Very talented and dangerous unranked bantamweights will square off against one another, both having their eyes set on ranked contention.
Said Nurmagmodedov (17-2; 6-1 in the UFC) is riding a 4-fight win streak, having beat fringe ranked opponents in 3 of those 4 fights. His opponent here, Jonathan Martinez (17-4; 8-3 in the UFC) is also riding a 4-fight win streak coming into his fight, and, with significant confidence given his devastating finish over UFC veteran and fan favorite, Cub Swanson.
Both Said and Martinez are overlooked, dangerous fighters who have fight-ending capabilities wherever the fight goes, making this bout a likely candidate for FOTN and one where the winner certainly will get a ranked opponent next.
Said Nurmagomedov opened around a -200 favorite but has since climbed to -260 against Jonathan Martinez.
Said Nurmagomedov, unrelated but friends to Khabib, resembles the style of the potential title-contending featherweight and training partner, Zabit Magomedsharipov. To understand this style is to first, comprehend that it is a strike-first mentality, and second, not understand the striking at all. Meaning, Said’s most dangerous weapon on the feet is his unpredictability.
Diving a bit deeper into the unorthodox striking of Said, he typically uses a heavy amount of kicks to all levels of his opponent as well as a plethora of spin-oriented attacks which is quite effective given his elite understanding of technique, distance, footwork, and most importantly, timing. Moreover, Said is able to throw a significant amount of spinning attacks given he has strong cardio and is extremely comfortable turning at the risk of getting taken down, knowing his strong grappling will allow him to cause a scramble, and once done, he will win the exchange.
This ability to win scrambles and implement effective grappling was needed in his last fight against the very underrated talent of Saidyokub Kakhramonov. In that fight, Said was got taken to the mat 5 times on 12 attempts and was looking like he was on his way to losing against the well-rounded and strong wrestling opponent of Kakhramonov. But, knowing his opponent would continue to shoot takedowns as the fight progressed, Said timed a scramble perfectly whereby he was able to get an angle and secure a difficult submission. The way in which Said went about winning this fight can be looked at as desperation by haters, but for someone who appreciates the breadth of MMA, it truly showcases how elite Said is, given he can be extremely dangerous against average strikers and equally dangerous to non-elite grapplers. Altogether, Said is a problem for almost everyone to go against and is someone that continues to get overlooked as one of the elite prospects in the division.
Special Offer: Click here to sign up to MyBookie and get our exclusive sign-up bonus worth up to $1,000.
Being overlooked in the hyper-talented bantamweight division can be applied to Jonathan Martinez as well. On the surface, much of the same reasoning why Said is a problem can be stated for Martinez, given he has dangerous attributes on the feet and has proven to have effective grappling when needed. Specifically, he has a devasting left leg kick out of the southpaw position, where he can land ear-numbing kicks to the body if his opponent mirrors the southpaw stance or will land damaging outside calf kicks if his opponent stands orthodox. What makes his kicking game so effective is not only the damage he lands with but also the combination of speed and timing, meaning, the moment his opponent is vulnerable to a kick, Martinez is locked and loaded to throw that kick.
As we have seen with other kick-focused fighters such as Giga Chikadze, many opponents want to crash the distance and make the striker grapple. If done against Martinez, he has shown that taking him down is no easy task, and if taken to the mat, he can get back to his feet. The issue is that while he has checked most boxes thus far, he has not had the same level of talent faced as the likes of Said and many of the other ranked-caliber fighters. This point of contention is not “fair” for him given he can only fight who he is told to fight, but when you add this point to the fact he has been taken to the mat and he has been hit cleanly, with damage, against average to above average strikers, then the perceived ceiling of his may be a fringe ranked level. With all that said, I am a massive fan of his style and would not be shocked if he continues to evolve given his young age, and if done, he does have the striking and demonstrated grappling to see a similar rise as the aforementioned Giga Chikadze.
Prediction and Betting Guide
Early in the fight, I expect it to look like a kickboxing bout. Jonathan Martinez will be more than happy to throw his left leg kick accompanied by a down-the-barrel left hand against the unorthodox Said; and, Said will be more than happy to utilize footwork, find angles, and land powerful strikes against the somewhat hittable Martinez.
But, the moment one finds success over the other, I do expect the fighter getting the lesser end of the exchanges to shoot a takedown, and this is will Said will truly separate because if he shoots, he has more than enough offensive wrestling to get the fight to the ground and win by mauling fashion, and if Martinez shoots, Said has the demonstrated submission ability to find a finish.
All in all, this fight is Said’s to take and I do expect him to look impressive in doing so whether it be a grinding, mauling fashion on the mat for all 15 minutes or a sudden submission victory.
Pick: Said Nurmagomedov Double Chance Sub/Dec (-170)