Rinat Fakhretdinov vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos prediction & odds | UFC Fight Night 231 1

The surging Rinat Fakretdinov returns after his stunning submission over Kevin Lee in July by making his way to the UFC octagon this Saturday. Nicknamed “Gladiator,” Fakhretdinov is the first Tatar fighter to represent his heritage in the UFC and proudly showcases his Combat Sambo roots in order to do so.

His next opponent, however, is a UFC veteran who has taken on names such as Li Jingliang and Sean Strickland and is coming off back-to-back wins against Benoit Saint-Denis and Abubakar Nurmagomedov. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos has been in the UFC since 2015, following a successful championship run in Jungle Fight, the largest organization in his native Brazil. With a background in Capoeira and a black belt in jiu-jitsu, dos Santos is a force anywhere the fight takes him.

Betting Odds

Rinat Fakhretdinov comes in as a decent favorite over the Brazilian.

  • Rinat Fakhretdinov: -400 (BetUS)
  • Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos: +300 (BetUS)

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Fight Breakdown

Fakhretdinov is a conventional fighter with good striking, a lot of power, and exceptional grappling skills. When striking he utilizes his lead arm and leg very actively, using his power jab and lead left hook as well as a constant switch kick left. He essentially works behind the lead shoulder as a defense dipping inwards to slip shots, and then throws a whipping right hand at the odd point, which catches his opponents off guard. He carries great power in his rear hand and throws it unpredictably, behind his constant jabbing and feinting from the other side.

dos Santos is much more spread out with his weapons, switching stance and mixing between wild spinning capoeira and standard solid Muay Thai. He does prefer to strike, and the largest disparity in skill here will be at range. Although Fakhretdinov has good kicks, he is relatively constrained, while dos Santos can work many targets and set up power spins and switches from outside. That being said, because Fakhretdinov likes to hide behind the check left hook and shoulder, he does blade his stance leaving him open to outside low kicks, so when fighting southpaw watch for dos Santos to chip away at the leg.

However, it is unlikely that Fakhretdinov will entertain the striking exchanges for too long, he likes to force his opponents back towards the cage, which is already a good thing to do against a kicker, but her then likes to shoot to the hip against the fence. dos Santos has a resume of strong Eastern European wrestlers on his record and has spent time training with cuban wrestlers in preparation. The result is a very strong defence game on the fence, using a heavy sprawl and chin strap to drive their head up away from the hips.

Yet, Fakhretdinov does a good job of finishing his takedowns by using the waistlock to duck to the back and ride his opponents until they leave and opening. It’s important to get the fight to the floor that Fakhretdinov relies on swiveling to the back and mixing in trips and sweeps in between attempts. Trying to work straight shots is too predictable against a guy who has so extensively prepared to deal with this style.


I am inclined to say that Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos shouldn’t really be this big of an underdog. He is gritty, can handle himself anywhere and can clip anyone with enough KO power with his wild striking to always cause an upset. On top of this, recently, he has hung in with very high-level fighters, edging close decisions, regardless of controversy and proving if he makes it a dog fight he is always still in the running.

However, his ability to defend takedowns comes with a caveat, he has been caught just defending and losing out potentially via control time, unable to get himself back into the round after dropping it in this way. It is very likely that the two have a competitive first round, and Fakhretdinov goes to a pressure and control game in the later rounds to win a decision.

I do believe that Fakretdinov will likely win, but I also believe that both men are so durable and consistently competitive with almost anyone that we see a hard-fought decision at the end of the night if not a late stoppage.

Pick: Fight to go over 2.5 rounds (-120 at BetUS)

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