Daniel Zellhuber vs. Francisco Prado prediction | UFC Mexico City 1

Lightweight prospects Daniel ‘Golden Boy’ Zellhuber and Francisco Prado find themselves on the main card for UFC Mexico City this weekend. 

Prado and Zellhuber both struggled in their debuts with the UFC but have bounced back and are each coming off a finish in their last fight. With a combined 22 finishes and only two losses, these are two of the most promising prospects at lightweight under 25 years old.

Betting odds

Zellhuber is a sizeable favorite over Prado in a home game for Golden Boy at altitude in Mexico City:

  • Daniel Zellhuber: -260 (BetUS)
  • Francisco Prado: +210 (BetUS)

Fight Breakdown

24 year old Daniel Zellhuber is an interesting prospect at 155 lbs with his long reach and technical striking style. Coming into the UFC at 12-0, there was a lot of hype around the lightweight from Mexico. After a setback loss to Trey Ogden in his debut, he’s put together two wins back to back.

Zellhuber’s striking has been his main driver for success. His 77” reach is one of the longest in the division and although he doesn’t always use it effectively, that range has been proven to be very useful. Zellhuber has a good jab and kicks at range and when he’s constantly using those as well as his feints to back his opponent down, he’s very dangerous. He chains together intelligent combinations with his opponent up against the fence and with his large arsenal of strikes, he’s a threat to finish it at any point.

My biggest issues with Zellhuber is his defense and, at times, his gameplan. In most striking scenarios that we see him lose, it’s usually because he’s walking forward with no strikes or feints and tries to push his opponent backwards by just walking them down. He has little head movement and gets lazy with his guard when he does this and tries to rely solely on quick footwork to scoot backwards and throw a check left hook. It turns out that that isn’t enough and, when his opponents come forward with more than one strike, he gets caught. If he wants to rely on counter striking, there needs to be some form of head movement and feinting to draw out the return punches so that he can land his counters without getting lit up himself.

The Zellhuber we see coming forward with his feints and constant kicks and jabs is much more effective. He needs to utilize his length and take advantage of his technical abilities to land on the outside before exiting from striking range. It does him no good to have five or more inches in reach advantage if he’s going to rush into his opponent’s range and try to counter everything with a check hook or right uppercut.

One thing that’s been a very pleasant surprise is Zellhuber’s grappling. He’s displayed extremely strong defense against takedowns and has even flaunted his submission grappling with his most recent anaconda choke win over Christos Giagos. He has great balance when defending against takedowns; along the cage, he’s consistently defending different takedowns correctly.

Francisco Prado is 12-1 with all of his wins coming by either knockout or submission. Only 21 years old, he’s 1-1 in the UFC and coming off a first round stoppage victory over Ottman Azaitar. Prado’s a powerful striker and has displayed a willingness to wrestle that could make him a very well rounded threat as he polishes up his game.

On the feet, Prado is looking to land his powerful right hand. He’ll throw out lots of kicks to the leg and head while his opponent hangs out on the outside and then times the right hand to land as soon as they commit to entering into range. When the right hand lands, the left hook is quick to follow as he bobs and weaves with the combination to stay off the centerline.

While Prado looks sharp when he’s controlling the distance and has his timing, he can get eaten up at times when he’s not able to time the right hand. We saw an adjustment from Prado in his last fight where he has shelled up heavily to avoid the damaging shots from the powerful Azaitar and though it stopped most of the shots to the head, it left him vulnerable to strikes to the body and leg as well as takedowns. Otherwise, he’s shown a lot of promise defensively. He keeps his head moving in the pocket and is relatively disciplined with his guard but can let his hands drop when he throws. 

Prado’s still constantly developing so he’s not easy to predict. It becomes even harder to predict the Argentinian’s gameplan when he starts to mix in his grappling. Against Azaitar, we saw a heavy investment in the takedown and level change feints early which set up the spinning elbow that eventually led to the stoppage.

Despite his six submission wins, we’ve seen mostly ground ‘n’ pound from Prado when he has top position. Many of those submissions came against some of his lower-tiered opponents and we saw Jamie Mullarkey have little problems controlling him on the ground so I’m not confident that he’ll be a submission ace in the UFC and that’s okay. His willingness to find separation and throw elbows is a great trait from a fighter with a ton of power; his ability to attack submissions is just a bonus.

This is a tricky matchup to predict as both fighters are talented strikers with solid grappling. Prado’s power and aggression are a worry against Zellhuber who has holes in his defense. On the other side, Zellhuber’s length, jab, and kicks are going to be a tough thing for Prado to get past as he struggles with his entries on longer fighters. Both guys are good in the pocket but I believe Zellhuber’s knees and elbows in the clinch gives him the edge there. If either guy shoots for a takedown, I’d expect it to be Prado but he’ll need to do so carefully as we’ve seen how quickly Zellhuber can wrap up the neck.

If Prado comes out aggressive and is the one going first, I don’t see this fight going the distance. Prado’s struggles to enter and Zellhuber’s accurate counters could be enough to put Prado away. Zellhuber’s inconsistency getting out of range before firing his counters could lead to Prado getting inside cleanly and making it a strike for strike exchange where he’ll rarely lose.

If Zellhuber implements the jab and kicks from a distance, he should be able to outstrike Prado. Prado’s entries will become more obvious and the counters will subsequently become easier to find as well. I don’t expect him to struggle with defending the takedowns of Prado and, if anything, it’ll present opportunities for submissions for Zellhuber.


I’m expecting a much better version out of both of these fighters this Saturday. They’re both young and have much higher ceilings than what they’ve shown so far in the UFC. Zellhuber will be at home in Mexico so I’m hoping we see a more aggressive version of him while we can always expect a fun fight from Francsico Prado if he has a willing dance partner so I like this fight to end inside the distance. Zellhuber should win but I won’t be surprised in the slightest if Prado’s able to catch him moving backwards and put him out.

Prediction: Fight to end inside the distance (-145 on BetUS)

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