Mini Daniel Cormier, Deron Winn picked up a very meaningful victory this past weekend at UFC Vegas 17, as he defeated Antonio Arroyo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
The reason this victory was so meaningful to him is because he was on a two-fight skid coming in, after opening his career up with a 6-0 record. He was initially slated against Antonio Braga Neto, another elite grappler, but ultimately ended up facing Arroyo. He improved his record to 7-2 nonetheless.
It was a very entertaining fight too. There were a lot of takedowns secured by Winn, and there were a lot of get ups, and a lot of strikes landed by Arroyo.
Winn secured 12 takedowns out of 16 attempts. He was really able to get the fight to the mat every time he wanted, he just couldn’t keep it there until Arroyo got tired.
Winn first got noticed by the mixed martial arts world when he battled UFC veteran Tom Lawlor at the Golden Boy Promotions event Oscar De La Hoya put on, the night Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz very regrettably had their trilogy.
Winn also fought once for Bellator, just before facing Lawlor, getting his opponent out of there in the first-round for the fourth consecutive.
He came into the fight with a 4-0 record, all four victories via knockout, and he defeated the veteran Lawlor via unanimous decision. He then made his UFC debut, defeating Eric Spicely via unanimous decision, before losing his next two to Darren Stewart (split decision) and Gerlad Meerschaert (rear naked choke).
Those were both long, drawn-out battles; he could have gotten the nod in the Stewart fight, and he got tired in the middle of round three of the Meerschaert fight, and was submitted by the BJJ black belt considering.
Though he’s absolutely tiny, many had high hopes for Winn and his career, and many still do. Winn stands just 5’6”, and has a reach of 70”. He fought five of his eight professional bouts at light-heavyweight, 205 lbs, which is just insane.
Matt Serra being 5’6” and fighting at welterweight, 170 lbs, was pretty nuts. He was at a huge disadvantage against about every one of his opponents, even when the division was no where near as deep as it is today.
Winn moved down to middleweight, 185 lbs, for his UFC debut and fought his next three bouts there, though he missed weight for the Darren Stewart contest, weighing in at 188.5 lbs. His last bout was contested at 195 lbs, a request from Arroyo’s team.
At least his arms are longer than the length of his body, and at least his wrestling is as great as it is. The reason people call Winn ‘Mini DC’ is because for one, Daniel Cormier is the one that got him to start his MMA career, and for two, he fights pretty similar to Cormier.
Winn is a wrestling-heavy boxer than throws occasional leg kicks, they do a lot of the same things. He’s stumbled more early on than Cormier of course, but he overcame that adversity and is back in the winners circle again.
Winn has incredible wrestling abilities, and it’s all thanks to everything he did from his childhood on. He was All-State all four years in high school, and he won the State Championship three of those years.
Winn went to an NJCAA college and received All-American honors both years, and he won the National Championships both years as well. He then went to an NAIA college, where he was an All-American and placed third in the National Championships.
The Missouri native then placed fourth at the US World Team Trials Open Senior Freestyle in 2014, as well as placing fourth at the US Open Senior Freestyles the next three years. He tried for the World Team Trials once more, coming in second, achieving a silver medal.
Winn also competed in, and won many other tournaments, those are just his biggest accomplishments. He started competing in MMA right before retiring from his amateur wrestling career, and despite his size, or lack thereof, it’s been a good move for him.
At 31-years-old, we should see him continue getting better for at least four more years, at least, he’s very young in the game. It’s so hard for him to be effective with how short he and his limbs are, but he finds a way, it’s pretty remarkable.
Winn was asked after this fight what he thought his ideal weight class is, and he replied with middleweight. He doesn’t want to suck his entire body dry cutting down to welterweight. Despite his frame, Winn is probably pound-for-pound the thickest fighter in the entirety of MMA, we can’t blame him.
So, who’s a good next opponent for Deron Winn?
Well, his bout with Antonio Braga Neto could be rescheduled, that’s still a very compelling match up. Not many people know Neto, and for a decent reason to their defense, he barely ever fights. He’s been signed to the UFC since 2013 and has fought three times in these seven-and-a-half years.
However, as good as Winn is at wrestling and as many credentials as he has in it, the same could be said for Neto and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he’s one of the best pure grapplers in the whole sport. He’s a four-time Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship winner, gold medalist, and he’s a two-time World Jiu-Jitsu Championship winner, gold medalist.
Not only that, but he competed in the black belt division in all six of those tournaments. Neto’s 9-3 (1 NC) in MMA, seven of those victories coming via submission, including two kneebars, two kimuras, and two armbars. He also submitted Anthony Smith in Smith’s first UFC run.
Karl Roberson’s (9-3) scheduled bout with Dalcha Lungiambula (10-2) was cancelled two weeks in a row due to each of them testing positive for Covid-19. If that bout doesn’t end up being booked for a third time, either of them would make for a great fight with Winn.
Roberson is a former professional kickboxer. He’s a very technically sound, powerful striker, and Lungiambula is a viciously powerful knockout artist from South Africa. Both of those make for a great fight against a considerably small wrestler, a small wrestler that can take just about anyone down at 185 lbs mind you.
Lastly, is Trevin Giles (13-2), who’s coming off a third-round knockout victory from early last month over fellow striker Bevon Lewis, marking the second third-round knockout of his UFC career. Giles has a few late stoppages, but at the same time has been known to fall off as the fight goes on. Winn is guilty of that same exact thing.
So we resort to the question, what wins late in the fight, should it happen next, Winn’s wrestling, or Giles’ power?
What’s next for UFC middleweight prospect Deron Winn?