As Bellator are making more of a name for themselves in Europe, one of the company’s top lightweights heads to Birmingham, England, to take on a relatively unknown regional fighter in Tim Wilde. If you’re looking at Wikipedia records, it seems logical Primus is -455 and Wilde is +350, but that doesn’t tell the entire story.
In a 2017 title fight against reigning lightweight kingpin, Michael Chandler, the contest ended controversially with Brent Primus snatching the win as a huge underdog. Chandler rolled his ankle early in the fight and Primus subsequently went after it with low kicks – leading to a TKO victory by way of injury.
The rematch was a very different story, with Michael Chandler dominating the fight with wrestling and positional control – although Primus did come close to securing a rear-naked choke in round two.
Expecting to face Chandler again or at least one of the other high profile lightweights on the roster (such as Benson Henderson or Patricky Pitbull), I don’t think Primus was overly enthusiastic about taking his first fight outside of the United States against an unheralded opponent. Watching his interviews, I believe Primus may be looking past the Englishman and that could be to his detriment.
On paper, Primus should have a significant grappling advantage. Although he looks the part of a Division 1 wrestler, he actually comes from a jiu-jitsu base – earning his black belt in only six years. He is an excellent back taker and rear-naked choke specialist, but can sometimes give up positions while hunting for submissions. He doesn’t always set up his takedowns well in open space but is tenacious while chaining attempts against the fence.
On the feet, Primus is effective but unremarkable. He stands flat-footed, primarily throws single strikes and is not the most defensively sound. He could absolutely catch Tim Wilde, but I feel his striking is more rudimentary than his opponent.
When I first saw this main event announced, my only memory of Tim Wilde was his bizarre fight against heavy-handed Norwegian striker, Alexander Jacobson. With beautiful footwork and angles, Wilde was lighting Jacobson up like a Christmas tree before getting caught and stopped. Jacobson isn’t the most technical striker, but he does pack huge power – which can change the complexion of a fight in an instant.
In his last contest against a skilled fighter in Anthony Dizy, Wilde was taken down and controlled on the mat for the majority of the first round. A well-timed upkick from Wilde caused devastating damage and he was able to finish his injured opponent early in the second round.
Although Wilde is the lesser grappler on paper, he’s not a fish out of water on the mat and I
wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a good account of himself in terms of scrambling and defending takedowns. As we’ve seen throughout his career, Primus chases submissions hard and this could give Wilde opportunities to get back to his feet.
It’s clear that the Englishman’s main strength is his striking. Light on his feet and in perpetual motion, Wilde’s attacks are unorthodox and come at an angle. Against a more flat-footed, stationary opponent – I think this style will be highly effective.
It’s worth noting that Tim Wilde lives 25 minutes from the arena and has sold a lot of tickets. The crowd will be on his side and this could be exactly what he needs to rise to the occasion. Conversely, Brent Primus is fighting outside of the US for the first time, has a large cut to lightweight and will be fighting a lesser known opponent in a hostile arena. I believe the Intangibles are on the side of the Englishman.
It’s entirely possible Brent Primus takes down his opponent and dominates him on the mat, but at -455 you’re looking at an implied probability of 82%. That’s absolutely ridiculous, especially when you consider he’s at a disadvantage in terms of technical striking. Tim Wilde has a clear path to victory on the feet and I think there is plenty of value on him as a significant underdog.
Pick: Tim Wilde +350