There are times when an athlete or competitor will take a leap forward into the next level of competition and face opposition unlike anything they have ever faced before. For Mitch Gagnon, this experience comes to him in the form of facing off with the former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao.

Barao has put together a record of 32 wins and only two losses in his professional career. He was recently toppled by current champion, T.J. Dillashaw, but that is his only loss in nearly a decade.

Gagnon has done well since joining the UFC and has defeated four of his last five opponents. Over the course of his entire professional career, he has won twelve times and submitted eleven of his fallen challengers.

Gagnon has one advantage that no other former opponent of Renan Barao has had, he knows Barao can be defeated and he saw Dillashaw lay out the schematic on how to do it. The question is if he has the ability to exploit the holes that Dillashaw exposed in Barao’s game by using his own skill set. Here are the keys to victory for Mitch Gagnon if he looks to defeat the odds and elevate himself into the top five of the bantamweight division.

Cardio

Barao’s last five fights have been schedule for five rounds and he has gone into championship rounds three times. Gagnon on the other hand rarely gets past the first round. It’s unlikely that he will be able to finish Barao in the first round as he has done to many of his opponents and he has to be prepared for that third round, and not only have the endurance, but also maintain a level of explosiveness that will keep Barao guessing.

Movement

The biggest take away from T.J. Dillashaw’s fight against Barao was his inability to predict the movements of Dillashaw. It’s a tall task for anyone to be asked to match the foot work of Dillashaw, but if Gagnon is to stand a chance he will have to show major improvements in this area. In Gagnon’s last fight that went to a decision, he fought Tim Gorman. He found his way to victory, but while striking with Gorman he maintained a flat footed, muay thai stance with little to no movement. That kind of style will put him in a lot of a danger. Barao has the ability to drop any man with a single strike and Gagnon’s defense must be a priority.

Capitalize 

Barao isn’t a fighter that makes to many mistakes, and if he does, Gagnon must be ready to capitalize without hesitation. Gagnon is a proven finisher and he can’t get caught up in the reputation of Barao. He must treat him like any of his other opponents and go for the submission if it presents itself. This ability is a skill that is possessed by many champions. Think about Jon Jones losing the first round to Machida and then striking with an unorthodox standing guillotine at precisely the right time. Another great example comes from less than a week ago when Anthony Pettis submitted an aggressive, and effective Gil Melendez. Gagnon’s best chance at defeating Barao is by exploiting the first mistake he makes in similar fashion because he may not have another chance.

 

About The Author

Michael Davis
Director, Business Development/Senior Staff Writer

Michael Davis is a seasoned professional in the world of finance. In recent years, he has worked for Fortune 500 companies and consulted at one of the largest hedge funds in the world. After working closely with a mixed martial arts management company, he realized he could apply his skills to the sport he loved. The culmination of his professional experience and passion for MMA have led him to his role as Senior Staff Writer and Director of Business Development at The MMA Corner.