While there appears to be many squash matches on Thursday night’s PFL #4 card, Alex Nicholson vs. Phillipe Lins presents an intriguing gambling opportunity.
Kill or Be Killed
In true Spartan fashion, Alex Nicholson puts it all on the line when he fights and isn’t afraid to go out on his shield. Nicholson’s brawling style may not have cut it against the world’s elite in the UFC, but he’ll never have to worry about promotions not wanting to book him. Nicholson is not the most fundamentally sound striker, but he packs serious heat in his fists. He knocked out UFC prospect, Devin Clark, at point blank range where it’s difficult for most fighters to generate power.
In his regional footage against Chase Sherman, a legitimate heavyweight, Nicholson landed a venomous spinning back fist which staggered his opponent and led to the finish. This is one of Nicholson’s favorite techniques – you could actually argue he uses it too much. In his last fight against Jake Heun, Nicholson got the worst of the striking exchanges in the first round. Lunging forward with his strikes, he left plenty of opportunities for Heun to land counters.
However, with Nicholson’s power he’s never truly out of a fight and was able to land a flying knee from hell to stop Heun in the second round.
Good Fighter, Questionable Chin
Unlike Nicholson, Philipe Lins strikes like a more classically-trained MMA fighter. He has a clean jab, good understanding of distance and rips the body well (when he wants to). Lins is also a legitimate jiu-jitsu black belt and would be wise to take Nicholson to the mat – where he looked clueless against ground striking specialist, Jack Hermansson. Lins weighed 16 pounds heavier than Nicholson yesterday – you’d expect this to be advantageous in the grappling exchanges.
The big problem with Lins is that he likes to stand and trade, yet has weak punch resistance. Against Kleber Raimundo Silva, Lins was dominating the striking exchanges but chose to brawl, which led to a knockout loss. This could spell disaster against a heavy hitter like Nicholson.
Fundamentals or Power?
In terms of pure technique, I believe Lins is the superior fighter. If he fights conservatively, this is a very winnable matchup. If he chooses to indulge Nicholson in a shootout, he could find himself astral projecting – lying facedown on the canvas. I wouldn’t touch Lins at pick ‘em odds. However, at +225 I think there is definitely value. Perhaps Lins walks face first into a spinning back fist, but at this price I’m willing to risk it with a small wager.
Pick: Philipe Lins +225
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