Nicolae “Nick” Negumereanu, 27 years old, is making his third walk to the UFC octagon on Saturday night. He comes in with a 10-1 record. He’s finished nine of his fights, six by knockout, and third by submission. Negumereanu’s sole loss was a decision loss in 2019.
“Hurricane Ike” Villanueva is 10 years older than Negumereanu and has a bevy of experience compared to his foe. Villanueva is 18-12 professionally; but, he is 1-3 in the UFC. His sole win was a 2nd round knockout in 2021; and, all of his losses were knockouts.
Negumereanu vs. Villanueva Betting Odds
Negumereanu is a little more than a 2:1 favorite over “Hurricane Ike.”
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Negumereanu vs. Villanueva Breakdown
This is a fight that could be incredibly exciting, incredibly sloppy; or, incredibly, both. Negumereanu is a young, physical, and tough light heavyweight. However, he is unproven and his previous knockout power has yet to translate to the UFC. Villanueva is a grizzled veteran who has proven his power is at a UFC level; but, his UFC tenure has been unsuccessful and his once solid chin has proved vulnerable.
Negumereanu relies heavily on his solid chin and habitually moves forward, despite getting his head knocked back often. He, on average, absorbs 5.7 significant strikes per minute while only returning 2.7 of his own. Moreover, his striking defense is nonexistent, he only defense 26% of strikes. However, Negumereanu has never been knocked out; so, his Homer Simpson fight style has worked thus far. Offensively, Negumereanu wants to stand toe to toe in the center of the octagon and swing big. This style is exciting but presents problems against UFC fighters who have a similarly strong chin, the power to finally put Negumereanu away, or the technique to stick and move.
Speaking of landing heavy, Villanueva has shown dynamite in his hands. When he fights, he tends to allow his opponent to push forward; then, when he reaches the cage, Villanueva ducks his head and unloads a fast and powerful combination. If he connects, he can put his opponent away. We saw this in his sole UFC win. However, if he swings and misses (this happens frequently as Hurricane Ike only has a 41% striking accuracy) we’ve seen that he can be the one who gets knocked out.
Negumereanu vs. Villanueva Prediction
Negumereanu has shown a solid chin that could withstand Villanueva’s power but Negumereanu hasn’t shown the power to test Villanueva’s suspect chin. So, who wins? A guy with a solid chin but questions in power or the guy with power but a questionable chin? While my favorite bet is under 1.5 rounds, I’m siding with Negumereanu in this one. Villanueva should have walked through his last opponent but couldn’t knock him out. Negumereanu has a much better chin than that fighter; and, if Villanueva can’t get the knockout early, he struggles and often gets knocked out.
Prediction: Negumereanu by knockout
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.