One of the most appealing aspects of mixed martial arts is that there is no “off-season”. There are fights going on every week without fail. From the huge promotions to the small promotions, there is always something for fight fans to enjoy.

Here at The MMA Corner, we will preview the best fight taking place this week, regardless of its placement during an event.

This week’s Fight of the Week is a preliminary bout in the featherweight division between Katsunori Kikuno (23-7-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Diego Brandao (23-10 MMA, 5-3 UFC).

On Saturday, Sept. 26, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will travel across the Pacific Ocean and land in Saitama, Japan. The massive Saitama Super Arena will host UFC Fight Night Japan: Barnett vs. Nelson in what will be the organization’s eighth trip to the island nation. Many Japanese fighters will be on the card, but the one that will most likely produce fireworks is striking legend Katsunori Kikuno in his fight against aggresive Brazilian, Diego Brandao.

Katsunori Kikuno in now a shell of his former self quite simply. The once-feared knockout artist of the DEEP and DREAM organizations in Japan has now abandoned all traces of defense, leaving him susceptible to early knockouts. Due to the confidence in his power punching and his wicked snap kick, he fights with a wide stance and hands near his waist, practically inviting blows to the head. Kikuno is still very dangerous though, and his second-round submission victory over the power punching Sam Sicilia proved that. He brawled his way through haymakers to eventually submit Sicilia. However, that victory is sandwiched between two battering defeats to Kevin Souza and Tony Ferguson. Twelve of Kikuno’s twenty-three career victories have come via knockout, and thirteen of his total were finished in the first round. Whether his hand gets raised or not, Kikuno’s fight against first-round warrior Diego Brandao should not last long.

Diego Brandao’s career has had its ups and downs since he won The Ultimate Fighter 14 against current top-ten featherweight Dennis Bermudez in a one-round slugfest. Following his UFC debut victory, Brandao was dragged around for fifteen minutes by Darren Elkins and it seemed like the blueprint to stop the dangerous Brazilian was out. Survive the early onslaught and drag him into deep waters. Brandao however, began to listen to coach Greg Jackson and began to conserve his energy, winning his next three fights and two by decision. Brandao was then given a step up in competition and lost a pair of first round knockouts against Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. Now the TUF champ is back on track after a dominant one-round TKO victory over Jimy Hettes back in April. Brandao showcased improved grappling skills and the fierce striking that most featherweights fear.

This matchup is bound to stay on the feet and fail to pass the five-minute mark. Kikuno is a kill-or-be-killed fighter, and Brandao always comes out with a burst of energy and tries to put his opponents away as fast as possible. Thirty-one of their combined sixty-one fights have ended in the first round and that trend should not change on Saturday. Kikuno’s lack of defense and quick striking, combined with Brandao’s fast starts and non-stop aggression in the first round is a formula for chaos in Saitama.

 

About The Author

Danny Doherty
Staff Writer

Danny is a sophomore at Ithaca College looking to acquire a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Media. He has been an avid fan of mixed martial arts since watching the UFC’s 100 Greatest Fights special on Spike TV back in 2009. Shortly following UFC 100, Danny’s Saturdays, and most of his free time, became dedicated to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In addition to writing for The MMA Corner, Danny works as a sports broadcaster and as a DJ for Ithaca College’s FM radio station, 92 WICB.