After defeating Henry Martinez in brutal fashion, the UFC gave Daron Cruickshank a chance to prove he could hang with one of the tougher strikers in the lightweight division. His new opponent was John Makdessi, a fighter with excellent technical kickboxing. Makdessi proved to be too tough for Cruickshank, as he won a striking battle over three rounds. Now, Cruickshank will get another chance to prove he can beat a striker as he faces longtime veteran Yves Edwards.
On paper, I have to give Edwards the overall advantage in striking. Edwards has a 577-465 edge in significant strikes over his opponents, including eight knockdowns landed against just one received. Cruickshank’s numbers aren’t nearly as impressive: 120-123 in significant strikes, 1-0 in knockdowns. As old as Edwards is in “fight years,” he still knows how to strike, as he showed in his impressive first-round KO victory over Jeremy Stephens in December.
Where Cruickshank might have an advantage is in takedowns. Cruickshank has proven to be a striker first in his MMA career, but he’s also landed four takedowns in 38 minutes of UFC fighting, one per 9.5 minutes. Compare that to Edwards, who lands takedowns at a rate of one every 18.6 minutes, and gets taken down a lot more frequently than that. I don’t expect Cruickshank to land takedowns with the intention of engaging in a grappling contest, but if Cruickshank can keep the striking portions of the fight pretty close, his takedowns might make the difference on the judges’ scorecards.
I wouldn’t count on it though. Strikers can’t be relied on to execute a game plan like that one. It’s more likely that Cruickshank will simply choose to stand and bang with Edwards for the duration of the fight. There’s even a chance that it’s Edwards who chooses to go for takedowns, but I think the most likely scenario is that we see a striking match for 15 minutes.
When I look at the data, I simply have to favor Edwards in that scenario. As flashy as Cruickshank’s striking might be, the reality is that he’s absorbed just as many strikes as he’s landed. On top of that, Cruickshank’s chin is a concern, as he was knocked unconscious on The Ultimate Fighter by James Vick.
On paper, Edwards has advantages in striking defense, knockout power, and resistance to being knocked out. Cruickshank has the edge in striking offense, but I don’t think that will be enough for him to win. I favor Edwards to either win by knockout, or sweat out a competitive decision.
Pick: Yves Edwards by decision