Dustin Jacoby will be riding a four-fight win streak into his UFC Fight Night 213 matchup with Khalil Rountree Jr. Jacoby, a Colorado native, earned his stripes as a pro in Bellator MMA and the World Series of Fighting prior to signing with the UFC. However, it’s been his Glory kickboxing experience that has fans chomping at the bit to see him showcase his awesome striking.
Most men would not entertain the idea of standing with a man like Jacoby, but Khalil Rountree is not most men. The fighter from Los Angeles hasn’t been shy about his love for pure Muay Thai, citing that even trains grappling just enough to get out of bad positions and force his opponents to strike with him. A move to Phuket and clinics against the likes of Eryk Anders, Gokhan Saki, and Modestas Bukaukas has made Rountree one of the most exciting strikers in the light heavyweight division. When he clashes with Jacoby Saturday, expect fireworks.
Jacoby will be a -181 favorite over Rountree. This means $181 on Jacoby would return a profit of $100 if he wins.
Jacoby has an extremely high-level stand-up game and great distance management. He stands relatively wide and puts on a lot of pressure with feints and a nice heavy left-body kick, but when his opponents return, he’s already set up a counter with his hands. He will utilize an outstretched lead left to parry, but because he keeps his head on the centerline at times this becomes very dangerous and he has eaten shots because of this. That being said, if he can time his footwork and slide back, he is also good at landing the right straight because he stays on that line.
Jacoby is truly at his best when he is the one putting on the pressure. If he finds himself constantly moving away and circling on his backfoot, he does find more difficulty in putting together combos. He likes to circle to his left and use the lead check left hook as his opponent comes in but moving backward it’s difficult to chain much afterward. When he engages on his terms, he is much better at diversifying his attack, mixing things up between the body and landing leg kicks, but when pushed himself sometimes he will revert to a more boxing approach.
In terms of grappling, while I find it unlikely to dictate much of this matchup, Jacoby will mix in takedowns to secure rounds and mix up his attack. However, he does have flaws in his level-changing ability, but he is good at maintaining control against the fence and using head positioning to keep his opponent flat back to the cage. I think we may see some clinch fighting here with Jacoby working for a takedown, Rountree defending, and looking to counter inside with elbows.
Khalil Rountree prefers to fight in a pretty traditional stance, tall with a light lead leg and high guard. He has massively adjusted this in anticipation of wrestlers shooting on him and we’ve seen a much more crouched stance, but against Jacoby, he may revert to his more conventional Thai approach. Leg kicks are a huge part of his game, he will use a right switch kick low from southpaw to get range and enter, and he also wants to pressure, but he tends to just cut off the cage with power rather than use as many feints as Jacoby. Karl Roberson, his last opponent, was also a Glory kickboxer, so don’t expect Rountree to be intimidated by Jacoby’s credentials.
Rountree has a great right body kick to the left straight. He will maintain range with his lead teep. In his most recent fight, he did get away with utilizing a low lead guard because he was more crouched and focussed more on range as his defense however this will be a big gamble swinging with Jacoby.
Pacing will be a large factor in this match. Obviously, with their striking skill and power at 205lbs, either man could earn a knockout if they connect. In the long run, both men are explosive and want to be moving forward. The one who engages on the other’s terms and has to fight moving backwards may find themselves slowing down when they cannot afford to.
With his ability to push to the action with a very educated shot selection, I would say Khalil Rountree is one of the best underdogs on the card. Largely the man who gets that head start and gets the forward momentum probably takes the win, but Khalil tends to take it more often, and with his brutalizing leg kicks and power straights, I think we see Jacoby faced to skirt the cage, and lean away from his kicks and onto his boxing. This ultimately opens up more opportunities for Rountree to land differing shots that could spell the finish.
Prediction: Khalil Rountree Jr. to win (+141 odds at MyBookie)