UFC Atlantic City: Chidi Njokuani vs. Rhys McKee Prediction, Pick and Odds (Back the former Muay Thai competitor)

As an elite striker, expect Njokuani to exploit the historically poor defense of McKee

Mar 25, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Chidi Njokuani (red gloves) fights Albert Duraev (blue
Mar 25, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Chidi Njokuani (red gloves) fights Albert Duraev (blue / Aaron Meullion-USA TODAY Sports

As the opening fight on the main card, Chidi Njokuani and Rhys McKee may put together the best fight of UFC Atlantic City on March 30.

Njokuani (22-10, 1 NC, 2-3 in UFC) will fight at welterweight for the first time since 2016. After starting his UFC career with back-to-back first-round knockouts, the Muay Thai specialist has dropped his last three entering his sixth Octagon appearance.

A former Cage Warriors champion, McKee (13-5-1, 0-3 in UFC) gained a large fanbase for his success in regional promotions but has struggled to find his footing in the UFC. Now in his second stint with the promotion, McKee had the unenviable task of facing Khamzat Chimaev in his debut in 2020 but has since also lost to Alex Morono and Ange Loosa.

After Njokuani opened as a large favorite, the line has since closed to a near pick 'em matchup.

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Chidi Njokuani vs. Rhys McKee odds and round total

Chidi Njokuani vs. Rhys McKee best bet

The change in weight for Njokuani at 35 years old is concerning, particularly given his frame, but his history in the 170-pound division gives hope that he should not be troubled making the extra cut down. Should he make the weight, this matchup should be in his favor.

It is hard to get a good gauge on McKee's potential, as he has shined in Cage Warriors but faltered in the UFC. His three opponents in the Octagon are all high-level opponents, but what stands out the most from McKee's UFC career has been his appalling lack of defense.

In just his three UFC fights, McKee has ceded a whopping 314 significant strikes in just 33 total minutes of fight time, averaging 9.47 significant strikes absorbed per minute. Several of those strikes were inclusive of the ground-and-pound punishment from Khamzat Chimaev but Alex Morono and Ange Loosa both did a large amount of work from distance. McKee will now face the best pure striker of his career with Njokuani having an extensive background in Muay Thai.

While Njokuani has been finished in eight of his 10 losses (80 percent), nearly all of his defeats have come from opponents applying pressure on the ground. McKee has not landed a takedown in the UFC and has won his last four fights with his striking.

As a 6'2" welterweight, McKee has often used his frame to his advantage against less experienced fighters. Njokuani will be the first fighter McKee will have faced who will be larger than he is. Assuming age and the weight cut do not negatively affect Njokuani's performance, this matchup may finally be one for the fan favorite to remind everyone of his potential.

Prediction: Njokuani by knockout in round three

Best bet: Chidi Njokuani money line (-130)

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.