For as long as it lasts, Saparbek Safarov and Nicolae Negumereanu are going to put on a blistering show for the fans. In a fight that’s likely to be a sloppy and ridiculous, there is a high chance one of these two light heavyweights gets finished. Here are my thoughts on the bout from a betting perspective.
Like every fighter in the UFC that hails from Dagestan, Russia, Saparbek Safarov is as tough as old boots. While not the most technical combatant, Safarov will fight tooth and nail for your money and is never in a dull contest.
The Russian holds a Master of Sport title in both wrestling and combat sambo, yet doesn’t grapple too much in his fights. Instead, he likes to bite down on his mouthpiece and swing for the fences. I get the feeling he could perform more technically if he wanted to, but having racked up numerous first round stoppages before entering the UFC – he probably enjoys blasting opponents quickly.
When you’re putting full steam behind every strike, this naturally comes at a cost and Safarov’s gas tank has not looked great in the footage I’ve watched. This could be mitigated by the fact his opponent is coming in on short notice – or it may not matter because there is a good chance someone gets flatlined in round one.
Watching footage on the young Romanian UFC newcomer, he appears to be a solid striker with a well-rounded skill set. While not as lethal on the feet as his opponent, Negumereanu is the more fundamentally sound striker — throwing clean straight punches and damaging low kicks (which could be useful on Safarov, who may have a lingering knee injury).
Negumereanu can grapple as well. He has some impressive suplex takedowns as well as numerous finishes on the mat — both by way of strikes and submissions. With that being said, I suspect the Russian may still be the better wrestler.
At first glance, the Romanian appears to have a good record, winning all nine of his professional fights by stoppage. However, when you look into the record of his opponents, it’s clear he’s been smashing tomato cans (this becomes even clearer when you watch the actual fights). At 47-years-of-age with an incredible 2-16 record, fighters like Kalman Kovacs didn’t provide much adversity for Negumereanu to overcome – but a gritty brawler from Dagestan will.
Getting stopped by Tyson Pedro and Gian Villante is not impressive, but Saparbek Safarov had moments of success in both contests. Even in defeat, the Russian has vital experience performing on the world stage and this could prove useful if the Romanian has those fabled UFC jitters.
In a fight that is likely to be sloppy and destructive, I can’t envision paying juice on the newcomer. I think this is an obvious underdog or pass situation, but where’s the fun in pass?
Pick: Saparbek Safarov +150