We have a very exciting flyweight bout to look forward to this weekend, as former flyweight champions Matt Schnell and Tyson Nam go to battle on the second fight of the main card.
These two were initially slated against one another at UFC Vegas 17, December 19, but Schnell was forced out due to medical issues related to his weight cut. They both appear healthy two days before the fight this time however, as they’re expected to meet on Wednesday, January 20, at UFC Fight Island 8.
Matt Schnell (14-5) vs. Tyson Nam (20-11-1)
Schnell comes into this fight ranked as the No. 9 UFC flyweight contender, while Nam comes in ranked at No. 13, though he should probably be a little higher.
We first got notice of Matt Schnell when he was casted on The Ultimate Fighter 24, the season of flyweight champions. He came in with a record of 9-2, holding the interim LFA flyweight championship.
Schnell went 1-1 on the show, submitting (triangle choke) Matt Rizzo, and being submitted (guillotine choke) by season winner Tim Elliott. Once coming to the UFC, Schnell suffered back-to-back KO defeats to Rob Font and Hector Sandoval.
The first of course was up at 135 lbs, and the next he moved back down to 125 lbs.
The UFC decided not to cut him however, and he went on a four-fight win streak following these setbacks, defeating the likes of Marco Beltran (UD), Naoki Inoue (SD), Louis Smolka (triangle choke), and Jordan Espinosa (triangle choke).
This was followed up by a KO defeat to top five talent and fellow TUF 24 castmate Alexandre Pantoja in his most recent fight back in December of 2019.
Tyson Nam, like Schnell, also lost his first two UFC bouts. He came to the UFC with a record of 18-9-1, losing back-to-back unanimous decisions to Sergio Pettis and Kai Kara-France.
By time he came to the UFC, he’d already fought for a number of titles, claiming the Destiny MMA flyweight championship, as well as the X-1 World Events flyweight championship, and he already had KO victories over the likes of Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas (punch) and former UFC flyweight title challenger Ali Bagautinov (head kick).
Dantas was the champion in Bellator when he fought Nam. He’d just won the title in his fight previous, then fought Nam at a Shooto event. Dantas went on to defend his belt twice after his defeat to Nam. He’d then lose it, before recapturing it, securing another defense in his second reign.
Bagautinov has gone 6-2 since leaving the UFC, with the only other defeat aside from Nam coming via five-round split decision when he challenged Zhalgas Zhumagulov for the Fight Nights Global flyweight championship.
Following his back-to-back octagon defeats, he’s since gone 2-0 with two knockouts; first KO’ing 16-3 professional kickboxing champion Zarrukh Adashev in just 32 seconds, before TKO’ing Jerome Rivera 34 seconds into round two.
For someone like Schnell, that’s gone 4-3 inside the octagon with all three defeats via KO, this is a very dangerous match up for him. That’s not to say his striking isn’t good, because it is, he’s an elite, well rounded fighter, but he can’t take most of his opponents harder shots it seems.
We’d think Schnell would have the advantage on the mat, where he’s finished eight of his 14 wins, but Nam’s never been submitted across his 32-fight career. It’s going to be interesting seeing how these two match up with one another.
Nam is 37-years-old, having turned 37 in October, but it appears he’s better than he’s ever been, while Schnell is 31-years-old, having just turned 31 a couple days ago.
Nam stands 5’7” with a 68” reach, while Schnell stands 5’8” with a 72.5” reach. That may be the deciding factor, what keeps Schnell from being hurt. If he can keep his range, this fight’s all his.
Who wins this battle of former flyweight champions?