Danaa Batgerel vs. Brady Hiestand prediction | UFC Vegas 71 1

Both Mongolia’s Danaa Batgerel and American-born Brady Hiestand would benefit immensely from a win this Saturday. A common factor for both men is a 50-50 split in wins and losses since joining the UFC, meaning the winner of their contest will move towards a winning record and the loser, a below 50% success rate. They have a lot riding on this upcoming performance so expect well-prepared and focused fighters in the octagon at UFC Vegas 71.

Betting Odds

Despite losing his last two, Danaa who is the more experienced of the two fighters by a large margin will be the betting favorite.

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Fight Breakdown

Danaa currently holds a pro record of 12 wins and 4 losses. Brady Hiestand, with half the ring time at 6-2, although earning an additional two wins on The Ultimate Fighter in exhibition bouts.

Danaa will have to lean into that experience in this fight. Danaa has the power, speed, and technical striking advantages, he stands orthodox with a signature KO overhand right that is more than not followed up by a winging left hook. He is constantly showing feints and knee raises to maintain a level of pressure on his opponents and push them back. He will neglect to set up his bigger shots with his jab and has suffered an inability to reach opponents who can keep themselves behind their jab and kicks. Therefore in order to land his wider shots, Danaa would do well to start at the body or with his left inside low kick more often than he does. His affinity for headhunting is a tactical flaw, but it will pay off if his opponents are forced to back away from him and he is able to cut off the exit routes, trapping them against the cage where he can force them inside the pocket.

Brady Hiestand is constantly improving his striking game to match up with his high-level wrestling. The level of polishedness between his UFC debut and the most recent fight is substantial however he will likely still be at a deficit against Danaa in this department. One aspect of his game of particular note is an elevated kicking game that has been a focus in his last few camps, especially his lead left high kick, which comes behind a left hook setup, or a shuffle step hidden by constant stance switching. Danaa has a habit of loading up on shots and dipping to avoid punches rather than blocking, so watch for the head kick from Hiestand. On the flip side, Danaa with the faster hand speed could also time his check left hook as Hiestand does lean to his right when he throws the kick.

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Both men are good wrestlers but Danaa is more of an opportunist, latching onto body locks when an opponent spins and then riding the wave as long as he can. Hiestand is a wrestler at his core and will hunt for the shot through chain wrestling as well as instinctively react with a level change when he is hurt. This latter scenario is very likely as Hiestand is rather hittable, and Danaa has tremendous power, but it will be on the wrestling ability from Hiestand to bring him back into the fight.

Although he truly does embody the “wet blanket” effect in his ability to stay attached to the bottom fighter, Hiestand’s more glaring hole is that he will occasionally leave his neck leading positionally, and open to front chokes and guillotines. His ability to rally out of chokes and fight through is exceptional but it does result in him being swept and losing top position to fighters with lower-level wrestling games at times. This is where the experience of Danaa, knowing which grappling battles to fight, using jiu-jitsu and MMA grappling to get the reverse and get back to his feet rather than going head-on in wrestling exchanges against Hiestand.

Prediction and Betting Guide

A massive factor in this matchup is who takes the lead. Both of these men are hammers and not really nails.

Danaa needs to be the one pressing forward in order to land his more looping style of boxing, especially by getting his opponent trapped between the cage and himself. Hiestand likewise would rather shoot as he is moving forward rather than on his heels so whoever takes the center of the cage will be swaying the advantage fairly far in their favor.

I do think that in terms of style, Hiestand is much less elusive than Chris Gutierrez and Kyung Ho-Kang and will be a step easier for Danaa to find the mark on. His ability to address the takedown of Hiestand is a big question but even if Hiestand can ground the Mongolian, he has a history of losing out on damage against fighters with less firepower.

Pick: Danaa Batgerel to win (-149 odds at MyBookie)

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