UFC 171 March 15, 2014 Light Heavyweight Matchup: Ovince St. Preux vs Nikita Krylov By @Fightnomics Big Picture: Leading off the main card at UFC 171 are the heaviest and rangiest fighters competing at the event, Ovince St. Preux and Nikita Krylov. Matchmakers like to lead off their PPV cards with some bangers, and this matchup definitely fits the bill. Ovince St. Preux (OSP) was originally scheduled to face Thiago Silva, which was derailed by Brazilian’s recent arrest and subsequent ban from the UFC. Krylov steps in on short notice having just won by first-round knockout seven weeks ago. That fight was at heavyweight, so Krylov is set to make a short-turnaround, light heavyweight debut standing in for Thiago Silva – crazy scenarios like this happen in MMA! St. Preux is the heavy -370 favorite while Krylov is the underdog at +310. That’s a steep line favoring OSP, so let’s see if the numbers support it, and if there’s value anywhere else. Summary Stats:
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Tale of Tape Matchup: The Tale of Tape reminds us just how young the Ukrainian is. Krylov just turned 22 just last week, so at least he’ll be able to enjoy a Vodka after his match here in the US. But as far as the Youth Advantage goes, being too young is not much of an advantage. Pushing 31, OSP does give up a big Youth Advantage, although he hasn’t taken much damage in his 6-year career. He’ll be the slightly longer fighter, and will also enjoy a Southpaw advantage in this matchup. It’s kind of a wash, although I tend to lean slightly towards OSP on the Tale of the Tape. Striking Matchup: All performance stats for Krylov must be delivered with a caveat that his sample size is only 12 minutes of Octagon time from two fights. We’ll mostly focus on OSP’s performance from Strikeforce and UFC fights to get a feel for how he stacks up against the light heavyweight division. In terms of striking, both fighters land with high accuracy in power head strikes, and both fighters have a higher than average knockdown rate. Krylov’s knockdown came early in his last fight with a fight-ending head kick, while OSP has dropped several opponents throughout his recent career. While neither fighter has been dropped while on his feet in Zuffa fights, Krylov was TKO’d on the ground in his UFC debut. So despite his Youth Advantage, he’s still susceptible to powerful shots. The pace here is the most remarkable stat. Both guys like to come forward and push the pace. When two fighters like that meet, it’s often a fun fight to watch. And while standing and trading leather, both fighters have great accuracy, but below average defense. That means someone is likely to get tagged. The higher level experience of OSP, longer range, Southpaw stance, and slightly better defensive metrics all lead to an edge in the standup game, but without more data, it’s hard to call it with certainty. We can definitely conclude that both fighters are capable of finishing a fight quickly while on their feet. Grappling Matchup: The grappling stats are skewed towards favoring St. Preux. His only loss in the last five years was a decision to Gegard Mousasi, who is definitely an elite grappler. OSP showed resilience in that fight by not getting finished, and against lesser opponents was very successful in securing control. His offensive and defensive takedown stats are also very good. In his first UFC fight against Soa Palelei, Krylov was taken down four times on just four attempts before succumbing to strikes. That’s not a good sign, given that OSP has shown solid a takedown game, one that stacks up well against the division. Should the fight go to the mat, it’s OSP who is much more likely to be in control and working ground and pound. OSP has often found his way to back control and employed strikes from there, and has even earned a few submissions earlier in his career. Krylov’s primary style of fighting is Karate, but his fight history reveals an amazing 12 victories in the second half of 2012 alone, 10 of which were from first-round submissions. Granted, this was on the local Ukrainian circuit, so the level of competition was certainly not UFC-caliber. Overall, I do think OSP’s grappling will be better, and although a submission is unlikely, a ground and pound finish is not out of the question. Reed’s Pick: Ovince St. Preux by TKO (click for latest MMA odds) Reed’s Recommended Play: It’s a steep line for the favorite, and one that is dangerous for big fighters who pack a lot of power. Krylov showed that he can end a fight very quickly, and is now competing in a smaller division where perhaps he won’t be as outsized as he was at heavyweight. While I do think OSP has advantages on the feet and on the mat, there’s risk at that price. The over is currently -120 for 1.5 rounds, the under -110. Given that most light heavyweight fights don’t go the distance, the Under looks a little more favorable here. Both guys are dangerous, and yet they also both aren’t too tight with their defense. The risk is that OSP might decide to take Krylov to the mat, which could lengthen the fight. But a straight up under pick also mitigates the risk of a Krylov head kick or other strike that hurts OSP. The Fight Does Not Go the Distance is currently -240, which reduces some risk of OSP needing more time to work ground and pound. Picking St. Preux ITD at -130, by TKO at +105, or even taking the Under could be split from a straight up pick on OSP to balance the risk and increase the reward of the steep straight line.