On Saturday night we see two prospects face off against each other in the Light Heavyweight division when Modestas Bukauskas (11-2) takes on Jimmy Crute (11-1) in a fight that will shake up the division.
Modestas Bukauskas has the honour of being the first Lithuanian fighter signed to the UFC. He has been an athlete all his life, starting kickboxing training under his father, Gintas, from a young age. He also spent time in the states where he trained with Light Heavyweight GOAT Jon Jones. Prior to being signed to the UFC, Bukauskas was the Cage Warriors Light Heavyweight champion, a title also held by former Middleweight champ, Michael Bisping. Modestas is currently on a huge 7 fight win streak, with all of those wins coming from stoppages and this weekend he looks to improve that even further by beating some tough competition in Jimmy Crute.
Before getting his shot in the UFC, Australian Jimmy Crute was the Light Heavyweight champion in national promotion Hex. After going 7-0, Crute got the call to fight on Dana White’s Contender Series where he won via TKO in the first round. Since then, Crute extended his undefeated streak to 10-0, including victories over veteran Sam Alvey and submission artist Paul Craig. In 2019, Misha Cirkunov handed him his very first loss, finishing Crute with a Peruvian Necktie in the first round. Crute managed to bounce back against Michal Oleksiejczuk. Much like Bukauskas, Crute is a finisher, all of his UFC wins have been stoppages.
In his last fight and UFC debut, Bukauskas faced fellow promotional newcomer Andreas Michailidis. The performance netted him a $50000 performance of the night bonus but the fight ending sequence was a little strange. Michailidis shot in for a takedown towards the end of the round and Bukauskas hammered him with powerful elbows to the end. The horn came signalling the end of the round but it was clear Michailidis was not okay. He was crumbled on the ground and holding his head, claiming illegal shots. The referee in charge told him the shots were legal and to get up, as Michailidis went to stand he struggled to get to his feet, eventually falling through the open cage door and with that, the referee waved off the fight. Michailidis continued to protest and claimed the shots were illegal but they were completely clean, you could even see the redness on the side of the head where they’d landed. Modestas has twice finished a fight this way and it shows his great aggression and instinct. His kickboxing will be his greatest advantage in this fight and he will use it to maintain distance and stave off Crute’s relentless takedowns. Bukauskas himself predicts he will win via a finish in the second round, so let’s see if his prediction will come true.
In his previous fight Jimmy Crute managed to bounce back from his first loss and he managed to do so in impressive fashion. Crute easily stormed through his opponent, landing takedown after takedown, eventually setting up the kimura finish and landing himself a performance of the night bonus to go with it. Crute is a very accomplished jiu jitsu practitioner, of all of Bukauskas’ past opponents, Crute easily has the best BJJ and this is where he stands the best chance of being victorious. This will be something he will be looking to exploit in this fight, expect him to be looking for the takedown from early. If he wants to secure the takedown however, Crute will have to look out for those vicious elbows Modestas Bukauskas loves to land.
Both fighters come from families with martial arts backgrounds, both have impressive careers, both have time on their side and both spark lots of interest from fans. Realistically, it’s a bit of a shame these two have to fight each other this early. A win for Modestas Bukauskas has to see him move rapidly up the rankings. A fight against the last guy to beat Crute, Misha Cirkunov, makes a lot of sense should Modestas be victorious. If Crute comes out on top, it’s time for a top 10 opponent and Volkan Oezdimir would be a great litmus test to see how far Crute can progress in the division. Should either fighter lose, it’s still obvious both fighters have a bright future ahead of them and a fight against Ryan Spann could be the perfect way to rebound. Either way, this is an extremely exciting fight with potential to create a future star.
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