The second fight of UFC 272 will likely be one of the most exciting fights of the night. Devonte “King Kage” Smith, with an 11-3 professional and 3-2 UFC record will face Ludovit “Mr. Highlight” Klein. Klein, stepping in on short notice, has a 17-4 pro record and is 1-2 in the UFC. Combined, these two strikers have 27 wins and all but 1 loss by finish.
Smith is a slight favorite over the late replacement in Klein
- Smith: -170
- Klein: +140
Smith, in the octagon, is a hunter. He will slowly push forward, stalk his prey, and look for the kill shot. He is incredibly quick, explosive, and powerful. As soon as the opportunity presents itself, Smith can tag his opponent instantly and devastatingly. Typically, Smith will search for or create an opening by pumping his jab forward as a range finder and landing snapping leg kicks to slow his opponent’s movement. In an ideal fight, Smith fights at his range where he can use his significant reach to corner his opponent, slow their movement, and land a heavy combination to turn their lights out. Smith struggles when an opponent can crash that distance, negate the reach advantage, and land heavily on his chin. Ultimately, Smith is a talented and powerful striker who, at range, can look impressive. But, he has been wobbled and dropped by lesser strikers because his own defense is porous, especially in the pocket.
Klein, similarly to Smith, is a lethal striker. He has a heavy and fast straight left and a dangerous left head kick. His strikes are fast and powerful, often coming in big burst moments after prolonged lapses in output. At only 27 years old, Klein’s offensive striking, a lethal combination of speed and power, makes him a prospect with significant hype. However, Klein has struggled and disappointed since joining the UFC. He has a negative strike differential, has cardio issues, and has put himself in ill-advised positions. His striking defense is slow and robotic, a stark contrast to his quick-twitch offense. A more dangerous issue is that Klein seems to zone out at times during his fights where he doesn’t throw any real volume and stops moving almost completely. Initially, this strange phenomenon looked like an exhausted fighter taking a break; but, it’s more likely he is trying to download or bait his opponent. Despite his gaps in defense, Klein is a special striker who can, and has, finished fights violently and impressively.
Offensively, these two fighters are dangerous, violent, and fun to watch. Defensively, they have significant gaps and can be caught. In a fight like this, I expect the odds to be near pick’em; but, because Klein is stepping in last minute and a weight class up, he is the dog. I still think their positives and negatives are similar; so, give me the dog money in what should be a short but fun fight.
Prediction: Klein by KO/TKO
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.