UFC 173 Fight Breakdown: Anthony Njokuani (-225) vs. Vinc Pichel (+205)

Anthony Njokuani One of the prelims at UFC 173 is a three-round lightweight bout between Anthony “The Assassin” Njokunai and Vinc “From Hell” Pichel. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Njokuani as a -225 favorite (bet $225 to win $100) while Pichel is a +205 underdog (bet $100 to win $205). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Njokuani at -245 and Pichel at +175, and there has been little betting action on either man as the lines have tightened. At this point, I see some value in Pichel at +205 and I’m going to pick the underdog to get the win. Here’s why. Njokuani (16-7, 1 NC ) is one of the most technical strikers in the UFC lightweight division. The 34-year-old is 3-3 overall in the UFC since coming over from the WEC, with wins over Roger Bowling, John Makdessi and Andre Winner and losses to Danny Castillo, Edson Barboza, and Rafael dos Anjos. A talented kickboxer with knockout power in all of his limbs, Njokuani has dealt with numerous injuries since coming over to the UFC which has kept his ring time down, and coming into this fight against Pichel he hasn’t fought in over 13 months. That ring rust is sure to be a factor in this fight, especially if Pichel pushes a pace with his wrestling that Njokuani isn’t used to. Although at one point Njokuani looked to be a future lightweight title contender, at this point of his career it seems obvious he won’t be more than a middle-of-the-pack fighter, and although he may still get fights in the UFC for the next few years, there’s no question in my mind that injuries have limited Njokuani’s full potential as a mixed martial artist. Pichel (8-1) was a cast member on TUF Live and has since rolled off a 1-1 record in the UFC, defeating Garrett Whiteley via decision and losing to Rustam Khabilov via T/KO. The 31-year-old is a solid all-around fighter with decent wrestling and knockout power, but like his opponent Njokuani he has dealt with injuries that have limited his potential. However, unlike Njokunai, at least Pichel has a recent fight, having gone the full 15 minutes against Whiteley back in January and looking good in that contest. Against Njokuani, Pichel has a very clear gameplan of using his wrestling to take the fight to the ground, because standing with his opponent would likely lead to disaster. Although he’s not the greatest wrestler in the division, Njokuani doesn’t have the best takedown defence and if Pichel can exploit his opponent’s weakness he has a good chance of pulling off the upset. This is going to be a competitive fight with Njokuani getting his chances on the feet and with Pichel getting some takedowns to steal points and rounds. I feel it plays out similarly to Njokuani’s fight against Castillo, and I think Pichel is going to do enough with his grappling edge to eek out a decision victory. At +205, I believe there is some nice value on Pichel as an underdog and I believe a small play on the pup is in order here. Obviously you can’t go too crazy on him because if the fight stays standing he will be in trouble, but if he can get the takedowns like I expect him to he should get the victory. I also see value in the prop of the fight going the three-round distance, which is currently only -105 and which I believe should be a winner.

Written by Adam Martin.

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