After a 2 week break, the UFC is back with a fight night card between two top 10 middleweights.
6th ranked Jack Hermannsson takes on 7th ranked Sean Strickland.
This is Strickland 2nd main event and biggest fight to date.
Currently, on a 5 fight win streak, and beating Uriah Hall by unanimous decision in his last bout.
Hermansson has had a mixed run of form going 3-2 in his last 5. Beating Jacare, Kelvin Gastelum and Edmen Shahbazyan.
But he’s always struggled against the division top 5 losing to Marvin Vettori and Jared Cannonier.
We also he a couple of up and coming prospects in Phil Hawes who is facing Sam Alvey in a middleweight bout.
In the feature bout, we have one of the biggest prospects in the UFC and someone I think will be in the top 10 by the end of the year Shavkat Rakhmov who takes on Carlston Harris.
Deny Bondar vs Malcolm Gordon – Flyweight
Kicking off the card we have a flyweight bout between the debuting Deny’s Bondar and Malcolm Gordon who is 1-2 in UFC.
Bondar has an extremely aggressive style he absolutely tries to take your head off with every strike and make every second of the fight as unpleasant as possible.
This is shown in his 100% finishing rate and the majority of his finishes coming via submission.
His competition schedule isn’t on the same level as Gordon but he’s always shown up and given a good performance.
Now Gordon in his three UFC has been put with some of the best flyweights that the UFC has to offer, but I haven’t seen anything special from him.
He Lost via triangle choke to Amir Albazi in his debut despite having a BJJ black belt where he just lost all the grappling exchanges.
Albazi is a high-level flyweight but you would expect more from a BJJ black belt.
In his second fight, he was knocked out in a minute under by Sumdaerji.
He just couldn’t handle the power that Su was throwing at him, and was completely outmatched on the feet.
In his lone victory in the UFC, he beat Francisco Figueredo through being a bit quicker and better conditioned.
But Bondar just looks so aggressive and ready to take people heads off.
I think Gordon will cave to pressure in the first round.
I don’t see him being able to take down Bondar, and if tries to use his guard he’ll get blasted with elbows.
I think the UFC is trying to make Bondar look at good as possible in his debut by giving him, Gordon.
Someone who can’t stand being pressured on both the feet and mat.
Predication: Deny Bondar
Jailton Almeida vs Danilo Marques – Light Heavyweight
This fight is one I’m really looking forward to the debuting Jailton Almeida who seriously impressed on the contender series submitting Nasrudin Nasrudinov in the second round.
I will embed that fight in the article.
But the back story to that fight was Nasrudinov is a master in sports wrestling in Russia and was undefeated and had that same oppressive grappling as Khabib and other Dagestanis.
Almeida took grappling to Nasrudinov lost the first exchange.
Quickly got back to his feet and then outwrestled Nasrudinov for the rest of the fight where he snatched up a rear-naked choke, continuing his 100% finishing record.
Now I’m not sure how the fight is going to go as Marques is also a jiu-jitsu heavy fighter going 2-1 in the UFC but lose his last fight to Kennedy Nzechukwu in the third round but had won both previous rounds on the ground.
Almeida won’t have the same level of striking as Nzechukwu but he’s got some serious power and a lot of natural athleticism.
He’s far more explosive than Marques, and if this does turn into a wrestling match Almeida will come out on top.
I’m still not sure if this fight will be a striking affair or a tough grappling match with both fighters looking top position.
Because both fighters are facing their toughest grappling matchups yet.
No one has wanted anything to do with Marques ground game, and Almeida has shown he might be an elite level grappler in MMA on the same level as Jacare, Demain Maia and Gilbert Burns.
I’m taking Almeida just because of how athletic he is I think he’ll be able to dictate where the fight takes place.
Predication Jailton Almeida
Alexis Davis vs Julija Stoliarenko – Bantamweight
We have a bantamweight fight between two fighters with poor runs of form.
Alexis Davis who is a legend of women’s MMA but has only won one fight of her last 5, the win coming against Sabina Mazo.
She is also 37 years old and this will be her 32 pro MMA fight.
So my guess is it’s going to be one of her last fights.
Then Stoliarenko who is 0-3 in the UFC and just haven’t looked like she’s ready for the UFC.
She lost her debut to Leah Letson and was quickly released, then fought her way back to the UFC just to lose two more fights.
Her first to top 10 Yana Kunitskaya where she was controlled the whole fight, and considering she’s a BJJ brown belt and has medalist at multiple IBJJF Euros you would expect more from her on the ground.
In her last fight, she lost to Julia Avila by 3 round submission which for someone of her grappling ability just shouldn’t be happening.
She just made a very basic mistake that gave up her back.
Stoliarenko tried to hold a judo scarf hold but didn’t have good head control so Avila could easily take her back.
She was also getting outstruck on the feet both in power and volume.
I think Davis will be able to match her on the ground and she’ll have the advantage on the feet.
The only thing she needs to worry about is Stoliarenko trying to take her down and hold her in top which she hasn’t been able to do in her previous fights.
Davis has seen far better wrestlers than Stoliarenko so I think she’ll be able to get the fight at her range.
Prediction: Alexis Davis
Jason Witt vs Philip Rowe – Welterweight
We have an interesting welterweight bout between Jason Witt and Phillip Rowe.
Witt is currently 2-2 in the UFC.
His biggest weakness being chin and his tendency to leave it straight up in the air.
Seen in two knockouts losses to Takashi Sato and Matthew Semelsberger both of which happened in under a minute.
Now if he can get his wrestling going like he did with Cole Williams and Bryan Barberna the fight should go his way.
I was very surprised that he was able to make the fight with Barberena competitive.
I thought he would got outpaced and knocked out in the later rounds.
Rowe has been active on the grappling scene but with little success.
But he is 1-1 in the UFC and knocked out Orion Cosce in his last fight.
Where Cosce spent almost the whole second rocked and on the edge of being knocked out.
So Rowe has to power to shut Witt’s light out.
My worry is how he’ll do with the wrestling.
Witt has some brutal top pressure, and good enough takedowns to get Rowe to the floor.
But I don’t see Rowe getting discouraged after spending around getting controlled on the ground, and he can rally late for a knockout.
I think that’s what he’ll do.
Witt just doesn’t have the chin to hold up to Rowe’s power and pressure.
Rowe has a good enough understanding of the bottom game to stay out of danger.
Predication: Philip Rowe
Marc-Andre Barriault vs Chidi Njokuani – Middleweight
If you’ve ever watched a Barriault fight you know why he’s called power bar.
His round 3 output is just insane just ramping up the pace to a ridiculous level throwing well over 100 strikes in his last two fights both of which were wins over Abu Azaitar and Dalcha Lungiambula.
The difference was Barriault’s game plan for those two fights was clear get to the 3rd round and just unload on the two.
Both Azaitar and Lungiambula are gifted with power and have some of the worst gas tanks in the middleweight division.
Lungiambula especially if have can’t get the knockout or dominant the first two round he’ll always lose the fight.
Njokuani has the cardio to fight for 3 rounds at a decent pace, not quite at Barriault’s pace but close enough that won’t just be a punching bag in the 3rd round.
Barriault has shown some difficulty dealing with strong grapplers like Junyong Park and Andrew Sanchez.
But Njokuani will not be trying to wrestle Barriault.
He’s a long kickboxer who tries to manage distance and when he can blast body shot which when your fighting Barriault is a good strategy.
Pace and cardio are his biggest strengths and if you blast body shots your cardio will go out the window.
I think Barriault will have to turn this into a wrestling match.
Because Chidi will happily have a Muay Thai fight for 15 minutes and come on top.
In his loss to John Salter Chidi showed he doesn’t like being on his back.
Now Salter is an elite-level grappler but Barriault can use his gameplan of constant forward pressure and heavy top control.
It’s going to be a close fight but I’m with Marc-Andre he’s looked great in his past two fights just looked like he know how to win.
Predication: Marc-Andre Barriault.
Hakeem Dawodu vs Mike Trizano – Featherweight
Here’s a bout a that could deliver something special we have Hakeem Dawodu and Mike Trizano.
Trizano’s biggest issue is that he hasn’t had a lot of fights 11 in total and he’s 3-1 in UFC but he has been in the UFC for the past 4 years.
He returned back in May of 2021 against Ludovit Klein in a unanimous decision win.
Personally, i don’t see how he won the fight.
He had a good 3rd round and a tight guillotine at the fight.
Hadn’t the fight ended probably would get the tap.
His strongest part of his game is undoubtedly his cardio and hands.
In all of his wins, he’s just switched the pace up massively in the 3rd round.
He did to Giannetti, Pena and Klein.
It worked so well with Klein that he shot an ill-advised double leg putting him in a guillotine.
However, Dawodu’s striking is a higher level than Trizano’s and everyone he has faced.
Dawodu’s has only been given problems by grapplers.
In his last against Movsar Evolev, he couldn’t deal with his chain wrestling but then again other Mike Grundy nobody has but was Grundy was completely outclassed on the feet.
My main issue with Dawodu’s game is his slow starting ability.
Same as Trizano they both do their best work in the 3rd round.
Dakwodu almost always loses the first round.
He can’t let that happen against Trizano because it’s gonna be risky banking on a strong 2nd and 3rd round.
Because Trizano won’t slow down, unlike his previous opponents.
I really can’t call this fight either way.
I’m leaning toward Dawkodu because he’s a better striker.
But he’s gonna have to pick the pace up quickly because Trizano will try and get his face and make it awkward for him in the later rounds if he doesn’t.
Pedication: Hakeem Dawodu.
Miles Johns vs John Castaneda – Bantamweight
In the featured prelim we have the streaking prospect Miles Johns taking on John Castaneda.
Personally, I am quite surprised that Johns took this fight from watching his two previous knockouts against Anderson Dos Santos and Kevin Natividad.
I thought he would either be fighting a top 15 opponent or someone just outside it like Casey Kenney, Adrian Yanez or Jack Shore.
He just completely outclassed both of them for the whole fight and got the knockout finish.
John Castaneda seems more on the level of those two fighters.
He’s 1-1 in his debut was completely outclassed by Nathaniel Wood on the feet and got his legs destroyed with chomping low kicks.
In the exact same way that Johns did to Santos in the first round of their fight.
It just completely shut down his movement.
In Castaneda’s last fight where he knocked out Eddie Wineland, Wineland was getting the better of him on the feet until Castaneda caught him and ended the fight.
But Wineland is hands down let’s have a fight sort of MMA fighter.
He’s also reaching the end of his career and has a lot of mileage.
Johns is in his prime and extremely durable his one knock out loss was from a flying that would take out 90% of the bantamweight division.
Not to mention Johns is a better wrestler so if he chooses to he can just take the fight to the floor.
If don’t see have Castaneda can win unless counters and rushes Johns to get a knockout.
Predication: Miles Johns.
Julian Erosa vs Steven Peterson – Featherweight
Kicking off the main card we have people main event.
The fight hardcore fans know will deliver.
Julian Erosa takes on Steven Peterson.
Erosa has bounced all around the MMA scene but has always found his way back to the UFC.
In his latest UFC stint, he’s 3-1 with finishes all of them.
Submitting Sean Woodson and derailing a lot of his hype.
Landing a flying knee on Nate Landwehr.
Being knocked out by Seung Woo Choi in the first round.
Only to bounce back and submit Charles Jourdain in the 3rd round.
He’s had 10 UFC fights and only 2 has gone the distance.
The last one that did was almost three years ago.
Erosa is the fan favourite, a fighter who has a bit more leeway with how many fights he loses.
Similar to what Jeremy Stephens used to be like he might not win all of his fights.
But he’ll a damn good show on every time he goes out there.
How many featherweights can you name with double-digit submission and knockout victories and only 3 decision wins?
Even with his good run of form, I don’t see him breaking the rankings.
But he doesn’t need he’s found his role in the UFC.
Matching him with Steven Peterson is a great move because he’ll also be down to have a good scrap.
It won’t be like his last fight with Chase Hooper.
Because Erosa won’t get outmuscled trying to grapple Peterson, I think they’ll a similar level on the ground.
Peterson might try a takedown if Erosa gets a bit wild and almost takes his head out.
But shooting in on Erosa is risky his neck attack are very good, especially his arm in front chokes.
I think Erosa will get some sort of finish late in the fight.
Peterson won’t fight a technical cagey approach, and if you try to go head to head with Erosa you’ll end up unconscious.
Predication: Julian Erosa.
Bryan Battle vs Tresean Gore – Middleweight
This bout was originally scheduled as the middleweight ultimate fighter finale.
But Gore had to pull out due to a torn meniscus.
Battle ended fighting Gilbert Urbina the man Gore had knocked out in his last fight of the ultimate fighter.
Battle went on to win that fight by 2nd round rear-naked choke.
After a crazy first round which left Battle without his mouthpiece for the majority of the first round.
He showed a lot of reliance to bounce back.
Showing off his slick jiu-jitsu in the process.
Now Gore is only 3-0 in MMA and had two exhibition fights on the ultimate fighter.
I just don’t have a lot of say about him because it’s rare you see someone with so little experience make it to the UFC.
But that season of the ultimate fighter was a very weak one and to me doesn’t need to happen anymore.
The format seems to be old and outdated.
I think the UFC would be better off making an international version of the contender series.
But from what I could find online of Gore is that he has very heavy hands.
But Battle seemed very durable and had decent wrestling and a good submission game.
So I’m going with Battle.
Predication: Bryan Battle.
Sam Alvey vs Brendan Allen – Middleweight
Stepping in on last notice to replace Phil Hawes, Brendan Allen looks to bounce back after a loss to Chris Curtis.
Sam Alvey is without a win in his last 7 fights but had a split decision loss to Ryan Spann and draw against Da-Un Jung.
I am amazed that Alvey is still in the UFC I thought he would be in BKFC by now or Triad Combat.
I feel like this will be Alvey’s last shot and he’ll need a victory against Brendan Allen.
Alvey’s best weapon will be the power in his hands, there’s a good possibility that he knocks out Allen.
I’m still not sure what sort of gameplan Allen will bring to the table.
His best weapon is the submission game submitting Kevin Holland and Karl Roberson.
But he also has victory over Punahele Soriano which was fought only on the feet and Allen only shot 1 takedown.
Soriano definitely has that 1 punch power that Alvey also has.
Not to mention Alvey’s 81% takedown defence over 21 UFC fights.
Allen is an average wrestler at best.
I just have a tough time completely counting out Sam Alvey.
He’s had enough good performances in the past two years that he could get the upset on the betting line.
If Allen can replicate what Julian Marquez did that would be perfect.
But doesn’t carry that same power as Marquez.
He has 1 knockdown in the UFC and hasn’t had a knockout since 2018, which came in LFA.
So I highly doubt he’s going to be able to drain Alvey’s cardio as Marquez did.
I still think his technical ability and try pressure game which will do the job against Sam Alvey and if the fight ends on the floor he will get the submission.
But I think Alvey likely stop all of his takedowns.
All it takes is one clean shot from Alvey to end the fight.
Chris Curtis was able to get Allen with a counter right hook in a fight Allen was winning up until that point.
I do see Allen getting the victory but it’s not easy as the betting odds are making it out to be.
Predication: Brendan Allen.
Shavkat Rakhmonov vs Carlston Harris – Welterweight
This fight really stands out on the card.
I feel whoever wins this will be propelled in a top 15 or even top 10 fight.
Rakhmonov does have more hype coming into this fight being 14-0 with a 100% finishing rate and only seeing the third round once.
But Carlston Harris is no gimme fight that Rakhmonov is expected to cruise through.
Currently, on a 5 fight win streak all from finishes.
He has this chaotic powerful striking that got him the victory in both his UFC fights.
In the Aguilera fight it forced him to make a poor double-leg attempt, then straight away snatched up an anaconda choke.
Then with his fight against Impa Kasanganay who just looked more confident on the feet, he was landing more and better shot.
Rakhmonov still has some mystery to his game.
Against Prazeres, there was such a size difference and Prazeres has such bad conditioning that if he doesn’t get you to the ground immediately your be able to pick him apart.
Which is what he did.
Forcing Prazeres into stupid shots ultimately losing him the fight.
From the rear-naked choke.
I imagine Harris wants to keep the fight on the feet and swing big shots from the outside.
Both fighters have such a good front headlock games I don’t know if either will shoot on each other.
Rakhmonov does have has combat sambo so I’m guessing his trips will be better which did land on Prazeres in the first round.
But if Harris is trying to take his head off I don’t know if he’ll shoot as a defensive reaction.
Raknmonov also has this great knee up the middle that really stunned both Oliveira and Prazeres.
I question what Harris’s cardio is like because he’s always trying to get people out of there quickly.
My gut feeling is Harris either needs a dominant round 1 or a round 1 finish.
Otherwise, Raknmonov will turn up the pace, drag him to the floor and either smash him with ground and pound or submit for the back.
Raknmonov seems to have the fight IQ to fight a smart round 1 and not get caught in a wild striking match, and I don’t see Harris getting a takedown on him either.
Punahele Soriano vs Nick Maximov – Middleweight
In the co-main event, we have a couple of upcoming middleweights Punahele Soriano and the undefeated Nick Diaz product Nick Maximov.
This will only be Maximov 8th fight, and the people he’s faced in the past hasn’t been the highest standard fighters or with only 2 of his previous opponents having positive records.
That being said in his UFC debut he did show off some decent wrestling against Cody Brundage.
Scoring almost 10 minutes of control time.
The issue here is Soriano has never been taken down in UFC.
He has faced strong grapplers in the past like Oskar Piechota.
Who just got blasted with the one-punch knockout power Soriano carries.
Now Brendan Allen was able to beat Soriano but he took a lot of heavy strikes in that fight.
He was able to gas Soriano which is easy said than done.
Only going the distance twice in his career
With Maximov just not having a lot of good experience in the cage I’m not sure how he’s going to react when facing such a heavy-handed fighter trying to take his head.
While also having good enough counter grappling and wrestling to keep the fight where he wants it.
Maximov did not show off good enough striking in the Brundage fight to suggest trying to trade with Soriano on the feet would be a winning strategy.
Brundage is not a heavy hitter and is not as confidable on the feet when compared to Soriano.
As long as Soriano doesn’t gas himself out with trying to take Maximov out early or get into unnecessary grappling exchanges I see him coming out with the victory.
Predication: Punahele Soriano.
Jack Hermansson (6) vs Sean Strickland (7) – Middleweight
Main event time.
6th ranked Jack Hermansson vs 7th ranked Sean Strickland.
Strickland is without a loss since being caught with that brutal wheel kick by Dos Santos and has won 5 straight his biggest win being his last again Uriah Hall which he dominated bell to bell.
Jack Hermansson is 3-2 in his last 5 but they are all against top 10 talents.
Beating Jacare, Kelvin Gastelum and Edmen Shahbazyan.
Now Hermansson best way is always done the ground.
Known very well for his Jokertine or arm in a guillotine which he used against Gerald Meerschert and David Branch.
He also almost got on Jacare in their fight.
His biggest problems have come against big power punchers.
Losing by knockout to Jared Cannonier and Thiago Santos.
Now the biggest thing making me lean towards Strickland is strong takedown defence and his training with Marvin Vettori.
Vettori was able to win all bar round 3 with Hermansson and he and Strickland have very similar games.
Both have good crisp straight punches to control the range.
Both have very good wrestling and use to dictate where the fight takes place, and both elite cardio and don’t slow at all.
I don’t Sean Strickland going for a takedown in this fight at all.
There isn’t a need for it.
He used it in the Hall fight but Hall is explosive on feet and can end a fight in an instance.
Not to mention Hall doesn’t have a submission game, and Hermansson is one of the best submission artists in the middleweight division.
Now Usman was able to control Strickland in their fight but i don’t see Hermansson being able to replicate that same approach.
He also has zero knockouts in his UFC career which is a concern.
Because it’s going to demoralising shooting failed takedowns one after the other against Strickland.
I don’t see how Hermansson can win this fight on the feet.
It’s also gonna be difficult to get Strickland to the floor.
This fight suits Strickland far more than it does Hermannsson.
He could do what he did to Kelvin but I imagine Strickland would let his knee snap and just carry on.
I think Strickland is title bound.
We just need to see how the UFC plans are for Derek Brunson if he gets the Cannonier win.
Predication: Sean Strickland.
I’m a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and I write about the latest in all things martial arts.