FanPost

UFC 166 Early Analysis and Predictions: Shawn Jordan vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

Shawn Jordan vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

Gritty veteran Gabriel Gonzaga, who has found himself firmly stuck in the role of gatekeeper in his second stint in the UFC, will be looking to shut down rising star Shawn Jordan at UFC 166.

Jordan's Keys to Victory

We learned in Jordan’s come from behind TKO victory over heavy handed grappler Mike Russow that he has one hell of a chin as he absorbed some hellish shots from Russow in a disastrous 10 - 8 first round. We also learned that he possesses a dangerous combination of "tough bastardness" and endurance when he pulled off an amazing comeback in the second, flattening out a gassing Russow and teeing off with some blistering punches of his own that left his opponent unconscious, face down on the canvas.

This win is an important one to note with regard to his upcoming fight with Gonzaga as Russow is stylistically similar to Gonzaga, but with more reliance on his punching power power and less reliance on his submission game.

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In his most recent bout, we learned that Jordan’s hands can end a fight at any moment (as is the case with most heavyweights) when he brutally stopped Pat Barry in less than a minute. This was particularly impressive because Barry was an opponent who most believed would have an advantage over "The Savage" in the striking department. The devastating power of Jordan’s strikes will be a big asset in his bout with Gonzaga, as we have seen "Napao" stopped early by fighters with skill sets similar to Jordan (Shane Carwin, Travis Browne, etc...).

The most important key to victory for Jordan in this fight is not allowing Gonzaga to make takedown attempts without paying for them; Jordan must punish Gonzaga for every failed takedown attempt (just as Carwin and Browne have done before him) and take advantage of every opportunity to create space during a takedown attempt. He can then use this space to blast the exposed "Napao" with strikes, as Travis Browne showed us with his horrifying elbows that he used to shut Gonzaga’s lights off back in April.

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If Jordan can consistently stuff takedowns or inflict enough damage on Gonzaga during takedown attempts that "Napao" becomes wary of shooting, the Brazilian submission artist will be forced to stand with "The Savage" where he will be vulnerable to the full brunt of Jordan’s strikes. It should be noted, however that Gonzaga’s own power should not be counted out; his quick destruction of Dave Herman showed that his days of knocking out opponents are far from over, so Jordan KOing Gonzaga if this turns into a stand up battle is far from a lock. After all, it’s far more likely that Gonzaga knocks out Jordan than that Jordan submits Gonzaga.

Gonzaga's Keys to Victory

With that said, Jordan’s athleticism and knockout power will likely make him the favourite in this bout come fight night, and rightly so, as Gonzaga has repeatedly shown himself to be vulnerable to getting blitzed by heavy handed strikers, and Jordan absolutely has the ability to blast Gonzaga early.

A grinding grappling style, however, should Gonzaga elect to use one, could pose problems for Jordan. Jordan was exposed somewhat in his three round snoozer with Cheick Kongo, where Kongo controlled Jordan on the cage, neutralising the athleticism and heavy hands of "The Savage."That is not to say that Gonzaga should try to replicate Kongo’s stinker of a strategy, but he should use the pressure based game plan of Kongo as a blueprint to mould his own submission based game plan around.

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Gabriel Gonzaga has had more success in this second UFC run since shaking off the "K - 1" mentality that seems to plague so many submission artists in MMA and will have to stay focused on his Jiu Jitsu in this matchup. Gonzaga cannot afford to go into this bout expecting to "Cro Cop" Shawn Jordan; he must use his size and grappling to gradually wear him down en route to a late submission or ugly decision.

Gonzaga must also avoid standing in Jordan’s striking range without throwing his own his own strikes or closing the distance and should be constantly looking to pressure Jordan with both his hands and his grappling. This approach will require cardio (a known weakness of Gonzaga) so the conditioning of both fighters will likely decide the outcome of this fight.

The Prediction

While Shawn Jordan’s performance against Cheick Kongo was worrisome, it’s not enough to stop me from picking him here. His raw power and athleticism should be enough to pass the test that Gabriel Gonzaga presents. I see him shrugging off Gonzaga’s early takedown attempts and finding an opening to unleash a well placed barrage of strikes at some point during the first frame.

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Shawn Jordan def. Gabriel Gonzaga

TKO (punches)

Round 1

Possible Matchmaking Options

Shawn Jordan should meet the victor of Brendan Schaub vs. Matt Mitrione should he win, while Todd Duffee would make a logical opponent for Gabriel Gonzaga if he defeats "The Savage."

With a loss here Jordan should fight the loser of Brandon Vera and Ben Rothwell if the UFC opts to keep either of those fighters around, and Gonzaga should fight Pat Barry if he loses.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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