The 26-year-old phenom, Umar Nurmagomedov (14-0; 2-0 in the UFC), is set to fight the underrated 30-year-old bantamweight prospect, Nate Maness (14-1; 3-0 in the UFC).
Umar, a cousin to Khabib, is as an elite prospect as the UFC has on their roster. The scary part is he is seemingly only getting better as a fighter, as he has finished his last 3 professional fights. Meanwhile, Maness is riding his own 2-fight finish streak, earning him justifiable credence for being a prospect to keep your eye on within the stacked bantamweight division.
Umar Nurmagomedov is an incredibly sizable -900 favorite over Nate Maness.
Umar Nurmagomedov has nearly every attribute needed to become a future champion. Being a Nurmagomedov, wrestling is inherently in his blood, but the interesting part for Umar is that he deviates away from the traditional Khabib-style, as he is far more “Islam Makhachev” relative to his grappling compared to Khabib. This style, for those who do not know, is a strong takedown game that focuses on submission positions over ground control. The submission position that Umar has the greatest affinity for is securing the back, and if done, he has demonstrated time after time that he has an elite rear-naked choke.
If Umar only had his inherently strong wrestling with an elite submission game, I would still say he is one of the most talented prospects on the roster. Similarly, I would say he has the potential to be a champion of the division, albeit he is quite young. But, when you add the point that Umar has electrifying kickboxing, results in me believing he is truly a phenom when it comes to fighting.
Umar’s kickboxing is built on speed and technique contrary to looking to land with all-out power. Electing to do so allows Umar to strike at range, land first, and evade any significant attack by his opponent. While Umar does have a well-rounded striking arsenal at his disposal, similar to recently retired Zabit Magomedsharipov, he does have an affinity for what is his by far and away from his most impressive strike – a lead leg head kick. This strike seemingly comes out of nowhere, as Umar has the ability to simply lift his lead leg without telegraphing the strike. Doing so allows him to land the kick cleanly, and if he catches his opponent off guard with it, the strike has more than enough power behind it to put his opponent to sleep. In total, I have seen no identifiable weaknesses within Umar’s fight game, and I fully expect him to continue his dominance as he progresses through the stacked bantamweight division.
While Umar has been a long-touted prospect of the bantamweight division, Nate Maness has flown somewhat under the radar. Notably, Maness has been priced as an underdog for his last two UFC fights, but, managed to secure second-round finishes in both.
In both his last two UFC fights, Maness showed well with regard to understanding how to remain calm and attack with all-out force once the opportunity arrived. This opportunity primarily arrives from range, given Maness is often the taller and longer fighter in the octagon. So, once an opening occurs, he does a good job landing his powerful strikes with a blitz-like form of attack, looking to end the night before the scheduled 15-minute affair. He can do this effectively because he has sound footwork in the octagon and is confident that if he overextends too far on his power punches, he has the grappling necessary to win a scramble situation that will allow him to look for a submission finish. Fighting with confidence, both on the feet and in grappling exchanges, is perhaps the most impressive attribute of his fight game.
The biggest flaw to date for Maness is that he will often forgo output for power. This leads to him quickly being down in striking volume, as his SLpM is 2.87, meanwhile, his SaPM is 4.72. The differential of nearly 2 strikes per minute is quite alarming, particularly when knowing the strong wrestling attack of Maness will likely loom ineffective against the talented Dagestan wrestler of Umar. So, Maness will need to show a greater focus on striking defense in this fight or continue to show his impressive power will be enough to secure his third-straight finish win.
The style and grit of Maness makes him the embodiment of what people consider to be a live dog. But, the high-end attributes and elite coaching of Umar Nurmagomedov leaves me believing no non-ranked bantamweight can truly threaten him in the octagon. His speed, unique striking, strong wrestling, and extremely dangerous submission game make him a tough puzzle to figure out; add impressive cardio, and Umar is as dangerous as one can get. For this reason, I expect Umar to control the entire fight, but do foresee Maness putting forth a strong showing until Umar inevitably finds the neck.
Pick: Umar Nurmagomedov to win by submission
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