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UFC Fight Night 135: Michael Johnson vs. Andre Fili Betting Prediction

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

Michael Johnson did not have a good start to his featherweight career, losing by submission in his fight against the insanely durable Darren Elkins. In his second bout at 145 pounds, he has another stiff test in the well-rounded Team Alpha Male fighter, Andre Fili. Who will come out on top?

Can "The Menace" Put It All Together?

Johnson’s performances have been inconsistent, to say the least. It’s hard to envision that the same fighter who starches Dustin Poirier can get choked out by Darren Elkins.

Other than Elkins, who is extremely tough, Johnson has been facing elite competition. There’s no shame in getting blasted on the ground by Khabib Nurmagomedov or coming up short in a brawl with Justin Gaethje. Johnson did have moments of success in both those fights. In fact, he had Gaethje rocked severely at one point in the fight - yet inexplicably decided to shoot for a takedown instead of throw punches. Therein lies the problem with Johnson. An immensely talented striker, he often makes critical errors that result in losses.

Against Elkins, Johnson was dominating the striking exchanges in round one and successfully defended all takedown attempts in open space. However, in the early stages of round two, he threw a leg kick, was taken down and subsequently got submitted.

Despite his lightning fast boxing combinations and excellent movement, Johnson looks totally lost if you can put him on his back. Will Andre Fili be able to do just that?

Jack of All Trades

Unlike Johnson, Andre Fili doesn’t excel in any facet of the game, but he’s proficient everywhere.

While his striking is serviceable, conventional wisdom suggests that he’s at a disadvantage if the fight remains standing. Against a skilled boxing stylist in Calvin Kattar, Fili was outclassed on the feet yet strangely didn’t shoot a single takedown. When he wants to, Fili can wrestle. Against an NCAA Division 1 wrestler in Dennis Bermudez, Fili was able to ground his opponent numerous times throughout the fight. Fili is not a wizard on the mat, but he’s undoubtedly superior to Johnson.

Against pure striker Artem Lobov, Fili was able to score multiple takedowns in the third round, earning him a clear decision victory on the scorecards.

I expect Fili to indulge Johnson in a kickboxing match initially, but I’m confident he will shoot for a leg in order to take the fight to the ground at some stage.

Who wins?

While Johnson has been taken down in the past, it’s usually against high-level wrestlers. Although he prefers to strike, Johnson does come from a wrestling background and will be prepared to stuff shots.

On the feet, “The Menace” has a clear advantage in terms of technique and hand speed.

Stylistically, I like Johnson here. If you’re betting him, be prepared to sweat bullets if the fight hits the mat.

Pick: Michael Johnson -110

Check out my other predictions for UFC Fight Night 135.

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