The Main Card of UFC Fight Night: Vera vs. Sandhagen is finally upon us as we open up the action from San Antonio with this bout between two strong prospects in the Middleweight (185 lb) Division. Dana White's Contender Series alumni Albert Duraev of Russia will take on USA's Chidi Njokuani. Both men are on similar paths as they look to break into the Middleweight rankings. Check out our UFC odds series for our Njokuani-Duraev prediction and pick.

Albert Duraev is 15-4 as a mixed martial artist and has gone 1-1 since joining the UFC roster. He was awarded a contract on DWCS after winning with a dominant neck-crank submission. He beat Roman Kopylov by unanimous decision in the following fight, but lost his most recent bout to Joaquin Buckley when his eye swelled shut and lost via doctor stoppage. He'd like to get back to winning after the unfortunate loss and showcase his skills once more. Duraev stands 5'11” with a 75-inch reach.

Chidi Njokuani is 22-8 in his professional career and has gone 2-1 in his UFC fights. A 5-3 standout in Bellator, Njokuani earned a contract on DWCS in 2021 when he beat an experienced opponent in Mario Sousa. He went on to win his next two fights against Marc-Andre Barriault and Dusko Todorovic, both by KO/TKO. He was shocked in his last fight when Gregory Rodrigues managed an improbable comeback and handed him his first UFC loss. He'll look to bounce back in a Main Card spot against another promising prospect. Njokuani stands 6'3″ and has an 80-inch reach.

Here are the UFC Odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

UFC San Antonio Odds: Chidi Njokuani-Albert Duraev Odds

Chidi Njokuani: -178

Albert Duraev: +138

Over (1.5) rounds: -112

Under (1.5) rounds: -112

How to Watch Chidi Njokuani vs. Albert Duraev


Stream: ESPN App, UFC Fight Pass

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Time: 7:00 p.m. ET/ 4:00 p.m. PT (Main Card)

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Why Albert Duraev Will Win

Albert Duraev has seen success in the UFC with his suffocating wrestling and will look to follow the same game plan against Njokuani. In his last fight against Joaquin Buckley, however, Duraev failed to land many takedowns and was outclassed on the feet en route to a loss. He took an incredible amount of damaged to his eye and will have to be vigilant defensively against an active striker like Njokuani. Duraev's wrestling is where he shines if he is able to gain top position and lock up one of his opponents' wrists. He has a plethora of pressure submissions and likes to wear guys out with his chain-wrestling. If he can get the takedown early and often against Njokuani, he should be able to win this as an underdog.

Duraev lacks crisp technique in his striking. While he's not a bad striker and lands with accuracy, his strikes don't snap or fly fast like many other fighters in the division. Against an explosive counter-striker like Buckley, Duraev had a lot of trouble in timing his strikes. He'll be at a significant size advantage in this one, so look for him to compromise Njokuani and shoot for a takedown.

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Why Chidi Njokuani Will Win

Njokuani looks very comfortable in the octagon wherever the fight goes and poses a unique challenge for many Middleweights who have to go against his long frame. He's a rangy striker and uses his long leg kicks to keep opponents at bay. He has very solid hands and with a 6'3″ frame, generates a ton of power and leverage behind his shots. He has lethal elbows in the clinch (per Todorovic KO) and can shut the lights out if he lands clean. While he does struggle with some defensive wrestling, he's comfortable defending on the ground behind his jiu-jistu black belt. His long limbs could be a problem for Duraev as he threatens with darce chokes and guillotines.

Njokuani has looked solid thus far, but he'll have to make sure to not make any mental mistakes against Duraev. Just one slip-up could open a takedown for Duraev and see him stealing a round with ground control. Look for Njokuani to continue stuffing takedowns with his 75% defense. If he can keep this fight standing, he'll be able to out-strike Duraev on the feet. Watch for knees up the middle from Njokuani if Duraev shoots – he exploded Gregory Rodrigues' face the same way in his last fight.

Final Chidi Njokuani-Albert Duraev Prediction & Pick

Both guys are coming off a loss and will be hungry to get back in the win column. Njokuani has the significant advantage on the feet and with his size, but Duraev has the supreme wrestling chops. It's a classic battle of wrestler vs. striker. If Duraev can find the takedowns, he should be able to control Njokuani and win this fight with back/top control. However, if Njokuani can stuff the first few takedowns and hurt Duraev on the feet, he'll have the better chance to win here. For the prediction, let's go with Njokuani to stand tall and get this win on the back of his crisp striking and work in the clinch.

Final Chidi Njokuani-Albert Duraev Prediction & Pick: Chidi Njokuani (-178); OVER 1.5 Rounds (-112)