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We have a pivotal fight in the Light Heavyweight division, as Nikita Krylov takes on Alexander Gustafsson. A loser of two straight and three of the last four, Krylov heads into this fight urgently needing a victory. Despite the rough patch, which has seen Krylov win just two of his six fights during his second stint in the UFC, the Ukrainian is still ranked eleventh in the division. Meanwhile, Gustafsson returns to the octagon for the first time in nearly two years. Having lost three straight and the luster to fight over the years, it will be interesting to see if the former Light Heavyweight champion has anything left in the tank.

This is a career defining fight for both, as Krylov is dangerously close to running out of chances and Gustafsson may be a loss away from calling it a career. The younger man by five years, Krylov is fairly well rounded. While accurate and powerful on the feet, Krylov often looks to get the fight to the ground. With good grappling and submission abilities, which has seen him choke out fifteen foes, Krylov is no slouch on the ground. Looking to avoid grappling is Gustafsson. A striker, who is technical and active on the feet. Not overly powerful, Gustafsson has been one to put away opponents by shear volume. While the Swede’s wrestling and grappling are sneaky, especially the trips, the ground has often been his downfall. Being submitted in the last to fights, one would think Gustafsson will look to avoid grappling with an opponent who’s won 56% of his fights via submission.

In a fight that has a lot of question marks surrounding it, I’m going to side with the more active fighter in Krylov. Having found little success of late, one could attribute that to a strength of schedule. One that includes five top ranked opponents in the last six fights, including number one, two and four. Facing a former title challenger in Gustafsson won’t be easy, but Krylov has the length to deal with Gustafsson. The Ukrainian also has the wrestling, which has aided him to a takedown in seven consecutive fights. While I can foresee this fight ultimately being close, I believe Krylov’s activity and control time sway the judges. With that said, I predict that Krylov wins via decision.

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