Last week, we may have witnessed a changing of the guard in the ladies' Flyweight division as Erin Blanchfield disposed of Jessica Andrade with a rear naked choke after bullying her with effective striking prior to the second-round sub. It was an impressive performance by Blanchfield whose effectiveness cost me my position last week, as I had the fight to enter the third round -140.
We tote a 3-2 .75u tally into this week’s UFC LV70 with the return of now heavyweight title contender Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane and UFC 285 looming on March 3rd!
Nikita Krylov -165 vs. Ryan Spann 145
Light Heavyweight (205 lbs) main event
Eighth-ranked Spann is massive for this weight class both in physical size and in fighting fury. Standing 6’5” he towers over most opponents. In this bout, he’ll have two inches of height and reach to his favor which translates to a statistical advantage provided Spann can keep this fight on the feet.
Spann is 4-2 since 2020 and has struggled when he competes with ranked competition, but he enters this tilt having won his last two—one against a washed Dom Reyes and the other over an unranked Ion Cutelaba.
Spann is aggressive and forward pressing. Provided he experiences early success against foes, he is a formidable frontrunner. Spann’s length also provides him the ability to wrap opponents up and utilize his go-to guillotine choke, as he’s decorated with a blue belt in BJJ.
What’s apparent is that he fires immediately or can be overwhelmed early, as evidenced by the fact that his last five fights (3-2) have all ended in round one. In this matchup, Spann will be the faster, more athletic man in the cage who will look to touch his foe early. As he says, “I’m not being paid by the minute.”
Of Spann’s 21 victories, 18 have come via finish, and of those 18 wins, 16 were first-round finishes which displays his propensity to be a bully and overwhelm opponents, especially early.
This will be Ukrainian Krylov’s nineteenth UFC bout in this, his second stint in the organization. Krylov enters with a good deal of momentum himself after finishing eighth-ranked Volkan Oezdemir in his last bout.
Krylov holds a black belt in BJJ to supplement his Ukrainian Master of Sports in Kyokushin Karate, Hand-to-Hand combat and Submission fighting.
While Spann’s the more dynamic athlete, it’s Krylov who is the more complete mixed martial artist that institutes his attack in a more deliberate, planned, premeditated manner.
He’ll employ striking to grapple, force the larger striker against the cage to mute his striking power, then transition to the ground where his top position may present him the opportunity to finish this fight.
Krylov must weather the early Spann onslaught and meet the oncoming force with his own violent pressure-based fighting. Krylov’s no stranger to finishing fights either. Of his 28 wins, 26 have come via finish, and of those 26 wins, 21 occurred in round one!
Krylov must meet Spann in the center of the cage and back him up to systematically usurp the confidence of his opponent. In essence, Krylov must bully the bully.
Taxing Spann’s mettle by employing his own high volume, forward pressure striking is foundational for Krylov. Backing Spann up, pressing into him with forceful volume striking will discourage the bully while sapping both his mental and physical energy.
The total on this bout is lined 1.5 Rds Under -130 which is not at all surprising based on the above-mentioned first-round statistics.
That said, the more complete fighting arsenal belongs to Krylov. Besides being able to finish opponents, Krylov can also compete for a full fifteen with them too. He has gone a full three rounds with top-ranked talent like current champion Magomed Ankalaev, Oezdemir and former champion Glover Teixeira.
While this bout has the potential to be short and violent, it’s in Krylov’s best interest to drag Spann into round two, where the dynamics of this fight will swing drastically to the Ukrainian Krylov.
Pick: Krylov -165
Andre Muniz -225 vs. Brendan Allen 195
Light middleweight (185 lbs) co-main event
These two athletes come with dynamic BJJ, grappling and ground acumen.
Muniz is a third-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu with a dark blue prajied in Muay Thai. He enters with great hype and momentum, though a closer look at who he’s competed against is important here.
Since 2019, Muniz is 5-0 in the UFC and has displayed an acute ability to employ his striking (landing two significant strikes per minute and allowing only 1.5), just enough to allow him to grasp onto opponents before putting them to sleep.
Muniz completes 3.7 takedowns per fifteen minutes. From the numbers, it’s clear that Muniz wants to compete against any and all opponents at his expertise which is on the floor.
The pedigree of mixed martial artists he’s faced, their age and overall ability at the time he competed with them leave me feeling that Muniz steps up in class here—especially against an opponent who may be able to hold his own with him for some time on the mat.
Allen enters unranked but with eight UFC bouts under his belt. Of his six wins, four have come via submission. But Allen’s striking has evolved greatly since his whitewashing by Sean Strickland in 2020. What’s at issue for Allen may be his complete lack of fight IQ, something one does not rid themselves of quickly, as well as his paltry 50% takedown defense which Muniz and camp are sure to be aware of.
In his bout against Jacob Malkoun, Allen was taken down multiple times, so it seems clear that Muniz will target an immediate takedown to compete at his strength.
Allen’s fight IQ is questionable at best, so he’d better do all he can to keep Muniz off of him and at distance on the feet. He’ll have a difficult time overcoming his desire to grapple with Muniz. Should he decide to play that game, he’ll be disposed of quickly.
Allen has faced more skilled competitors than his opponent. Allen will have an advantage in striking, but it’s difficult to trust his dedication to keep this affair standing.
This bout opened a dead pick ‘em, and money has poured in on Muniz. Muniz is a blue-chip prospect, but I need to see him compete against viable UFC talent like Allen before I proclaim him an elite middleweight.
From an early lean for Allen to no position on this fight is where I stand on this co-main event at this time in the fight week.
Total for this fight: 1.5 Rds. Over -140
Friday, my ‘Bout Business Podcast drops across all podcast platforms. Catch all my releases, including Krylov -170 there.
Enjoy the fights, and thank you for reading!