Johnny Walker, 30, has an 18-7 professional record and is 4-4 in the UFC. All four of his wins and two of his losses have ended by knockout. Ion “The Hulk” Cutelaba, 28, has a 16-7 professional record and is 5-6 in the UFC. Three of his wins and two of his UFC losses have been by knockout.
Walker and Cutelaba will go head-to-head at this weekend’s UFC 279 event.
Cutelaba is a -200 favorite, which means Vegas set the line to indicate Cutelaba wins a little better than 60% of the time.
Walker’s reputation is beyond his recent performances. Reputationally, is a super athletic and explosive striker who can shut the lights out on his opponent in an instant. He began his UFC tenure with these exact types of performances which earned him the reputation. Walker’s style and skillset quickly made him a fan favorite. However, recently, Walker has shown vulnerability and a more tentative approach. He has always been a counter striker who was willing to let his opponent walk forward. Walker would evade or absorb strikes, then, suddenly and with athletic explosion, burst off the cage and land his own combination. This style made opponents weary of walking him down. However, recently, Walker’s ability to evade or absorb strikes has gone away. His explosion is still there, but, Walker has been clipped and dropped before he has been able to return fire himself.
Cutelaba is a powerful striker and strong wrestler who has the ability to pressure forward consistently for 3 rounds. That archetype typically breeds success, yet, Cutelaba has struggled to find consistent success in the octagon. This is because he seems to fight with more emotion than intelligence. Cutelaba is intense and fights, immediately, with the intention of knocking the head off his opponent or shooting a power take down. The issue with his aggressive approach is when an opponent can counter his straight-line aggression with a well placed combination or submission. In his most recent fight, Cutelaba shot a takedown and left his neck exposed against a fighter known for his guillotine. Poor decision making often catches Cutelaba before his power and wrestling can result in a win. When he fights with intelligence and tappers his raw aggression, though, Cutelaba’s overhand right and ability to wrestle well poses a challenge for many in the division.
This fight, based on records and rankings, is very close. Both men have poor records, both have been knocked out, and both have been ranked near the bottom or completely out of the rankings for years. Despite their lackluster similarities, Walker and Cutelaba are much different in reality. Walker is riding the reputation of his early career, and exciting and dangerous fighter. Meanwhile, Cutelaba has recently improved, developing more wrestling an a more intelligent striking game. Moreover, Cutelaba has excellent power and Walker’s chin seems to have been discentigrated. Outside of a sudden, maybe even spinning knockout, Cutelaba should dominate.
Pick: Cutelaba to win by knockout