Tim Elliott vs Matheus Nicolau – UFC Vegas 39 Preview

Tim Elliott takes on Matheus Nicolau in a battle of ranked flyweights on the UFC Vegas 39 main card. Both men are hoping to jump into contender status with a statement victory.

UFC Vegas 39 will mark Elliott’s 10th octagon appearance since he rejoined the promotion in 2016. He is currently in the midst of the most successful stretch of his tenure, having secured back-to-back decision wins against Ryan Benoit and Jordan Espinosa. Meanwhile, Brazil’s Nicolau halted the hype of Manel Kape‘s debut in his previous outing — edging him out via split decision. As is the case with his upcoming opponent, Nicolau is in the process of his second UFC stint.

Tim Elliott

The Kansas native comes into this fight hosting a pro-MMA record of 18-11-1. Over the years, Elliott has amassed a record of 6-9 when competing in the UFC octagon. He is currently the ninth-ranked flyweight and he has looked good as of late. Elliott has earned the respect of his peers and fans by beating guys likes Louis Smolka and Mark De La Rosa, but also by going the distance with the likes of Demetrious Johnson, John Dodson, and Joseph Benavidez — who were all in peak form at the time of the fight.

The 34-year-old spends his time training at Glory MMA and Fitness in Missouri under head coach James Krause. Eliott won The Ultimate Fighter: Season 24 back in 2016 after being selected first overall by Team Benavidez. He is a former NCAA Division II college wrestler and he has a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu. At UFC Vegas 39, Elliott will share equal arm and leg reaches with his opposition.

Matheus Nicolau

This fight will mark Nicolau’s sixth UFC outing, of which he has been successful in all but one of his prior octagon appearances. Nicolau is slotted as the eleventh-ranked flyweight with a pro-MMA record of 14-3-1. Unfortunately, he was a victim of the mass UFC flyweight roster cuts back in 2018 despite going 3-1 in his first four fights. However, Nicolau claims it was for the best as it gave him more time to mature.

The 28-year-old lives and trains in his native country at the famed gym Nova Uniao. Nicolau owns a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and he has a solid frame for the division, having bounced between bantamweight and flyweight throughout his career. His notable wins include Smolka, Kape, and John Moraga. Watch for Nicolau to frequently switch between orthodox and southpaw in his fight against Elliott.

Fight Preview

If you are going to beat Tim Elliott, it is going to be either by decision or submission. He has yet to be knocked out in his 30 pro fights. Yet, his susceptibility to being submitted bodes well for the BJJ black belt Nicolau. That is not to say that Elliott cannot grapple, because he can, but he will likely only be grappling defensively in his matchup with Nicolau. Expect the Brazilian to look for takedowns early and often both in the middle of the octagon and up against the cage. If Nicolau gets it to the ground, he will have a good shot at keeping it there.

Elliott’s biggest advantage comes is pretty clear cut, and that is his experience. Nicolau will not present him too much that he has not seen before at some point in his career, especially on the feet. It will be interesting to see who takes control of the center and wins the striking battle. One thing Elliott has continued to display recently is his forward pressure and good gas tank. If Nicolau gets this fight to the ground he should be able to dominate, but if this fight takes place on the feet give a slight edge to the veteran.

UFC Vegas 39 Fight Card

Main Card (ESPN+ 4:00 PM ET/1:00 PM PT)

  • Mackenzie Dern vs Marina Rodriguez
  • Randy Brown vs Jared Gooden
  • Tim Elliott vs Matheus Nicolau
  • Sabina Mazo vs Mariya Agapova
  • Chris Gutierrez vs Felipe Corales

Preliminary Card (ESPN+ 1:30 PM ET/10:30 AM PT)

  • Alexandr Romanov vs Jared Vanderaa
  • Charles Rosa vs Damon Jackson
  • Lupita Godinez vs Silvana Juarez
  • Steve Garcia vs Charlie Ontiveros


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