Vitor Petrino after his highlight-reel knockout on Dana White's Contender Series (Zuffa LLC)

The man with three nicknames, Vitor “Icao/Merciless/Cabuloso” Petrino, retained his perfect record following an exciting sprawl and brawl slugfest in his debut. He is 8-0 as a professional with six wins by knockout.

Nearly a decade older, 34-year-old Marcin Prachnio is 16-6 as a pro and 3-4 under the UFC banner. Prachnio began his UFC tenure going 0-3 with three first-round knockout losses but has gone 3-1 in his last four fights.

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Betting Odds

Petrino opened as a solid favorite but has still taken money, and his odds have grown throughout the week.

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Fight Breakdown

Petrino is a raw but incredibly dangerous fighter. He’s bricked up and physically imposing for the 205 division. He tends to swing big and wild on the feet, looking to hurt his opponent and deal as much damage as possible with each blow. His striking is sloppy, but the power with which he throws makes up for the lack of technique.

Opponents have found success waiting for Petrino to overextend on his big strikes and then countering him while he’s exposed. Because of his power and athleticism, waiting for the overextension is a dangerous game to play. More impressively, in his last fight, Petrino showed a significant improvement in his wrestling. He was able to shoot several takedowns, much like his striking, with power and athleticism albeit with limited technique.

Petrino has several of the “unteachable” skills in MMA: natural power, athleticism, size, and aggression. However, he, for now, lacks the “teachable” skills: proper striking and wrestling technique. Given his natural skills and youth, it’s fair to expect Petrino to look better and better each time he steps onto the canvas.

Prachnio was touted as a large and athletic karate-style power puncher before the UFC. His karate stance and sneaky kicking game allowed him to keep his distance and force opponents to take a risk to close distance which created an opening for Prachnio to land a power shot of his own. The problem with that style is Prachnio does not have the chin necessary to implement this game plan, and he started his career with three straight knockout losses.

Intelligently making a change, Prachnio kept his karate-style game but not to set up power shots. Instead, Prachio now tries to use long jabs and front kicks to keep his distance and keep his chin more protected. Then, if an opponent can push him backward and crash distance, instead of exchanging power shots, Prachnio will look to clinch up and use his natural strength to hold and opponent against the cage, again further protecting his shaky chin.

Prediction and Best Bet

Prachnio can no longer win violent 50-50 exchange type of fights, at least not how he used to in the past. Instead, Prachnio needs the fight to be slow, extended, and steeped in technique rather than a pressure-heavy and grueling match.

Meanwhile, the best way to describe Petrino’s style is violence. His pressure, power, and wrestling are a perfect concoction to cause problems for Prachnio, who doesn’t have the cardio, power, or style to expose Petrino’s dangerous but raw game.

Instead, I like Petrino to wear on Prachnio early, likely with big overhand rights and clinch fighting. Then, as Prachnio’s cardio depletes and he’s forced to each power shots, I expect Petrino to find the finish soon after. Give me the far more athletic and dangerous fighter with better pressure and cardio to instigate and win a brawl.

Best Bet: Petrino wins inside the distance (-185)

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