Chidi “Chidi Bang Bang” Njokuani is a 33-year-old middleweight with a 21-7 professional record. In his first UFC fight, after an extensive Bellator career, Njokuani won via a 16-second knockout of a historically stone-jawed opponent. Dusko “Thunder” Todorovic, 27, is 11-2 as a pro and 2-2 in the UFC. Both of his wins have come via TKO, the most recent of which was a first-round finish in 2021. Njokuani and Todorovic will fight at UFC Fight Night 206 this weekend.
Njokuani opened as the favorite and his odds have continued to grow.
Njokuani is a long, talented, and high skilled kickboxer. He often looks to engage his opponents quickly in the fight with his straight punches and rangy kicks. Njokuani’s strategy is to either hurt his opponent before they can get going or get a read on how his opponent responds to the varied arsenal of attacks. If the early knockout isn’t there, Njokuani will fall into a flow state where he strikes from range, often favoring a long and dangerous front kick, while moving laterally on his bike to avoid being pinned against the cage. Njokuani is a solid but unspectacular grappler who can be controlled if his back hits the mat. Fortunately, for him, his height, movement, and natural athleticism aid him in keeping the fight standing. Even if pinned against the cage, Njokuani is adept at digging underhooks, reversing position, and getting back into his flow state. As with many tall fighters, Njokuani has the risky habit of exiting exchanges by leaning his head and chin straight back. When facing a smaller opponent or an opponent with poor footwork, exiting with a high chin is less dangerous because few opponents can reach it. However, when Njokuani faces someone with a similar reach or high-end footwork, his exposed chin can be touched.
Todorovic is a flat-footed power puncher who has struggled to implement his heavy-handed striking game in the UFC. Both of his wins have come against fighters later cut from the roster. Nevertheless, Todorovic’s power and ability to clinch wrestle can make him a worthwhile test in the octagon. While standing, Todorovic tends to carry his chin high and his hands can drop lower as the fight goes on. When he strikes, Todorovic tends to plant his feet, throw in combination, and often mixes in a solid kicking game. His issue is, because of his plodding footwork, Todorovic often needs his opponent to enter his striking range rather than being able to crash distance himself without eating shots on his way in. Once he is in close, Todorovic has good body shots and can clinch well. He is adept at clinching against the cage, using head position to hold his opponent and ride out minutes of standing control time.
Once he faces someone with the footwork necessary to counter and crash distance, I anticipate Njokuani to struggle and likely get dropped while exiting an exchange with his high chin. I don’t see Todorovic as being the guy to do that, though. Todorovic is too flat-footed to capitalize on the opening. Njokuani should have the edge in range, technique, speed, footwork, and volume. Short of Todorovic landing one big shot, I see Njokuani winning. He’s a parlay anchor this week but I would avoid method.
Prediction: Njokuani to win
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.