Terrance McKinney and Fares Ziam will go head-to-head this Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 202.
McKinney, a social media and highlight-reel sensation is 27 and 11-3 as a professional. He is 1-0 in the UFC following a spectacular :07 finish in his debut. His opponent, Ziam is three years younger but has one more professional fight. He is 2-1 in the octagon with all fights going to decision.
The odds are growing narrower as we get closer to Saturday Night. They might be near pick’em come fight time.
- Ziam: -120
- McKinney: +100
McKinney has a large social media following after his string of viral first-round finishes, the most notable being a seven-second knockout in T.Wrecks’ debut. While his power is evident, it is important to note that his knockouts are a newfound path to victory. McKinney comes from an accredited wrestling background and even has his high school wrestling coach in his corner. Historically, before the viral knockouts, McKinney would explode from across the cage and hunt a takedown that he could turn into a quick submission victory. Recently, McKinney has continued his explosive blitz style; but, rather than shoot a takedown, has simply knocked his opponents unconscious. In either case, it is evident that McKinney is an ultra-gifted athlete with an ultra-aggressive style. As he progresses and quick finishes become less common, McKinney’s durability, cardio, and technique will be tested. A wrestle boxer with his natural gifts should continue to evolve into an exciting and dangerous mixed martial artist.
Even though McKinney is 3 years older, he is discussed as the prospect while Ziam as the more veteran fighter. This perspective is because of Ziam’s style- methodical, patient, and sometimes boring. All 3 of his UFC fights have gone to decision and in all 3 fights, Ziam has the same strategy. He has a very technical striking approach that follows behind a peppering jab. He uses his reach as a weapon, pumps his jab forward, and keeps his opponents out of striking range. Once the fight progresses, Ziam will follow up with a cross or a hook behind his jab; but, ultimately, he looks to outpoint his opponents for a victory. Once in tight, Ziam again relies on his frame and is able to post well enough to keep the fight standing. In the clinch, he’ll implore a Muay Thai grip, land some knees to the body, look to exit, and continue to strike from range. This patient and low-volume strategy often doesn’t win fans but it does win fights.
Ziam is favored because McKinney hasn’t been tested and Ziam is defensively sound enough to force McKinney into a more technical fight. However, McKinney is the more talented fighter and has more paths to victory. I see McKinney blitzing forward early, unable to land a viral knockout, trading with Ziam at range, and then going back to his roots- wrestling. Ziam has proven tough to get down, but, once down, can be controlled and finished. I see McKinney exploiting that opportunity.
Prediction: McKinney by submission
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.