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Nikita Krylov vs. Ryan Spann full fight preview | UFC Vegas 70

UFC 280: Oezdemir v Krylov Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight finishers Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Feb. 25, 2023) at UFC Vegas 70 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There are not many 30-year-old Light Heavyweights with 38 professional fights. Krylov first made the walk to UFC’s Octagon a decade ago, and he’s slowly refined himself from Heavyweight wild man to 205-pound contender. Fortunately, he’s never lost sight of his roots, remaining a hugely aggressive finisher.

Spann is a Contenders Series product, meaning he’s been around the roster for about half as long. It’s only in his last few fights that he’s really demonstrated his potential, however, revealing a new level of punching power that has been producing quick and violent finishes for “Superman.” Allegedly, he’s taking training more seriously than ever, and that could prove the difference.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

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BLOCKBUSTER BANTAMWEIGHT CONTENDERS’ BOUT! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) departs APEX for a special “Fight Night” extravaganza at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, on Sat., March 25, 2023, featuring a pair of thrilling 135-pound bouts. Surging No. 4-ranked contender Marlon Vera goes for his fifth consecutive win when he takes on exciting finisher and No. 5-seeded Cory Sandhagen. In UFC San Antonio’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, former women’s 135-pound champion and current No. 3-ranked Holly Holm battles Yana Santos (No. 4).

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Nikita Krylov

Record: 29-9
Key Wins: Volkan Oezdemir (UFC 280), Johnny Walker (UFC Fight Night 170), Alexander Gustafsson (UFC London), Ovince Saint Preux (UFC 236), Walt Harris (UFC on FOX 10), Marcos Rogerio de Lima (UFC Fight Night 69)
Key Losses: Jan Blachowicz (UFC Fight Night 136), Magomed Ankalaev (UFC Vegas 20) Glover Teixeira (UFC Fight Night 158), Paul Craig (UFC London), Misha Cirkunov (UFC 206)
Keys to Victory: Krylov really has a hell of a resume. He’s fought damn near the entire Top 10, giving the best difficult fights and beating most of the rest. A powerful kicker with aggressive punches, Krylov is a really great grinder too, able to drag opponents down and snatch the neck.

This is the classic case of distance. Krylov excels with his kicks and at close distance. That middle range? Krylov’s boxing has never been the best, and Spann hits hard enough to absolutely ruin his night if he spends too much time in that range. Whatever the distance, it’s imperative that Krylov first shows some punches before trying to blast his kicks, lest he get clipped like Dominick Reyes.

Krylov definitely has to incorporate the wrestling threat as well. Spann’s takedown defense has held up pretty well overall, so he shouldn’t expect to be able to easily drag him to the floor. If, however, he’s continually grinding for shots and landing hard kicks, Spann will fatigue. Suddenly, Krylov’s power punches are more likely to land, and a single successful takedown could really turn the tide for him as well.

Ryan Spann

Record: 21-7
Key Wins: Dominick Reyes (UFC 281), Misha Cirkunov (UFC Vegas 21), Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (UFC 237), Devin Clark (UFC Fight Night 161), Ion Cutelaba (UFC Vegas 54)
Key Losses: Anthony Smith (UFC Vegas 37), Johnny Walker (UFC Fight Night 178), Karl Roberson (DWTNCS 2017)
Keys To Victory: “Superman” is clearly a major physical talent. He didn’t really come to UFC as a serious knockout threat — he finished far more often via submission — but something has changed, as Spann is hurting foes left and right as of late.

I don’t know that Spann wins a decision against Krylov, who seems more primed to take over late on the strength of his wrestling grind. Fortunately, Spann has two very legitimate paths to victory well before the bell. First and foremost, Spann has an absolutely nasty guillotine choke. Despite Krylov’s prowess on the canvas, his submission defense is historically a bit shaky, so Spann should be aggressive in attacking the neck. I’m not saying he should jump guard — please don’t — but Spann can use the guillotine to really scare Krylov off shooting.

Pressure in the stand up could produce Spann’s other avenue, which is simply the knockout. As mentioned, Krylov relies on kicks more than anything else, including kicks from the backfoot. If Spann can step up through the middle of one of Krylov’s round kicks and drop the hammer while he’s on one foot, that’s probably game over.

Bottom Line

The Light Heavyweight title picture is bizarre.

Presumably, Jamahal Hill vs. Jiri Prochazka will collide for the title somewhere around late summer or early fall. After that, who knows? Magomed Ankalaev and Jan Blachowicz have unfinished business, and Alex Pereira is consistently flirting with the idea of jumping to Light Heavyweight. Finally, Aleksandar Rakic is still injured!

All this is to say there are both moving parts and a major opening at 205 lbs. The victor of this fight is surely back in consideration for the next title shot, particularly depending on the timing of all the above. Alternatively, perhaps tonight’s winner ends up squaring off the victor of Anthony Smith vs. Johnny Walker, another fairly high-profile Light Heavyweight clash.

At UFC Vegas 70, Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann will square off in the main event. Which man will earn the victory? will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 70 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 4:30 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 70 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here.

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