After two years away, Nikita Krylov finally makes his return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship this Saturday when he takes on Jan Blachowicz in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 136 in Moscow. Krylov was one of the more exciting prospects in the light heavyweight division before he was released by the UFC in 2016. Now at 26, he makes his return to the company to prove he is one of the best 205ers in the world. Today we go over the techniques and strategies that “The Miner” uses for success inside the cage.
Give and Take
In his first stint with the UFC, Krylov was known as an extremely aggressive striker who is willing to literally run forward with strikes with no regard for defense. These days he is still an aggressive striker, but has toned it down exponentially and puts a bigger focus on defense rather than living by the “take one to give one” approach.
It’s hard to say Krylov was doing anything wrong with these wild exchanges when he had so much success doing so, but it was only a matter of time before this style caught up with him. But before it caught up to him he decided to tighten up his defense and tone down the aggression after being released by the UFC, which resulted in some of the best performances of his career in Fight Nights Global.
Coming from a Kyokushin karate background, Krylov favors kicks over his hands and will often walk forward with kicking combos like an average fighter would do with punches. This works for him because of his long legs and ability to mix up his kicks. Notice all the different attacks he throws in this short sequence. Leg kicks, teeps to the body, switch kicks and even a turning side kick to the body. If Krylov got stuck throwing the same techniques repeatedly this would never work, but since the opponent has no idea what’s coming next it allows him to walk forward like a boxer would with punches. The only problem with this is he tends to drop his hands when throwing certain moves and can be countered when doing so. Karate-based fighters generally keep their hands low, especially when kicking, and the right counter striker would be able to easily exploit this.
And we know Krylov has the power in his kicks to finish the fight at any moment. Against Ed Herman, Krylov was looking for the lead leg pendulum kick to the head in the first round and finished him early in the 2nd round with the same move. Notice against Walt Harris that it was the opening kick that finished the fight. Krylov generally likes to end his combos with kicks and rarely throws them with no setup, but the fight with Harris proved he can still land when throwing them naked.
Since Krylov likes to push the pace, he ends up in the clinch against the cage often. Once in the clinch, Krylov is just as aggressive with his striking and likes to grab a single collar tie and either hammer in right uppercuts or knees to the body. Something else interesting he does is kick off clinch exits. Notice against Herman when they separate from the clinch, Krylov immediately looks for the same lead leg kick he ends up finishing him with later in the fight.
Since Krylov is such an exciting striker his grappling gets overlooked, but he has more submission victories (14) than he does knockouts (10). His aggressive striking often forces him into grappling exchanges where he is just as comfortable. His constant pace will also fluster opponents, causing them to shoot for takedowns where he can secure his favorite submission, the guillotine. At only 26, Krylov is already one of the more rounded fighters in UFC’s most lackluster division and we know a couple of good wins at 205 could project him into title contention, especially since he is much younger than anybody in the light heavyweight top 15. Since he has been out of the UFC for two years, fans might not know who Krylov is, but he possesses an interesting mix of aggressive striking and grappling that could see him fighting for bigger prizes sooner than later.