Jun Yong Park (15-5; 5-2 in the UFC) is looking to earn his 3rd straight win and set his eyes on a possible fight against a ranked challenger. His opponent, Denis Tiuliulin (10-6; 1-1 in the UFC) won his first UFC fight his last time around and will look to build on the momentum as he looks to establish himself as a legitimate UFC middleweight fighter. Both Park and Tiuliulin are perhaps unknown by many but each has 9 professional wins by stoppage, so the potential for having a social media trending finish, which, in turn, will put their name on the map is a strong possibility and is one where both fighters will look to do so as they hope to enter the conversation as exciting middleweights in the trendy division.
Being a more seasoned UFC fighter, it comes to little surprise to see Jun Yong Park priced as a -200 favorite over Denis Tiuliulin.
- Jun Yong Park: -200
- Denis Tiuliulin: +160
Jun Yong Park is a borderline enigma in the octagon. Often, he is categorized as primarily a boxer, but, when he is discussed as such, he will fight predominately on the mat as a wrestler. While initially potentially puzzling given his prowess on the feet should mean his best chance is there to win the fight, Park’s willingness to forgo striking to wrestle showcases his best trait: intelligence with knowing his well-rounded ability can exacerbate the biggest fight difference between him and his opponent. What I mean by this is that Park has no ego in the octagon and will fight the easiest path to victory. And, given his recent opponents have been better strikers than grapplers, he has elected to forgo his boxing to wrestle, and win.
While Park has the well-rounded ability to win on the feet and on the mat, he is far from the elite at either. On the feet, he has sound tight boxing but the issue is he is relatively slow moving which makes him easily hit. On the mat, Park does a very good job using his heavy build to lay on his opponent, and once control is established, inflict ground and pound. The issue, for him, is that if his opponent is even “UFC average” with grappling, he does not have the athletic tools to land a takedown — often, he uses gradual strength to work his way to the mat. While the elite tag may not be attributable to him, he is by no means an easy opponent. Moreover, I believe Park is a top 15/20 gatekeeper which is quite admirable, meaning, if a fighter beats him then said fighter desires to get a crack at the rankings.
Denis Tiuliulin is a dangerous striker, having finished 9 of his professional wins by TKO/KO. The ability to find the finish is a talented skill to have and cannot go overlooked, particularly when fighting an opponent who is as “hittable” as Park. While Denis has explosive power, particularly when he is able to fight at a distance where he can control the pace of the fight, he does have flaws. Notably, he can get a little careless with prioritizing takedown defense, and this is a significant gap in his game given he has been submitted in 50% of his losses. Building off of this, the other main issue is the prioritization of fighting freely – aids in his KO ability – compared to fighting safely which best allows him to keep the fight standing. Weighing the cost of not fighting to the greatest potential on the feet with having free movement and throwing power strikes against fighting cautiously is difficult to balance and is why he has made many mistakes in the octagon as a fighter. For this fight, it will be quite interesting to see how Denis chooses to fight, both knowing he has the power and speed necessary to land a fight-ending strike against the hittable Park, but also, if he throws a haymaking strike and misses, Park will likely look to take him to the mat, and once there, there is a significant gap in talent between Park’s top control against Denis’s ability to get off from bottom position.
If Denis and his team make the correct cost-benefit analysis with the style of fight, he has a chance to win in an electrifying fashion, if not, he may look to start his UFC career at 1-2 and face the possibility of getting dropped by the organization.
Prediction and Betting Guide
This fight is rather interesting as Jun Yong Park will either reap the rewards of a Denis Tiuliulin mistake or will have to outbox an always-threatening opponent. Given the multitude of paths to victory for Park versus the singular path for Denis – landing the most damaging strike in the fight and/or given round – I am backing Jun Yong Park in this bout. Ultimately, I believe Park will use a tight guard to defend against the big strikes of Denis early, and once an opportunity arises, take Tiuliulin to the mat and land ground and pound with the possibility of finding the submission if it surfaces.
Pick: Jun Yong Park to win (-200)