This weekend, the UFC travels to Nashville for the 18th Fight Night of the year. Leading off the main card will be a lightweight battle between Ignacio Bahamondes and Ludovit Klein. These are two talented, technical strikers with lots of upside, continually developing skill sets and high finish rates.
Bahamondes is one of the more interesting prospects at 155 lbs, while Klein’s faced a bit more adversity so far in the UFC. You can expect tons of action in any of Bahamondes’s fights and Klein is game to throw down. In a division deep with talent, a win here for Bahamondes should spawn an opportunity at the rankings, while Klein would spoil the young prospect’s hype and take that momentum for himself.
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Ignacio Bahamondes is around a two-to-one favorite against the Slovakian, but Klein poses some interesting threats against the long striking game of the Chilean.
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Ludovit ‘Mr. Highlight’ Klein, 28 years old, is coming into this fight with a pro record of 19-4-1. He’s 3-2-1 in the UFC and 2-0-1 in his last three. His last fight ended in a draw after his opponent lost a point in the third round for multiple strikes to the groin, but most agree that Klein lost the first two rounds.
Klein utilizes a well-rounded attack of striking, clinching, and takedown attempts to keep his opponent off-guard and guessing at his next move. At 5’7, he often finds himself being the smaller fighter, but his 72” reach gives him options in the striking department. As a southpaw, he uses a right jab to find his distance and timing before opening up with combos and kicks. He has an effective rear leg kicking game that he uses to attack mainly the body (and occasionally, the head) with the front and round kick which open up the straight shots upstairs.
Ludovit likes to lure in his opponent with hand feints and backward movement, but has great reactions to entries and is able to get out of the power range of his opponent and throw counter hooks of his own. He has good footwork in these exchanges and exits the pocket effectively without eating damage on the way out. When he comes forward with his own offense, he likes to lead with the jab or straight left hand while following through with his back foot, entering a neutral or orthodox stance to throw his next shot. These follow up strikes can be less than effective as he crashes into his opponent and doesn’t keep a good range to land the combos flush.
This tendency to run into his opponents causes a lot of clinches where he hasn’t proven to be effective. For someone who causes so many clinches, he doesn’t attack takedowns or knees/elbows that often. Over his last few fights, he’s begun to throw more knees in tight and elbows on the way out but he very rarely tries for trips or throws against the cage. His opponents have seemed to have an easy time snagging underhooks and dominant clinch positions to land knees; his tendency to dip his head in these exchanges makes this issue worse as he almost accepts the plum at times.
Klein’s wrestling is impressive in space when he can time his opponent’s striking entries and grab the hips. He likes to finish with the outside trip of his opponent’s right leg to secure the takedown when he can’t effectively lift them for the traditional double leg. When he gets top control, he doesn’t do too much with it. We haven’t seen much ground n pound or submission attempts; he seems to focus on keeping his opponent underneath him which he has difficulty doing a lot of the time.
His opponent is the 6’3 Chilean prospect, Ignacio ‘La Jaula’ Bahamondes. He’s 3-1 in the UFC and 14-4 overall. Likely made obvious by his size at 155 lbs, Bahamondes is a long-range striker with an incredibly high output. His 7.93 significant strikes landed per minute would be first among fighters with five or more fights at 155 lbs (3rd in the entire UFC) should he keep that pace this weekend. Justin Gaethje would be his only company with over 7.00 SSL/m in the lightweight division.
Bahamondes switches between orthodox and southpaw constantly and shows very little change in striking diversity from either side. He uses a lot of feints to hide when he wants to enter and does so most often with a stiff, well-timed jab or straight cross.
He has powerful kicks that he still doesn’t incorporate enough in my opinion. His leg kicks have shown to be debilitating and he has multiple highlight finishes with high kicks (see his fights against Edson Gomez and Roosevelt Roberts). His jab and feints set up these kicks well and he will throw them with power over all fifteen minutes.
As I touched on already, he has an unreal output on the feet. He seemingly doesn’t get tired when he’s able to fight going forward and, with great footwork, he’s able to stay in front of his opponent and work his aggressive offense instead of running around the outside of the octagon looking for space. His feet are quick both in managing distance and switching stance. He doesn’t waste a lot of steps when transitioning between stances and with the rate he switches, it makes it difficult for his opponent to find consistent openings.
His striking defense is an area of worry. At times he’ll use good head movement to evade incoming punches, but most of the time, he gets caught at the end of these shots. They don’t usually land with full power, but he gets eaten up by the left hand, especially the jab and wears a lot of damage from it. Against the fence, he’ll shell up and take the shots coming at him as he waits to fire back with a counter hook of his own. This has worked against opponents who strike with him, but his hips are left wide open for the takedown.
A shockingly impressive area of his game outside of these instances is the takedown defense. He has great reaction time to takedown attempts in space and is able to sprawl or shuck off any of these attempts with ease unless they are timed well under his strikes. Along the fence, he’s been smart and aware of what to do in a multitude of takedown scenarios and even lands clean strikes without compromising the wrestling defense. He has a sneaky good guillotine/choke game from these positions which I think could play a big role in this fight.
Ludovit Klein’s counters work well for him when his opponents attack the head and he can fire off his power shots from the back foot. If Bahamondes wants to work his striking effectively, he’ll need to be smart and use a lot of feints and leg kicks early. Klein has faced mostly orthodox fighters who aren’t keen on attacking the lead leg of a southpaw but given the stance fluidity of Bahamondes, I expect these to land clean. If Klein wants to test the wrestling of his opponent, he needs to do so from space. Klein puts his head in bad positions time and time again on the fence and he can’t do that against Ignacio; he has long arms and a nasty choke that he’s already used to finish Rongzhu.
Bahamondes’ striking diversity and pace could overwhelm Klein who usually fights at a slower pace though he’s shown to be more than willing to throw down at whatever pace his opponent wants to come in with. This willingness to fight at his opponent’s pace and wait for them to become open for counters could ultimately put Klein too far behind Bahamondes in terms of output. To be successful, Klein will need to enter with his explosive combos and lead with the left hand to attack his weak side.
If Klein has improved on the ground and is able to keep control when on top, his game plan needs to be predicated on getting the takedown while keeping himself safe from the submission game of Bahamondes. On the feet, Bahamondes is the more technical, diverse striker and keeps a pace that will put Klein behind on the cards if he tries to stand and exchange the whole fight.
Klein forces clinches a lot at the end of his strikes and given his lack of success here in past fights and Ignacio’s solid clinch game, I don’t see this being an area where he wins. Bahamondes digs for underhooks and forces his opponent’s back to the cage often when he’s put against the fence to land knees and elbows. If Klein gets desperate for a takedown, he’ll try for it in these clinches where Bahamondes has shown to pounce on the guillotine when he gets the chance and Klein gives chances.
Although Klein has a path to victory if he can time Bahamondes’s entries and/or land the left hand often and heavily, Bahamondes looks like the better fighter in most areas. Klein won’t be able to grind out Bahamondes over the course of the fight and if Ignacio can keep his distance and work his kicks to the leg and body often, he should take this one with relative ease.
Normally, taking Bahamondes by knockout or decision would be the easy call, but he’s a real threat to get another submission win against Klein. I’d recommend taking the moneyline here but the odds for the submission win deserves a small bet.
Best Bet: Ignacio Bahamondes to win (-190 at BetUS)