Takashi Sato celebrates after 48-second TKO win against Jason Witt (Zuffa LLC)

Both Takashi Sato and Tjemba Gorimbo find themselves in desperate need of a win this weekend at UFC Fight Night 224.

Sato, who has been with the promotion since 2019 has beaten both Jason Witt and Ben Saunders but is now coming off of the first three-fight skid in his career. A devastating KO loss to Bryan Battle in August of last year has fans wondering how he will bounce back, but those who are familiar with his career also know he has the potential to knock out any man in front of him with 11 KOs in 15 wins.

Themba Gorimbo made his UFC debut earlier this year against AJ Fletcher, and while Gorimbo held his own ultimately succumbed to a guillotine in round two. The fighter from South Africa does hold an impressive pro record of 10-3 outside the UFC and looks to finally prove he can emulate that success on the biggest stage.

Takashi Sato vs. Themba Gorimbo happens this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 224 and will air exclusively on ESPN+. And remember, if you’re looking to place a bet on the fights this weekend, click here to sign up to BetUS using our special link and you’ll get a sign-up bonus worth up to $2,500.

Betting Odds

The fight is extremely close according to oddsmakers who have both fighters at negative odds. To win $100 in profits, Sato will cost slightly less at -105 odds over at BetUS. MyBookie is offering enticing odds on Gorimbo to win, as well.

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Fight Breakdown

Takashi Sato fights in a karate stance and style although never formally trained in the martial art. He is a former kickboxer, coached by the same man who brought Tenshin Nasakawa to the heights of the kickboxing world. Sato, utilizes a very wide southpaw stance, with a laser-like left cross and left head kick, and his background in Judo also makes him a very difficult individual to takedown except by some of the best grapplers.

Themba Gorimbo is a very good grappler, specifically his wrestling. It would be wise for Sato to fight patiently from the opening bell, even if he does want to take the center of the octagon because, the timing on Gorimbo’s level change is exact, and he often has success landing the double leg under forward pressure from his opponent. Beforehand, Gorimbo uses his long reach and height to land slick kicks from the outside to the body, leg, and head until he can set up his shot.

However, Gorimbo also seems to make avoidable mistakes in high-pressure moments. In his debut, he became overzealous attacking the back of his opponent and gave up position by rolling without both hooks in. After losing round one, he attacked a sloppier takedown in an attempt to regain momentum early in the second. At his best, he can definitely take Sato down, get to the back and establish control with his preferred motorcycle grips, where he reaches under the arm and controls the forearms.

However, if Sato can make this difficult, by landing significant strikes beforehand, we may see Sato’s judo come into play, reversing and countering less-than-ideal wrestling decisions from Gorimbo. Another consistent hole in Gorimbo’s game over his career is giving up his neck on takedowns, and while no one on the South African MMA circuit was able to capitalize, it was his downfall in his lone UFC fight. It’s unlikely based on his style that Sato would attempt much submission offense off of his back, but the other major issue we saw from Gorimbo was difficulty fighting from his back, which is where Sato will look to find himself given the opportunity.

Sato vs. Gorimbo Prediction

At almost equal odds there isn’t an obvious value pick between the two. If Gorimbo comes into the fight mentally much sharper, his wrestling is a real problem and he has all the information from the last fight to know what mistakes needed to be fixed in training. However, that is a big if, and some of the issues span fairly far back.

I do think that Sato’s recent lack of success is a product of fighting a higher level of competition, including Gunnar Nelson and Belal Muhammad in his four UFC losses. Gorimbo represents a decent drop in competition, so it’s a good opportunity for the Japanese fighter to get himself back on track, but if he should lose it’s a massive blow to his UFC career.

Gorimbo is a bit of a do-or-die fighter with his top game, he uses long kicks just to set up the takedown, and then he wants to stay on top and hammer away a decision or submit. If this gameplan is disrupted he doesn’t have much of a plan B, and I think the experience and more well-roundedness of Satp can shine here.

Pick: Takashi Sato to win (-105 odds at BetUS)

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