After nearly a month on Fight Island, the UFC is back on home turf, a.k.a. the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Edmen Shahbazyan is looking to continue working his way up the ladder against middleweight staple Derek Brunson atop Saturday’s UFC Vegas 5. Lower on the card Luke Sanders was originally supposed to take on Chris Gutierrez (15-3-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) but Sanders withdrew. Now Gutierrez will take on newcomer Cody Durden in a bantamweight bout.
American Top Team Atlanta
Covington, Georgia, US
How will Durden fare in the UFC:
After a pair of consecutive losses in 2017-2018 Durden has rebounded with seven straight wins. Although some of his wins aren’t all that impressive his last victory came against John Sweeney who is unquestionably solid.
Durden has had bouts in boxing and kickboxing but is primarily a wrestler. He does throw some heavy leg kicks and an overhand right but shots in on the leg come quickly. Sometimes he’ll crash his way into the pocket, but once he does, he moves to getting the takedown.
Heavy top control, submissions, and ground and pound are what Durden has to offer on the mat. Step by step Durden is a tactical grappler. He usually quickly passes guard getting a dominant position. His submission base includes five submission wins – three by a choke, two by armbar. I’d consider Durden as a very divine grappler. He’s going to run into someone eventually who will be able to stuff his takedowns and it’s unknown how he will fare at that point. A good signing from the UFC as I believe Durden will do quite well.
How does he match up with Gutierrez?
Ever since his UFC debut loss to Raoni Barcelos, Gutierrez has turned a corner. He’s become less gun shy and has put on complete kickboxing performances. He’s easily a better fighter, but Durden is clearly the better grappler. The question is if Durden can take his opponent down or not. Which leads to a problem Gutierrez has had throughout his career: his takedown defense. Coming up short to a guy like Raoni Barcelos is no shame at all. Still as much as I’ve been impressed with Gutierrez, it feels like Durden could beat the same opposition Gutierrez has in the UFC. I am leaning toward Gutierrez in this one because he’s going to be the much quicker fighter. I’m not fully impressed with the way Durden crashes forward sometimes, which will allow Gutierrez to chop at the legs. Very close fight though.