Chinese-Tibetan fighter Su Mudaerji will face one of America’s top flyweights at UFC on ABC 3 this Saturday. Su Mudaerji, who was scheduled to fight Manel Kape earlier this year, found out he would have to wait to return to the cage when Kape was forced to withdraw from the bout at the last minute. Mudaerji has subsequently been away from action since January of 2021 but looks to return to full form against Matt Schnell this weekend.
Schnell, who most recently lost an emotional fight in May, is gunning to return to form. After his mother passed away during his training camp, Schnell demonstrated to the world the kind of man he is and the fighting spirit he possesses when he elected to remain on the card and dedicate the performance to her. Coming up short halted the momentum of going 5-1-1 in his last seven, but watch for “Danger” to return to the octagon with a vengeance.
Schnell will walk into the cage as a +210 underdog. What this means is that fans who bet $100 on the American could receive $210 in profit should he pull off the upset.
Matt Schnell is a sharp and technical striker with fluid grappling and dangerous submissions. His greatest issue in this fight is that the evolution of his style also plays into the kind of fight that Su Mudaerji thrives in. Early in Matt Schnell’s career, he would fall victim to moments where his chin would not hold up. This primarily happened when his aggression took over and he pushed himself into positions or pace that left him vulnerable but has since learned to slow down and work more patiently and methodically.
Su Mudaerji, however, also wants a comfortable pace in which he can move in and out and compete in a chess match of sorts. Technically, Schnell is primarily boxing based in his attack, and will actually lull his opponents into a boxing match before occasionally landing an unexpected kick, normally to the body or legs in order to break rhythm. However, his best work is done with the hands, usually slipping and rolling underneath shots that he draws out with his jab. He has a nice 2-roll under the counter to the lead hook combination as well as a nice jab to angle off lead hook, or uppercut. The consistency is his ability to stick and move behind his jab, and then follow up with longer combinations.
Mudaerji’s style is very different, he does not typically lean over his front knee like Schnell to slip and weave inside the pocket, instead choosing to snipe with his laser-like left straight and then fading away. Most of his entries come from his long traditional kicks, which he also uses to maintain the distance gap by stabbing his lead sidekick down the center pipe to avoid counters. The greatest issue for Schnell in striking range is that while he wants to stick, move and set up big combinations, Mudaerji never plants and sits in one spot to trade, he is always darting in and out with kicks and straight punches. The best way Schnell can combat this is to find a way to get Mudaerji fighting with his heel to the cage, but even this is far easier said than done as Mudaerji’s kicks maintain range and his lateral movement has so far been a cut above the rest.
Where Shchnell has a distinct advantage is in the ground work, but not necessarily grappling in general. Mudaerji’s greatest aspect of his wrestling is his wrestling and scrambling, he is extremely difficult to takedown and even if he is, his ability to scramble back to his feet and threaten enough to get away is also very high level. He is not a large submission threat, but he makes it difficult for anyone to force that game upon him. He will of course take top position if the opportunity arises, but this usually comes off of sweeps via caught kicks or trips, not traditional or relentless wrestling.
Schnell’s greatest attributes on the mat are his transitionary submissions, namely his guillotine and his triangle, which he will jump guard for if he feels it’s tight. His submission game surpass Mudaerji’s but his takedown game is likely on the lower end when pit against Mudaerji’s takedown defense skills, and even if they were more competitive, it’s a difficult task to enter range comfortably enough to set up a good shot on Mudaerji or secure a clinch. Schnell has demonstrated some technical mistakes that seem to be wrestling habits such as giving up his neck for a takedown or posting on the mat to maintain top control and giving up the limb, however I doubt that Mudaerji is at a level of jiu jitsu where he can exploit these in time that Schnell won’t become savvy to the situation.
Overall this is a difficult match-up for Schnell. He has to choose between maintaining his patient chess-like style and meet Mudaerji face to face in the kind of fight the Tibetan fighter wants or go back to his earlier aggressive side and risk getting knocked out. Both men are very calculated in their striking and so expect a slower paced more methodical fight than some others on the card.
It would be wise for Schnell to force a fight that is as mixed as possible, the threat of the takedown would be a major help, but consistently bridging the gap enough so as to not have to shoot from afar is an entirely different task unto itself.
Prediction: Su Mudaerji to win (-270 odds at MyBookie)
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.