I remember when I first watched Cyrille Diabate. He was making his PRIDE debut at Critical Countdown Absolute, the event that hosted the second round of the PRIDE open weight grand prix. When Diabate made his entrance into Saitama Super Arena, he was introduced as “The Snake.” His opponent? None other than Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. PRIDE had some very… inspired matchmaking at times.
Diabate is an outstanding Muay Thai striker, and actually gave Rua fits in the striking portions of the fight. The problem is that he had no defense for Rua’s takedowns, and after Rua took him down, Diabate was vulnerable to the soccer kicks and stomps that were allowed under PRIDE rules.
So, when Diabate arrived in the UFC, I assumed that a complete lack of takedown defense would be his undoing. So far, I’ve been very wrong about that. Diabate is 2-1 in the UFC, including a fast TKO win over Luiz Cane, a dominating decision win over Steve Cantwell, and a loss to Alexander Gustafsson, and believe me when I say that there is no shame in losing to Alexander Gustafsson (rated as the #8 light-heavyweight by SILVA 1.1). Cantwell in particular tried seven times to take Diabate to the ground, and only succeeded once.
Next up for Diabate will be Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh. If that seems like a strange opponent to give to a fighter coming off of such a great win, it really is in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that Perosh is getting an extended look in the UFC, as he was willing to fight Mirko Cro Cop on extremely short notice back at UFC 110, and ended up getting completely battered. Earlier this year, Perosh took on Tom Blackledge at UFC 127, and looked terrific, as he got Blackledge to the ground and dominated him.
So the game plan for both fighters here is very straightforward. Diabate wants to keep this fight standing so he can pick Perosh apart. Perosh wants to take it to the ground, where Diabate is vulnerable. The difference is that Diabate has just been fighting at a higher level than Perosh has. Beating Tom Blackledge is nice, but he’s not exactly the definition of a great UFC fighter, and after that, it’s slim pickings as far as finding quality wins is concerned. Diabate has at least been taking on some recognizable names, and having some success against them.
SILVA PREDICTION: CYRILLE DIABATE (50.83) OVER ANTHONY PEROSH (5.92)
SILVA thinks Diabate is going to crush Perosh in this one, and the betting lines tend to agree, pegging Diabate at about a 4-1 favorite. If Perosh can get the fight to the ground, there’s some upset potential here, but not much. At some point, there’s just no getting around the fact that one guy is just better, and in my opinion, Cyrille Diabate is just plain better than Anthony Perosh is.