When we last left our heroes...With Georges St-Pierre gone, the WW division is wide open. No one can duplicate GSP's specific yet stifling game. With that in mind, it's important for fighters like Andrade and Musoke to distance themselves from the pack.
Whether you find them interesting or not, worthy of your attention, or fighters with extremely low ceilings...they've put the stamp on their opponents in dramatic fashion and deserved some attention.
Andrade wasted no time in putting Bristol Marunde down for the count at UFC 163. Musoke...taking on the more experienced Alessio Sakara, gave a blistering, at times ill-advised performance that ended up a submission victory for the Swedish sandstorm.
Both men are in solid positions to get a big win that puts them in line for a bout with higher stakes. While neither fighter is expected to contend for a title, they have respectable skills in a division that is now lacking a fearless leader.
What both men can do: It's important not to take too much from Musoke's fight with Sakara. Frankly, I've never seen him fight like that. He flailed away like his wife and daughter's captivity depended on it. It nearly got him knocked out too, as Sakara had him stumbling a bit early.
However, some of his skills were on display. He's got solid boxing, opting for straight punches while retaining a high guard. He throws right and lefts with equal power, and has a particularly stiff straight right. In addition, his kicks come from all angles, and he's adept enough at grappling that he can be a threat from his back, or in top control, passing guard and looking for the RNC.
His ground game will need to be sharp. Andrade is a large WW who wings a big right hand, and covets top control grappling. He's a meat and potatoes grappler who relies on a big punch to defend on the feet, and traditional double legs to put opponents on their back.
What both men can't do: Outside of that I don't have much to say. Andrade is similar to a lot of grapple-boxers (did we decide on something official ala "wrestle-boxers" or no?), who are limited on the feet, but are able to mask those limitations with raw power. However, his boxing is hardly technical.
Some punches he tosses like he's throwing a fastball. Musoke should have the advantage, but I'm not confident he can avoid the takedown. He has good enough balance in the clinch, and can essentially sprawl out of anything. But he allows fighters to get deep with their grips, which is never the chance you want to take with top heavy grapplers. Especially in the welterweight division where you have to constantly deal with overfed farm boys from the Midwest who were all bench pressing the kitchen refrigerator at the age of 10.
Still, Andrade's problem is keeping the fight standing long enough to get tagged, and not being dynamic enough to score a submission sooner rather than later. This was one among many problems in his TUF bout against William Macario, who scored a TKO over him in the 3rd.
Musoke isn't as vicious on the feet as Macario, but he fights with the same pretense.
X-Factor: Fights influenced by styles are decided by choices as much as sheer ability. If Andrade turns this bout into a Sylvia inspired clinchfest, he gives himself a good chance of winning while drawing the ire of Dana White...which can substitute as outright defeat. Meanwhile, I feel like now's a good time for Musoke to swing those "bungalows" like he did against Sakara. Either way, the one to blink first loses.
In-Fight Soundtrack: Both fighters in the context of 170 in the UFC. Sorry Musoke and Andrade...the world is not at your command.