For most fight fans the names Qileng Aori and Cody Durden may not sound too familiar but after Saturday that may very well change. Among the earliest prelims at UFC Fight Night 198, “the Mongolian Murderer” Qileng Aori and America’s own Cody Durden will clash in a fan-friendly style match-up between two aggressive flyweights.
Coming from the promotion WLF, Aori set himself up for a UFC contract with a six-fight win streak going into 2021. In his debut, the Mongolian lost a razor-thin fight in which he arguably won two of the three rounds, but close enough that it was difficult to call. Regardless, who’s who saw the fight can agree that he brings a fire that makes him always exciting, win, lose or draw.
Cody Durden has had two fights in the UFC so far, a draw with Chris Gutierrez and a loss to Jimmy Flick. In both bouts Durden looked sharp, winning the early exchanges before falling into difficult fight situations. Going into his third UFC fight, he may be fighting for his contract but he believes that he has not been able to show his full potential yet, and with a win over Aori this Saturday, the Georgia native could put himself back on track.
Aori vs. Durden betting odds
Durden with his two UFC appearances to Aori’s one, will come in as the favorite with -160.
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Aori vs. Durden breakdown
Qileng Aori is an aggressive fighter who always looks to march forward and make full use of his imposing frame and power. He is well-rounded, especially considering how well he mixes his wrestling prowess into his style of striking. Typically he likes to constantly pressure forward and make the cage small, by throwing big punches, often over his shoulders, while bobbing and dipping his way in. What this does is the dip provides an arc for his punches that induce extra power and momentum and makes the angle they follow difficult to defend. The best example of this is his use of the dipping uppercut, where he drops levels, feinting a takedown before using the momentum of his entire body to come up driving the punch from below. It’s a powerful shot that beautifully chains into his bobbing movement.
Aori’s use of this movement also often puts him into body lock positions when he clashes with his opponents. For the most part, his aggressiveness drives opponents back, but when they do stand their ground and throw at the same time, Aori is often able to slip into a back take or double underhooks quickly and push his way towards the cage.
From there he has evidently been difficult to control as his over-under is particularly strong and he throws on the break dangerously. He also has a good high crotch-step up takedown and has hip tosses at the ready as well.
Most fighters who utilize a similar style typically use a high guard. This is because the large erratic bobbing movements work well, but can also occasionally lead to dropping into the wrong area. Aori keeps a surprisingly low guard for this style because he looks to land from odd angles, but this does leave his head exposed to possible uppercuts or quicker punches down the pipe.
The biggest weakness in Aori’s game is his lack of composure. He gives up holes in his defense in order to pronounce his offense so much, and with good risk-assessment this works very well, but in his debut after arguably winning the first half of the fight the moment he did start to take more punishments, he resigned himself to a ‘give it back’ attitude, throwing hard and eating combinations to land a single blow. His use of almost always power punches leaves a lot of time in between for slick combination strikers, so composure and knowing when to reset is an important adjustment he needs to make.
Cody Durden is also well-rounded, he has kickboxing experience but comes primarily from wrestling. The staple of his style is high movement and high pace and like Aori, Durden looks to land full force right off the bat. In the best-case scenarios this has led to him overwhelming opponents early with strikes enough to open up a clean takedown, Durden excels and finding the back, where he knows he can take his foot off the gas and work more patiently.
In terms of the techniques he uses on the feet, he has a great heavy low leg kick, and he likes to throw looping left hooks and overhangs behind the jab off the same hand.
Like Aori, Durden does not typically entertain the feinting and feeling out process, he commits to his strikes and takedowns 100% and with bad intentions always. When they work it’s great but the negative side to this is that he doesn’t often adjust midway through failing shots or flurries and ends up being shucked completely off balance or cleanly countered. Against Flick, his over-commitment to bridging the distance put him deep into a submission early. Against Gutierrez, because he did not hide his want for a takedown, his heavy lead leg was picked apart.
Aori vs. Durden prediction
This is a difficult fight to call because a lot of the weaknesses present are reflected in both men. Being composed, and adding a bit of patience into certain situations would be a good implementation for both men, and largely the question that needs to be answered on the night.
For Aori, it would be smart to break down Durden’s lead leg and break down his hectic movement, when Durden begins to fatigue his style loses gas quickly because he leans on movement and pace so much. For Durden, he needs to catch Aori as he is moving in, he is most vulnerable when he gets emotional and cant react level-headed enough on the slips and rolls.
Ultimately, I think that both men will come forward and try to establish momentum early. I think that Aori has sharper hands and an ability to sustain his style over three rounds more comfortably using more feints and fakes to employ his techniques. Therefore by a slight edge, I lean with Aori.
Prediction: Qigong Aori via decision
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.