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UFC Vegas 20: Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev Fight Preview

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After a fantastic card last weekend, we now move on to UFC Vegas 20! Another stacked event featuring Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev. A fight where two prospects just 28 years of age will take the cage, looking to firmly etch their name at the top of the light heavyweight division.

Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev is sure to be action-packed! Ankalaev has been on a tear since bouncing back from his UFC debut loss, with five wins and four finishes since that last-second comeback by Paul Craig at UFC Fight Night 127. On the other side of the equation, we’ve got Nikita Krylov. The more experienced fighter who is 2-2 so far in his second UFC tenure.

The Road To Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev

Nikita Krylov (27-7, 8-5 UFC)

Nikita Krylov punching Glover Teixeira.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – SEPTEMBER 14: (R-L) Nikita Krylov of Ukraine punches Glover Teixeira of Brazil in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Rogers Arena on September 14, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)

“The Miner” is a grinder coming out of Ukraine, and he brings some relentless grappling to the table that exhausts his opponents. With 10 knockouts and 15 submissions out of 26 wins, Krylov is a finisher who consistently gets it done.

First getting a start in promotions such as the European Combat Sambo Federation, Oplot Challenge, and Gladiators FC; Krylov quickly acquired a 12-0 record with a plethora of submissions and a few devastating knockouts sprinkled in. He suffered his first professional loss to Vladimir Mishchenko at Oplot Challenge 22, before winning a fight and losing again to Mishchenko at Oplot Challenge 40.

With a 13-2 record, one more impressive win would still be all it would take to land the UFC contract for “The Miner.” Going 6-3 in his first UFC tenure, Krylov would rack up impressive wins against the likes of Walt Harris (UFC on Fox 10) and Ed Herman (UFC 201) before losing to Misha Cirkunov by guillotine 4:36 into round 1 at UFC 206.

A Break From the Big Show

At one point on the road to Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev, we saw “The Miner” decline to extend his UFC contract in order to accrue experience outside of the promotion. It was a shocking turn of events, but a decision that could surely be respected.

In his two-year hiatus from the UFC, Krylov stayed busy. He went on a four-fight killing spree, finishing every fight and sharpening his lethal skills. Landing another UFC contract, only to be matched up with Jan Blachowicz, and succumb to a second-round arm-triangle sub at UFC Fight Night 136.

Next, would be a rematch with Ovince St. Preux at UFC 236. Where “The Miner” made it 1-1 in their series with an impressive second-round rear-naked choke to get the victory. What would follow is a loss to Glover Teixeira (UFC on ESPN+ 16) and a pretty dominant decision victory over the explosive Johnny Walker.

Magomed Ankalaev (14-1, 5-1 UFC)

Debuting as a pro in 2014, nine consecutive wins and four years later Magomed Ankalaev was under a UFC contract. His debut didn’t go smoothly, as he would end up losing his undefeated record to Craig via a literal last-second triangle choke.

This is where Ankalaev put together a big run. Against Marcin Prachnio at UFC Fight Night 136, Ankalaev finished the fight in the first round with a devastating counter right, followed up with a head kick that was a perfectly timed combination to add to the highlight reel. The most impressive knockouts so far of his career would definitely have to be that of Dalcha Lungiambula and Ion Cutelaba though. While watching Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev, will we witness another?

Magomed Ankalaev knocks out Dalcha Lungiambula.
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – NOVEMBER 09: (R-L) Magomed Ankalaev of Russia knocks out Dalcha Lungiambula of South Africa in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at CSKA Arena on November 09, 2019 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The Ion Cutelaba Madness

We could do an in-depth analysis here, really diving into the nitty-gritty of whether Cutelaba was really “out on his feet” or just playing possum at UFC on ESPN+ 27. Or, we could tell the story through tweets and let you see for yourself!

Then, with “Cursed Fight” juju, the UFC would try to line the rematch up, just to have it fall through multiple times, mostly due to Cutelaba testing positive for COVID. Eventually, the pair would partake in the now fabled rematch at UFC 254.

As you could imagine, the controversial stoppage in the first fight and the rematches that kept falling through equaled loads of increasing hype. It was an opportunity for both men, and Ankalaev made the most out of it.

Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev Matchup Breakdown

Stylistically, both of these men are well-rounded. However, Krylov favors grappling and Ankalaev favors striking. Both men have what it takes to finish the fight in both realms. Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev could end in an instant, or go three rounds and possibly win Fight of the Night!

Krylov probably gets the edge in the grappling realm, on paper at least. While Ankalaev will probably prove to be the sharper striker. Krylov has great head kicks and teeps. He also sets them up marvelously and blends his kickboxing into his grappling flawlessly. If he tests the grappling of Ankalaev and sees an advantage, he won’t hesitate to grind out a win.

Elaborating on the striking of Ankalaev, accuracy and power is what seems to be the key to success for him. He likes to apply the pressure as well, which, mixed with his footwork and angles seems to be giving his opponents a really hard time. Ankalaev has actually been known to utilize his grappling as well, however more for control/ground and pound than to go for a submission.

Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev Prediction

This Krylov vs Magomed fight is honestly such an exciting matchup! I rarely ride the fence in my articles, but I’m going to for this one! If Ankalaev can avoid the smothering grappling of “The Miner” he probably wins by decision or knockout.

If he can’t stop the takedown or stay off the cage, then Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev will likely end with “The Miner” coming away with a submission or decision victory! It’s almost like I’m quadruply riding the fence, with two guys possible to win by two methods each. But hey, what can I say? This is the fight game! Who knows what’s gonna happen?

Who do you see winning the fight between Nikita Krylov and Magomed Ankalaev? Let us know your prediction in the comments below!


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Combat Sports and Motorsports Editor. Staff Writer for Overtime Heroics MMA. Named first ever ‘Writer of the Month’ in January 2021 for OTH MMA.