Tag Archives: Jack Hermansson

UFC London: Blaydes vs Aspinall – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to London’s O2 Arena for the second time this year for a stacked card, headlined by a heavyweight duel between top five big-men Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall.

We’ll also see the likes of Paddy Pimblett, Molly McCann, Mason Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, Paul Craig and Muhammad Mokaev competing in an event sure to provide plenty of fireworks.

Last week at UFC Long Island we went 8/12 with three perfect picks, moving us up to 685/1032 (64.34%) with 284 perfect picks (42.77%). You can check out our full history of picks here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims and then the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.


Paul Craig (16-4-1) vs Volkan Oezdemir (17-6) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Big time scrap between supreme grappler and powerhouse striker opens up this main card. Craig has won his last four in a row and is unbeaten in six, with all five wins coming via finish. Oezdemir has lost his last two in a row, getting slept by Jiri Prochazka at UFC 251 before dropping a decision to Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 267 most recently.

Craig is an absolute beast when it comes to the jiu-jitsu game, with an incredible aggressive guard and unorthdox submission skills. Oezdemir is a poor grappler, but he earned his “No Time” nickname from putting people’s lights out quickly and with one punch. This honestly depends on how generous the referee is feeling, because Craig often likes to take a bunch of strikes on the ground before wrapping in a submission when his opponent gets excited.

Oezdemir is powerful enough to put him out early though, and his takedown defence is solid enough to keep this standing. But Craig tends to be incredibly aggressive with his grappling and if he gets into a position of strength on the ground then Oezdemir will be in trouble. It’ll be very exciting, but I expect Craig to have the fans behind him and grab another amazing submission win.
PICK – Paul Craig via Submission, Round 1

Molly McCann (12-4) vs Hannah Goldy (6-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The owner of the knockout of the year so far is Molly McCann and that’s undisputed. McCann earned a stunning spinning back elbow to beat Luana Carolina last time out to make it back-to-back wins, while Goldy got her first UFC win with a first round armbar over Emily Whitmire last time out.

McCann is a boxer who was once a national champion and had the shortest reach in the entire UFC, meaning she had to learn to use her grappling and wrestling skills to close the distance. That was until Goldy signed, and she now is the owner of the shortest reach in the UFC. Goldy is a decent striker too but prefers to grind her opponents against the cage and try to be physical. She’s in trouble here though.

“Meatball” isn’t the biggest puncher in the world, but she’s incredibly aggressive and her pressure is relentless throughout 15 minutes. Her ability to get back to her feet will suit her here and using her reach and boxing skills she should be able to control this fight for the most part to earn yet another win, although a finish is pretty unlikely on this occasion.
PICK – Molly McCann via Decision

Nikita Krylov (27-9) vs Alexander Gustafsson (18-7) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A big time light heavyweight scrap between two highly experienced fighters. Krylov has lost three of his last four fights but all against elite competition, with Glover Teixeira, Magomed Ankalaev and Paul Craig all beating him soundly. He did claim a win over Johnny Walker in the middle of that run though. Gustafsson was once considered one of the best 205 pounders to never win gold when he retired, but since coming back he’s not had fun. He’s lost his comeback fight at heavyweight when Fabricio Werdum submitted him at UFC Fight Island 3.

Krylov is a brilliantly powerful puncher, but he’s also a solid grappler with good wrestling and top control. Gustafsson on the other hand is more of a boxer with great combinations and hand speed, although he’s shown his wrestling capabilities too – becoming the first man to ever take down Jon Jones. That said though, he’s five years out since his last win in the octagon.

Granted two years of that he was out of competition, but he’s 0-3 in his last 3 and he’s been beaten handily in all of those fights. In his prime I would expect Gustafsson to be able to string everything together and probably even claim a knockout. But this version of Gustafsson is slower and less durable and Krylov has been in there for a while against the very best, so I expect him to land another big win for his record.
PICK – Nikita Krylov via Decision



Paddy Pimblett (18-3) vs Jordan Leavitt (10-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The people’s main event in the lightweight division as “The Baddy” makes his return the O2. Pimblett has gone 2-0 in the UFC so far, knocking out Luigi Vendramini before submitting Kazulu Vargas last time out. Leavitt is 3-1 in the UFC, winning two in a row with a submission over Matt Sayles and then a decision against Trey Ogden.

Pimblett is a fine striker with good power and speed, but it’s his grappling and jiu-jitsu skills that really set him apart for many fans. Leavitt is a terrific grappler too, with excellent wrestling and strength and great idea for positioning for safety. Against someone like Pimblett, that will come in really handy as he is constantly looking to get the finish at the earliest possible opportunity.

With that said, Leavitt has a good chance of getting control early on when Pimblett is still going through the motions with the crowd and he’ll probably win the first round. But with a few tweaks, Pimblett should be able to land powerful strikes that could drop Leavitt and then sink in a choke to claim a third win and send the crowd wild.
PICK – Paddy Pimblett via Submission, Round 2

Jack Hermansson (22-7) vs Chris Curtis (29-8) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A short notice co-main event in this one, as Chris Curtis steps in for the injured Darren Till. Hermansson suffered defeats to Marvin Vettori and Sean Strickland in two of his last three fights, with a win over Edmen Shahbazyan coming in the middle of that. Curtis meanwhile has gone 3-0 in the UFC, KO’ing Phil Hawes at UFC 268 before KO’ing Brendan Allen (UFC Vegas 44) and then earning a decision over Rodolfo Vieira most recently.

Hermansson is a decent striker but his best fighting comes in the grappling on the mat, with great submissions and vicious ground and pound coming at the end of good wrestling takedowns. Curtis is a top level boxer with excellent low kicks, stunning power and really good takedown defence too. This is a real fairytale for Curtis, who has done nothing but impress in the UFC since his debut. This is a really, really tough fight to call.

Curtis is good enough to keep the fight standing and he’s got better striking without a doubt, but Hermansson is someone who uses his physicality well on his opponents as fights go on. With that said though, Curtis beat a better grappler about a month ago with his takedown defence and counter-striking so it’s hard to see how he doesn’t do it again.
PICK – Chris Curtis via Decision

Curtis Blaydes (16-3) vs Tom Aspinall (12-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Huge main event with potential title implications on the line in the heavyweight division headlines this card. Blaydes bounced back from a nasty KO loss to Derrick Lewis (UFC Vegas 19) by dominating Jairzinho Rozenstruik and then sleeping Chris Daukaus most recently. Aspinall is 5-0 in the UFC and absolutely dominated Alexander Volkov last time out via a straight arm lock in the first round at UFC London in March.

Blaydes is the best wrestler the heavyweight division has ever seen. He has a huge overhand right and a decent left jab, but everything is set up to change levels and take his opponent down to dominate from top position and land vicious ground and pound. Aspinall is one of the most well-rounded heavyweights we’ve seen, with incredible boxing and hand speed to go with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt too. He really is the total package. That makes this fight super hard to call.

Nobody has been able to stop Blaydes taking them down so far, and I don’t expect Aspinall to stuff a bunch of takedowns in this one either. But on his back he’s dangerous and on the feet he has an absolutely huge advantage with his boxing skills. Blaydes often doesn’t let his opponents up once he gets them down though, but we have seen him fade in five-round fights before when he’s forced to chain takedowns together through the fight. Aspinall has never been dragged into deep waters so we don’t know how he’ll cope, but we do know Blaydes has the capability of being put to sleep when entering for takedowns and Aspinall has the power and speed to counter quickly. Its hard, and I may be a bit bias, but I think Aspinall can get it done.
PICK – Tom Aspinall via Knockout, Round 4

UFC Vegas 47: New contender or two wannabes at middleweight?

The UFC returns from a two week break this weekend with a middleweight main event that many fans and casuals are sleeping on.

We’ll see two top-ten ranked 185-pounders go head to head at UFC Vegas 47 when Jack Hermansson returns to the octagon to take on the man steamrolling through the division currently in Sean Strickland.

But while these two aren’t exactly household names in the division, they are two incredibly skilled individuals who should bring the best and worst out of each other on the night.



For Hermansson, he’s looking to get back into title contention.

There have been several occasions where he seemed on the brink and then fell flat. His defeat to Jared Cannonier saw a four-fight win streak snapped and since then he’s alternated.

He beat Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Fight Island 2 with a heel hook in 88 seconds, before suffering a dominant decision loss to Marvin Vettori at UFC Vegas 16 despite the Italian coming in on short notice.

He bounced back in his most recent bout against Edmen Shahbazyan at UFC Vegas 27 with a decision win, and now goes in against a hungry striker once again.

Jack Hermansson of Norway walks out prior to his middleweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 22, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Strickland is on a five-fight win streak currently, with four of those coming since a two-year injury layoff.

He has dismantled Jack Marshman at UFC Vegas 12, before KO’ing up and coming talent Brendan Allen in a short-notice catchweight fight at UFC Vegas 14 just two weeks later.

He followed that up with dominant decision wins against Krzysztof Jotko at UFC Vegas 25 and then Uriah Hall in his first main event.

He’s showed little weakness in his game, with a solid wrestling background to go with his sturdy boxing and great cardio. His unstableness has seen some fans turn against him, and rightly so in all honesty, but his abilities are undeniable.

So this fight has a veteran looking to finally break through his glass ceiling, and a fighter on a hot run of momentum looking to smash through that ceiling at the first attempt.

If Hermansson can win, then it will show he is still good enough to hang at the highest level. His submission skills are elite, his striking is decent but it’s his intelligence that often gets to people the most and he is able to pick opponents apart.

‘Tarzan’ on the other hand just looks to break his opponent. Whether that be physically, mentally or both, he will come forward talking to his opponents and blasting them with countless strikes.

A win for him is huge as it cements him as the new contender in the weight class, with back-to-back main events in the bank and a fight with a top five guy up next. A loss though, shows him up to be just another pretender.

UFC Vegas 27: Font vs Garbrandt – Main card predictions

Bantamweights lead the way at UFC Vegas 27 this weekend when Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt go toe to toe in the main event.

The number three and four ranked 135lbers in the world will battle it out to give UFC president Dana White a headache when it comes to the top of the division right now, as ‘No Love’ looks to prove he really is back while Font looks to prove he’s a real contender among the elite.

Elsewhere on the card Yan Xiaonan takes on Carla Esparza in the co-main event to potentially determine the next contender for Rose Namajunas’ strawweight title, while Jack Hermansson and Edmen Shahbazyan meet in their delayed middleweight scrap too.

Last week at UFC 262 we didn’t have the best of nights prediction wise, going 6/12 with two perfect picks to move up to 314/494 (63.56%) with 136 perfect picks (43.31%).

We’ll look to improve that here with this 13-fight card, and after picking the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, we move onto the main card now.


Jack Hermansson (21-6) vs Edmen Shahbazyan (11-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fight that could easily have been a headline bout this time last year opens up the main card as the veteran Jack Hermansson takes on the prospect Shahbazyan in the middleweight division. Hermansson was on a decent run before getting knocked out by Jared Cannonier, before he bounced back with a very quick heel hook win over Kelvin Gastelum then got dominated by Marvin Vettori last time out. Shahbazyan was on an absolute tear himself, before his first main event against Derek Brunson saw him get dominated and finished in the third round.

Hermansson is one of the best grapplers in the division, with a sneaky submission game and fantastic top control once he gets on top, while Shahbazyan is as pure a striker as they come in the division with sensational kickboxing. Hermansson will be happy to stand if he can keep the distance short, but if he gets hold of him will almost certainly look to put him on his back.

While Shahbazyan has got great talent for all to see, his hype has made people forget he’s only 23. He’s in no rush to hit the top of the mountain right now and I think he still has holes in his game that ‘Joker’ can expose and I think he’ll get the win here.
PICK – Jack Hermansson via Knockout, Round 2

David Dvorak (19-3) vs Raulian Paiva (20-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A potential fight of the night at flyweight here as two 125lbers look to break into the top ten of the rankings with a big win. Dvorak has won 15 fights in a row, including wins over Bruno Silva and then Jordan Espinosa in 2020, while Paiva bounced back from consecutive defeats to earn back-to-back wins over Mark De La Rosa and then Zhalgas Zhumagulov at UFC 251.

Dvorak is a special grappler, with good striking to set up his takedowns where he will look to control position and eventually try and get to the back and look for chokes. Paiva on the other hand is a super striker with quick hands and great kicks, who’s ground game is okay but not so much when it’s against someone like Dvorak. ‘The Undertaker’ is relentless with his pressure and can hold his own on the feet too, meaning those kicks Paiva throws leave him susceptible to getting them caught and taken down.

Paiva could win the striking battle on the feet, but Dvorak will win any grappling battles on the mat and that’s where the difference lies. For me, Dvorak gets the fight down and controls position to nullify the threat of Paiva for a wide decision win.
PICK – David Dvorak via Decision

Felicia Spencer (8-2) vs Norma Dumont (5-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

The first ladies on the card get a nice spot on the main card as former title challenger Felicia Spencer looks to get back in the win column against Norma Dumont. Spencer took ‘Cyborg’ to a decision in a losing effort before beating Zarah Fairn dos Santos via KO in the first round to set up a defeat to Amanda Nunes at UFC 250. Dumont got slaughtered in her first UFC performance against Megan Anderson, before earning a win at bantamweight over Ashlee Evans-Smith.

Spencer is a natural 145lbser among the women which is a positive immediately, with great striking and decent grappling to boot. Dumont on the other hand is a grappler with jiu-jitsu skills and a decent bit of striking on the feet, but will have a huge size disadvantage that she’ll need to overcome. Spencer is the far better wrestler and has better striking and this fight just seems like a lay up for the bigger woman in a division that is limited in it’s contenders.

Spencer should be able to have her way entirely in this one for a dominant decision win.
PICK – Felicia Spencer via Decision

Justin Tafa (4-2) vs Jared Vanderaa (11-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big men get a run-out in this one as ‘Bad Man’ Justin Tafa takes on Jared Vanderaa in the heavyweight division. Tafa is 1-2 in the UFC, losing his debut to Yorgan De Castro before knocking out Juan Adams and then losing to Carlos Felipe at UFC Fight Island 7 in January. Vanderaa on the other hand also lost his UFC debut, getting KO’d by Sergey Spivak at UFC Vegas 19.

Tafa is a brawler, with tremendous power in his hands but an interesting chin and not the best boxing skills as he showed against Felipe. Vanderaa is a striker/wrestler type, who will look to step forward to close the distance with his hands and then get hold of you to put you on the ground. He has a big height and reach advantage meaning Tafa will have to take risks to step inside.

Despite that, I don’t think Vanderaa will be able to get a finish. If Tafa lands a heavy shot or two early on it could cause big problems, but Vanderra should be able to use his size and experience to see out a pretty comfortable win.
PICK – Jared Vanderra via Decision

Yan Xiaonan (13-1 1NC) vs Carla Esparza (18-6) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A huge fight at the top of the strawweight division between a touted future champion against the inaugral champ of the weight class. Xiaonan is on a six-fight win streak and undefeated in her last 12 fights, with an impressive win over Claudia Gadelha back at UFC Vegas 13, while Esparza has won four-in-a-row including a split decision over Marina Rodriguez at UFC Fight Island 3 last summer.

Xiaonan is a great striker, with terrific speed and solid kicks to go with some brilliant takedown defence. That will be put to the test though against Esparza, who’s biggest strength is her wrestling skills. She can get you to the ground and control the top position, with decent strikes and submission skills. Xiaonan’s path to victory is clearly on the feet, with decent power although all her UFC fights thus far have gone the distance.

Ultimately it comes down to whether or not Esparza can put Xiaonan on her back and keep her there, but I’d be very shocked if that’s the case. Expect Xiaonan to piece her up on the feet and deny the takedown attempts to cruise to a huge win on the judge’s scorecards.
PICK – Yan Xiaonan via Decision

Rob Font (18-4) vs Cody Garbrandt (12-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An absolute banger of a main event that will almost certainly be the fight of the night as Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt do battle at 135lbs. Font is coming off the back of a three-fight win streak, with a stunning first-round knockout over Marlon Moraes last time out at UFC Vegas 17, while Garbrandt snapped a three-fight knockout loss streak with a stunning knockout win over Raphael Assuncao at UFC 250.

Both Font and Garbrandt are boxing heavy fighters, with terrific hand speed and legitimate one-punch power. Font is the technically cleaner fighter of the two, working behind his jab with great footwork and combinations, while Gabrandt is quicker and more powerful but a bit looser with his technique. Font’s biggest win came in his last fight and while impressive on paper, Moraes has proved to be rather chinny in recent fights and that’s definitely something to consider. Garbrandt’s three losses were all by knockout because he refused to fight smart but we’ve seen his brilliance in the past and he looked much better against Assuncao too.

It’s a super even fight, between two guys who will feel they can beat the other at what they do best. For Font, he’s never been knocked out in the past but also never had to go five rounds. Despite that, I think Garbrandt’s past of being knocked out viciously could play against him in this one. Font hits hard and clean and with his speed to counter, I think he gets the biggest win of his career.
PICK – Rob Font via Knockout, Round 3

UFC 256 Fallout: Main Event Produces Fight of the Year, Oliveira & Holland True Contenders

The final UFC pay-per-view of the year delivered and then some as we saw two new contenders rise as well as a fight of the year contender in the main event.

Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno made a historic three-week turnaround to compete for the flyweight title and fought to a majority draw over five rounds, in what many are calling the fight of the year.

‘God of War’ Figueiredo was given the win on one judge’s scorecard, while the two others rendered it a draw following the champion having a point deduction for a violent low blow in the third round.

Both men stepped forward landing aggressive strikes on each other, punches that would likely have seen any other flyweight crumble to the floor unconscious. Instead, we saw these two warriors keep coming forward and even scramble on the mat in takedown situations to get back to trying to concuss each other.

The result will likely raise the stock of both men but also the flyweight division as a whole. With a rematch almost inevitable now between these two, the UFC’s original plans for Cody Garbrandt to move down to 125lbs and add some name value to the division may not be necessary.

Figueiredo has made a name for himself this year as a violent destroyer, while Moreno’s performance in this fight will almost certainly have gained him some new fans to go with his old ones.

In the co-main event, Charles Oliveira proved that he does belong among the elites of the lightweight division with a completely dominant decision victory over ‘El Cucuy’ Tony Ferguson.

The Brazilian completely outclassed Ferguson on the mat for three rounds as he toyed with him and was able to do whatever he wanted for the most part of the fight.

The one-sidedness of the fight was frankly quite shocking, with many expecting that Ferguson would be able to bounce back from his defeat to Justin Gaethje in May. But he never got the chance to get going at all, as Oliveira managed to outland him on the feet in the first round to the point where Ferguson moved for a clinch.

Oliveira used that scenario to lift Ferguson and put him on the ground and that was the end of that. A nasty armbar attempt in the final seconds of the first round showed that Ferguson is still as tough as ever, as he refused to tap despite the submission being locked in perfectly.

The rest of the fight saw Oliveira maul Ferguson, in a way that can only be comparable to how Khabib Nurmagomedov mauled his opponents during his career.

It put a magnifying glass on the classic Khabib vs Ferguson fight that we all wanted but never got. Many believed that Ferguson’s ability to fight off his back would cause ‘The Eagle’ more problems than anyone else could. But his performance at UFC 256 has confirmed my opinion that the top game would surely just be too much to handle from the bottom, no matter how good he is.

Oliveira now will move on to either a title fight or a guaranteed number one contender fight, depending on the outcome of Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor in January and the future of Khabib Nurmagomedov.

In the middleweight division, Kevin Holland proved to everyone that he’s a serious player in the 185lbs division with a stunning knockout win over Jacare Souza.

‘Trailblazer’ was expected to be tested on the ground by the multiple time jiu-jitsu champion, but what followed was something that proved he is a true contender in the division.

Immediately after being taken down, Holland threw heavy elbows to the head of Jacare which clearly hurt him. He then tee’d off on him from his back, KO’ing Souza with vicious punches.

Holland was originally due to fight No.4 ranked Jack Hermansson the previous week, but a positive COVID-19 test cost him that position. After Hermansson’s defeat to Marvin Vettori in that bout, a rescheduled bout between the two could be on the cards as Holland looks to shoot up the rankings in pursuit of a title shot.

UFC Vegas 16 Fallout: Vettori Moves Into Top Five, Hill Arrives

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.

UFC Vegas 16: Hermansson vs Vettori – Results (Highlights)

Originally scheduled for 11 fights on the night there are only eight fights taking place on this card now after the following fights fell through on fight night:

– Taila Santos vs Montana De La Rosa
(positive COVID-19 test, Santos re-booked vs Gillian Robertson for Dec 19th)
– Roman Evloev vs Nate Landwehr
(positive COVID-19 test)
– Jimmy Flick vs Cody Durden
(undisclosed injury, fight re-booked for December 19th)


PRELIMS

Jake Collier def Gian Villante via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Good start to the fight for both guys as Collier comes out with jabs and leg kicks, while Villante looks to counter it with big right hands. Villante coming forward and is cracking Collier, busting his nose open in the process. Collier lands a big knee and a big left hand to the body that lands clean. Collier lands a big left hand that rocks Villante and he goes for the kill but he doesn’t quite land with any of his follow up punches. Both guys exchange big punches as the buzzer goes, great round. 10-9 Collier for me.

A slower round this time as Collier comes out leading with the jab and Villante looks for an answer to counter it. Collier looks for a left hook but Villante avoids it and then throws an uppercut-hook combo that lands flush to the chin. Both fighters landing big hooks but neither seemingly with the power to put the other away as we enter the final minute of the round. Collier visibly starting to tire as the round comes to a close. 19-19.

Final round and Collier looking to be very active with push kicks and jabs early on while Villante continues to look for the one big shot. Collier landing a big left hook pretty much at will and looks light on his feet, landing nice body kicks and keeping Villante away. Round comes to an end with Collier pushing the pace and it should be enough for the win. 29-28 Collier.

Ilia Topuria def Damon Jackson via Knockout, Round 1 (2:38)

Very fast, active start to the fight from Topuria as he comes out landing big hooks to the body and beautiful jabs. Jackson swinging back for his own attack but Topuria quite clearly the more comfortable of the two on the feet. Big body shots again from Topuria as Jackson looks to clinch against the cage, but they break quickly. Topuria comes forward again and lands a big uppercut followed by a vicious body shot tha hurts Jackson! Topuria lands a big one two that drops Jackson and then one more violent strike as he’s down and the referee steps in to end it! Masterful performance from the Georgian, who moves to 10-0.

Louis Smolka def Jose Quinonez via Knockout, Round 2 (2:15)

Positive start to the round for Quinonez as he lands a nice low kick and follows it up with a heavy takedown early on. Smolka gets back to his feet quickly and lands a nice kick to the body but Quinonez seems much quicker and more accurate so far. Quinonez landing lots of short shots and adding low kicks on to the end of his combos but Smolka’s right hand is finding a home too. Smolka eats a knee which opens up a cut but he gets the takedown and searches for a submission but Quinonez gets up to end the round. 10-9 Quinonez.

Another quick start to the round for Quinonez as he comes out landing jabs well before landing a takedown inside the opening minute. Smolka gets up very quickly once again though and they continue to throw big shots at each other. Smolka lands a big judo throw and ends up in full mount immediately landing big ground and pound! Quinonez looks to escape but Smolka just floats, gets back into full mount and starts throwing bombs. Quinonez gives up his back and Smolka flattens him out and continues the big ground and pound until the referee steps in. Huge win for Smolka.

MAIN CARD

Jordan Leavitt def Matt Wiman via Knockout, Round 1 (0:22)

The two meet in the centre, Leavitt shoots in for a double leg and lifts Wiman. He walks him over to his corner and slams him to the mat and Wiman is out COLD! What a win!

Roman Dolidze def John Allan via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

A very intriguing start to this fight as Dolidze lands an early takedown and has to avoid some armbar attempts from Allan before talking to his corner, almost taunting him, before attempting a heel hook submission. Allan manages to escape and they get back to their feet, with Dolidze landing some straight lefts. Allan lands some body kicks and his jab is much quicker than Dolidze’s but not much damage being done. A clash of heads sees Allan go down and Dolidze goes for a leg lock submission again instead of ground and pound as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Dolidze.

A more tactical second round as the pace naturally slows a little and Dolidze is able to land an excellent takedown into a dominant top position. Lots of ground and pound from Dolidze as Allan is looking for sweeps to reverse the position from half guard, but he’s not allowing it and is controlling on the ground well. Dolidze goes for another leg lock submission with 20 seconds to go in the round and doesn’t get it, but a dominant round for the Georgian. 20-18.

Dolidze playing it safe in the final round as he is moving his feet well and landing his jab well. Allan is stepping forward looking to land big shots because he knows he needs the finish. Dolidze shoots for a tired takedown which is easily defended and Allan lands a big punch that wobbles him! Allan trips him and ends up on top, but Dolidze defends excellently and gets back to his feet straight into a double leg takedown of his own. He sees out the rest of the round landing ground and pound from top position for a dominant decision win. 30-27.

Gabriel Benitez def Justin Jaynes via Knockout, Round 1 (4:06)

Aggressive start to the fight from Benitez as he comes out with heavy kicks and some big punches. Jaynes looks to counter it by closing the distance and throwing big shots to the head. He lands a left hand that causes Benitez’s eye to begin swelling almost instantly. Jaynes steps forward again and Benitez lands a big uppercut that forces Jaynes to take a step back. More solid leg kicks from Benitez and then he fires a HUGE knee that drops Jaynes! Some quick ground and pound and the referee steps in to wave it off! Hugely impressive win from Benitez!

Jamahal Hill def Ovince Saint-Preux via Knockout, Round 2 (3:37)

A measured start to this fight from both fighters as OSP maintains his usual calmness as Hill looks to attack the body. OSP throwing lots of side kicks and push kicks but Hill throws a beautiful right hand right to the chin. OSP switches to southpaw and starts landing some nice calf kicks as Hill tries to get back into power striking range. Wild exchange at the end of the round, pretty even fight but I give the round to Hill. 10-9.

Hill looks much more lively and aggressive in this second round as he starts landing big shots early in the round. OSP doing well whenever he’s in a southpaw stance but in his orthodox stance he’s getting lit up. Hill lands a big right hand against the cage and forces OSP to clinch up because he’s hurt. Hill gets separation and goes on the offence again, landing big combinations to the head. OSP is out on his feet and Hill keeps pouring it on until the referee pulls him off! Huge win for Hill!

Marvin Vettori def Jack Hermansson via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x2, 49-45)

Vettori comes straight out and takes the centre of the octagon, throwing big left hands straight down the middle. Hermansson lands a nice leg kick as there two stand and trade. Vettori throws a straight left once again and drops Hermansson! He drops down for the ground and pound attack but Hermansson covers up and manages to defend himself by getting himself into half guard. Vettori stacks Hermansson against the cage and looks for ground and pound again, trying to open up an opportunity for a submission but it’s not quite working out for him as the round ends. 10-9 Vettori.

Hermansson comes out very aggressive in the second round with some wild swings before shooting for a takedown. Great defence from Vettori stuffs it several times before he is able to reverse the attempt and ends up on top himself. Vettori looking to just control Hermansson so far as both fighters fight to a stalemate on the ground, so they get back to their feet. Hermansson looks to take the fight down again and lands a big knee to the body as they round comes to an end. 19-19.

Hermansson growing into this fight now as Vettori looks like he’s starting to slow down. ‘Joker’ throwing lots of takedown attempts but isn’t being successful with them as Vettori defends expertly. High kick attempt from Hermansson looks like it’s blocked but Vettori keeps touching his arm, potentially hurt? Hermansson comes forward and lands a nice right hand but Vettori fires back with a left of his own and then a body kick. Nice jabs from Hermansson land as the round comes to an end. Hermansson round. Could be 29-28 either way.

Vettori seemingly has a second wind as he comes out for the fourth round and starts popping shots off with real venom. Hermansson ducks a left and counters with a nice right hook as the pace has considerably slowed since the first round. Both guys fighting in a phone box now, standing toe to toe and just exchanging shots. Another two straight lefts from Vettori land clean as we enter the final 90 seconds of the round. Hermansson comes forward and lands a beautiful combination that forces Vettori to step back but then he replies with a combo of his own. Another straight left lands from Vettori on the buzzer. What a fight this is. 38-38 going into the final round for me.

Vettori comes out in the fifth essentially looking like he wants a finish, landing big combinations but Hermansson refusing to give in. He responds with some combos of his own. Vettori landing his left hand at will but Hermansson staying in range and hitting uppercuts too. Big three punch combo ends with a right hook from Hermansson but Vettori eats it and comes forward with an uppercut of his own. Final minute and Vettori grabs a clinch and pushes the fight against the cage to try and grind out the end of the fight. Hermansson rolls through for a leg lock with 10 seconds to go but Vettori gets out as the buzzer goes. What a fight. 48-47 Vettori for me.

UFC Vegas 16: Hermansson vs Vettori – Main Card Predictions

A sneaky good card takes centre stage this weekend as the UFC look to end the year strong with a middleweight clash between number four ranked Jack Hermansson against short-term replacement Marvin Vettori.

Ovince Saint-Preux makes his return to the octagon too in his light heavyweight clash against Jamahal Hill in the co-main event in this eleven fight card.

Last weekend was a nightmare card in terms of picks, as we racked up a career-worst 1/10 correct picks for the night. The poor results sees our overall picks drop to 176/274 (64.23%) with 80 perfect picks (45.45%) from those too. We will look to improve that now with a strong showing on this card, starting with the prelims here.

MAIN CARD

Movsar Evloev (13-0) vs Nate Landwehr (14-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A super fun fight to open up the main card as two former M1-Challenge champions face off in the featherweight division. Nate Landwehr is 1-1 in the UFC, being knocked out by Herbert Burns in January before bouncing back with a great decision win over Darren Elkins in May. Evloev is an undefeated all-rounder, who made his name as the bantamweight champion in M1. He currently sits a 3-0 in the UFC with wins over Seung Woo Choi, Enrique Barzola and Mike Grundy on Fight Island. Landwehr is chaos personified, he walks through hell-fire to land his powerful punches until they fall down while Evloev is much more efficient and tends to look for takedowns. Evloev is very mobile and accurate with his striking and against the onrushing Landwehr he’ll likely be able to secure takedowns and dominate from the top for a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Movsar Evloev via Decision

Roman Dolidze (7-0) vs John Allan (13-5 1NC) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Roman Dolidze introduced himself to the UFC fan-base with a big knockout win on his debut against Khadis Ibragimov in the first round back in July. He will take on John Allan, who beat Mike Rodriguez in his UFC debut in July 2019 before that was overturned to a no contest due to a failed drugs test. Dolidze is a fantastic kickboxer and trains with the likes of Tyrone Spong in his camp, while Allan is a solid wrestler who fights with high pressure and looks to turn it into brawls. Dolidze is a great grappler in his own right though and will have the edge in most places in this fight, so his power is something I expect to come into play. A big right hand rocks Allan in the second and he finishes it with a flurry.
PICK – Roman Dolidze via Knockout, Round 2

Taila Santos (16-1) vs Montana De La Rosa (11-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The last time Santos fought in the UFC, I called her the lock of the night to lose to Molly McCann. Instead she absolutely dominated her and waltzed to a unanimous decision win on Fight Island. Montana De La Rosa beat Mara Romero Barella, who beat Taila Santos, but was then comfortably beaten by Viviane Araujo in September. De La Rosa is a wrestler who looks to land takedowns and search for submissions, but Santos has a physicality advantage that could see her overpower her opponent to defend. On the feet, Santos’ Muay-Thai game is exceptional and the gap in quality on the feet could see Santos land some power strikes to put De La Rosa off the takedown attempts. If De La Rosa can’t get the takedown, she is way out of her depth on the feet and Santos should be able to get the decision win.
PICK – Taila Santos via Decision

Ovince Saint-Preux (25-14) vs Jamahal Hill (7-0) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A fight that sees two fighters very similar in style going up against each other at opposite ends of their career. ‘OSP’ is a submission master who won his last fight by knockout, stopping Alonzo Menifield back in September. Hill on the other hand is undefeated and currently at 1-0 (1NC) in the UFC after defeating Darko Stosic in his debut before seeing a first round win against Klidson Abreu overturned to a no contest after testing positive for marijuana. ‘OSP’ has a shocking record against southpaw fighters, which Hill is. He’s not the strongest offensive wrestler but if the fight hits the ground somehow, ‘OSP’ has nine submission wins and even had the Von-Flute choke renamed in his honour because of well he does it. Hill’s ground game isn’t great and while he’s been hard to hold down he hasn’t fought anyone as good as Saint-Preux. This could go one of two ways, either OSP gets it down and taps him out, or Hill keeps it standing and picks him off on the feet. I’m going with OSP to use his experience and get it to where he has the big advantage and to get another submission win.
PICK – Ovince Saint-Preux via Submission, Round 2

Jack Hermansson (21-5) vs Marvin Vettori (15-4-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

‘Joker’ Jack Hermansson is on his third opponent for this fight and he will be looking to continue his push towards the top of the pile in the middleweight division against Marvin Vettori. Hermansson has won five of his last six, including submitting Kelvin Gastelum in the first round on Fight Island in July. Vettori is currently on a three-fight win streak, with his last defeat coming to reigning champion Israel Adesanya back in April 2018 via a split decision. Vettori got a win back in June with an impressive submission win over Karl Roberson and both these fighters will believe they are the better grapplers. In reality, Hermansson is quite comfortably the better grappler. On the feet, the fight is pretty 50/50 because both guys do carry power and bad intention when they throw but ‘Joker’ should be quite comfortable here. He’s had a full camp of training for two guys who are arguably better and while Vettori has also been in camp there’s a reason he’s way down in the rankings in comparison. Overall, Hermansson should have the skills and the experience to see this fight out in a pretty convincing manner.
PICK – Jack Hermansson via Submission, Round 3

UFC Vegas 16 Main Event Amended as Marvin Vettori Replaces Kevin Holland

Another UFC main event has been altered after Kevin Holland was forced to withdraw from his main event slot against Jack Hermansson, with Marvin Vettori stepping in on short notice.

Holland was originally a replacement in the main event, after Darren Till withdrew from the fight having not fully recovered from a knee injury picked up in his summer fight with Robert Whittaker.

However it emerged over the weekend that ‘Trailblazer’ has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be able to fight on December 5th.

After quick negotiations, Vettori has stepped in for the chance to stake a claim in the higher rankings of the division and will face ‘Joker’ Hermansson in the main event.

Vettori is currently on a three-fight win streak, with his last defeat coming to now reigning champion Israel Adesanya in a close split-decision.

Had he won that fight, there’s no telling how different the two’s career paths would have been with Adesanya now one of the biggest stars in the sport. As it stands though, he comes into this fight as the No.13 ranked fighter and will look to jump way up against the number four Hermansson.

As for Holland, his quest to go 5-0 in the calendar year 2020 isn’t done just yet. Despite not being able to compete on this card, he has now been booked to fight against Jacare Souza at UFC 256 the following weekend. Souza was originally scheduled to fight Marvin Vettori at the event.

While it’s a blow for Holland to go from fighting a top five opponent to someone unranked due to something out of his control, Holland knows that a win will see him remain high on the UFC’s watchlist and can expect big things in 2021 should it happen.

As for Jack Hermansson, credit goes to him for taking on all comers as he moves on to his third opponent for this event. His ranking is the thing at stake and a win over these lesser guys likely doesn’t do much for him in his quest to get a title shot but staying active is something Dana White always compliments.

With this change it will be five consecutive UFC main event amendments or cancellations, stretching back to Islam Makhachev’s withdrawal from his bout against Rafael Dos Anjos.

Lets hope Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev stay wrapped up in cotton wool until fight night.

UFC Fight Island: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2 – Main Card Predictions

The UFC continues with the Fight Island festival this weekend as the Flyweight title will finally be won as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Joseph Benavidez once again.

The two met in the main event back in February for the vacant title, but Figuereido missed weight and then knocked Benavidez out – meaning the title remained without an owner.

Before that though, there will be 11 other fights that I will break down and see if I can predict accurately. The midweek card saw me correctly predict 6/11 winners correctly, with 4 of the 6 perfect (winner, round, method). Lets see if I can improve that tally this time around.

You can see my picks for the prelims here.

Alexandre Pantoja (22-4) vs Askar Askarov (11-0-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Fight of the night contender right here. Alexandre Pantoja is a future UFC champion and he comes up against another top prospect in the undefeated Askarov in this one. Pantoja is a tremendous striker who is super dangerous on the mat with submissions, while Askarov is your usual Russian wrestler. Both men will push a fast pace in this bout and they will exchange big punches and plenty of scrambles on the ground. Askarov will need to get the takedown and secure it to use his usual style and get the win, but Pantoja is just so dangerous. He’s a better striker on the feet and if he gets taken down he knows how to move away and create space or dangerous positions of his own. Because of that, I think Pantoja will be able to get the decision but this one could go either way.
PICK – Alexandre Pantoja via Unanimous Decision

Ariane Lipski (12-5) vs Luana Carolina (6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

I’d be lying if I said I knew much about these two ladies, but a quick look at their records, competition and some footage I envisage a kickboxing fight between them. Lipski is a former KSW champion but has struggled in the UFC, losing to Joanne Calderwood and Molly McCann while Carolina has just one fight in the UFC which she won by dismantling Priscila Cachoeira on the feet. Lipski had problems when her opponents opted to grapple with her rather than strike, but Carolina has a similar background to her which likely means this stays on the feet. If it does, Lipski has more experience and a better record so should pick up the win.
PICK – Ariane Lipski via Unanimous Decision

Marc Diakiese (14-3) vs Rafael Fiziev (7-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another sleeper for fight of the night as two explosive strikers match up in the 155lbs division. Diakiese is a very quick puncher who can throw any type of technique out of nothing with power. He’s also an underrated grappler if this was to get to the ground. Fiziev has two previous fights in the UFC and is 1-1 currently with his win coming against Alex White. This is a fight between two very well rounded fighters, but with one of those two much more experienced under the bright lights. Diakiese probably has the edge everywhere too but it’s the experience factor that is big here. Fiziev has less than 25 mins of cage time in his career while Diakiese has had just over an hour. I think he’ll be able to implement his game plan better and grind out the decision win.
PICK – Marc Diakiese via Unanimous Decision

Jack Hermansson (20-5) vs Kelvin Gastelum (15-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

This is a fight between a very heavy handed striker and a very grapple heavy submission artist. Hermansson is ‘Joker’ by nickname but not by ability as he is incredibly well rounded in all aspects of MMA. He is however yet to pick up any considerable wins in his career. He beat Jacare Souza in his last win but the Brazilian is 40 years old and on his way out. He was mercilessly KO’d by Jared Cannonier and Thiago Santos though and Gastelum carries power in a similar way. Kelvin definitely over-performed in his UFC title shot against Israel Adesanya and underperformed in his loss to Darren Till and his true form falls somewhere between the two. His grappling isn’t horrendous and unless he gets caught by something slick against Hermansson, he should be able to secure a win either by knockout or decision.
PICK – Kelvin Gastelum via Knockout, Round 2

Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) vs Joseph Benavidez (28-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A rematch from UFC Fight Night in February when Benavidez was beaten in yet another title fight in the UFC. Figuereido showed he has tremendous power in his hands in that fight, but Benavidez arguably won the first round using his jab and kicks. Benavidez is a jiu-jitsu expert, hence the nickname ‘Joe-Jitsu’ and his best chances of a win in this fight come on the ground. With that said, the initial fight between the two saw him unsuccessful with both of his takedown attempts before being knocked into the following week. While the accidental headbutt undoubtedly had an effect on the finish, the Brazilian’s weight cut arguably had an outcome on the way the fight went too. He’s all power and very good at defending himself from getting into situations he doesn’t want to be in. At 32 years of age, he’s in his physical prime too and with Benavidez having never been able to win the big one I don’t think it changes here.
PICK – Deiveson Figueiredo via Knockout, Round 2

Let me know your thoughts on the card and if you agree with my picks over on Twitter.