UFC 256: Ferguson v Oliveira Preview & Prediction
By Cathal Geeney
Tony Ferguson takes on Charles Oliveira in the co-main event as he looks to bounce back from his lightweight Interim title defeat to Justin Gaethje back in May.
Ferguson is a wild, unorthodox striker. He likes to switch stances and put on pressure with straight punches while mixing in kicks to the legs, body and head of his opponent. He is an experienced grappler having wrestled in college and is also a Black Belt in BJJ, training under Eddie Bravo.
Ferguson is comfortable anywhere the fight goes. When standing, he will look to push the pace with strikes, in the clinch he will unleash knees and elbows, on the mat he will look for a submission or to attack with strikes, even while on his back. This is what makes him such a tough opponent. He is also known for his cardio and can maintain a high output through five rounds.
El Cucuy can be overly reckless however and doesn’t always protect his chin. His last outing against Justin Gaethje demonstrated this as Gaethje was more accurate and systematically broke Ferguson down, landing the cleaner shots, before the referee stepped in to stop it in the fifth round.
While most will be aware of the excitement El Cucuy brings to the octagon, Do Bronx cannot be overlooked. Aged only thirty-one, he is responsible for having the most submission wins (14), tied for most finishes (16) and the most Performance of the Night bonuses (10) in UFC history.
Oliveira’s striking is explosive and unpredictable. He looks to land unorthodox shots, expect to see some spinning kick, flying knee or spinning elbow attempts. In addition to this however, he has some solid fundamentals and often looks to his jab.
Given how many submission victories he has, it is no surprise that the Brazilian is also a very tricky grappler. Do Bronx will look for submission attempts from any position and is generally very successful.
Ferguson has only ever been submitted once in his professional career, which came back in 2009, so there could potentially be some very high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu exchanges on display here.
This really is a fascinating match up as both fighters are such exciting, unconventional strikers and accomplished submission artists. Whilst this may not be the most high-profile PPV event of the year, it is worth the price tag for this bout alone.
This is a tough fight to call and Oliveira is very much a live underdog here. However, I believe that Ferguson will need to be stopped and I don’t see Do Bronx having the same power and accuracy as Gaethje to achieve this. I would not be surprised if Oliveira starts off strong and dominates early, but I expect Ferguson to come through down the stretch and get back to winning ways.