We head back to the UFC APEX this weekend in Las Vegas for UFC Fight Night: Till vs Hermansson – wait, make that UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Holland – no, wait, now it’s actually UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Vettori. As of this writing, at least. Stay tuned.
So is life in the pandemic era of UFC booking – fight cards are in a constant state of flux. As hinted at above, Saturday’s main event has gone through three changes already, with Jack Hermansson being the only constant in the equation. The most recent – and hopefully final – middleweight to step in to fill this slot is Marvin Vettori, who was training for a fight against Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza on next week’s PPV.
While short notice replacements are only winning a third of their fights in the UFC this year, Vettori actually matches up well with ‘The Joker’ due to his ability to stuff takedowns. The oddsmakers at MansionBet seem to agree with me, currently having him as a
10/13* favourite on their board.
However, I’m going with the even money (
1/1) Hermansson to win this fight. He’s got the size (an inch taller and three inches of reach), he’s won five of his last six, and he’s got the striking stat advantage (which is a 70% predictor of a fight’s winner heading into it). In fact, he outstrikes his opponents on a 2:1 ratio on average throughout his UFC career.
But it’s his grappling that makes him special, and what he’ll have to rely on here against the Italian. If he can get ‘The Italian Dream’ down to the mat, he should be able to get the W. If this turns into a drawn-out striking battle, the Swedish-Norwegian pugilist could be in trouble. While Hermansson has 11 (T)KO wins on his resume, it’s been over two years since he’s won a fight that way.
Old Guard Versus the Upstart
The co-main event sees a new guard vs old guard battle in the light heavyweight division. The old guard would be 37-year-old Ovince Saint Preux, 13-9 in the UFC and fighting in the big time (Strikeforce then UFC) for a decade now. The upstart would be 29-year-old Jamahal Hill, so new on the scene he doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page yet (someone get on that for me). Hill is a perfect 7-0 as a pro (with 1 No Contest after his last win was overturned for a failed drug test for marijuana). ‘Sweet Dreams’ has outstruck his UFC opponents (including his Dana White’s Contender Series fight) by a whopping 8:3 ratio, and I’m counting on this to carry the day for him on Saturday. Hill at
8/15 is my pick.
Underdogs with a Fighting Chance
Now for the underdogs (in addition to Hermansson, who I like in the main event at
1/1). Jake Collier (
8/15) will be battling Gian Villante on Saturday in a heavyweight fight. The two are former light heavies who don’t want to cut weight any longer, so they’ve both put on quite a bit of pounds around the midsection. I’ll take the younger, longer fighter for the plus money here. Jose Alberto Quinonez at
11/10 against Louis Smolka in a bantamweight battle is also a live dog I’m targeting. They were supposed to fight a couple of weeks ago before a bad weight cut put Smolka on the shelf, so his health and ability to cut down to 135 pounds this week is a factor. Most importantly, though, is Quinonez has both the striking and grappling stats in his favour heading into Saturday, as well as a slight reach advantage over Smolka, whose inconsistency has already seen him cut from the UFC once in his career.
*All odds correct at time of writing.