Alessio “Manzo” Di Chirico, 32, boasts a 13-6 professional record. He’s been in the UFC since 2016 and now has a shaky 4-5 record in the promotion. Of his four wins, two have come via knockout and two via split decision. Roman Kopylov, 31, is 0-2 in the UFC with a submission and decision loss. His professional record is 8-2 with seven knockout wins.
The odds are nearly at a pick’em with both Alessio Di Chirico and Roman Koyplov on either side of -110.
Di Chirico, despite his salty record, is a well-rounded fighter with a complete skillset. He is a varied striker who fights with a full arsenal of punches and kicks, which he throws with accuracy while at range. In tight, Di Chirico has basic but effective wrestling, which he can use to actually land a takedown, but, more often, he uses level changes and the threat of wrestling to set up shots to the chin. If he follows through on his attempt and gets the fight to the mat, Di Chirico will immediately look for the submission. If he can’t find the tap, “Manzo” struggles to hold position and rarely racks up control time.
The positives of Di Chirico are clear — a well-rounded striker with a basic but effective grappling game. However, Di Chirico has struggled to win consistently in the UFC. This is because of his low volume and tendency to get hit clean in the pocket or on counters. Di Chirico, typically, lacks show-stopping power and relies on outpointing opponents on the feet. However, his volume is average, and other point fighters can match his output and effectiveness.
Further, when Di Chirico starts to flow, he can leave his chin exposed; he’s especially susceptible to fighters that can counter head kicks. Di Chirico also struggles in the pocket, while he looks smooth at range and can win grappling exchanges, in the pocket, Di Chirico is often the slower fighter whose boxing can be outmatched. Again, making him hittable. When an opponent lets Di Chirico fight with his preferred style, he can look impressive in a win. But, when an opponent forces an in-the-pocket fight, Di Chirico has yet to perform reliably.
Kopylov was perfect before entering the UFC but has struggled since joining, frustratingly so. I say Kopylov’s performances have been frustrating because he has fought with staggeringly low volume. In back-to-back fights, despite one being a decision loss and the other a third-round submission, he has not yet attempted 100 strikes.
His low-volume striking does come with a few positives. He has decently technical boxing with solid power. When he lets his hands go, Kopylov works the body and head of his opponent well. He lands with pop and often in combination. His typical approach, as unsuccessful as it’s been, is to counter opponents, especially when they overextend, with a well-timed power punch.
If forced to grapple, Kopylov has shown solid takedown defense with an ability to post and use the cage to keep the fight standing. If the fight hits the mat, Kopylov’s defensive grappling centers around trying to stay alive and get the fight back to the feet, where he falls back into his counter-striking heavy approach. If Kopylov can ramp up the volume, he has the boxing technique and natural power to improve quickly. But, if he continues to fight with such low volume, Kopylov will continue to be in danger of losing rounds.
Di Chirico is hittable and susceptible to being countered cleanly, a perfect recipe for Kopylov. However, Kopylov fought an opponent in Karl Roberson, who also has a tendency to be countered cleanly. In that fight, Kopylov struggled with a rangier fighter with a more varied arsenal of attacks. That game plan is readily available for Di Chirico to follow, and I expect him to do so. Look for Di Chirico to stay at range as he point fights his way for a decision win.
Pick: Di Chirico to win by decision (bet now at MyBookie)
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.