Another Fight Night is upon us as the UFC makes its way back to Japan for an event headlined by Josh Barnett vs. Roy Nelson. We’ll be taking a look at a few of the main card fights, so let’s get things kicked off with Takeya Mizugaki (20-9-2) vs. George Roop (15-11-1).
Neither man has seen great success as of late, but both absolutely put on exciting fights. Because of the lack of recent success, both men also need this win, which will serve to increase the intensity.
Mizugaki comes into the fight off back-to-back losses to Dominick Cruz and Aljamain Sterling. This will be Mizugaki’s first fight since April of this year.
Roop is also 1-2 in his last three fights, but he managed to squeeze a win over Dustin Kimura in between T/KO losses to Francisco Rivera and Rob Font. This fight will be his first since July of this year.
The oddsmakers favor Mizugaki and he is the favorite at -225 while Roop is the underdog at +175. The biggest question to be answered is whether Roop will be able to effectively use his reach. Roop has shown a big vulnerability when it comes to allowing his opponents to work their way inside his reach and punish him for it.
However, Roop’s reach is his biggest advantage, not only in this fight, but over most of the bantamweight division. When he can keep the distance, he has an impressive array of powerful kicks that not only cause damage to his opponents, but set them off balance and allow Roop to land powerful punches as well.
Mizugaki is an excellent striker. Despite the fact that only five of his twenty wins come by T/KO, he routinely lands repeated hard shots that score solid points with the judges. Mizugaki needs to stick with that strategy here and use volume to overwhelm Roop, working inside his range and landing the whole way in.
Roop needs to set the pace early in the fight and use his distance to keep Mizugaki at bay, working the outside game to pick away at Mizugaki’s defense. Roop also has KO power, but like Mizugaki has a low rate of finish by T/KO; four out of his fifteen wins).
Just like Roop needs to set the pace, so does Mizugaki. But Mizugaki needs to employ the opposite strategy as Roop, working inside the range very quickly and staying there, using volume to overwhelm Roop as opposed to trying pick him apart.
If Mizugaki works inside the range in the first round, it could be a very short night for Roop, and even if Mizugaki can’t get inside immediately he still has a great chance at winning a decision if he can consistently overwhelm Roop with volume and prevent him from using his range.
Roop is a solid fighter and has more than a puncher’s chance, but the plan to beat him is too well known and will work too well for Mizugaki. Look for Mizugaki to get inside early and often en route to a third round T/KO or unanimous decision win.