Cowboy vs Fury
Donald Cerrone fights Myles Jury at lightweight, in the co-main event of UFC 182 in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, on January 3rd
Lightweight (155 lbs)
Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone
Myles "Fury" Jury
Single line summary:
Phil: The thrillingly violent "Cowboy", who you've no doubt seen on cable kicking ass, takes on... some guy... who's won a lot of fights...?
David: The Wild Wild West meets Abercrombie and Fitch?
Phil: Donald Cerrone was the violent, awesome mainstay of WEC, an incredible yet slightly inconsistent action fighter who could never quite win a title. Now, he's the violent, awesome mainstay of the UFC, an incredible yet slightly inconsistent action fighter who can never etc and so forth.
He's coming off a stellar 2014 campaign where he went 5-0.
David: I don't know that Cowboy could ever fight himself back into a title shot, but I wouldn't complain if he were the last man standing. I'm looking forward to my eventual Gilbert Melendez vs. Cerrone bout.
Phil: Myles Jury was the big favourite in his season of TUF, before he was upset by Al Iaquinta. Since then, he's gone undefeated, building up a quietly impressive record including a dominant upset over Michael Johnson, and knocking out both Takanori Gomi and walking ragdoll-physics simulator Ramsey Nijem.
David: Why leave out the last airbender, Diego Sanchez? I'm still not quite sure what to expect from Jury. His style and pedigree have been the source of skepticism for me, but the results keep coming.
"Fury" does not seem like a very apt description for Jury's fighting style
Phil: Jury is an extremely well-rounded fighter, who normally stays patient and fundamentally sound, and attacks on the counter. Crisp jab, powerful overhand. Can kick at all levels, and is an excellent wrestler, who throws superbly timed reactive double legs and can take down from the clinch. He has a crushing top game, staying close but passing guard at any given opportunity. The closest fighter he resembles in fighting style, relative size for the division, and the presentation of his well-rounded, carefully constructed toolset is probably Rory MacDonald. His unfortunate problem is, at least in part, that he has slightly more personality than Rory. So, whereas Rory is memorable in a somewhat scary, deadpan way, Jury is just... some guy.
David: Jury's talents were always so under the radar. Even in the middle of a fight, he never seemed willing to announce his presence. I like the comparison to Rory. Both are slow starters, neither ever overextend or turn on the donkey kong switch on their opponents, and each may or may not have gone to a party with a popped collar at one point in their lives. For Jury, it's all about how he times his offense. His jab has been more prominent, which is what I think allows him to work so comfortably when it comes to chaining offense.
Phil: Donald Cerrone is a kickboxer at heart, and one of the most offensively terrifying fighters in the sport. His boxing is only average, but his kicks and knees are debilitatingly powerful, whether directed at the legs, the body, or the head, and are disguised with incessant hip feints.
Back in the WEC days Cerrone's primarily exploited weakness was his Josh Neer-level takedown defense. On the mat he was a skilled scrambler and voracious submission grappler, but his TDD was still exploited by Jamie Varner and Ben Henderson. So he fixed it. By the time he left WEC, he was an excellent defensive wrestler, and retained all that submission grappling prowess as another weapon in his arsenal. He even flashed a surprisingly good double leg takedown against Varner... but I doubt he hates anyone on the UFC enough to try it against them.
He still retains some of his other weaknesses: being a horrifically slow starter, being hittable, and having only average boxing. Can Jury exploit them?
David: Absolutely. If you look at the guys who beat Cerrone, you're looking at fighters who could shuffle, like Rafael dos Anjos, and fighters with good timing, like Pettis. Jury's lateral movement should pay dividends early on. He doesn't do anything fancy except, but he does everything efficiently, which is all that matters.
Cerrone has fixed plenty of his flaws, but he still has a few old ones. Regardless, no opponent can underestimate the guy's penchant for ultra violence with his feet. I wish Phil Baroni would do commentary for a Cerrone fight. I remember him doing commentary for the Robbie Lawler vs. Pete Spratt fight, and you could hear a Lovecraftian sense of horror in his voice whenever he'd have to document Spratt landing a kick, as if being kicked in the leg has no equal.
Insight from Past Fights
Phil: I like Michael Johnson vs Jury. Jury kind of showed how he dealt with a long, rangy, and dangerous kickboxer and the answer was: much like he always does. Maintaining distance, countering strikes, occasionally throwing cleverly set-up takedowns under Johnson's attacks. The problem is that I'm not sure how well this works against Donald Cerrone.
If there's a way to get to Cerrone, it's to capitalize on his slow starting and keep him off balance with constant pressure. Giving him room to work just... doesn't work. He's got this kind of variegated sadism to his attacks that makes him very, very difficult to read once he gets rolling and hangs out at his preferred range, at the tip of his kicking distance.
David: I was gonna say the same thing. I still go back to Cerrone vs. RDA as a complimentary fight. Cowboy hasn't had to deal with movement all that often, and I suspect we're gonna get a whole lot of Cowboy staring Jury down, walking angrily toward him pretending Jury's inside leg kicks don't hurt while trying to figure out when he stand in front of Jury and exchange wildly. At the same time, we have yet to see how Jury deals with a fighter of Cowboy's caliber. Cerrone may not be a moving target, but he's a target that hits back. Leg kicks will be the key to Cerrone's success. If he lands enough, he'll be able to limit Jury's movement. I could see something like what happened with Condit vs. MacDonald where the cagey veteran took over once the new kid had to adapt.
Phil: I'm going to post something similar for every Donald Cerrone fight until it happens. He works hard. He plays hard (and thanks to The Simpsons for ruining that phrase forever, by the way). When he starts to deteriorate, the wheels are going to fly off so fast that they'll leave contrails behind them.
David: True, but he fought in September, so I'd say he's still fresh enough. There are quite a few so called "x factors" when you think about it. How much has Jury improved? How frustrated will Cerrone get when Jury doesn't play his game? How will Jury respond to Cerrone's mean mugging? Et cetera.
Phil: Myles Jury is a really excellent fighter, who is drastically underrated on the odds, with two potential paths to victory: either he can follow a gameplan where he attacks Cerrone and forces him back to the fence, capitalizing on his slow starting. He's never really fought like this before, but he's a young fighter from a strategically minded camp (Alliance), so it's possible he could show a different look. Or, he can just fight like he normally does, and rely on just being better than Cerrone, being able to counter Cowboy's offense with his own.
I think this is the more likely path he'll go down, and... I'm just not sure if that hanging out at range and fighting reactively is the way to beat Cerrone. This is incredibly close, but Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision
David: Jury isn't as fast as RDA, nor as powerful as Pettis. So while I think Jury presents problems for Cerrone on paper, the dynamics of the fight are a lot different in practice. In addition, Jury is not a southpaw, which is historically where Donald has had trouble. This may be too much too soon like (again going back to this one) Rory vs. Condit, or it could be just in time, like RDA vs. Cerrone. I keep expecting Jury's fights with Ricci and Iaquinta to be foretelling. Perhaps I should finally give him credit for the fighter he is now. Donald Cerrone by Decision.