Phil and David break down everything you need to know about Manuwa vs. Anderson for UFN 107 and everything you don’t about adjusting your expectations.
Jimi Manuwa and Corey Anderson try to fight above everyone’s bout expectations this March 18, 2017 at the The O2 Arena in London, England.
One sentence summary
David: Somebody’s two has got to shoo.
Phil: OK, so it’s not much of a main event, but at least they’re not old, depressing heavyweights
Odds: Jimi Manuwa -140 Corey Anderson +120
Record: Jimi Manuwa 16-2 Corey Anderson 9-2
History / Introduction to both fighters
Phil: I first saw Jimi Manuwa at a local UCMMA event in London, the slightly seedy but hilarious promotion that gave the world Ultimate Ball (which for some strange reason hasn’t taken over the globe yet).
Anyway, the fight card was not one which engendered a huge amount of confidence that it would produce quality fighters, what with virtually every fight ending in a one-sided beatdown, one fighter memorably getting sent out to fight twice (spoiler warning: he did not do well the second time around), and other such shenanigans. I did remember Jimi Manuwa, however. He stood out. However, the lack of any other decent regional light heavyweights to fight against made me concerned that he could make it in the UFC. So his success has been a pleasant surprise, really. A relatively old convert to MMA, with no initial skill base, he’s now made it to the top 5(!) at LHW.
David: What the hell was that? It was like watching Mad Max beyond Thunderdome scaled down to Tommy the Train micromachines. What inexplicable chaos. Boring chaos no less. I’ll be perfectly honest, and say I have no idea how to write this preview from here on out, so I’ll just do what I usually do which is let these monkeys over here bang on these electronic typewriters. Manuwa has defied the odds in a way I can’t quite comprehend. A dude from nowhere (literally since Ultimate Ball is not a thing any civilized person had any awareness of until now) he came in and kind of took over where Dan Henderson left off; an old, tough, rawhide sonofabitch who’s always just one punch away from ending the fight.
Phil: Beastin’ 25/8 has been an interesting prospect at 205- getting derailed at exactly the wrong moments, while still producing enough good, consistent process to ensure that you keep an eye on where he is in the division. Like, say, Stipe Miocic, he has the potential to be special simply because he’s well-rounded in a way which fighters in his division traditionally aren’t. He can keep a ridiculous pace, he fights in a steady, attritional style rather than working for moments of singular, dynamic offense. This has kept him under the radar a bit, and his predictable rhythm has debatably allowed him to be gamed a bit, but it’s a style which I can see going far.
David: It’s hard to forget his big break; breaking Matt Van Buren to win TUF 19. It wasn’t a pleasant win, which is what people remember most; Van Buren’s look of “so this is what a fight feels like!” on his face that might not have predicted Anderson’s efficient fight future per se, but nonetheless gave us a glimpse into his potential. Since then he’s had fights ranging from difficult to challenging. He’s had a good run, all things told.
What’s at stake?
Phil: What’s going on at LHW at the moment? We’ve got… Cormier and Rumble duking it out for the belt, Gus and Glover, and Jones out there somewhere. And, of course, Shogun’s three fight win streak. The winner of this one doesn’t go into contention, but they’ll be pretty close to it.
David: The winner probably gets the winner of Gus vs. Glover. This is that rare close and nearly the cigar wins for either man.
Where do they want it?
Phil: Both fighters work better moving forward than they do off the counter. This is debatably something of a rarity- while the cliche of MMA striking of two dudes winging hays at each other often isn’t that far from the truth, it’s also true that a lot of MMA fighters tend to hide their flaws in technique by waiting for the other guy to lead first. This is particularly true of power strikers.
However, Manuwa is a pressure power striker. Like Hardy and Daley before him, his money punch is a crisp left hook, which he throws to the head and body. He also has a nice leg kick series from both his lead and rear legs, and a brutal Thai clinch. In general, his best ability is his ability to manipulate where his opponent is moving to with his strikes, and punish them when they get there. Despite being 37, he’s still a strong, quick athlete for the division, and an absolutely murderous hitter.
David: Manuwa is a striker that knows his limitations well. He doesn’t maintain some insane workrate, but despite his plodding footwork, he’s anything but inert. He keeps his arms tucked, and like some gun turret, pops strikes like a malevolent toaster. For such an intimidating striker, he doesn’t overcompensate. His punches are surgical, and economic. It’s no wonder he brutalized OSP. He also does a really good job of using his kicks to support his boxing. Like a jab some boxers throw to hurt, Manuwa flicks his outside leg with punctuation.
Phil: Anderson is defined by endless workrate, a sharp jab, and a good takedown game. No area of his game is blindingly effective, but he simply chains together these functional areas until the opponent can’t keep up any more. In more recent fights he’s started to build on the ancillary defensive areas, like circling out and taking angles after landing strikes rather than watching his work, but his sheer rhythmic consistency can make him predictable.
While his offensive consistency can make him a little predictable, he does a good job of landing counter takedowns under his opponent’s strikes when they get too aggressive.
David: Anderson approaches prizefighting like a murderous flowdrill. He executes well done combinations in service of movement and activity. The funny thing is, I’ve rarely seen a fighter glide like he does. He doesn’t take angles so much box angularly. His body kind of waves laterally which makes him an unusual creature of rhythm. He takes advantage of those Cheater Arms by whipping them for pressure. His wrestling background is just the gravy of his five knuckle biscuits.
Insight from past fights
Phil: Once Manuwa had OSP on the back foot, their fight became swiftly academic, as Manuwa surgically carved him up with body shots, leg kicks, and a right straight to left hook which left OSP sprawled on the mat. Notably, though, Manuwa was a lot less effective when Manuwa was leading. One of his more puzzling tendencies is the way he tends to shoot under pressure: in a five round fight, I think he should avoid any kind of grappling exchange where he’s not kneeing Anderson from the Thai plum.
David: The only thing I hesitate with on Anderson is his transition approach. He’s a boxer with wrestling instincts, which makes him not all that different from wrestlers turned boxers in one sense; unable to calibrate the intervals for transition. Anderson’s best bet is to soften Manuwa up with his ground and pound. Like a lot of shifty wrestlers, he uses his grappling base and knowledge to position for strikes, which is where he can effectively neutralize Manuwa.
David: On an unrelated note, I hate it when fighters have badass names they don’t own. Like Janigelison Herculano Tibau before him, Babajimi makes Manuwa sound like some prizefighter babadook. Just saying.
Phil: Hometown crowd for Manuwa? Jet lag for Mr. Beastin’?
David: I like this fight quite a bit. It’s unfortunate that it’s become a symbol of criticism from fans (and foolish writers like myself), but point fingers at the UFC. Anderson and Manuwa will likely get into some heated exchanges, but Anderson is more likely to turn this into an attrition battle Manuwa won’t soon dig his way out of. Corey Anderson by Decision.
Phil: Should be a good fight. Manuwa hits infinitely harder and appears to be much more physically strong in general- he is definitely the more likely fighter to finish. However, he’s not a devastating counterpuncher, and if Anderson can hit takedowns on him, then I like the American’s more consistent and attritive style to be the difference over 5 rounds. Corey Anderson by unanimous decision.