(Individual fight previews are back this week since I’ve had more time to prepare for them. Don’t count on this happening for each UFC card going forward. I’m also trying a more structured writing style, just to see if it might lead to more focused analysis.)
Walt Harris is a 6’4″, 244 pound heavyweight with an MMA record of 5-2, 0-1 in the UFC. His opponent is Nikita Krylov, a 6’3″, 236 pound heavyweight with an MMA record of 15-2, 0-1 in the UFC. Harris lost his last fight by unanimous decision to Jared Rosholt while Krylov lost his by third-round TKO to Soa Palelei.
Harris is a very raw fighter who I believe entered the UFC too early in his career. Harris had just six professional fights and two years of MMA experience on his record before making his UFC debut. He has just one quality win on his record – a knockout of 12-2 Anthony Hamilton, who just defeated Darrill Schoonover to retain the MFC heavyweight title. Harris also has a loss to Chris Barnett, a 5’9″ heavyweight built very similarly to Roy Nelson.
Harris seems to have only one real skill in MMA – terrific knockout power. All five of his victories are by first-round knockout within the first two minutes. He also knocked down Rosholt twice in their fight. Despite his raw power Harris isn’t a very good boxer. His punches are inaccurate and he tends to over-commit when he throws a strike. Harris doesn’t seem to have any real plan when he’s in the cage, other than to occasionally throw a big punch and hope it connects. In particular Harris is prone to standing around and just not doing anything that could be considered an offensive technique.
Against Rosholt, Harris landed just 18 significant strikes in 15 minutes despite two of those strikes knocking Rosholt down. Harris attempted 71 significant strikes in the fight, giving him a dismal accuracy rate of 25 percent. After the first round, Harris was just 8 of 42 in significant strikes and just 0 of 2 in the third round as he had no answer off his back after being taken down. Harris is a big man with broad shoulders who hits hard, but in terms of high-level skill, I don’t think Harris is anything more than that.
Krylov might have the weakest 15-3 record in the history of MMA. Just two of those 15 career wins have come against opponents with a winning record. His best win was against 5-0 Gabriel Tampu, who apparently built that record with five victories against 0-0 opponents in one night. Krylov also has two losses to Vladimir Mishchenko, whose record is currently 6-6. That means Mishchenko is 4-6 in fights against opponents other than Krylov. It’s an absolutely dismal record for a fighter to take into the UFC.
With that said Krylov definitely appears to have more tools available to him than Harris. Krylov is trained in Kyokushin karate and is fond of throwing a wide variety of kicks at his opponents. He also has shown some submission abilities as well as the majority of his wins are by that method. However, when I watch Krylov I don’t get the impression that he’s a high-level athlete. The way he throws kicks reminds me of Heath Herring – he’s clearly trained very hard in learning to throw strikes but he doesn’t have the same coordination as many of the athletes in the UFC. Most troubling is that Krylov has shown no takedown defense whatsoever – he was completely unable to keep Palelei from taking him to the ground.
Against Palelei, Krylov landed more significant strikes (45-29) but was taken down four times and eventually stopped by TKO due to punches from the mount. The bulk of Krylov’s offense came in the second round, where he landed 36 significant strikes against a visibly exhausted Palelei. In the first round when both fighters were relatively fresh Krylov was out-struck 15-8 and taken down twice although he managed to attempt two submissions.
Walt Harris vs. Nikita Krylov
I hate being so negative about fighters in the UFC, but as an analyst I have no choice but to be negative about these two fighters in particular. Neither man has shown me anything close to the level of skill necessary to achieve long-term success in the UFC.
I think Krylov is the more skilled fighter in terms of offensive techniques – of having the ability to land strikes and attempt submissions. However, Krylov’s striking defense and takedown defense are huge liabilities likely to cost him against a powerful opponent like Harris. I have to think Harris clips Krylov with a strike at some point and wins the fight by knockout.
Pick: Walt Harris by KO
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
I’m staying far away from this fight unless I get huge plus money on one side or the other. I don’t think either fighter deserves to be a heavy favorite – but even then, if the sportsbooks open with a line like Krylov -500/Harris +350, I would stop and wonder what the sportsbooks know that I don’t. I can’t imagine placing a bet on this one.