Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight hitters Tyson Pedro and Harry Hunsucker will battle this weekend (Sat., Aug. 20, 2022) at UFC 278 inside Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
About five years ago, Pedro was maybe Light Heavyweight’s top prospect. At 25 years of age, he was undefeated and had recently finished Khalil Rountree and Paul Craig — not bad! His rise came to a grinding halt when Pedro lost three of his next four, then injuries kept him out of the cage for three years. He returned successfully earlier this year with a step down in competition and subsequent knockout win, and Pedro is now looking to make it two in a row.
Hunsucker, meanwhile, is still searching for his first UFC win. He’s winless (0-2) at Heavyweight, so “The Hurricane” will shed some pounds and try his hand against a slightly smaller opponent.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Paul Craig (UFC 209), Khalil Rountree (UFC Fight Night 101), Saparbek Safarov (UFC 221), Ike Villanueva (UFC Vegas 52)
Key Losses: Mauricio Rua (UFC Fight Night 142), Ovince Saint Preux (UFC Fight Night 132), Ilir Latifi (UFC 215)
Keys to Victory: Sure, Pedro has run into some trouble, but he’s still just 11 professional fights into his career at 30 years of age. There’s still plenty of time for Pedro to capitalize on his potential, which is obvious. He remains a great athlete with tricky range striking and solid Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
I don’t feel like overanalyzing is necessary here, because Pedro is the far superior fighter. He’s better on the canvas, on the feet, and he’s far more athletic. Hunsucker was not a particularly quick Heavyweight, so Pedro should have a major speed advantage. Plus, even as the fighter who has historically always fought at 205 pounds, Pedro has the height and reach advantage.
It’s unclear what exactly in Hunsucker’s game will surprise Pedro. Likely, he’ll find great success with his straight shots at distance, and whenever he wants, Pedro has the option of taking it to the ground too.
It reads like a layup.
Key Wins: Cory Moon (HR MMA 119)
Key Losses: Tai Tuivasa (UFC Vegas 22), Justin Tafa (UFC Vegas 45)
Keys to Victory: I don’t want to be overly mean to Hunsucker, but there’s nothing about his game that stands out as particularly UFC-caliber. He doesn’t have any true signature wins, and each time he’s fought stiffer competition, he’s been finished. To his credit, Hunsucker does bring the violence, attacking his opposition with big hooks and heavy low kicks.
Storming Pedro out of the gate seems like the best move for “The Hurricane.” He’s not the more technical kickboxer, but maybe he doesn’t need to be! Hunsucker is accustomed to trading hooks with Heavyweights, and he fared reasonably well in brawls.
Really, Hunsucker wants an ugly fight here. Bully Pedro and try to land something big early, which could really impact the flow of the fight. If the takedown is there, go for it, but the focus should be on landing heavy shots and ending Pedro’s night before he really gets going.
This is a setup fight for Pedro.
Look, there’s a reason Pedro is the 7-1 favorite. He’s simply the better fighter. This match — like the Ike Villanueva match up before it — is designed to help build Pedro back up after a couple difficult losses and hellish string of injuries. If Pedro can again deliver the finish as expected, he’s hopefully shaken off enough rust to jump back in the cage against better competition.
As for Hunsucker, he’s fighting for his career. Likely, he was kept around after the 0-2 start to his UFC career for just such a fight. If Hunsucker is to remain
employed contracted next Monday, he has to defy the odds and stop Tyson Pedro.
At UFC 278, Tyson Pedro and Harry Hunsucker will open the main card. Which man will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 278 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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