Chidi Njokuani vs Rhys McKee prediction | UFC on ESPN 54 1

Chidi “Chidi Bang Bang” Njokuani, 35, is moving down to welterweight following a three-fight losing steak. His UFC record is 2-3, with 4 of his 5 fights ending by KO/TKO.

Rhys “Skeletor” McKee, 28, has returned to the UFC after he was cut following a short-lived 0-2 stint in 2020. McKee lost his first fight back in the UFC via decision, which brings his total UFC record to 0-3.

Betting Odds

Njokuani opened as a near 2:1 favorite but has quickly been bet down throughout the week.

Fight Breakdown

Njokuani hasn’t realized success in the UFC that his pre-UFC success may have led him to expect. That’s because Njokuani is an aging kickboxer without a reliable grappling game, gas tank, or chin. To his credit, Chidi’s kickboxing is truly slick and dangerous for 5-7 minutes of the fight. He is exceptionally long, well-trained in keeping his range, and effortlessly powerful, especially with his kicks and knees.

Both of Njokuani’s UFC wins exemplified his strengths: speed, power, and precision. But, all of his losses have exemplified his weaknesses: poor takedown defense and defensive grappling, inconsistent cardio, and chin issue, especially against pressure boxers.

McKee, like Njokuani, is an exceptionally long welterweight who uses his length to his advantage. Rather than kickboxing from range, though, much of McKee’s length proves to be an advantage when he successfully engages in the clinch. That is not to say McKee is a poor striker from range, he is a capable kickboxer with a stiff jab and tight combinations.

However, McKee does his best work in the clinch, where he can mix up his striking and grappling while using his size as leverage to hold position. McKee primarily struggles with his striking and grappling defense. McKee is tough and capable of taking a shot; but, because of his poor head movement and defense, tends to take more than just one shot at a time. Moreover, McKee has suspect takedown defense and defense grappling which are particularly challenging issues given he is often the one to engage in the clinch. Still, though, the best version of McKee has yet to show up in the UFC.


Closing line value “CLV” is a popular but often hotly debated term in gambling. The essence of the idea is if, as a bettor, you’re able to consistently get the best number, then you’ll be a long-term winner. The contention for those who criticize CLV is that predicting how the number, or odds, will move is unreliable. I bring up CLV because anyone who backed McKee early this week has excellent CLV- opening at +180 and now sitting at +120. I think the +120 line is a far more accurate representation of how this fight will go.

Njokuani is a smooth and talented kickboxer but is hittable, chinny, and has cardio questions. Both his chin and his cardio become larger issues with him moving down to 170lbs. Meanwhile, McKee is making his second run in the UFC and has yet to realize a win. He is hittable in round 1 and tends to need to ramp up momentum as the fight goes on. If McKee survives a shaky round 1, he can weaponize cardio and pressure to take over later in a fight.

So, Chidi likely has 1 round to finish McKee and McKee needs to survive and thrive. Therefore, the near pick’em odds are much more indicative of how close this fight should be. McKee has lost most, if not all, CLV; but, I still like him to win this fight and am happy with +money. I expect McKee to get hit in round 1, survive, and then pressure Njokuani, successfully testing his chin and cardio in the new weight class.

Best Bet: McKee to win (+120 at BetUS)

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