The main card of UFC 195 features a terrific welterweight matchup between rising strikers Albert “Einstein” Tumenov and Lorenz “Da Monsoon” Larkin. Tumenov was last seen dispatching Alan Jouban in brutal fashion at UFC 192 in October, while Larkin enters this contest on the heels of back-to-back knockout wins. Albert Tumenov (16-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC, -240 favorite) It only took Tumenov five fights with the UFC to become one of the promotion’s most exciting and fastest rising fighters. Since stumbling in his UFC debut against Ildemar Alcantara in early 2014, he has rattled off four consecutive victories. Three out of those four victories have come via brutal knockout. The UFC has gradually increased Tumenov’s level of competition, which is the right way to groom a hot prospect. He will look to earn his fifth consecutive victory when he takes on Larkin this Saturday night. The 24-year old is a constantly improving fighter that is already one of the best strikers in the UFC’s welterweight division. He utilizes excellent footwork, angles, and distance management. Primarily a striker, Tumenov has a vicious left hook, straight right, and left head kick. Additionally, he is very good at putting his combinations together, both while moving forward and on the counter. The Russian is adept at finishing his combinations with head and body kicks, which often come from his lead leg. Excellent power, technique, and movement are also staples of Tumenov’s game. On the ground he is well-versed in defense, but is not an offensive submission threat and does not really attempt any takedowns. However, Tumenov’s takedown defense has really improved and it is quite difficult to get him down and even harder to keep him there. The one outlier was his UFC debut against Alcantara, but we have seen dramatic improvements since that fight. Lorenz Larkin (16-4 (1 NC) MMA, 3-4 UFC, +200 underdog) Mixed martial arts fans were very high on Larkin during his run with the now defunct Strikeforce promotion. After all, he was undefeated during his Strikeforce run and had a very entertaining and flashy style that appealed to fans. Further, he dominated current UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler in his last fight with the promotion. Most thought Larkin would shine when he came to the UFC in 2013, but that was not the case at all. In fact, Larkin lost four out of his first five fights with the promotion. His only win during that stretch came against veteran journeyman Chris Camozzi. Larkin obviously needed to make some changes, and he did just that by dropping to the welterweight division in January of 2015. Since his move to the welterweight division, he has recorded consecutive knockouts over John Howard and Santiago Ponzinibbio. Larkin will attempt to earn his third straight win when he takes on Albert Tumenov this Saturday night. Like Tumenov, Larkin is a powerful striker that possesses great footwork, takedown defense, and speed. The 29-year old is very fast and explosive, especially in the first round or two. Fighting mostly out of an orthodox stance, Larkin utilizes an excellent jab, straight right, left hook, and thudding kicks to all levels. While his striking acumen has never been questioned, his ability to execute has. Larkin has struggled with letting his hands go, even against fighters that were not really looking to take him down. That has not been an issue since dropping to the welterweight division, but it is still something to consider. In addition to his stand-up skills, Larkin also possesses strong takedown defense that is usually good enough to keep his fights standing. Further, Larkin does not have much of a guard game and he tends to struggle when he gets placed flat on his back. However, he will likely have more success with getting back to his feet against welterweights, as he is no longer facing fighters that are significantly bigger and stronger than him. Thoughts This is a terrific fight between two high-level strikers in the welterweight division. Tumenov looks to be on the verge of entering the top 15 of the welterweight division and a win over Larkin may be just what he needs to get him there. Larkin, meanwhile, has looked amazing since dropping down to the welterweight division in early 2015. There are not likely to be many takedowns attempted in this fight. Both fighters are excellent strikers that like to dictate the terms of the fight and I do not expect that to change on Saturday night. As far as the matchup goes, I favor Tumenov to get his hand raised. He is the more polished and lethal striker and I like his shot selection a bit more than Larkin’s. Larkin is obviously extremely talented, but he has not lived up to the expectations that many had for him when he was brought over from Strikeforce in 2013. He has often fought down to his level of competition, which is something you never want to see a fighter do. His tendency to disappear in fights and throw low volume could pop up at any time, so it is hard to have a lot of confidence in him. If Larkin lets his hands go and fights up to his true potential, he will greatly improve his chances of getting his hand raised. Ultimately, I have to side with Tumenov because of his superior hands and shot selection. I think he will finish Larkin with a big left hook early in the second round. The Prediction: Albert Tumenov defeats Lorenz Larkin by knockout (round 2)
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