I’m happy to see Tim Means back in the UFC. Means was cut after a 2-2 stint for the UFC with wins over Bernardo Magalhaes and Justin Salas, and subsequent losses to Jorge Masvidal and Danny Castillo. Means was a very tall lightweight at 6’2″ and not only knew how to use his reach to his advantage, he knew how to finish opponents with strikes. Means landed more standing strikes than his opponent in all four UFC fights, including his loss to Masvidal, who is a very good striker himself.
Means had two flaws that led to being cut from the promotion. The first was an inability to consistently make weight at 155 pounds, which is not surprising given how tall Means is for the weight class. The second was an inability to effectively defend takedowns. Masvidal and Castillo defeated Means by landing six takedowns each and grinding out a decision victory. Some lanky fighters are able to overcome a lack of takedown defense with an aggressive and tricky guard game, but Means never showed he had that in his arsenal.
Now Means has returned to the UFC as a welterweight, and it’s probably too much to expect him to become a title contender. If a fighter’s takedown defense is a liability at lightweight, it’s going to be even more of a liability at welterweight. Means is going to struggle against capable wrestlers… but if he’s paired off against a striker or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, it’s a matchup he could thrive in.
Means’ opponent this time is Neil Magny, a fighter who is very similar to Means in a lot of ways. Like Means, Magny is a tall and lanky fighter at 6’3″ with an 81 inch reach. Magny hasn’t shown the same kind of fight finishing power as Means, but he has developed a striking offense heavy on jabs and straight punches that make good use of his reach advantage. Magny’s wins over Jon Manley and Gasan Umalatov can be largely attributed to these strikes, and he had a very close fight against the equally tall Seth Baczynski as well. This has helped Magny land 174 significant strikes while absorbing only 92.
Still, in a pure striking match between Magny and Means, I would have to give Means the edge because of his ability to hurt opponents. While Magny has won just two out of 12 career fights by TKO, Means has won 15 out of 26 fights by that method, including both of his fights since being cut from the UFC. As recent fights like Anthony Johnson vs. Phil Davis and Hector Lombard vs. Jake Shields have shown, when one fighter has big power and the other does not, it really changes the dynamic of the ensuing striking match.
Magny’s best route to victory against Means is clearly by way of the takedown. Before Magny appeared on The Ultimate Fighter, he actually won fights with takedowns and wrestling, so it’s something he’s done before. In the UFC, Magny has landed a respectable seven takedowns in 48 minutes of fighting. The potential is certainly there for Magny to defeat Means the same way Masvidal and Castillo did.
However, while Masvidal and Castillo are both good at holding opponents down, Magny hasn’t showed that ability yet. Magny’s seven takedowns have resulted in just 13 significant strikes landed on the ground. More often, Magny’s opponent is able to work back to his feet quickly and make it a striking match again.
Magny is enough of a threat with straight punches and takedowns that I wouldn’t think about betting on Means at -270 odds. However, with Means’ superior knockout power and diversity of strikes, I do see him getting the better of Magny on the feet and potentially finishing this fight.
Pick: Tim Means by TKO