The UFC has welcomed a new contender in the middleweight division after Marvin Vettori toppled Jack Hermansson in one of the best middleweight bouts of the year at UFC Vegas 16.
The Italian stepped in on short-notice to fight ‘Joker’ after both Darren Till and Kevin Holland were forced to withdraw from the bout through injury and COVID-19, and was super impressive as he stood his ground and came away with a comfortable decision victory.
In the opening round he consistently found a home for his straight left hand and when he closed the distance he was even able to score a knockdown, then control Hermansson on the ground and stay out of danger for the most part.
That opened up a pattern in the fight and while he lost the third round for sure when he began to tire, he seemed to find a second wind in the fourth and fifth and was able to continue at a pace that meant he could get the win.
His striking was enough to break the orbital bone of Hermansson, as confirmed by the Norwegian himself after the game, and Vettori will now move up into the top five in the rankings following a fourth-straight win.
After the fight he called for a bout with Paulo Costa, who is currently ranked number two behind Robert Whittaker. Costa’s last fight saw him completely dominated by champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 253 in September, although he has called for an immediate rematch with claims he was injured prior to the bout.
With Adesanya likely to move up to light heavyweight for a super-fight against Jan Blachowicz, the middleweight division is at a bit of a stand-still. Robert Whittaker has earned himself the next title shot after wins over Darren Till and Jared Cannonier, while Costa and Vettori will likely make up the top five now.
In the co-main event Jamahal Hill announced his arrival in the UFC with a huge win over Ovince Saint-Preux, where he out-struck the veteran for a very impressive second round knockout win.
Hill stayed at range and used his hands in combinations, stunning the 40-fight veteran on several occasions. He was physically strong in clinch positions and has previously spoken about his ground game being good, although we’re yet to see it ourselves.
He will now likely break into the Top 15, replacing ‘OSP’ and will look to the next challenge. Potential opponents could include Jimmy Crute, who broke into the rankings himself with his most recent win. Both fighters are undefeated so the UFC could look to keep them apart for a bit longer but Hill has well and truly arrived in the division now.