Illustration: Ben Duffy/Sherdog.com
Alessio Di Chirico will take on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series alum Julian Marquez at “The Ultimate Fighter 27” Finale on Friday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The two middleweights hope to stay relevant in want has become an increasingly crowded 185-pound weight class.
The latest installment of The Film Room examines their matchup:
Di Chirico may be best known for his hilarious post-fight interview after his win over Oluwale Bamgbose at UFC on Fox 26 in December, but his 11-2 record and nine finishes make him an intriguing talent at 185 pounds. Di Chirico got a late start in MMA, but his athleticism and ability to quickly process information -- perhaps this can be attributed to his days of playing football -- has allowed him to succeed.
With only seven years of training under his belt, Di Chirico might not be as technically clean as some of his contemporaries, but he gets by on his athleticism and variety of attacks. He rarely throws the same combination twice and loves to mix in knees, elbows and shots to the body during his offensive bursts. The extensive arsenal allows Di Chirico to overwhelm opponents and keep them guessing.
Like most Italian Kickboxers, Di Chirico is exceptional at catching kicks and countering off of them. Di Chirico often uses a common European kickboxing counter, as he catches the body kick and lands a lead hook using the same hand with which he caught the kick.
Di Chirico owns five wins by knockout or technical knockout and four more by submission. His latest knockout resulted from a beautiful knee strike against Bamgbose. A former Ring of Combat champion, Bamgbose spent most of the fight on the move, but Di Chirico capitalized on his one opportunity and cut down “The Holy War Angel” with a knee from the Thai plum.
‘The Cuban Missile Crisis’
Marquez raised eyebrows with his knockout of Phil Hawes on the first season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series before submitting Darren Stewart with a guillotine choke in his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut. Now, he finds himself in a showcase fight at “The Ultimate Fighter 27” Finale.
Striking immediately after the break on grappling exchanges is not a widespread practice in MMA, but Marquez seems to put a major focus on it. He is often a grappling-heavy fighter and always looks for elbows or kicks after the break. It often seems as though fighters have an unspoken rule of allowing an opponent to reset after grappling exchanges or when getting up off the ground. Usually, these represent ideal opportunities for offense, as fighters lower their guard and expect to reset.
Marquez generally relies on his ground-and-pound once he gets opponents to the mat, but he will surprise those who fail to respect his jiu-jitsu skills with the occasional submission. Marquez, who trains out of Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, holds the rank of blue belt in the discipline and in fact won all three of his amateur fights by submission.
What makes Marquez such an exciting fighter and a future fan favorite is his willingness to stand and trade with his opponents. Although it looked like both men were swinging wildly, Marquez attempted to stay defensively responsible and tried to counter one of Stewart’s wide hooks while keeping his guard high. Fighters will often get coaxed into a firefight and forget their defense, but Marquez has shown he can keep a cool head under pressure and stick to his game plan.