Vitor Petrino vs. Anton Turkalj prediction | UFC Vegas 71 1

Prospects collide when Vitor “Icao” Petrino, 25, makes his UFC debut following a second-round knockout on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2022. He still holds his “o” with a perfect 7-0 record, 6 knockouts, and 1 decision.

He takes on one of the more memorable personalities and nicknames from 2022’s Dana White’s Contender Series: Anton “The Pleasure Man” Turkalj. Turkalj is 8-1 as a professional, earning his first loss in his debut to uber-prospect Jailton Almeida. Beyond his sole loss, Turkalj has 5 knockouts, 2 submissions, and 1 decision win.

The odds for this bout are identical, making it a true pick’em fight.

Petrino as dangerous as he is aggressive in the cage. He is a big and well-built light heavyweight who goes all out from the opening seconds. Petrino, on the feet, swings from his ankles and hits hard. When he connects, announcers and coaches can hear the impact from ringside. But, because of his big swings, when he misses, he overextends, hits a lot of air, and can get himself in a vulnerable position.

Because of his natural athleticism, when he has the energy, he can quickly get out of bad positions and even counter with power from odd angles. When his energy depletes, a common occurrence in the rare fights that exited the first round, Petrino still swings just as big but his movement and reactions are slower which makes him getting into bad positions even more dangerous.

Petrino rarely looks to wrestle himself, much preferring a stand-up brawl where his size, speed, athleticism, and power propel him to a flashy finish; but, in fights where he’s been forced to grapple, Petrino’s strength proved to be a legitimate path out of bad positions. On DWCS, Petrino was taken down but was able to reverse position through sheer power. Then, his opponent nearly secured a submission from his back but Petrino, again using natural strength, picked up his opponent and slammed him to the canvas to break the hold. After that wild exchange, Petrino was gassed and nearly finished but rallied to find his own finish later in the fight.

As long as Petrino has the cardio and wherewithal to remain to stand, he’ll be dangerous. But, his explosive movements, limited skillset, and questionable cardio make each fight more and more challenging the longer it lasts.

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Turkalj is a highly confident, boisterous, and entertaining fighter. He likes to brawl on the feet but does his best work in the clinch where he can land heavy knees and transition to the back of his opponent. When he is striking, Turkalj looks to put on a show. He swings big, sometimes throws athletic spinning attacks, and looks to end the fight in emphatic fashion.

However, he moves linearly, misses his target when he overswings, and leaves himself with an exposed chin on the centerline often. Turkalj ate clean shots in his DWCS fight but absorbed them well and rallied for his own finish. While that Homer Simpson strategy might work for now, while he’s still young, Turkalj will need to mind his Ps and Qs more closely in the cage.

Turkalj is at his best in the clinch. He is big for the division, has long limbs, and knows how to find openings in narrow spaces for elbows and knees. Turkalj is adept at holding fighters against the cage, landing dirty Muay Thai strikes, and then can take the back. Once on the back, Turkalj has a nasty rear-naked choke. When he’s striking, Turkalj is putting on a show; but, when he grapples, Turkalj tends to cash a bonus check.

Prediction and Betting Guide

Both men are exciting fighters who have the tendency to aggressively hunt finishes but either have poor cardio or poor defense themselves. That spells a finish to me. Petrino should have the edge on the feet and Turkalj is hittable. Meanwhile, Turkalj should have the edge in grappling and Petrino gasses out quickly.

I think the most likely outcome is Turkalj surviving the first few minutes of a brawl, forcing a clinch against the cage, and then taking the back of an exhausted Petrino for a submission win.

But, given the +1209 price tag, my best bet is a simple under 2.5 rounds. Both men can finish it quickly and neither man seems concerned with defense or a long fight.

Best Bet: Fight lasts under 2.5 rounds (-120 odds at MyBookie)

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