Two prospects in the heavyweight division are being put to the test against each other here at UFC 164 in Milwaukee – Soa “The Hulk” Palelei (18-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) and Nikita “Al Capone” Krylov (15-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) are set to square up in a fight that almost surely will not go the distance. Pay close attention to these two fighters as both of these prospects show great promise despite only one being victorious. Palelei, having made his first UFC stint back in 2007, looks to redeem himself and prove that he has become a force since his TKO loss to Eddie Sancez at UFC 79. The Ukrainian Krylov, on the other hand, is simply looking to continue his 100% first round finish rate when victorious and earn his 16th win in his UFC debut and represent the Ukraine with a victory.
Miraculously, at 21-years old, in Krylov’s first year of being a professional fighter making his debut in July of 2012, the Ukrainian fighter went 11-0 in under eight months. often times fighting more than once per week. This year Krylov has gone 3-1 only losing to Vladimir Mishchenko (the man who gave Krylov both of his losses, both by arm-triangle choke) but earning himself three knock out victories. With ten of Krylov’s victories coming by way of submission and five coming by way of knock out, “Al Capone’s” record is a testament to how well rounded he is and at such a young age he is one of the most exciting prospects to enter the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Boasting a 100% finish rate of his own, Palelei is a black belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu despite earning 14 of 18 wins by knockout and only 4 by submission. The Australian has currently won eight straight fights, his most recent being against former UFC heavyweight Sean McCorkle. Palelei has been in the game for quite a while making his professional debut being in 2002 and even fighting in PrideFC, but it has been the last two years of his career where he has begun to shine going undefeated since his loss to Daniel Cormier back in 2010.
If there is to be an x-factor in this fight, it would have to be the different levels in competition each fighter has faced. Krylov has only fought outside of the Ukraine one time in an M-1 event in neighboring country Russia, where as Palelei has been fighting across the world facing opponents like Eddie Sanchez, Daniel Cormier, and Sean McCorkle. While it isn’t an all-star resume one would assume that Palelei is more accustomed to tougher competition as Krylov still has yet to leave the first round, though both fighters appear to be facing their most dangerous opponents yet.
Prediction: Soa Palelei def. Nikita Krylov via submission in round 2.
Palelei will drag Krylov into the second round, a place that Krylov still has yet to experience in his professional career. Krylov’s chin is very solid and while Krylov may get the better of Palelei in round one, the second round will begin to wear on the Ukrainian fighter where Palelei will exploit Krylov’s guard and utilize his Jiujitsu experience complimented by his heavy handed ground and pound. It’s worth noting that Krylov’s only two losses have been by arm-triangle choke from the same opponent, and Palelei would be wise to hunt for that submission. Palelei’s chances increase as the fight goes on, though never count out Krylov’s ability to finish in the first round.