The Film Room: Nikita Krylov

By Kevin Wilson Sep 12, 2019
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Nikita Krylov will return to the Octagon for his second assignment of 2019 when he meets former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title challenger Glover Teixeira in the UFC Fight Night 158 co-headliner on Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia. Krylov registered the most significant win of his career when he submitted Ovince St. Preux with a rear-naked choke in April, and a victory over Teixeira would likely move him into the Top 10 for the first time in his career. At 27 years of age, Krylov remains one of the brightest prospects in a shallow division, and with Jon Jones having effectively cleared out the weight class, it does not seem inconceivable that the Ukrainian could earn a shot at the 205-pound crown by this time next year. In his first run with the UFC, Krylov was a recklessly aggressive striker who literally sprinted forward with strikes and showed no regard for defense. He returned to the UFC in 2018, toned down his aggression and put more focus on his well-being.

Krylov supplies the material for this installment of The Film Room.

It is difficult to say Krylov was doing anything wrong with these wild exchanges when he enjoyed so much success with them, but it was only a matter of time before somebody exploited his tendencies. We know styles like this can be exciting for the fans, but very few fighters like this make it to the highest levels of the sport. Before his reckless striking caught up with him, Krylov tightened up his defense and toned down his aggression after being released by the UFC. This newfound defense resulted in some of the best performances of his career in Fight Nights Global and earned him a return trip to the UFC just two years after his release.

Coming from a Kyokushin karate background, Krylov favors kicks over punches and often walks forward with kick combos like an average fighter would do with his hands. This works for him because of his long legs and ability to mix up his kicks to keep the opponent guessing. Notice all the different attacks he can throw in a short sequence: leg kicks, teeps to the body, switch kicks and even a turning side kick to the body. If Krylov got stuck throwing the same techniques repeatedly, this would never work, but since the opponent has no idea what is coming next, it allows him to walk forward like a boxer would with punches. However, he tends to drop his hands when throwing kicks and can be countered when doing so. Karate-based fighters generally keep their hands low, especially when kicking, and the right counter striker would be able to easily exploit this.

Teixeira will not be looking to counter his kicks with strikes. He has authored some classic UFC knockouts, but he remains a predictable striker whose best chance at winning is always on the ground. Since the threat of a takedown is always there, Krylov might be hesitant to kick; and if he is not kicking, he is not winning.

Teixeira has looked chinny lately, and eventually, the sustained damage is going to take its toll. Krylov spent the first half of his career at heavyweight and is one of the heaviest hitters in the division, so just one of his kicks could end the fight.

Because Krylov likes to push the pace, he ends up in the clinch against the cage often. Once in the clinch, Krylov is just as aggressive with his striking and likes to grab a single-collar tie and deliver right uppercuts or knees to the body. Something else that is interesting about his arsenal: He does kick off clinch exits. When he separated from the clinch against Ed Herman at UFC 201, Krylov immediately looked for the same lead leg kick with which he later finished the fight.

Since Krylov is such an exciting striker, his grappling gets overlooked. However, he has more submission victories (15) than he does knockouts (10). His aggressive striking often forces him into grappling exchanges, where he is just as comfortable. His constant pace will also fluster opponents, causing them to shoot for takedowns, at which point he can secure his favorite submission: the guillotine. That could come into play against Teixeira, whose takedown entries are known to be sloppy. Advertisement


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