September 25, 2023
UFC Fight Night predictions — Nikita Krylov vs. Ryan Spann: Fight card, odds, start time, live stream

The UFC light heavyweight contender pool remains murky after Jiri Prochazka vacated the divisional crown late last year. Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann seek to further complicate things when they collide at UFC Fight Night on Saturday.

Krylov (29-9) enters his first main event on the best run of his second UFC stint. Krylov has struggled to piece together more than a single win since returning to the promotion in 2018. His momentum morphed from middling to non-existent after back-to-back losses to Paul Craig and Magomed Ankalaev, the first consecutive losses of Krylov’s 11-year career. A step back in competition afforded Krlyov the opportunity to rebuild. He knocked out Alexander Gustafsson in approximately one minute last summer and beat Volkan Oezdemir in the fall. Krylov teeters just outside UFC’s light heavyweight top five and could angle himself for a big next fight.

“I want fights with guys who are higher than me in the rankings because I want contender fights, but when my manager sent me, ‘I have a main event for Ryan Spann,’ that’s first for me, so listen it’s a main event, so it’s good,” Krylov told reporters at Wednesday’s media day. “That’s why Spann is OK. He’s a tough guy, interesting fight.”

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Expectations were high for Spann (21-7) coming off a contract-earning performance on “Dana White’s Contender Series” in 2018. Victories in his first three UFC fights, including stoppages of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Devin Clark, reinforced those expectations. A split decision win over Sam Alvey was the first sign of trouble, followed by first-round losses to Johnny Walker and Anthony Smith in two of his next three fights. Spann appears to have turned a corner, enacting his own pair of Round 1 stoppages over Ion Cutelaba and Dominick Reyes in his last two appearances.

“I don’t do this to show off,” Spann said. “I don’t do this to fight for no reason. I want what I want, so I can get out when I can get out. I want to get in and out, and the longer it takes me to get there, the longer I got to stay.

“I don’t know his style. I don’t know what he’s going to do, I don’t care what he’s going to try to do. I just know that if I have fun, and be calm, I’ll see everything.”

The most tantalizing offer on the main card is the long-awaited return of Tatiana Suarez. “The Ultimate Fighter” winner had world champion written all over her, but her career was significantly derailed by injuries. Suarez has been out of action for nearly four years with various neck and knee injuries. Suarez (8-0) has fought only five times in the UFC, including her 2016 debut, and is approaching the tail-end of her athletic prime at 32 years old. Boasting wins over former UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza and current women’s flyweight title challenger Alexa Grasso, Suarez makes her flyweight debut against Montana De La Rosa.

“It’s definitely been frustrating,” Suarez said. “If I was focused on my frustrations, I would probably never get here. Regardless of my frustrations, I made sure to stay motivated and just remember that I want to be the best in the world and that I have to have that mentality whether life is going my way or it’s not. Even after all those years when I was rehabilitating my neck, it was a struggle every single day, especially when you can’t do what you love.

“I think I’m going to be a champion… I can’t wait to get the belt and then defend it as many times as I can.”

Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.

UFC Fight Night card, odds

Nikita Krylov -170 Ryan Spann +145 Light heavyweight
Andre Muniz -215 Brendan Allen +175 Middleweight
Augusto Sakai -135 Don’Tale Mayes +115 Heavyweight
Tatiana Suarez -900 Montana De La Rosa +600 Women’s flyweight
Mike Malott -205 Yohan Lainesse +170 Welterweight

UFC Fight Night viewing information

Date: Feb. 25 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: UFC Apex — Las Vegas, Nevada
TV channel: ESPN+

Prediction

Nikita Krylov vs. Ryan Spann: Which way you lean is almost solely dependent on how much confidence you have in Spann’s ability to land on his opponent. Krylov presents a versatile threat and is a thoroughbred challenger, achieving 12 KOs and 15 submissions in 29 career fights. Spann is a potent finisher himself with 12 career submissions and six KOs, but he relies more on sheer athleticism than bulletproof technique. If Spann catches Krylov in a submission, it’s probably because the punch that preceded it didn’t knock him out cold. Spann has a bad habit of putting himself off-balance and Krylov, the more technical and durable fighter, will exploit those mistakes. Most of the statistics favor Krylov: he has more experience, more stoppages, longer average fights, more striking output, better accuracy, absorbs fewer strikes, lands more takedowns per fight and has the edge in takedown defense. Most will agree this is not going 25 minutes. Don’t be surprised if Krylov gets a takedown, leading to a ground-and-pound or submission finish. Krylov via TKO3