“The Korean Superboy,” Doo Ho Choi, re-enters the octagon for the first time since 2019. Prior to his temporary departure, Choi was on a three-fight losing streak; he lost to Swanson by decision and Stephens and Jourdain by knockout. Prior to the losing streak, Choi was 3-0 in the UFC with three first-round knockouts. Kyle “The Monster” Nelson, also 31, is no stranger to quick finish wins himself. Professionally, Nelson is 13-5 with nine wins coming inside the distance and three losses following suit. In the UFC, Nelson is 1-4, with all but his most recent fight ending inside the distance. This one should be fireworks.
Choi opened as a larger favorite, but the odds have slightly narrowed as we’ve closed in on fight night.
- Doo Ho Choi: -190
- Kyle Nelson: +160
Choi is a high-octane, high-volume, and highly powerful striker who likes to get into 50/50 brawls until someone drops. The issues for Choi are that his chin has taken real punishments in his most recent fights and he typically only has a gas tank for 1 round. While Choi took a substantial layoff, his chin coming into this fight creates a real question. He likely will get into a 50/50 exchange where both fighters are throwing haymakers with little regard for defense. In that type of a fight, Choi has to rely on his ability to eat a clean shot and keep his wits. Coming off back-to-back knockout losses, there’s no telling if he is able to absorb power shots. Additionally, Choi has historically struggled once a fight enters round 2. Because he pushes such a violent pace in round 1, Choi rarely has much left to give in round 2. Pair that with his poor footwork and minimal head movement, and you can see why both of his knockout losses came in round 2. He was an exhausted stationary target.
Because of the layoff, it’s possible Choi improved his cardio and defense, but I wouldn’t bank on it. Instead, I expect to see the same Choi we saw a few years ago. He is an explosive kickboxer who uses leg kicks well to create openings for his hands. He typically looks to chop his opponent down early to create a stationary target and then tee-off until he gets the finish. His striking is powerful, fast, and fun. It just tends to only last for 5 minutes.
Nelson is a heavy-handed boxer who swings aggressively from the opening moment of the fight. He tends to lean forward and lead with his head, similarly to how some fight in a bar brawl. While this isn’t technical or advised for professional fighters, it does allow for Nelson to load up on his right and and fire it with legitimate power. The issue, with his head down, is Nelson can’t see what he’s throwing at nor what is coming back his direction. When he lifts his head after throwing a big right hand, he is often lifting right into a counter shot. Nelson, further representing the brawling fighter, can absorb punishment and keep pushing forward. Although, just like Choi, with an increase in knockout losses as of late, that chin is becoming more and more fragile. Nelson’s striking is explosive and powerful but telegraphed and unrefined. He wants a brawl and will push forward looking for it no matter what.
Beyond his striking, Nelson struggles with takedown defense and cardio. While Nelson is compact and strong which makes taking him down a bit challenging, well-timed shot give him issues because he can be caught off-balance following a big combination. With his cardio, Nelson falls into the same camp as Choi, he pushes such a pressure-focused pace in round 1, that, come rounds 2 and 3, he doesn’t have much left to give.
Prediction and Betting Guide
Both of these fighters are round 1 power punchers with incomplete games and glaring holes that most well-rounded UFC fighters can expose. The two key differences are that Choi’s striking is at least varied and more technical than Nelson’s. Also, Choi will likely be faster and land with more precision. In what should be a fun fight, I like the fighter who will land first and more accurately. At -190 odds, I’m willing to lay the juice and take Choi straight. But, if you want a little extra return on your investment, I also like Choi inside the distance.
Pick: Doo Ho Choi to win