Canada’s newest prospect out of Alberta, Chad Anheliger, just made his UFC debut last February. Known as “The Monster” he will now take on “The Mongolian Knight,” Alateng Heili, at UFC 279 this weekend.
After sustaining mixed results at 2-5 in his first seven fights, Anheliger seemingly found himself as a fighter, going on an absolute tear of 10 straight wins since. His winning debut in the octagon against Jesse Strader showcased his finishing ability via third-round TKO.
His opponent Alateng has been with the UFC for five fights with a record of 3-1-1, which could easily have been 4-1 without a fence grab and a deducted point. However, the wrestler turned MMA fighter has shown he has power in his hands, coming off of a devastating knockout over Kevin Croom in his last fight in just 47 seconds.
Alateng Heili, the more experienced fighter in the UFC, will come into the bout as the -170 favorite over the Canadian.
Chad Anheliger is a very smooth fighter with a high fight IQ. He stands very light on his feet and is constantly bouncing up and down, in and out, with a narrow stance. The upside to this is he does often get just out of range when defending kicks, and he re-enters very easily and quickly. The downside is he has been caught without a grounded base which has resulted in him getting taken down more often than he would like.
He utilizes a specific guard, with a high right hand to the chin and a low left, bringing his jab up from the hip. He very often slips to his right behind the jab, banking on his high right hand to defend against any circular attacks. The combination of his movement and Philly shell reminiscent guard, makes it so that although he may be hit, he rarely takes the full impact of the shots, they often glance off of him, or he rolls with strikes. Outside of his excellent jab, the most dangerous strikes in his arsenal tend to be his knees which he lands from double Thai plums when his opponent and he clash in striking exchanges. Always look out for his straight crosses as well, usually his right from the shoulder roll, but he will switch stances to land the left.
Although there may be a susceptibility to takedowns for Anheliger, the road gets far rockier from there. He has very good submission reactions, and often you will see him attack armbars from his back or latch onto a guillotine when taken down. Whether or not he completes these attempts, he always takes his opportunities to pop back to his feet and rarely gets caught stuck on the ground for too long, and if he can find the fence, he is good at defending mat returns. Guillotines have been his weapon of choice on the ground, having secured him all three submissions on his record, however, all of his losses have also come by way of submission.
Alateng Heili is far less light on his feet, he stands wider with a lower base per his wrestling roots. This allows him to sit on his punches more giving him a bit of a power advantage most likely, but Anheliger’s ability to draw his opponent onto shots make up for that to an extent. However, Alateng sticks to the basics, and he is very sharp with them, he likes his jab and cross, left hook and a very nice wrestler’s overhand right.
That being said, it’s Alateng’s wrestling that makes him stand out. He has a tremendous single-leg takedown, but he likes to elevate and trip out the standing leg or utilize a body lock on the cage and trip as well. His ability to ride positions is very high level and once he secures double underhooks, whether his opponents get up or not, it’s difficult to get away. In top position, he keeps his head down, maintains his basics, and sucks in the hips so as to always remain in control. Although this may not be the riskiest or most exciting style, it poses a difficult challenge for his opponents, who have to be proactive with their counter grappling, as Alateng will keep his forehead to chest and chip away with ground and pound in order to stay active.
A big caveat to Alateng’s wrestling chops is he heavily underutilized them. He will often choose to stand and trade with opponents who, on paper, would be far easier to defeat on the mat. This particularly cost him in his fight with Danaa Batgerel, in which he waited until the third round to bring out his wrestling, and Gustavo Lopez, in which his opponent ended up being more proactive with their wrestling instead.
If Alateng comes into the fight with a disciplined game plan to take advantage of Anheliger’s ‘light on his toes’ approach, he can take him down and stick on him like glue to win a smart decision but it comes down to whether or not he can stick to that game plan. If he does, he has all the skills necessary to win.
Prediction: Alateng Heili to win (-170 odds to win at BetUS)
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.