This year has been filled with an abundance of UFC debuts from burgeoning prospects from across the globe. One of the most compelling may be coming up this weekend at UFC Fight Night 207 when the UFC’s Alonzo Menifield welcomes Ukrainian newcomer Askar Mozharov to the big stage. Mozharov, a light heavyweight from Chornomorsk, Odessa has created for himself a respectable record of 25-7. However, the truly special aspect of this man’s career is the definitive finishes he has secured, with 15 KOs and 7 submissions. Almost all of his wins have come in the first round.
However, the competition faced thus far is a great leap away from Menifield who, both an alumni of Bellator MMA and the UFC, has compiled a pro record of 11-3 himself. With 7 of those fights coming inside the UFC the level at which the American has competed so far outweighs Mozharov although he has a few number of fights.
Menifield is currently the betting favorite at odds of -155 at BetUS.
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Menifield is a powerhouse of a fighter. His physical ability and athleticism are usually on full display and stick out even amongst the top-tier athletes of the UFC. His known knockout power is a staple in his game plan and his peek-a-boo style of weaving his way in to land heavy shots is his most common look. This is especially effective because his explosiveness allows him to get in and out while countering on the exit making him always a threat. The same ability to explode translates into his counter wrestling game and while he prefers to strike his sprawling ability is top-notch as well. The downside to this however is that because he relies on bursts to both get into striking range and to sprawl on shots, his fighting ability has been hindered by fatigue. Menifield has a style that requires quick bursts of fight but not long drawn-out wars of attrition.
Lucky for him, no one may be more willing to put everything on the line quickly than Mozharov, who with his affinity for first-round finishes should come out “guns-ablazin”. This coupled with potential debut nerves could serve us a short fight. Mozharov has given fans little to criticize him about as his fight time is typically so low. He has wicked fast kicks and punches and will often start fights with flashy high kicks, including even spinning wheel or back kicks. This opens up his high pace and he will look to box, the most dangerous weapon in this realm is his counter left hook which he strings off of the end of exchanges and whips fully around with the extent of all his weight. For the most part, it only takes a few exchanges to put his opponents on their backs, where viscous ground and pound is used to end things.
Other than the unknowns revolving around how he may look in later rounds, the biggest weakness of Mozharov’s game is that when engaging in ground and pound he does offer a lot of room in order to get the most out of his strikes. He tends to posture over his opponents rather than following to his knees, this makes sure that the wind up on his shots are to their fullest, but it also offers a lot of room for his opponents to move their hips and set up submissions. It’s unlikely we will see Menifield throwing up triangles and armbars from his guard, but that same space could allow him the opportunities to wrestle to his feet.
In a fight like this where we have two extremely dangerous and explosive fighters, IQ and experience can end up going an especially long way. Menifield has tasted defeat in the octagon and he has also come back a better fighter. I think that we will see an explosive first round but the small adjustments from Menifield to pace himself and stay just enough out of danger will allow him to enter the second round with a bit more wind and mind about him than Mozharov, and Mozharov will learn the high-level lessons about endurance that Menifield learned when he was the up and comer in the UFC.
Prediction: Alonzo Menifield to win (-200 odds at BetUS)