The lone matchup at 145 lbs this Saturday will feature Blake Bilder and Jeong Yeong Lee as part of the UFC Vegas 85 undercard.
These two powerful featherweights will be looking to grab their second win in the promotion and show the matchmakers they’re legit prospects.
Looking for more UFC predictions before UFC Fight Night 235?
- Roman Dolidze vs. Nassourdine Imavov
- Renato Moicano vs. Drew Dober
- Randy Brown vs. Muslim Salikhov
- Aliaskhab Khizriev vs. Makhmud Muradov
- Gilbert Urbina vs. Charles Radtke
- Azat Maksum vs. Charles Johnson
- Jeong Yeong Lee vs. Blake Bilder
- Viviane Araujo vs. Natalia Silva
- Thomas Petersen vs. Jamal Pogues
The odds slightly favor Lee, who will have a two-inch height and five-inch reach advantage:
Blake Bilder will make his third walk to the UFC octagon with a current record of 1-1 with the promotion. The 30-year-old comes into this one at 8-1-1 in his career, with his first career loss coming in his last bout against Kyle Nelson.
Bilder is a former boxer and it shows in his usage of his lead hand. He likes to circle the cage before settling slightly out of range of his opponent and firing off a jab or lead hook as they move into striking range. He relies heavily on that lead hand and it’s rare that he follows it with the right. When he does throw in combination, it’s often the lead hand and some rear legged kick; his combinations that involve the rear hand can be a bit loopy at range and leaves him open to be countered.
Bilder’s boxing background is evident in his defenses as well. He uses a lot of head movement and in and out footwork to avoid strikes while relying on rolling the lead shoulder to defend the right hand when he’s caught in range. When his opponents started to throw more of an overhand though, it’d found the mark.
While Bilder has spent most of his time in the UFC on the feet, he does have a solid wrestling game. We’ve seen him struggle to secure takedowns in his first two fights with the promotion, but he has displayed good timing on his entries and is frequently able to find the hips. From what little we saw of Blake on the ground, he showed good control on top while working to land heavy ground and pound. If can work to become more efficient at finishing takedowns along the fence, it would compliment his striking style nicely.
We saw Blake trail off in the later stages of the fight against Kyle Nelson and was unable to make a comeback in a relatively close fight. When he starts to gas, he’s not as quick to get out of the way of strikes and is more willing to stand and trade. He also got rocked at the end of the first but was saved by the bell so his chin could be a question mark as well.
His opponent is the 28 year old, Jeong Yeong Lee. Lee is 10-1 as a pro and is on a seven fight win streak. He made quick work of his two Road to the UFC opponents before his UFC debut in February where he earned a split decision win over Yi Zha.
Lee has a ton of power in his striking, and his style is predicated on landing those powerful shots. He’s a counter striker and hasn’t gotten a chance to show too much offense on the front foot. Three of his last four fights were over inside of a minute and his most recent bout against Yi Zha was mostly spent defending takedowns. Given the three quick finishes, he seems to be aggressive early and take the center of the cage to pressure his opponent with the threat of his power. He likes to get them up against the cage and wait for their shot before dipping off the center line and firing the counter.
Unlike Bilder, Lee mainly relies on his right hand for these counters. He throws a short right hand that is intended to land as his opponent lands (ideally right before) and hopes the head movement and timing will keep him safe. It isn’t reliable however as he’s been hit flush in these collisions a few times in his two bouts. If his opponent stays in the pocket to extend their combo, he’s more than willing to go shot for shot.
He gets eager to let his hands go and will dig his heels in to fire shots and when they don’t find the mark, he’s often in position to be taken down. His defense in these scenarios is a bit rough as he struggles to disengage from clinches along the cage and found himself on the mat five times last fight. Lee seems to just want to hit his opponent and will begin trying to do so instead of defending the takedown or working to get back to his feet.
The biggest issue I can see for Lee is his gas tank. While his power can carry throughout the entire fifteen minutes, he was breathing very heavily half way through round one in his bout against Yi. When he’s forced to engage in grappling, he gets tired and frustrated very quickly. However if his opponent is forced to stand with him, he doesn’t appear nearly as exhausted and still keeps good timing and power.
Lee will likely have a speed advantage on the feet and with a five inch reach advantage as well, I’ll be looking for Lee to wait on Bilder to plant his feet and fire the left hand for him to time and counter. It’ll be interesting to see how the heavy lead hand approach of Bilder matches up against the right hand counters of Lee but it’s not something Blake should be looking to find out. If he wants to win this one, he’ll need to open up Lee for takedown entries and force him to the cage. While Lee has great power in his hands, he seems to get bullied a bit against the fence and his energy drains quickly.
For Lee, he’ll need to be aware of that game plan and force Bilder back against the cage as quickly as possible. I don’t like the lack of first-strike diversity from either guy, but Lee’s length, power, and speed will give him a major advantage if he can force a firefight with Bilder against the fence. He needs to make Blake feel like he can’t strike with him so it’s easier to see the takedowns coming. However, Yi stood little chance on the feet in their last fight and Lee still was unable to keep his opponent off of him in all three rounds.
Bilder’s movement and grappling will be a key in this matchup as he’ll need to create distance between him and the aggressive Lee. If he can stay patient and find his jab to control the range, he should find opportunities to shoot for the takedown which, at the very least, will drain the gas tank of Lee. While Bilder doesn’t have the best motor himself, if he’s the one initiating the wrestling, he should be able to pull away in the second and third round and find more opportunities to get the fight to the mat.
Lee’s power is always a problem and if he can prevent Bilder from finding his hips, he could overwhelm Blake with his pressure and explosive power. However, the underdog odds are too good to pass on for Bilder, who I think will have an advantage with his grappling and constant movement.
Prediction/Best Bet: Blake Bilder to win (+120 on MyBookie)