Prediction: Lungiambula via decision (+600)
Any fight on short notice is a difficult one, all the more so when Dalcha Lungiambula is the opponent one is tasked with beating on less than three weeks’ notice.
That’s the challenge in front of Markus Perez (12-4), who agreed to replace Isi Fitikefu in this matchup in early January, a daunting prospect considering he’s gone 2-4 in his first six UFC fights.
Despite that advantage, Congolese Lungiambula (10-2) still appeals as -150 moneyline favorite to get back on the winning track against +125 Perez, per William Hill USA. “Champion” knocked out Dequan Townsend to crown a successful UFC debut in June 2019, though he later suffered the first knockout of his career against Magomed Ankalaev in November of the same year.
Unfortunately for middleweight opponent Perez, Lungiambula appears to have learnt valuable lessons from that experience, spelling bad news for his next target as he seeks to right those wrongs:
“I always learn from my mistakes. I learned from that, and it doesn’t take me down. My spirit was there, and we’ll move forward from there.” – @Dalcha_Champion is eager for #UFCFightIsland8 and his chance to bounce back.#InAbuDhabi | @VisitAbuDhabihttps://t.co/hF0cdGK6hR— UFC News (@UFCNews) January 18, 2021
As fate would have it, Perez also suffered the first knockout of his career in his last appearance, which happened to fall against another combatant fighting out of South Africa, Dricus Du Plessis. Lungiambula is a more predictable prospect in that the 35-year-old’s knockout power is his major weapon, and the African contender—whose height is listed at just 5’8”—won’t want to get into a jiu jitsu scrap against 6’1” Perez.
“Maluko” has proved elusive enough against power punchers in the past and is certain to prioritise a ground attack in the hope he can steer clear of his opponent’s three-inch reach advantage.
Lungiambula boasts +115 odds to add a sixth KO win to his record, but a fifth decision victory looks to be on the cards considering he hasn’t fought in more than 14 months. The veteran is a much pricier pick at +600 to convince the judges, the method by which Perez has suffered three of his four career defeats.