The 25-year-old elite prospect Umar Nurmagomedov (13-0) is set to take on the always dangerous veteran, Brian “Boom” Kelleher (24-12) at UFC 272 this Saturday night.
Umar has finished 7 of his 13 wins, and 3 of his most recent 4 bouts; meanwhile, Kelleher has finished an impressive 18 of his 24 wins. Each fighter is extremely dangerous regardless of where the fight ensues, and each looks to finish the fight when the opportunity presents itself. This affinity for putting the opponent to sleep creates a recipe for a highly entertaining fight between the high-ceiling prospect against the tough, grizzled veteran.
Umar is an incredibly large -720 favorite, an implied 88% win probability, against Kelleher.
- Kelleher: +500
- Nurmagomedov: -720
Umar, a cousin to Khabib Nurmagomedov, is relatively under the radar when discussing the best prospects within the UFC. This is likely due to him only having one fight in the UFC, but, after this fight against Kelleher, the excitement and buzz surrounding the likes of Chimaev, Rakhmonov, Arman, etc. will be given to Umar, he is simply that good. This forecast in popularity is due to Umar’s new-age, Dagestan style. Meaning, although Umar has extremely impressive wrestling, he has a plethora of skills elsewhere that he can use against his opponents. On the feet, Umar, having unbelievable cardio, throws an onslaught of kicks at his opponents from both stances. Combining non-stop kicking with a mesmerizing arsenal of kicks – front kick, lead head kick, liver kick, body kick, etc. – results in him having an extremely entertaining, and effective, style. Perhaps the most dangerous kick he has within his arsenal is his question mark kick. He throws this kick after attacking the inside lead leg of his opponent, throwing strike after strike; and once the opportunity arises, Umar simply raises the leg to land the kick to his opponent’s head – when done effectively, the kick not only lands with tenacious ferocity but is also a thing of beauty to view.
Once Umar is satisfied with his striking, he has the typical Sambo wrestling skills to get the fight to the ground. Once there, he favors the submission game over typical ground and pound. More specifically, Umar has an affinity to find the back of his opponent, where he then secures his hooks in with his feet and finishes the fight via a rear-naked choke. His style of having clean and swift transitions on the ground, seeking a finish, is both entertaining and extremely impressive. Given he has the ground game, striking, and cardio, the only question Umar has to answer is if he can have his way with a tough veteran of the sport; if so, he will check that box off his list, to then, look to fight a ranked fighter and begin his climb to title contention.
As stated prior, Kelleher is a battle-tested, tough veteran of the sport. Although he lacks the elite athleticism and speed needed to see a significant climb up the bantamweight division, he possesses skills that will be tough fight for any non-ranked fighter to overcome. The reason why he is such a tough test is due to him having an extremely dangerous overhand right that is accompanied by having a solid ground game. More specifically, Kelleher does a very good job pressuring his opponent on the feet, throws the big right hand, and if the punch misses, he seamlessly transitions to a clinch against the cage. Once here, Kelleher either secures the takedown where he can inflict ground and pound or he loses the position, his opponent attempts to land a takedown, and once there, Kelleher finds the neck to lock up his patented guillotine – 7 of his 10 submission wins are by guillotine. The main issue for Kelleher is that this game plan has proved ineffective against higher-level fighters given these fighters can avoid the overhand right and avoid positions that give up their neck.
When predicting the winner of this fight, as with any Kelleher fight, directs the analysis to the opponent and assess if they have the legitimate potential to be a top 15-20 ranked fighter in the near future. Given I fully anticipate Umar being a ranked fighter in the precibal future, this assessment is complete. For this reason, along with the breakdown of Umar’s elite skills, I am quite confident in backing Umar in this matchup. This confidence is not farfetched, as evident by the massive -650 price tag. To cut down this price, I am electing to choose Umar by finish. His speed and unique strikes should prove effective against the slow-moving Kelleher; and, although Kelleher is solid on the ground, his skills are far more offensive than defensive, as such, Umar will likely have success in inflicting fight-ending attacks on the mat. Whether it be a social media trending KO kick or a backpack-style submission win, I foresee Umar putting Kelleher away within the 15-minute affair.
Bet: Umar Inside the Distance