Andre Fili (+116) vs. Bryce Mitchell (-136)
Weight Class: Featherweight (135 lbs)
Bryce Mitchell has finally received some camo shorts courtesy of Reebok and will be fighting in them this weekend. The timing couldn’t be better for the Arkansas native, who will be facing his toughest challenge yet in Andre Fili.
Andre Fili is one of the more deceptively good fighters on the roster. He spent a long time training with Team Alpha Male and has fought some of the best ascending featherweights in recent years. Fili’s last four losses dating back to 2016 include Sodiq Yusuff, Michael Johnson, Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez. Kattar and Rodriguez are both top five featherweights at the moment while Yusuff is one of the most highly regarded prospects in the sport.
In that same time period, Fili has racked up wins over Myles Jury, Dennis Bermudez, Artem Lobov and Gabriel Benitez. He most recently defeated highly regarded prospect Charles Jourdain back in June.
Max Holloway has stated that Andre Fili is the heaviest hitter he’s faced and was arguably his toughest opponent.
Fili has been in the UFC since 2013 and is still just 30 years old.
On any given night, Andre Fili can beat just about any featherweight. He has a very snappy jab and a great kicking game. I doubt we’ll see a high volume of head kicks against a grappler of Mitchell’s caliber, but Fili certainly has them in his arsenal.
As for Bryce Mitchell, he has been absolutely dominant on the mat in his young UFC career. After picking up just the second twister submission in UFC history last December, Mitchell leveled up in opponent quality and took on Charles Rosa at UFC 249. The fight with Rosa could not be more one sided in favor of Bryce Mitchell, who came very close to picking up a second twister. “Thug Nasty” didn’t give Rosa a chance to breathe, racking up top control for pretty much the entire fight while attempting submissions.
Only Ryan Hall seems capable of challenging Bryce Mitchell in the grappling realm should he keep this pace up.
Now for this match-up, it all depends on how easily Mitchell can get the take down. If Fili can come out and rapid fire some leg kicks while working off of his crisp jab, he has a clear path. If Fili can limit the movement of Bryce Mitchell and/or lure him into a striking battle for any period of time, the odds will trend heavily in his favor.
Fili is more than capable of pulling a game plan like this off and he will surely be hungry to trash the “gatekeeper” label that is commonly thrown his way.
On the flip side, if Mitchell can get an early take down, Fili will be in real trouble. Mitchell is absolutely suffocating on the ground and while Fili is a solid grappler in his own right, he is prone to spending time on his back. Sodiq Yusuff was able to keep mount for much of the second round in their fight, which is probably what sealed him the victory.
Of these two outcomes, it’s tough for me to bet against Mitchell based on the grappling we’ve seen. If he gets a take down inside a minute of the first round, expect the odds on him to shoot upwards of (-300). Mitchell is that deadly on the ground and ground-based fighters tend to build off early take downs.
The path for Fili is certainly there, but I ultimately think that Mitchell is just too much to handle on the ground. Sadly for Fili, this will probably be yet another loss to an absolute killer.
As far as betting goes, the line has trended in favor of Fili. Bryce Mitchell moneyline opened close to (-170) but now stands at (-136). I personally don’t understand this line movement. Perhaps people are thinking “too much, too soon” for Mitchell, but I do think he has the tools to beat Fili. Does that mean he will continue to ascend after that? That’s a different question and I understand concerns about aspects of his game. This one doesn’t worry me, however.
I do worry about the submission defense of Andre Fili. Granted he hasn’t really faced someone as aggressive as Mitchell, but he’s spent so much time training with high level grapplers. Ultimately, however, I do see Mitchell pulling off the submission. If he’s just slightly more patient than he was in the Rosa fight, he should get it.