of the Canadian crowd and BE readers, but in the context of victory it can be a good predictor. Don't be surprised if Manuwa finds himself hogtied for lengthy durations of the bout.
What both men can't do: Jimmo's problem throughout his career has boiled down to his indecision in the ring/cage. Against Dwayne Lewis for example, he was content to just move around and punctuate a glorified staring contest with leg kicks.
Against Manuwa he'll experience another problem - dealing with a proficient striker. He hasn't had this matchup much in his career. His flaw in waiting around could be a factor if he doesn't initiate the clinch. With that said, I feel he'll trust his better instincts when he gets hit with a jab for the first time.
Manuwa will be dealing with a strong, imposing wrestler, and I don't see him dealing with Jimmo's clinch very well. Certainly nothing prior in his career has prepared him.
I feel like Manuwa has more raw potential, but the matchup is too ripe for the taking in Jimmo's case. Expect clinchwork and lots of top control. Manuwa's mobility will serve him well, so I think the first round is competitive, but after that it should be all Jimmo.
X-Factor: Jimmo seemed dejected about fans booing him following his post-fight interview with Ariel Helwani after the Igor bout. A word to the wise; this bout will not be a good experiment to see how loud fans can cheer at the sight of violence. If Jimmo's wounded ego takes over, expect Manuwa to plant that ego into the 12th row.
Prediction: Ryan Jimmo by Decision.