Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight finishers Gabriel Benitez and Sodiq Yusuff will square off this Saturday (Aug. 17, 2019) at UFC 241 from inside Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
A product of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Latin America,” Benitez has proven a quality member of the Featherweight roster. Overall, he hasn’t been the most active, fighting just seven times in five years on the roster, but “Moggly” has won three of his previous four bouts in pretty dominant fashion. He’ll serve as another stiff test for one of the division’s most promising prospects in the 26-year-old Yusuff. Undefeated in two trips to the Octagon, Yusuff has already shown a great deal of composure and athleticism in his short career.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Jason Knight (UFC Fight Night 123), Sam Sicilia (UFC Fight Night 94), Clay Collard (UFC 188)
Key Losses: Andre Fili (TUF Latin America 2 Finale), Enrique Barzola (UFC 211)
Keys to Victory: Benitez has perhaps the most powerful left kick in the division. It’s such a great tool that the Southpaw rarely has to use much else — he’s happy to absolutely destroy whatever is put in front of him by blasting it with left round kicks.
Yusuff hits pretty damn hard and is happy to rip off longer combinations when given the opportunity, so keeping him back with that sledgehammer of a kick sounds like a smart move. Given Yusuff’s athleticism, it would be particularly smart for Benitez to focus extra on softening up the legs and mid-section of his foe.
This will also be a solid test of Benitez’s footwork. Yusuff is likely to try to corral him along the fence, where he can close distance from the kicking range and begin working his punches. It’s up to Benitez to stick-and-move, landing a quick punch before exiting at an angle and returning to the center.
Key Wins: Sheymon Moraes (UFC on ESPN 2), Suman Mokhtarian (UFC Fight Night 142), Mike Davis (DWTNCS 2018)
Key Losses: Luis Gomez (Titan FC 47)
Keys to Victory: Yusuff is a really slick, powerful striker. Outside of takedown defense, the rest of his game largely remains to be seen, but so far “Super” has made the most of powerful punches and some ruthless calf kicks to handle his foes inside the Octagon.
Against a fighter with a clear desired range in Benitez, Yusuff should be looking to stalk his foe and cut off the cage. There’s no point in trying to trade power kicks with Benitez, particularly when Yusuff’s hands are so deadly. If he can force his way into the boxing range, it should definitely favor the Team Lloyd Irvin-trained athlete.
In addition, it seems like at least attempting a takedown would be a smart move for Yusuff. Benitez has a nasty guillotine and is quick to jump on the choke, so it must be done carefully, but Benitez historically is not great at stopping the shot. If Benitez is worried about the shot, it may limit that dangerous kicking game of his, and even a failed takedown can be parlayed into boxing range success.
Bottom Line: It should be a very entertaining Featherweight contest.
Both men are looking to advance up a crowded ladder at 145 pounds, but luckily they each have the entertaining style to do so relatively quickly. Both men are chasing their third consecutive victory inside the Octagon, so a big finish here on the main card could be exactly the push needed for either fighter to receive a ranked foe next. It’s definitely not a guarantee considering how many Featherweights are clawing at those rankings tooth-and-nail, but winning a high-profile fight in entertaining fashion never hurts!
Between the two, there’s more on the line for Benitez, who is 31 years old and several years into his UFC career. If he comes up short to another prospect, he may have found his ceiling as a talented fighter stuck just outside of top competition. Yusuff, on the other hand, is still new and young, so it would be easier for “Super” to rebound from a defeat.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 241 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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At UFC 241, Gabriel Benitez and Sodiq Yusuff will go to war. Which Featherweight will earn the victory?