UFC light heavyweight stalwart Nikita Krylov has fought 17 times inside the Octagon, but Saturday night at the UFC Apex will see a first for the Ukrainian-born fighter.
Krylov will take on American contender Ryan Spann in the main event of UFC Vegas 70 in Las Vegas in a matchup that puts Krylov at the top of the bout sheet for the first time in his UFC career, almost a decade removed from his first bout in the Octagon.
Krylov is in his second stint with the promotion after initially debuting as a heavyweight at UFC 164 back in August 2016. He dropped down to light heavyweight two fights later and has gone 10-7 across two stints with the promotion.
On Saturday, he’ll look to celebrate his first UFC main event by capturing his 30th career victory.
Speaking during media day ahead of the event, Krylov admitted, “It’s a big deal for me. It’s the first main event for me. I feel myself great. I’ve had a great camp, good acclimatization, and now I just wait for Saturday.”
Krylov’s tenure in the sport may be a lengthy one, but he still has lofty goals for his career, and he said that him featuring in the headline bout shows that he’s moving in the right direction with his career.
“It means that I’m progressing, that I’m moving forward, and I’m not just staying in one place,” he said.
“It means the organization is seeing what I’m doing and believes in me and trusts me to main event in such an important organization, so I think it’s great. I feel great about it.”
He’ll face a stern test if he’s to secure that landmark 30th win, however. Spann had a big year in 2022 with two first-round finishes taking his career record to 21-7.
He finished Ion Cutelaba via guillotine choke in May 2022, then knocked out former title challenger Dominick Reyes in just 80 seconds last time out at UFC 281. Now “Superman” plans on making it three wins, and three finishes, in a row as he looks to gatecrash the championship picture at 205 pounds.
Listed sixth in the UFC’s light heavyweight rankings, Krylov also heads into the bout on a two-fight win streak, and said he had initially set his sights on a fight with top five opposition. But the opportunity to headline a UFC event meant he was happy to accept a fight with Spann, who is three spots below him in the rankings, in eighth.
“I want fights with guys who are higher than me in the rankings because I want contender fights,” he admitted.
“But when my manager sent me (a message saying), ‘I have a main event against Ryan Spann,’ that’s first for me. So listen, it’s a main event, so it’s good. That’s why Spann is OK. He’s a tough guy, interesting fight.”