Our first fight of the night is an intriguing matchup of bantamweight prospects. Kevin Natividad is 9-1 and is making his octagon debut on the back of a 5-fight win streak in the LFA Bantamweight division, three of which have come by knockout.
He was slated to fight Brian Kelleher at featherweight as a replacement for Ricky Simon on the Overeem vs. Sakai card in September, but the fight was called off last-minute.
Miles Johns is 10-1 after starting 10-0, is a former LFA Bantamweight Interim Champion and earned his UFC contract on the Contender Series. He made his UFC debut just over a year ago and won by split decision over Cole Smith. He was knocked out by Mario Bautista in his next fight and is looking to get back on track.
On his feet, Natividad has good footwork and great head movement. He has a great understanding of positioning in the octagon and constantly controls the center. He’s patient and looks for chances to trade shots inside. He doesn’t defend low kicks well, and most of his opponents have attacked his lead leg, because of his wide stance.
He has an excellent right roundhouse which he times very well, and usually follows it with a left and a right hook. He’s billed as a brawler, but he’s a pretty good wrestler and has the ability to do damage in the clinch, especially against the fence. He’s a BJJ brown belt, but has only one submission victory in professional MMA, the first fight of his career was a win by rear naked choke. He’s also extremely difficult to keep on the ground, which will serve him well against Miles Johns.
Johns is an excellent wrestler and is very strong for this division, and he’ll be looking to take this to the canvas. He has technical single and double leg takedowns, and can press opponents into the cage with underhooks in and control the action. He doesn’t get a lot of striking done in his grappling exchanges, but he controls the fight for extended periods of time and he can swing on his feet.
He has mean hooks with both hands, more so his right than his left, and swings for the fences with every punch. He has a stiff jab and follows it up well. Johns’ striking serves his grappling. He has knockout power but has only finished two fights in his career by knockout.
Natividad likes to fight at close range, which could set up Johns’ hooks. Johns’ wild swinging has left him open to counter strikes as well, but he is generally pretty sound. He holds a high guard and moves his head well.
Johns doesn’t fight at a very high pace, but his wrestling sometimes costs him a lot of energy going into the third round. Natividad fights at a much higher pace, and has a bit more power and variety to his strikes than Johns. The only place Johns may have the advantage is in his grappling, but Natividad is tough to take down and even tougher to keep down.
This fight will likely stay standing, and Natividad is going to have the striking advantage. The reason we’re highlighting such an early fight on the card: there’s value on this underdog. We love Natividad on the Moneyline at +150, and Natividad by KO/TKO has a lot of juice at +500.
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