Jack Hermansson vs. Sean Strickland
This was an obvious fight to make based on the middleweight rankings, with Hermansson at No.6 and Strickland at No.7, although based on their recent results Strickland has more momentum with five wins in a row, while Hermansson is 3-2 from his last five outings.
Strickland is a striker first-and-foremost and a good one at that, particularly with regards to his boxing. He applies pressure on his opponents well with his volume striking that largely sticks to the fundamentals and is effective from range. While he’s not the heaviest hitter at 185lbs, he lands with enough authority to command respect and has an iron will that can break opponents who are unable to match his intensity in the Octagon.
Hermansson also utilizes a volume-based style and offensively is a threat, while also having a slight reach advantage here, but he typically doesn’t respond well to being pressured on the feet and that can lead to risky defensive lapses.
However, on the mat Hermansson is a crafty grappler who can seize upon submissions as well as land hard ground and pound. Meanwhile, Strickland is capable on the ground, but he’ll certainly prefer to avoid spending time there here and in general he has very good takedown defense to aid him in that regard.
Hermansson is always a threat, but Strickland will work hard to keep the fight standing and I feel his volume and pressure will unsettle Hermansson and lead him to a decision victory.
Prediction: Sean Strickland to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
Punahele Soriano vs. Nick Maximov
A curious main event here with Soriano having won his first three fights in the UFC but then suffering a loss to Brendan Allen, while Maximov is undefeated in his seven fight MMA career, but only his last fight took place in the UFC.
It seems fairly clear that Maximov needs to get this fight on the mat as he’s not shown a whole lot on the feet and offers very little in the way of volume, instead waiting for opportunities to bring his opponent’s into his comfort zone, where he can utilize his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills to good effect.
The problem is that Soriano is a very solid wrestler who may well utilize that defensively to try to keep this fight on the feet, and I’m not convinced Maximov’s own takedown ability will be able to counteract that.
On the feet Soriano is the far more powerful, active and effective striker of the two and so I think there’s a real chance he could emerged with a second round TKO stoppage here.
Prediction: Punahele Soriano to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
Shavkat Rakhmanov vs. Carlston Harris
Both of these fighters are coming in off two wins so far in their UFC campaigns, with Rakhmanov boasting a perfect 14-0 career record, while Harris is also an experienced campaigner with a 17-4 record and a current five-fight winning streak.
The 27-year-old Rakhmanov has impressed with his well-rounded skill-set and finishing ability, with every single win he’s had to date coming inside the distance, with 7 each by way of strikes and submission. That sort of record is more commonly seen before joining the UFC ranks, but so far he’s shown he can maintain that against veterans in Alex Oliveira and Michael Prazeres in the Octagon too.
Meanwhile, the 34-year-old Harris is aggressive and powerful on the feet but does his best work on the mat where he can utilize his heavy-hitting ground-and-pound and also poses a submission threat too.
I like Rakhmanov to continue his unbeaten run here as he can handle himself well on the canvas and is the more technically skilled striker on the feet, which should enable him to work well from range to pick apart the less disciplined Harris, leading him to a second round TKO stoppage, though it’s possible he could hurt him and then finish with a submission instead.
Prediction: Shavkat Rakhmanov to win by TKO in Rd2 – Bet @ Sportsbet
Sam Alvey vs. Brendan Allen
This fight was put together at short notice after Alvey’s previous two opponents dropped out, with Ian Heinisch having to withdraw in December, while Phil Hawes exited at the start of the week.
However, the promotion have now managed to draft in Brendan Allen on short notice, with the catch being that they’ve had to move the fight up to 205lbs to accommodate him as he wouldn’t have been able to cut down to 185lbs in time.
To tell the truth it’s remarkable that Alvey is getting to fight at all given that he’s now gone seven fights without a win. It’s a bit of a headscratcher as Alvey isn’t exactly lighting up the Octagon with his performances. He remains heavy-handed, but over 50-fights into his MMA career he’s a rather slow, plodding fighter (particularly at light-heavyweight), who doesn’t look to push the pace much.
So it seems like he must have a good relationship with the UFC brass, although they’ve not been particularly kind to him here as at 26-year-old, Allen is a younger, hungrier fighter with much more spark to his game at this stage in their respective careers.
It is a concern that Allen will be fighting at 205lbs for the first time here, particularly after being TKO’d last time out, but he’s the faster, more active striker and that’s not even his strongest suit as he’s also a very good grappler who can control the action on the mat, and between the two I think he emerges with a decision victory here.
Prediction: Brendan Allen to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
Tresean Gore vs. Bryan Battle
These two were supposed to meet in the final of the latest season of TUF, but Gore suffered a knee injury and had to withdraw, which led to Battle fighting Keith Urbina instead, who he submitted to be crowned the next Ultimate Fighter.
Now we’ll get to see the ‘real’ final play out, with Gore now healed up and ready to make his official UFC debut, just three fights into his pro-career (not including his two TUF wins).
From what we’ve seen of Gore he’s got serious power in his hands, he can kick nicely from range and has plenty of speed to go along with it, but he’s not the most active striker and doesn’t pull the trigger as often as he should.
Battle is the more well-rounded of the two. He doesn’t wield the same kind of speed or power as Gore but he does offer up more volume on the feet and will have a 3.5″ reach advantage, but typically it’s his takedowns and submissions that bring him the most success.
Both men have a solid chance of victory here, with Battle’s best opportunity coming from mixing things up and outworking his opponent, but I think his desire to get inside and work the fight to the mat will leave him open to getting caught by heavy leather, leading to a second round TKO stoppage for Gore.
Prediction: Tresean Gore to win by TKO in Rd2 – Bet @ Sportsbet
Julian Erosa vs. Steven Peterson
Erosa has now won 3 of his last four fights since returning for a third stint in the UFC, while Peterson has cast aside back-to-back losses by winning two in a row since then.
So Erosa has been doing well, but there’s always a shadow hanging over his record as he has had chin issues that’s seen him KO’d three times and TKO’d once during his overall 5-5 run in the UFC over the years.
That being said, when he’s not being finished, he’s generally the one doing the finishing as he’s secured no less than 23 stoppage wins inside the distance from 26 career victories. They were almost evenly split between strikes and submissions, giving an indication of the action-packed style he delivers, and he holds a significant 3″ height and 4.5″ reach advantage to deliver his high-volume striking from.
Peterson has a respectable finishing rate in his own right, though that was perhaps more noticeable on the regional circuit than in the UFC, where he’s picked up one KO stoppage during a 3-3 run so far.
Peterson isn’t as potent as Erosa on the feet, but he’s a hard worker and does have a good submission game if he can get the fight there. I feel Erosa is the more skilled fighter overall though and will have significant success on the feet while steering clear of submission attempts on the mat to secure a decision victory.
Prediction: Julian Erosa to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Strickland Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
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Alexis Davis vs. Julija Stoliarenko
Jailton Almeida vs. Danilo Marques
Jason Witt vs. Phillip Rowe
Malcolm Gordon vs. Denys Bondar
About the Author: Ross Cole
Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process. You can read more of Ross’s work at MMAInsight.com.