The UFC bantamweight division will be on display this Saturday in the form of deadly strikers Danaa Bagerel of Mongolia and Boston-born Chris Gutierrez. Coming off of three straight victories after a closely contested loss in his UFC debut, Danaa Batgerel will be hunting his fourth straight knockout as well against Gutierrez. The Mongolian fighter nicknamed “Storm” has proven a force to be reckoned with using the immense punching power from both hands, and coming from a background in pure kickboxing.
In front of him, Gutierrez holds slightly more experience amongst the UFC ranks, with a current record of 5-1-1. An alumni of both the World Series of Fighting and Legacy Fight Alliance, Gutierrez holds notable wins over Vince Morales and Andre Ewell. However, a win over Batgerel may very well be the biggest win he could potentially have on his record next week.
The Mongolian fighter comes in as a decent favorite, at -162 via the oddsmakers.
- Batgerel: -162
- Gutierrez: +132
Chris Gutierrez and Danaa Batgerel are two of the best strikers in the division, but with wildly different approaches to their games. Gutierrez is an extremely light footed fighter who floats in and out of range, poking and prodding his opponents with a variety of shots on top of thudding leg kicks. For the most part these leg kicks are integral to his approach, as the more he wears down his opponents base and becomes detrimental to their footwork, his already superior movement becomes even more pronounced. This leads to him often dancing circles around his opponents and opening more and more opportunities for his strikes, but the key is it all starts with the low kicks.
He lands these particularly well because he is one of the best at being able to chain them mid combination, so he hides them very well. He also switches stances often and throws from both left and right. Often he will create a rhythm of fundamental striking combinations and then break it with flashy high and or hook kicks once he has set a precedent.
While Gutierrez is the more tricky striker as well as the smoother and fluid one, Batgerel makes up for this with his tenacity and accuracy. Less pretty in his movement, Batgerel is constantly fainting and changing up his footwork, his punches come at odd angles and to some may look awkward and looping, but his pinpoint accuracy makes it all work. His timing is impeccable as well, and often you see him land massive strikes as his opponents exit or come in. This is particularly important because Gutierrez’s high posture and floating approach does sometimes leave him exiting with his chin high. Batgerel’s best combination is a looping overhand right into a rolling step and a left hook, often his first punch is used to direct his opponent laterally into the next strike. When Gutierrez is in southpaw he will have to be cautious as Batgerel has a history of beating out the foot position and setting up southpaws with his right straight.
In terms of grappling, it’s very possible that the contrasting yet effective striking style frustrates either party and forces sme takedown attempts. Gutierrez is solid everywhere and his ability to chain techniques together will probably allow him to mix in his takedowns into exchanges better. Batgerel has more of a straightforward shot approach, and he likes the outside reap on the shot, however both men shine more so in their takedown defense than their offensive wrestling. Gutierrez being the more technical of the two but Batgerel being a particularly effective striker when he can defend and clinch, especially from unorthodox angles and positions.
Finally, the element in the fight that I think will tip the scales is activity. Gutierrez will likely be able to pull off some astounding exchanges, evade and counter but what tends to happen sometimes is his relaxed and fluid approach lessens his activity. He rarely looks to be in a rush whether he is winning or losing which sometimes causes him to give up aggression and control points. Batgerel is extremely active, he is always moving and setting something up or punching in combination. Although Gutierrez may land very clean throughout the fight, I see Batgerel landing more often in between. This becomes more relevant due to Batgerel’s power advantage, he has stunned or knocked out pretty much all his UFC opponents, with strikes from either side, and his unorthodox angles often allow him to pull off wider shots than normal with more swing to them.
Ultimately I believe we will see impressive showings from both men but the activity and power will make the difference for Batgerel.
Prediction: Danaa Batgerel to win
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.