At UFC Fight Night 168, or UFC Auckland, this coming Saturday, the Spark Arena will host 13 great fights stretching across many weight divisions. The spotlight is heavily on the main event, where Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder steps into enemy territory to face New Zealand’s own Dan “The Hangman” Hooker.
This is a fantastic matchup, especially for the hardcore fans to appreciate. It also has ranking places at stake, with the winner possibly being one win away from a title shot. However, seeing the structure of the lightweight division at the moment, their timeline for title shots are blurred.
However, here, we will be taking a look at the two men who will be trying to steal the show and grab the spotlight in the co-main event. This involves two light heavyweight prospects in Jimmy Crute and Michal Oleksiejczuk. Both, despite coming off losses, have shown real potential throughout their fights so far.
Jimmy Crute will be on the receiving end of many cheers from the New Zealand crowd when he steps in there, as he is Australian-bred. As for Oleksiejczuk, he, like Paul Felder, will probably not have too warm of a welcome from the thousands in attendance. He will be stepping into enemy territory and trying to take the crowds favourite’s head off.
Making his name on Dana White’s Contender Series in July 2018, Jimmy Crute has an impressive professional record of 10-1 at the age of just 23. He built up his record to 7-0 on the Australian regional circuit before getting a first round TKO win on the Contender Series. That earned him a contract with the UFC.
Crute made his UFC debut 5 months after that win and submitted Paul Craig. He then finished Sam Alvey at UFC 234 in Melbourne to go to 10-0. After that, he was matched with Misha Cirkunov, who handed him his first loss by Peruvian neck tie.
Crute has an exciting fighting style with a finishing mentality. Only three of his fights have gone the distance. He has the ability to finish the fight from all places with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and great striking skills.
Much like Jimmy Crute, Michal Oleksiejczuk was 2-0 in the UFC with two finishes. He was looking like he was set to storm through the rankings. However, he was stopped in his tracks by a veteran in Ovince Saint-Preux. Michal is a very small light heavyweight. Especially compared to someone like Saint-Preux and many other top contenders in the 205lb division. He makes up for that size in speed and crisp striking technique.
He has two KO/TKO victories in the UFC, and in the first round of his loss to Saint-Preux, he was looking sensational. Landing body shots at will, hurting him in every exchange and shrugging him off every time they clinched. Unfortunately, that high-pace took a toll on Michal. He found himself on his back locked up in Saint-Preux’s signature Von Flue choke while exhausted midway through the 2nd round.
Like Crute, he is a complete finisher and will be looking to improve his record to 15-3 with a win on Saturday. He’ll look to reinstate the idea that he is the future of the light heavyweight division at just 24 years old, with his birthday being one day before the fight.
How They Match Up
Stylistically, this has the makings of a great co-main event. Both are going to be looking to make a statement, which will further fuel their finishing styles. They both pose threats to each other in different ways.
In my opinion, Jimmy Crute would be doing himself a favour if he clinched. He should look to get the fight to the ground as early as possible.
Oleksiejczuk is a phenomenal striker in the first round. His hands are lightning fast, he’s very accurate and he punches in combinations. The question has always been, can he keep that up for three rounds if he can’t get the finish? The answer was no in his last fight. In round one, Saint-Preux couldn’t get a hold of him and couldn’t keep up in the striking. In round 2, Oleksiejczuk couldn’t keep Saint-Preux off of him. He has faded radically and was taken down at will and submitted.
I am very sure that Oleksiejczuk and his team have worked on pacing and cardio. It was a major hole in his game. The question is, will he be able to utilise that work and not burn himself out? Honestly, I do not think we will get the answer to that question on Saturday. I do not see this one going the distance or even going past the second round. I believe it is likely that Crute will try to stand with him and get picked off and then finished in about as much time as two of Oleksiejczuk‘s former UFC opponents did. Or Crute will smother him and submit him dominantly in a fight that has nothing to do with pacing and cardio. Yet, there’s just a vast skill difference in the grappling department with a weight advantage to help Crute along the way.
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