Cyrille Diabate sports 14 finishes among his 19 victories. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Cyrille Diabate (19-8-1, 4-2 UFC) vs. Jimi Manuwa (12-0, 1-0 UFC)
The Matchup: With nine first-round finishes -- all but one coming by knockout -- to his credit outside of the Octagon, Manuwa entered his UFC debut with a reputation as a headhunter. The heavy-handed Brit lived up to his billing against Kyle Kingsbury, landing punches, kicks and knees while damaging his foe’s eye and rendering him unable to continue after the second round.
“Poster Boy” has yet to go the distance in 12 professional bouts, and his spotty conditioning was evident in the second frame against Kingsbury, who was able to score multiple takedowns and pass guard with ease despite having absorbed serious punishment in round one.
Diabate, meanwhile, has compiled a modest resume with the Las Vegas-based promotion, garnering victories over Luiz Cane, Steve Cantwell, Tom DeBlass and Chad Griggs. None of the aforementioned fighters are currently listed on the UFC’s 205-pound roster, however, so it is not as if the Frenchman has been storming through a murderer’s row of competition.
In defeat, Diabate has struggled against opponents who can out-grapple him, as he was submitted by both Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Perosh in the UFC. Even DeBlass had some success early against “The Snake” in their UFC on Fuel TV 2 encounter before tiring over the contest’s final 10 minutes.
Luckily for Diabate, Manuwa has not shown much of a penchant for the ground game. The Keddles Gym representative moves forward with the confidence of someone with serious knockout power, but he does have a tendency to leave his hands low as he attacks. Manuwa’s left hook is especially dangerous, but he will also throw head kicks and knees to vary his offense. The powerfully built 32-year-old is strong in the clinch, where he can land knees to the head and body.
A muay Thai kickboxing specialist, Diabate is no stranger to throwing knees. The southpaw will have a 5.5-inch reach advantage, which could allow him to time his strikes outside of the pocket rather than testing Manuwa’s power. Manuwa has also been susceptible to leg kicks, something the 6-foot-6 Diabate should use to slow his foe’s movement.
The Pick: The longer the fight goes, the more it favors Diabate. If he can survive Manuwa’s initial onslaught, he will be primed to finish the bout with a flourish in rounds two and three. Diabate wins by decision.
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