UFC Vegas 39: Tim Elliott vs Matheus Nicolau

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Flyweights Tim Elliott and Matheus Nicolau will meet on the main card at UFC Vegas 39. Who will be the roadblock to flyweight glory with both men on similar roads and enjoying their second stints under the UFC banner?

In 2012, Tim Elliott caught the eye of the UFC after compiling an 8-2-1 record in his first eleven fights and therefore earned himself a UFC contract. 

He lost to The Ultimate Fighter season 14 winner John Dodson via unanimous decision in his UFC debut. However, he bounced back to win two fights in a row against Jared Papazian in a FOTN bout and Louis Gaudinot at UFC 164. Despite gaining momentum in the big time, Elliott was released by the UFC in 2015 after losing three fights in a row.

In his time away from the promotion, Elliott won and defended the Titan FC flyweight championship before being offered a place in the 24th season of The Ultimate Fighter. With the opportunity to fight Demetrious Johnson for the UFC flyweight strap, Elliott dominated the competition and beat Charlie Alaniz, Matt Schnell, Eric Shelton, and Hiromasa Ougikubo to win the series and set up a flyweight clash against the champion.

Despite losing the fight via unanimous decision, his fight against the greatest flyweight on the planet gave him the confidence to compete at the highest level in the UFC. Elliot has compiled a record of 4-4 in his last eight fights and holds wins over Louis Smolka, Ryan Benoit, and most recently, Jordan Espinosa.

On the other side of the octagon stands Matheus Nicolau, who holds an impressive professional record of 16-2-1.

Like his opponent, he’s also participating in his second stint under the UFC banner. In 2015, Nicolau was announced to take part in The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4. He fought Mateus Vasco in the first fight on the show and won via a first-round rear-naked choke before defeating Reginaldo Vieira in the quarter-finals. However, his bubble burst after losing to Dileno Lopes in the semis.

The 28-year-old is a man on a mission after winning his last three fights which includes a controversial UFC debut win against Manel Kape in March 2021. 

After winning his last three fights, the 28-year-old is a man on a mission, including a controversial UFC debut win against Manel Kape in March 2021.

After a grueling 15 minutes inside the octagon, the judges’ scorecards decided the fight, where Nicolua won via a shocking split decision. Twenty-one out of twenty-one media members scored the bout in favor of Kape.

Fight Prediction

When the two fighters meet on Saturday night, I expect to see Tim Elliot take the centre of the octagon and push the pace immediately while looking to secure that all-important takedown.

When Elliot is looking for a takedown, Nicolau will look to counterstrike to land those fight-ending moments.

An area where he can change the fight will be when Elliot shoots for a takedown. On occasions inside the octagon, Elliot has blindly shot for a takedown. On Saturday night, Nicolau can capitalize and look to reverse positions or hunt for a submission if he does that.

With Nicolau being the more patient fighter, he could pick his moments in the fight. However, that runs a risk of being outworked over fifteen minutes. That’s a recipe for disaster against a fighter like Tim Elliot.

Routes to victory

Tim Elliot:

  • Set the pace of the fight.
  • Set his takedowns up with a mixture of strikes.
  • Secure the takedown and make it an ugly bout.

Matheus Nicolau:

  • Keep at a distance and look to pick Elliot apart on the feet.
  • Threaten a submission when Elliot shoots for a takedown.
  • Throw plenty of leg kicks.

When looking at both fighters, I can imagine Tim Elliot taking his opponent down multiple times and grinding out a decision victory.

Fight prediction – Tim Elliot via decision.

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