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UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson - Idiot's Guide to Misha Cirkunov vs Alex Nicholson

Cosmic favorite Misha Cirkunov should only be a heavy favorite against Alex Nicholson, who will look his spastic best to stay alive against the superior athlete at UFN 82 in Vegas.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

A welterweight battle of highly veterany veterans opens the main card this February 6, 2016 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Match Up

Light Heavyweight Misha Cirkunov vs. Alex Nicholson

The Odds

Light Heavyweight Misha Cirkunov -1000 vs. Alex Nicholson +650

(Seriously, what the heck is up with the odds?)

3 Things You Should Know

1. Cirkunov is the LHW version of Stipe Miocic. Sort of. In certain respects. I think.

By that I mean his ceiling is as much a question mark as his floor. He's clearly talented. And if you didn't catch his UFC debut you can see what he's all about here:

However, beating Jolly doesn't tell us much. Unfortunately, neither will beating Nicholson. With all due respect.

2. Nicholson isn't too bad, but the odds paint a somewhat accurate picture of who he is, which probably tells you plenty.

Nicholson is a fighter who's been making his name on the Southern circuit. While there's not much to report, he is the kind of action fighter who shouldn't stink up a main card with an effortless performance. Here Nicholson is struggling with but eventually beating the completely reasonable MMA fighter Dillon Cleckler in a fairly brutal bout. It gets extra points for including a flying no-knee.

3. Nicholson will either lose the easy way. Or Nicholson will lose the really easy way.

Nicholson is tough. Ford tough. But as is often the case with tough fighters, their toughness being on display is a sign of defensive shortcomings. They are good at absorbing punishment not because they're supernaturally tough but because we see them absorb punishment more than they inflict. It's a pet peeve of mine. That someone like Fujita (say), is tougher than Jon Jones just because he gets hit more often.

Real toughness is absorbing punishment while maintaining the vision to fight back to accrue steady advantages.

Rant aside, Nicholson backs up a lot, and doesn't move fluidly, so he'll get hit. Especially with an athlete like Misha barreling down on him. Cirkonov's tactics are a little off. He sometimes ducks for no reason other than rhythm, but it never comes across as organic the way it does with Dominick Cruz or TJ Dillashaw. However, Cirkunov has ridiculous speed, nevermind for a fighter his size.


Cirkunov is a fluid striker with impressive speed and power. He's a little like a speedy but less brutish version of Ilir Latifi. In addition to his savvy, if broken rhythm boxing, he's incredibly heavy in top control. There's no reason to think Cirkunov can't get this done however he sees fit. Misha Cirkunov by TKO, round 1.