Seemingly in the blink of an eye, 35-year-old Drakkar Klose – because of inactivity and injury – has quickly aged from a promising prospect to a UFC veteran. He entered the UFC in 2017 and fought three times that year, going 2-1. He then followed it up with a 2-0 record in 2018. Since then, Klose has gone 3-1 and only fought four times in as many years.
Five years younger, Joe Solecki has been nearly perfect in the UFC since joining in 2019. He is 5-1 with two submission finishes and his only loss coming via split decision.
The line opened right around a pick’em, but Klose has grown slightly as the favorite.
Klose is a calm and patient striker with dynamic and accurate attacks but low volume early in fights. His striking is methodical, set up with advanced footwork, feints, and few tells. When he throws, he tends to throw in combination and land precisely where he intended. Because of this, Klose tends to grow stronger as the fight progresses.
He typically has lower volume early in fights, picking his shots not with the intention of a flash knockout; but, rather, with the intention of gaining damage through attrition. Klose is also a solid but not exceptional wrestler. He’s able to turn to offensive wrestling, primarily in the clinch, if he’s hurt or needs to secure a close round.
Additionally, while his takedown defense sits just below 70%, close is difficult to takedown unless his opponent is both explosive and fundamental. Even then, he is often able to get back to his feet or even land damage from bottom position. Technical striking, reliable cardio, and a momentum-based offensive attack have made Klose an interesting prospect for most of his career. But, long layoffs, injuries, and a tendency to take his time a little too much in the cage has kept him from reaching his full potential.
Solecki is a, to put it kindly, growing striker. He tends to strike slowly and awkwardly with low volume. Most of his striking is designed as a distraction or delaying tactic to create openings for his potent and suffocating wrestling and grappling. His goal is to pressure forward just enough to put his opponent on their back foot so he can expose the hips and shoot a takedown early in a round.
Solecki is an accredited wrestler and grappler who is adept at holding position while hunting submission finishes. He’s willing to take his time on the mat and wait for the right opening to secure a submission finish. Because of his grappling credentials and willingness to take his time, Solecki tends to shoot early in rounds to give himself plenty of time to work on the mat.
The downside to this style, though, is fighters know what is coming and can counter. More concerningly, though, is Solecki tends to gas himself out after a hard 5-7 minutes of grappling. He tends to look solid in round 1, and can even get another takedown in round 2. But, if an opponent can get back up and stuff an attempt or two, forcing Solecki to strike, he looks labored in the second half of fights.
Despite their stout records, neither of these fighters is exceptionally reliable. Klose has plenty of fights where he plays with his food and gets clipped, having to come back. Meanwhile, Solecki often deals with the inverse: he dominates early but can gas out and has to survive to win.
Despite the in the cage moments of struggle, with a combined 12-3 record, these men tend to find ways to win. I see this fight playing out as many of their previous fights have. Because Klose tends to start slowly and Solecki quickly, I expect Solecki to get a takedown early and rack up control time for much of the 1st round.
If Klose can survive the early submission attempts of Solecki, Klose should have an easier time stuffing takedowns as Solecki- if he continues his trend- will be nearing the end of his gas tank after an aggressive round 1. I expect the 2nd round to be close as Solecki shoots and Klose stuffs attempts, resulting in significant time clinching against the cage. Then, in round 3, with a tired Solecki and a close fight with Klose finally ramping up his volume, I expect Klose to ramp up the striking and deal damage.
A 3rd round TKO for Klose is an interesting bet. But I expect this fight to go the distance and be close on the scorecards, likely coming down to a controversial round 2. In a tight fight, I like the fighter who is more likely to find the finish, or at least land more damage- Klose. As a straight play, I like him on the money line. But, as a flier, I don’t mind taking a small position on both men to win by split decision. Klose fights, pun intended, close decisions. Meanwhile, two of Solecki’s last three fights have ending via split decisions.
Best Bet: Klose to win -130 (MyBookie)