UFC 178 Preview: The Fight To Watch

The UFC desperately need UFC 178. After cancelling UFC 176 and slapping together a completely inadequate card for UFC 177, the organization needs a bounce-back event to restore some luster to its Pay-Per-View events.

UFC 178 won’t fix all of the problems that plague the promotion, but in the short term it shows that the UFC is still able churn out high-quality events when necessary. Saturday night’s card features four bouts between fighters that both rank in the top 10 in their respective divisions. By contrast, UFC 177 featured just one fighter total in the top 15 of his division.

Interestingly, the fight of the night at UFC 178 might end up being the only fight on the main card that isn’t between two top 10 fighters. No. 5 Donald Cerrone and  

No. 14 Eddie Alvarez are both highly skilled knockout artists hoping to move up in the lightweight division, and for that reason, their fight is CraveOnline’s One to Watch for this event.


It’s a little misleading to say that Alvarez isn’t a top 10 fighter in the UFC. He likely will be very soon, but this is his first fight with the organization. ‘Silent Assassin’ Alvarez has been fighting for Bellator MMA since April of 2009, and he became the lightweight belt-holder there within two months of his debut. 

After losing the title to Michael Chandler in 2011, the Philadelphia native climbed back to the top of the division by exacting revenge against Chandler in a title bout last November. After regaining the belt, Alvarez vacated it to take on a new challenge with the UFC, signing with the organization in August.

Alvarez enters the UFC surrounded by plenty of hype and he’ll be expected to be a force in the lightweight division immediately. To that end, the promotion has given him a tremendous challenge right off the bat, putting him opposite the red-hot Cerrone.

‘Cowboy’ Cerrone was once a kingpin of the WEC, three times fighting for the lightweight title, but coming up short each time. Since he moved to the UFC in 2011, he’s never strung together enough quality wins to land himself a shot at the belt. Since a loss to No. 3 Rafael dos Anjos last August, however, the 31-year old has been on a tear, finishing four straight fights in the first two rounds, including a vicious second-round knockout of No. 8 Jim Miller in his most recent fight.

Cerrone won either Performance of the Night or Knockout of the Night bonuses for each of the fights in that stretch and he looks to make it five in a row against Alvarez. Another dominating performance against top competition could finally land him the title shot that’s been so elusive for him with the UFC.

The Matchup

Based on the past performances of these two fighters, the chances that this fight goes the full five rounds seem to be slim. Alvarez has been a heavy-handed fighter throughout his career, finishing 14 of his 25 professional victories with strikes and another seven through submission. The Silent Assassin has always been somewhat wild with his strikes, attempting to draw his opponents into vicious boxing matches from which he normally emerges victorious. He hasn’t been knocked out since 2007.

Cerrone, on the other hand, is much more judicious with his striking. He’s not afraid of getting into a fistfight, but he relies far more on a cerebral submission game, from which he’s finished 15 of his 24 career wins by way of armbar or choke. There are few fighters in any division who will be able to ground and pound the Cowboy so, while Alvarez is a former elite wrestler, he will likely not look for takedowns nearly as much as he would against other fighters.

Alvarez’s habit of going full bore with his fists has won him plenty of fights, but it also leaves him vulnerable to counterattacks in certain situations. When he lost his Bellator belt to Chandler, it was through a rear-naked choke. If Chandler can pull it off, Cerrone could be a tough matchup for the 30-year old. The outcome of the fight might hinge on whether Alvarez can land a big shot early in the fight to hurt Cerrone and keep him on the defensive.

Tale of the Tape

They Said It

“I’m not number one yet, so I’m gonna be uneasy until I am, and I’ll probably still be uneasy and make different goals when that time does come.” –Eddie Alvarez, on his career

“It’s going to be a scrap. Dude throws down. That’s all I know about him. Haven’t really seen him fight, ever. That’s what people tell me. S**t, I’m ready. Never seen Eddie fight, ever. Never, never, never. Welcome to the UFC, here’s Cowboy.” –Donald Cerrone, on Eddie Alvarez