Originally scheduled to make his UFC debut in February of last year, Denys Bondar will finally step into the Octagon on Saturday night after two fight cancellations and one postponement of this matchup with Malcolm Gordon. Experienced as both a bantamweight and a flyweight (which he’ll be competing at on Saturday) Bondar currently boasts a ten-fight winning streak dating back to 2018.
It’s no surprise based on the number of submissions on his record that Bondar is at his most dangerous when he can get opponents to the mat. Ideally he likes to either land in side control straight off his takedowns or get the position shortly after hitting the mat, and from there he’ll look to go knee on belly or pin his opponents arm to set up a mounted crucifix. Both of these positions allow Bondar to utilize his vicious ground and pound, with hard hammer fists and elbows being his main weapons to finish opponents or soften them up for submissions.
The Ukrainian is always looking to land strikes on the ground and set up a finish. Although this sometimes results in him losing position, one wrong move from his opponents can result in them getting caught in an arm-triangle or rear-naked choke. One of his favorite moves is to hammer his opponents with strikes to force them into giving up their backs, and then he’ll continue softening them up with strikes until he has an opportunity to lock in a choke and finish.
On the feet Bondar is a lot less technically sound, but “Psycho” lives up to his nickname with his willingness to exchange with opponents. He’s at his best when he can back his opponents up to shoot for double-leg takedowns or clinch up to get a trip, and he also throws up hard knees from the clinch that he used to finish Igor Goncharov. When he comes forward Bondar does have a tendency to swing a bit wildly and typically reacts with big punches when he gets hit himself. The Ukrainian often swings for the fences on these counter-shots which raises concerns about if he faces a really technical striker, but so far he’s in his career he’s been happy to eat a few punches if it means he can close in on his opponents for the takedown.
As impressive as Bondar has looked on this win streak, it has to be noted that his overall level of competition has been much lower than what he’ll be up against in the UFC. While he’s faced a few fighters with similar experience to his own, there have been times where he’s been matched up with very young and/or inexperienced fighters that simply looked like they didn’t belong in the cage with him. Malcom Gordon is 1-2 in the UFC so far and has a similar record to Bondar, so he’s a decent debut opponent to clarify where “Psycho” can fit into the flyweight division. I can definitely see Bondar becoming popular with fans and earn some Fight of the Night bonuses with his exciting style, but his recklessness on the feet is a concern for his overall ceiling.
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