UFC Fight Night: Yan vs. Dvalishvili starts at 3 pm EST today, and plenty of fights on the card have caught fans’ attention. One of the most underrated matchups of the night will take place earlier on the main card, between 14th-ranked bantamweight Said Nurmagomedov (17-2) and Jonathan Martinez (17-4).
Nurmagomedov and Martinez are riding equal momentum waves, each winning four consecutive fights before this meeting. Their frames are nearly identical, and they also meet at similar junctures in their career, with just a two-year age gap between the fighters.
Said Nurmagomedov fights out of DagFighter team in Dagestan, home to reputable names like Zabit Magomedsharipov, Magomed Magomedov, and Timur Valiev (who has been confirmed as a contestant on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter). Jonathan Martinez does his primary training at FactoryX Muay Thai, which houses Anthony Smith, Dustin Jacoby, and Brandon Royval. With strong camps behind both fighters, we can expect both men to come prepared for whatever the other fighters have in their game plan.
Both fighters employ a kick-heavy style. Martinez is known as one of the heaviest kickers in the entire promotion, having finished Cub Swanson in his last fight with leg kicks. He prefers to stay outside the pocket and throw kicks at various levels (head, body, legs) to keep the opponent guessing. On the other hand, Nurmagomedov has no problem keeping the fight within kickboxing range. The Makhachkala product is undoubtedly the more willing of the two to throw spinning kicks, which he patiently sets up or throws out of nowhere.
The difference in the fight could occur on the mat, where Nurmagomedov has a significant advantage on paper. Martinez can undoubtedly fend for himself in the grappling realm, having never been submitted in his career. Still, he has likely never faced a submission artist on the level of Nurmagomedov. Said finished two of his last three fights with opportunistic guillotine chokes. His ability to strike and grapple at a high level makes for a complex puzzle, especially when the fight occurs inside the pocket. Nurmagomedov could be cracking with you one second, and then he could grab your neck the next moment. While the striking advantage slightly favors Martinez, a more significant gap exists between the ground game of both fighters. This will not only open the striking up for Nurmagomedov but also keep Martinez from being as aggressive as he would typically be.
Said Nurmagomedov is a -225 favorite, while Jonathan Martinez is a +190 underdog, his first time at plus money in five fights. Here are my best bets for this fight: