Yusaku Kinoshita is looking to make the most of his UFC debut against Adam Fugitt after a solid Contender Series performance at UFC Vegas 68. The Japanese fighter made his mark on the promotion back in August, showcasing clean striking ability and finishing power. Fugitt is looking to rebound after getting finished in his UFC debut by Michael Morales at UFC 277. That fight, however, was taken by Fugitt on short notice, and so this will be the first fight in which he can show his true capabilities as a fighter with a full camp.
Kinoshita enters this fight as a heavy betting favorite after a strong Contender Series performance.
- Yusaku Kinoshita: -325
- Adam Fugitt: +270
Despite their age and background, these two fighters are almost as close of a matchup as there could be made. Both are southpaws who employ a diverse arsenal of round kicks, however, Kinoshita seems to target the legs far more frequently than his American counterpart. Both fighters lack deep experience within the UFC, but Fugitt is still 12 years Kinoshita’s senior, which could likely play in favor of the 22-year-old Japanese fighter. Fugitt sports a six-inch reach advantage and one-inch height advantage, which could bring some trouble to the Kinoshita’s kick-heavy approach.
The key quality that both fighters shared in their breakout performances in the UFC was their strong chins. Kinoshita was caught in some heavy exchanges in his Contender Series bout against Jose Henrique Souza, eating a fair amount of straight right hands and uppercuts. It was Kinoshita’s forward pressure and accumulating leg kicks that would eventually score him a finish early in the third round. Kinoshita also showcased a capable gas tank in this fight as well as he constantly moved forward and pressed the action without faltering or showing any signs of diminishing cardio. Fugitt also showed a strong chin in his short-notice UFC debut against the young prospect Michael Morales, getting caught with a number of right hooks and jabs. The American fighter appeared to be more affected by these shots than Kinoshita had in his fight, however, as some of these shots forced him to shoot for a panic body lock takedown in the first and eventually got him finished early in the final round.
Aside from their physical attributes, Kinoshita appears to be a superior striker both offensively and defensively. The Japanese fighter showed solid defensive movement and footwork all throughout his contender series debut, entering the pocket with strong leg kicks and breaking off with sharp left hooks and body kicks. He also employed a very dangerous-looking left roundhouse kick to the head, however, he did not land any that didn’t miss or make contact with his opponent’s guard. Fugitt was shown to have a fairly similar set of attacks in his debut, moving with a fairly kick-heavy approach in order to beat away at the body and set up a left high kick to the head. This left him open for a number of right hands from the orthodox fighter, however, and so it will be interesting to see how Kinoshita could capitalize on this as a pressuring southpaw counter-striker.
From a grappling standpoint, not much is out there from either fighter, as Kinoshita rarely engaged in any clinches or takedowns in his Contender Series performance while the only takedown Fugitt landed in his UFC debut was off of his opponent over-extending in order to try to secure a finish. Fugitt would use this opportunity to regroup and gain some control time with some solid ground-and-pound, however, he would later get swept and brought back to his feet. He attempted seven more takedowns following this but did not secure anything. Kinoshita has two submissions on his record, however, with an extremely early rear-naked choke in his MMA debut for Pancrase and another early first-round guillotine for the same promotion later in his career. This makes Kinoshita a fairly dangerous fighter to go the ground with, as he seems to have adept offensive grappling and jiu-jitsu.
Prediction and Betting Guide
Despite the fact that Fugitt appears to be the physically larger fighter, it’s difficult to find a way in which he could win this fight. Kinoshita is the much younger fighter who seems to be more well-rounded and versatile in his game, while also having much more momentum on his side with a 100% finish rate. If Fugitt wants to win this fight, he would likely need to mix in his striking with his grappling better than he had in his fight against Michael Morales, but even then Kinoshita still holds the threat of submitting the American fighter. As well as this, Fugitt’s defense seems to be a bit too lackluster going into a fight against a powerful counter striker with a diverse arsenal of weapons at his disposal. For this, it seems that the oddsmakers are correct in their assessment of holding Kinoshita as a -325 betting favorite.
At -325, Kinoshita is a fairly secure, but not too profitable pick on his own, but would make a welcome addition to a number of parlays. As well as this, the likelihood of profiting from Kinoshita via stoppage at +120 or submission at +650. However, a submission in a bout between two strikers could be a bit of a reach.
Pick: Yusaku Kinoshita to win (-325)