Perennial flyweight contender Tim Elliott returns this weekend on short notice to fight rising Chinese star Su Mudaerji at UFC Fight Night.
The fight was originally slated between Su and Allan Nascimento in Shanghai, but last-minute changes have put him in a bantamweight fight against one of the wildest flyweights in the company at the UFC Apex.
It’s a great test for both men, with Elliott undoubtedly being the biggest name on Su’s resume, and Su being the perfect level of opponent for Elliott following his submission lost to rising contender Mohammed Mokaev in October. It’s a stellar bout with polarizing styles and two guys who know how to make the most of their 15 minutes in the cage.
Despite coming in as a short-notice replacement, Elliott goes into this bout as a slight favorite.
What’s interesting about this fight is that both men entering the cage Saturday lost their last bout in similar ways. Su got caught in a phenomenal triangle after a war with Matt Schnell, while Elliott just got handed an arm triangle loss in the third round by Mohammed Mokaev. This isn’t to say, however, that either man is particularly weak on the ground. Elliott is an extremely proficient wrestler with some vicious ground and pound, using his relentless pace and pressure to break his opponents down from their guard. Su, although he isn’t a specialist, has some great clinch wrestling and takedown defense, while also being extremely scrappy and dangerous off his back.
It’s hard to say exactly where this fight is going to play out, but I can guarantee a majority of the damage from both men is going to happen in the clinch. Su has some incredible short elbows that he uses as he both enters and breaks from the clinch, which stop his opponents in their tracks and inflict some nasty cuts. Elliott uses his wrestling to get deep in the pocket and fight for inside position, where he uses some nasty dirty boxing to wear his opponents out on the feet. It’s probably going to be Elliott who shoots for the first takedown, just given his wrestling pedigree, but I feel like he’d be better off shooting later in the fight once Su is already a bit worn out.
On the feet, I’d say Su has a fairly clear advantage. His ability to maintain distance from his opponents is one of the impressive in the division and the diversity of his strikes only makes him all the more intimidating. He has an incredible inside calf kick that was doing some serious damage to Schnell and set him up for some heavy shots before they went to the ground. He has a laser-guided left cross that goes right through his opponent’s guard and his body kicks do a great job in forcing them to drop their hands. Elliott’s striking has definitely improved as he’s developed in the UFC; his boxing has gotten fairly sharp and he’s done a much better job of avoiding damage to his legs, but I don’t think he can compete with Su in a shootout without taking a fight changing fight, so once again I think that taking it straight to the ground would be within his best interests.
Prediction and Betting Guide
For the first time in a long time, I think the oddsmakers have got it right in making this a pick ’em, although, given the short-notice nature of the bout, I’m going to have to go with Su. Now, this fight is at 135 lbs, which takes the cutting discrepency out of the picture, but I still think that a guy like Su is way too tricky of a fight to prepare for on short notice.
I don’t really see a finish happening, just because of how tough both guys are, but wouldn’t be surprised to see a submission or ground-and-pound TKO by either man. Su Mudaerji moneyline at +110 would be a solid pick to build a parlay, but I’d go Su by Decision at +550 for some stronger money.
Pick: Su Mudaerji by decision (+550)
Lines to Watch: Su Mudaerji Moneyline (+110) or Elliott by Decision (+225) or Fight to go the Distance +130