After an epic night at UFC 270, we had a week off. We get back to UFC action this Saturday, with a Fight Night card from the Apex facility in Las Vegas.
Headlining the card is a top-flight Middleweight bout between Jack Hermansson and Sean Strickland. Five other bouts lead up the main card, including the unofficial TUF finale between Bryan Battle and Tresean Gore.
Jack Hermansson vs. Sean Strickland (MW)
Jack Hermansson (22-6, 9-4 UFC) returned with a sub-minute submission of Kelvin Gastelum after his defeat to Jared Cannonier, putting himself right back in the title chase. “The Joker” holds seventeen finishes with ten by knockout, often as a result of his ferocious ground and pound. When Hermansson is able to establish top control, it is hard to get him off and even harder to survive the onslaught of punishment. He is not lost when striking, either, as his high mobility and lengthy frame allow him to move around the outside, forcing his opponent to come to him if they want to land their power punches. Still, his striking mainly exists as an avenue to his ground game, but he is hard to deter once he establishes himself in top control.
A two-year layoff saw Sean Strickland (24-3, 11-3 UFC) return to score a one-sided decision over Jack Marshman, which he followed up with a second round knockout over Brendan Allen. His most recent bout against Uriah Hall saw him extend his win streak to five with a one-sided decision victory. Strickland has a polished and well-rounded skillset, with thirteen finishes to his credit. His striking was most notable in his last bout, as his crisp jab and combination striking worked over the powerful Welshman. He has great wrestling skills as well, amassing an 81% takedown defense rate despite going up against certified killers like Kamaru Usman, Tom Breese, and Santiago Ponzinibbio. What stands out to me about “Tarzan” is his superb defense, cutting angles expertly and rarely leaving his chin able to be found and allowing few opportunities for his opponent to enter the pocket. Fourteen of his wins have come before the final bell, with ten by way of knockout.
This is a fun stylistic clash between a grappler and boxer, though both are well-rounded threats. I see the striking and range management of Strickland being the difference maker on the feet, while Hermansson will be looking to take the fight to the mat and utilize his punishing ground game. As previously mentioned, Strickland holds stout takedown defense and can quickly regain his footing, so I expect him to outwork the Swedish fighter with his technique. I am predicting a late knockout or wide decision win to push Strickland into the title picture.
My Pick: Sean Strickland via Knockout
Punahele Soriano vs. Nick Maximov (MW)
My Pick: Punahele Soriano via Knockout
Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Carlston Harris (WW)
My Pick: Shavkat Rakhmonov via Knockout
Sam Alvey vs. Brendan Allen (LHW)
My Pick: Brendan Allen via Submission
Bryan Battle vs. Tresean Gore (MW)
My Pick: Bryan Battle via Decision
Julian Erosa vs. Steven Peterson (FTW)
My Pick: Steven Peterson via Knockout
We also have seven prelims leading up to the action on Saturday!
Categories: UFC Predictions