UFC Vegas 83: Song vs. Gutierrez Main Event Pick
UFC VEGAS 83: SONG VS. GUTIERREZ MAIN EVENT PICK – The bantamweight division is tied with the heavyweight and middleweight divisions for most UFC cards headlined this year. It is a sign of how much development and talent there is amongst the 135ers as they are able to churn out high-level and high-stakes matchups on a monthly basis.
Chinese star, Song Yadong, looks to continue his ascent up the rankings and continue the momentum from his April victory over Ricky Simon.
Seen as the dark horse in the division, Chris Gutierrez aims to follow up his October victory over Alatengheili by knocking off a ranked contender.
Will the power punching style of Song translate once more? Or will the methodical, kick-heavy style of Gutierrez notch him another victory? Read on to see how these blistering bantamweights size up and the best way to make some moola off it.
Coming into the UFC back in 2017 with an 11-5 record, there were no real expectations for the then-20-year-old prospect. However, as he continued to take steps up in competition, it was evident that he was going to translate into one of China’s biggest stars. He was entertaining, his fights were action-packed, and he was producing some highlight reel knockouts.
Since joining the UFC, Song has put together a 9-2-1 record, all while facing stiffer competition each time. He could easily be sitting on a 10-2 record had it not been for the point taken from him in the Cody Stamann fight, but at least it did not end up being a loss.
Song was a berserker when he came into the UFC. He threw with reckless abandon, which resulted in a couple losses for him on the regional scene. Once he made it to the UFC, he knew he had some things to fix if he wanted to get closer to UFC gold.
He made those changes, improved his overall grappling game, and now looks to set up his power strikes rather than throwing them naked. Being able to go a full 15 or 25 minutes is another positive in his game now, as he originally threw everything into every strike, causing him to slow down in the opening minutes of his fights. He is close to being a finished product, which is scary for a fighter that is only 26 years old with 28 fights under his belt.
Scary for his opponents, that is.
On paper, you would assume a fighter that has a 20-4-2 record like Gutierrez would have more hype on his name, but that does not seem to be the case. With his only two losses against some of the best bantamweights in the world, Raoni Barcelos and Pedro Munhoz, Gutierrez has chalked up eight wins in the UFC. All that have looked nearly flawless.
He found himself in the biggest fight of his career earlier this year when he took on Pedro Munhoz on the back end of a eight-fight unbeaten streak. Unfortunately, Munhoz had the perfect style to negate the style of Gutierrez.
It is safe to say that Gutierrez is one of the best — if not best — calf-kicker in the UFC. The way he can batter the lead leg, specifically the calf, of his opponent from the start of a fight is impressive. He slows his opponents down almost immediately, allowing him to open up the rest of his striking game without worrying too much about what is coming back his way.
The smooth and consistent movement fuels the kicking game, as it’s hard for his opponents to predict when he will be stopping to throw his kicks. The movement usually allows his kicks to land as his opponent is moving towards him and putting pressure on their own foot, which in turn makes the kick even more effective. Takedown defense is another bonus to the constant moving and long-range style that he likes to implement, usually snuffing out takedown attempts from distance.
Song has the perfect style to combat Gutierrez and his kick-heavy gameplan, like what Pedro Munhoz was able to do. However, it will only take a few kicks for Gutierrez to slow down Song and start making him fight at his own pace. So, although my prediction will be Song here, I can’t justify taking him as a heavy favorite.
This fight will play out largely in the striking realm and 25 minutes is a long time for Song to have to deal with the calf kicks of Gutierrez. The fact that the Munhoz fight was likely a big learning lesson for Gutierrez. He could have picked up some things in that fight that will aid him in pulling off this upset.
I have no choice but to take a small shot on Gutierrez at this massive price and hope his kicks can get the job done.