Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC 171 Prediction: Nikita Krylov vs. Ovince St-Preux

It’s amazing how much 25 seconds can change the outlook of a fighter’s career. Before his fight against Walt Harris, Nikita Krylov was 0-1 in the UFC with a loss to Soa Palelei. The Palelei fight was a very sloppy affair, with Palelei taking Krylov down easily, Krylov hitting Palelei with strikes that simply shouldn’t have worked, and both fighters fighting a serious battle with exhaustion. In the end it was Palelei who finished off Krylov with punches in a fight that didn’t inspire confidence in either man’s future.

Krylov’s performance was so unimpressive that not only was Harris favored to beat him, he ended up being the biggest favorite on the UFC on Fox 10 card. The same Walt Harris who landed 19 significant strikes in 15 minutes in a loss to Jared Rosholt, and was also 0-1 in the UFC, was a 4-1 favorite to defeat Krylov.

Then the fight actually happened, and Krylov attacked Harris immediately, landing a series of strikes and finishing Harris off with a head kick and punches after just 25 seconds. All of a sudden, Krylov went from being a laughingstock to being a fighter who earned a tremendous amount of respect.

With Thiago Silva’s rampage and subsequent release from the UFC, Ovince St-Preux found himself needing a replacement and Krylov decided to step up to fill the void. All of a sudden, Krylov finds himself in the opening fight of a major pay-per-view against an established light-heavyweight opponent. Not bad for a fighter who just a couple months ago was “the guy in that awful fight against Soa Palelei”!

And while St-Preux has predictably been established as the heavy favorite to win the fight (currently -365), I can’t help but wonder if Krylov will make this a competitive bout. The key here is that both fighters clearly like to stand and strike. Krylov is aggressive with a kick-heavy offense, and although he can be very wild at times, he showed against Harris that his kicks are at least something to take very seriously. As flawed as Krylov is, striking is clearly the biggest strength of his game.

St-Preux is also a striker, but a striker willing to mix in a takedown from time to time. He’s landed nine takedowns in eight UFC/Strikeforce fights, enough to force his opponents to respect that part of his game. Krylov’s takedown defense is generally terrible, so I believe St-Preux should definitely attack him that way. However, St-Preux didn’t land any takedowns in either of his first two UFC fights, so there’s a chance that he simply decides to kickbox against Krylov.

But St-Preux is a good striker, a fighter who is up 258-157 in total significant strikes and has landed four knockdowns without being knocked down himself, although he’s faced competition that would likely struggle to survive in the UFC. Even so, he should be the better striker in this match.

That’s before considering what I believe is most likely to be Krylov’s downfall: his conditioning. The problem with throwing so many kicks is that it’s very tiring to do so. Krylov’s loss to Palelei is the only time his fight has gone past the first round, and Krylov was just dead tired by the time Palelei finished him off. St-Preux doesn’t have the world’s greatest cardio either, but as long as he can avoid being finished off early, I think he should be able to eventually finish this fight.

Pick: Ovince St-Preux by TKO

DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER

I think the price is appropriate this time. Krylov is just dangerous enough with his kicks and aggression that I don’t want to pay too high a price for St-Preux. With that said, St-Preux should prove to be better than Krylov in just about every area, and I fully expect him to end up winning this fight.

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