One of the fun aspects of UFC fight cards – especially ones held in Europe – is trying to pick out the contest that will walk away with Fight of the Night honors.

The UFC rewards both fighters in the Fight of the Night with a cool $50,000 bonus, so even if the fighters can’t secure a quickfire finish, there’s still the opportunity to walk away with some handy pin money for their efforts, win or lose.

Looking at the fight card for UFC Fight Night 118 in Poland, there are a handful of solid matchups that could walk away with the cash. One of them is set for early on the card, as "The Russian Hammer" Artem Lobov and Andre "Touchy" Fili go toe to toe in what looks like a cracker of a featherweight contest.

andre-fili
© Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

If you were drawing up a list of attributes for both fighters, the word "tough" would feature pretty highly.

Fili is cut from the same cloth as current world champion Max Holloway in their smashmouth approach to fights and devil-may-care attitude to striking exchanges.

Fili has been stopped three times in the UFC, but each time it’s taken something pretty special.

First Holloway had to break down Fili over three grueling rounds before finally securing a guillotine choke submission, while Brazilian Godofredo Pepey defeated Fili with a spectacular flying triangle choke.

But that paled into in significance compared to the highlight-reel flying head-kick unleashed by Mexican super-prospect Yair Rodriguez to stop Fili in his tracks at UFC 197 (possibly the most spectacular finish I’ve ever witnessed from octagonside at a UFC event).

 

Considering that spectacular KO was the only time Fili has been finished with strikes in his career, it’s fair to say he’ll be more than happy to stand and trade with the equally-tough Lobov.

The Dublin-based Russian, who is one of Conor McGregor’s closest teammates and training partners at the acclaimed SBG gym in Dublin, enters fight week with the look of an action movie henchman. His deadpan delivery and matter-of-fact tone always mean a printable sound bite is never far away.

But beneath the ice-cold exterior lies an athlete who just loves to compete.

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© Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Lobov’s fighting style is pretty simple – walk forward, exert controlled forward pressure and land heavy strikes.

But while his style has sometimes seen him outpointed on the scorecards, nobody in the UFC has been able to finish him: not even perennial contender Cub Swanson, who praised Lobov’s heart and durability after the pair went all five rounds in their main event clash in Nashville in April.

Pre-fight thoughts

If this one finishes early it’ll be a shock, but if it does, it’ll likely be a Lobov KO. But the most likely outcome here is a fight that goes all the way to the scorecards.

With Lobov showing more signs of improvement than Fili in his recent fights, I’d lean towards a victory for "The Russian Hammer," but that’s not the smart play here.

With the durability of both men involved in this contest, the smart bet here is to look at the round betting for the best route to success.

PICK: Over 1.5 Rounds

[Image credit: © Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports]


Follow Simon Head on Twitter @simonhead.


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