UFC 258: Usman vs Burns is almost here and the MMA gods have blessed us with a striker’s delight in Pitolo vs Marquez. Maki “Coconut Bombz” Pitolo is 1-3 in his last four fights and is currently on a two-fight losing streak. Julian “The Cuban Missile Crisis” Marquez will be fighting for the first time since 2018 when he had a complete tear of his latissimus dorsi muscle. Both of these gladiators will have a lot to prove when they step into the octagon on February 13th in Las Vegas. They will certainly be looking to put on a show!
Now let’s take a look at the Tale of the Tape.
|Maki Pitolo||vs||Julian Marquez|
|5’10” (178 cm)||Height||6’2″ (188 cm)|
|185 pounds (83.9 kg)||Weight||185 pounds (83.9 kg)|
|73.5″ (187 cm)||Reach||72″ (183 cm)|
While these fighters are equal in age, Pitolo has the advantage in experience, with 11 more career fights than Marquez. In addition to that, Pitolo has more experience inside the UFC, with four fights to Marquez’s two. Marquez will have a four-inch height advantage, while Pitolo will have an inch and a half advantage in reach. These two are pretty evenly matched!
Before we get into the style breakdown and prediction for Pitolo vs Marquez, let’s take a quick look at both fighter’s history.
“Coconut Bombz” began his professional career in 2013, fighting in various regional promotions in his native state of Hawaii. During that time, he jumped up to a 6-2 record before heading to the mainland to fight. Over his next six fights, Pitolo went 4-2, earning his first championship belt as a welterweight in the process.
After six fights on the mainland, Pitolo then returned to Hawaii and made his Bellator debut. In a rematch from earlier in his career, Pitolo was able to avenge his first career loss by defeating Chris Cisneros via RNC in the third round. This win would get the eyes of Dana White again, earning Pitolo his second invitation to compete on Dana White’s Contender Series, after his first opportunity was lost due to a shoulder injury.
Pitolo was tasked with facing fellow Bellator fighter Justin Sumter at middleweight for a chance at earning a UFC contract. Pitolo came out and backed Sumter to the cage over and over before nailing him with body shot after body shot, sending Sumter crashing to the mat in pain. His performance impressed Dana White and Pitolo was headed to the UFC at long last.
Since joining the UFC, Pitolo has been on a string of bad luck. His UFC debut was back at welterweight, which resulted in a unanimous decision loss to Callan Potter. He then was scheduled to face Takashi Sato at welterweight but the fight was scrapped due to a botched weight cut by Pitolo.
Pitolo returned to middleweight at UFC 250 and was able to pick up his first UFC win over Charles Byrd by way of a second-round TKO. Since that win, “Coconut Bombz” has been on a two-fight losing streak. The first loss came against Darren Stewart, where he was submitted by a guillotine choke in just the first round. Just three weeks later Pitolo would face Impa Kasanganay and would suffer his seventh career loss.
Can Pitolo get everything back on track and possibly keep himself off of the UFC chopping block?
“The Cuban Missile Crisis” got off to a quick start in his career, getting six knockouts in his first seven fights on his way to a 6-1 record before joining the UFC. Marquez was able to start his career off with two straight wins before suffering a unanimous decision loss in his only Bellator fight. He followed that loss up with two more wins, the second of which would be a TKO over UFC veteran Matt Hamill in just the first round.
Marquez then earned another impressive first-round knockout, this time against Cameron Olson. After a great start to his career, Marquez got an invite to compete on the fourth week of the first season of DWCS against Phil Hawes. “The Cuban Missile Crisis” was able to get the knockout win in just the second round, earning a UFC contract in the process.
Marquez made his official UFC debut just four months later against Darren Stewart, winning in the second round via a slick front choke submission, netting him a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus for his efforts. Marquez next faced Alessio Di Chirico at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale, losing by split decision in a very close fight. It was later revealed that Marquez suffered the aforementioned complete tear of his lats during the fight.
That fight took place on July 6, 2018, and, after a very long rehab, Marquez is finally ready to step back into the octagon. He was originally set to return back in November 2020 against Saparbeg Safarov, but Safarov withdrew from the fight due to a bad weight cut. Now it’s finally time to fight once again for Marquez.
Will Marquez be able to overcome the rust and be successful in his long-awaited return to the octagon after a near 3-year absence?
Pitolo vs Marquez Style Breakdown
Pitolo’s Style: Striker
If the nickname “Coconut Bombz” isn’t already an indication, Pitolo is a striker with some heavy hands. But don’t let those heavy hands fool you, he is a well-rounded fighter that can end the fight with his grappling if he needs to. Of his 13 career wins, seven have come by way of knockout, three by submission, and three by decision.
While Pitolo can handle himself on the ground if he needs to, he definitely prefers to keep the fight standing. Pitolo tends to fight with an aggressive style, and once he’s figured his opponent out, he’s like a shark that smells blood in the water. He will back his opponent into a corner and tee off with intelligent combinations. If his opponent manages to escape, he will close the gap quickly and pick his shots. This is not someone you want to trade shots with in the middle of the octagon!
Marquez’s Style: Striker
If you haven’t figured it out based on his nickname, “The Cuban Missile Crisis” is a striker that loves to inflict heavy damage. However, that’s not to say he can’t grapple, as he has extensive experience in BJJ competitions. Marquez has all of the tools in his game to succeed at the highest level. Of his seven wins, six have come by way of knockout and one by submission.
Just like Pitolo, Marquez can handle himself on the ground if he needs to. However, Marquez has shown in the past that he’s more than comfortable keeping the fight standing. Marquez was already a well-rounded fighter on the path to superstardom prior to his injury so it will be interesting to see what new tools he may have added in his long absence.
Pitolo vs Marquez Prediction
This fight has some serious Fight of the Night potential! Both Pitolo and Marquez really need a win right now. Pitolo has lost two straight fights, is 1-3 inside the UFC, and is in danger of being cut if he does not perform. On the other side, Marquez has not competed in almost three years, so a win here will put his career right back on track. These two warriors will be ready to put on a show and prove that they still belong in the UFC.
Pitolo vs Marquez Predicted Result: Marquez defeats Pitolo by TKO in round 1.
This is a match-up where my heart actually agrees with my head. As much as I would love to see “Coconut Bombz” add another dazzling knockout to his resume, I just don’t see that happening. Marquez is hungry and ready to get his career back on track.
Both of these fighters come out fast and meet in the middle of the octagon, exchanging quick combinations before “The Cuban Missile Crisis” completely takes over. A big right hook wobbles Pitolo and Marquez follows that up with a left uppercut that sends Pitolo falling back to the mat. Marquez jumps on top quickly and starts raining down bombs on Pitolo. A few seconds later the ref jumps in and calls a stop to the fight. Your winner by TKO: Julian Marquez!
Disagree with my Pitolo vs Marquez prediction? Let me know in the comments below! Be sure to drop your prediction for the fight as well!
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