UFC 131 Fight Card Breakdown: Donald Cerrone Vs. Vagner Rocha

UFC lightweight Donald Cerrone was supposed to fight Ultimate Fighter winner Mac Danzig at UFC 131. When injuries forced Danzig off the card, UFC rookie Vagner Rocha got his big chance to fight on a UFC main card. 

Cerrone is 1-0 in the UFC after defeating Paul Kelly at UFC 126. Prior to coming to the big show, he had been one of the WEC's top lightweights, twice fighting for the organization's title. He's 14-3 overall in his MMA career and trains out of Greg Jackson's famous fight camp in New Mexico. 

"The Cowboy" is known for his aggressive style that combines vicious Muay Thai striking with a solid submission game. Wrestling had historically been his weakest range as a fighter but in his rematch with Jamie Varner at WEC 51, he showed he'd made considerable strides in that area.

Rocha is 6-1 in his MMA career and makes his UFC debut Saturday. A black belt under the esteemed Pablo Papovich, Rocha has a distinguished track record in international jiu jitsu competition. Despite having a couple of TKO wins on his MMA resume and some decent boxing, he's still a fairly limited fighter who will likely be out of his depth striking with Cerrone. It's also doubtful that he's got the wrestling to put Cerrone on his back and keep him there. 

Look for Cerrone to feast on Rocha's weak stand up game and score a quick TKO win. If Rocha can force a ground fight, Cerrone won't be lost but he'll be well advised to get back to his feet ASAP. Cerrone might also want to avoid the Thai clinch, a position in which he's dangerous but throwing knees while Rocha has his hands on you could lead to getting taken down.

Aspect Cerrone Points Rocha Advantage
Range Fighting

Boxing Solid Surprising Cerrone
Kickboxing Dangerous Fair Cerrone 
Wrestling Improving Ok Tie
Clinch Fighting        
Dirty Boxing Ok 1 Limited Cerrone
Thai Clinch Offensive 1 Threatening Tie
Throws/Trips Ok 1 Good Rocha
 Ground Fighting

 Positional Control Good 1 Very Good Rocha
 Top Game Very Good 1 Excellent Rocha
 Bottom Game Dangerous 1 World Class Rocha
 Submissions Effective 1 World Class Rocha
Intangibles Experienced 1 Newbie Cerrone
Overall Proven 6/5 Unknown Cerrone

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