Thursday, January 21, 2021

UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Vettori Preview & Picks

UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Vettori takes place tomorrow night with the main card beginning at 10:00 PM ET, and the prelims kicking off at 8:00 PM. The card will be headlined by Jack Hermansson taking on Marvin Vettori. In the co-main event, veteran Ovince Saint Preux will take on young prospect Jamahal Hill. Check out my predictions for the main card below!

Movsar Evloev vs. Nate Landwehr

Movsar Evloev is a future title challenger hiding in plain sight. Now I want to be very clear about this. I’m not saying Movsar Evloev has the potential to be a future title challenger. I’m not saying that he might be a title contender if everything goes right. I’m telling you: Movsar Evloev will be challenging for a world title before his career is over, and I believe how soon it will happen depends on his health and booking frequency.

That said, I think you can guess who I’m picking in this one. Look, Nate Landwehr is a wild dog, and he will gnaw and claw until the final bell. But Movsar Evloev is a workhorse. His disposition and well-tuned skill set are that of a man who is designed to win, which is why it comes second nature to him. He seems like a guy who, like Khabib, maybe never loses in sparring sessions. I believe Evloev eats, sleeps, and breathes fighting, so he inhales winning with ease.

I realize this is some hefty praise for a guy who only has three UFC fights, but hey, so does Khamzat Chimaev, and that’s not stopping Khamzatmania from running wild. Evloev has stiff strikes, excellent cardio, and unbelievable composure, but his biggest attribute is his elite grappling. Landwehr does have experience beating high-level Russian wrestlers in M-1, so he is not one to be intimidated by Evloev. In fact, he even asked for the fight! Landwehr is definitely a good fighter and someone whose tenacity and fighting style always makes him at least somewhat live, but there are reasons why Movsar Evloev is the biggest favorite on this card, and I’ve only touched on but a few.

PREDICTION: Movsar Evloev

Roman Dolidze vs. John Allan

John Allen appears to relish the opportunity to step in the cage and let go of all the hardships and frustrations life has ever thrown at him. He then proceeds to fight with a bottled-up rage that’s unleashed with every blow. After being suspended by USADA and sidelined for 16 months, there will be even more bubbling inside and waiting to be released, and he’ll perhaps be throwing hard in the first round with or without the ideal opening.

He could find that opening against Roman Dolidze, who fights with a looser stance and is also a little bit green in the sport with only seven professional fights thus far. Still, I think Dolidze has the advantage in the cardio department and most definitely in the grappling department. Dolidze has been striking more than grappling as his career has progressed, but his best path to victory is to take this one to the ground, where I think he is far ahead of Allan.

Sure, Dolidze’s last few fights have been KOs, but Allan is a durable fighter who has never been KO’d but has been submitted. I can see Dolidze picking up his fourth submission victory here and having a healthy balance of 4 KOs and 4 submissions on his résumé.

PREDICTION: Roman Dolidze

Montana De La Rosa vs. Taila Santos

Some people are considering Montana De La Rosa to be a stepping-stone opponent, but this would be a very premature mistake. De La Rosa is only 25 years old, and though she has been a bit one-dimensional as a grappler in the past, she showed a lot of progress on her feet in her last fight against Viviane Araújo, even in a losing effort. With those advancements and her age, I wouldn’t hang on to any preconceived notions about De La Rosa, and she is a live underdog here against Taila Santos.

Taila Santos had a lethargic debut against Mara Borella, but then turned around and looked very impressive in her victory over Molly McCann in July. Montana De La Rosa is a grappling-first fighter, and that is her path to victory here: swarming Taila Santos then initiating and winning the grappling exchanges. But De La Rosa has struggled against better competition in the UFC. Each time she has faced a ranked fighter, she has lost, and her wins have come against lower-tier competitors. Furthermore, she has struggled with fighters who were able to outpower her, such as Viviane Araujo, Andrea Lee, and Nicco Montana. Santos seems to fit that description well.

Taila Santos is 16-1 and even with De La Rosa’s improvements on the feet, Santos is still the superior striker. I believe she’ll have the muscle to keep the fight vertical when De La Rosa tries to take her down or maybe even get the better of De La Rosa in the grappling exchanges if push comes to tackle.

PREDICTION: Taila Santos

Ovince Saint Preux vs. Jamahal Hill

OSP has been at it for 12 years and is every bit of 37 years of age, but he is still not on his way out. At this point, I think we have to consider OSP to be one of, if not the most textbook example ever of what a gatekeeper is. In fact, if there is a Gatekeeper Hall of Fame, this guy should be the first inductee. That’s said with no disrespect. If anything, it’s a testament to his ability to stay around and upset the apple cart on more than one occasion to keep the gate secure from anyone who tries to rush through prematurely. And actually, I see Jamahal Hill as one such opponent.

I think Jamahal Hill is the hungrier fighter and, at this stage of his career, is clearly more athletic. He will have a speed advantage on the feet as well as a cardio advantage, but he will still use both economically with a pretty good shot selection. One thing to look out for in this fight is the kicks of Jamahal Hill, particularly his left high kick. And in the later rounds, his jab could give OSP fits as well.

This fight could look a lot like the Dominick Reyes vs. OSP fight and see Hill outlast and outwork OSP while picking him apart. Reyes, like Hill, is entering the fight against OSP with single-digit fight experience and is also a tall, jockish southpaw who will have an athleticism and power advantage. But I think Hill is still just a little too green and charging the gates a little too soon.

I suspect OSP could hit Hill with the Teixeira Treatment: start off the fight taking big damage and appearing to be on his last leg, but then using wily veteranship to find a way to win. If that happens, it will most likely be by winning the fight on the mat, the one place where OSP should have a clear advantage. OSP is not the best takedown artist in the world, but I think that this fight has “Crafty Veteran Upset Special” written in big bold letters on the menu, and he will be serving up a lot of heartburn for all the betters who backed Hill in this one.

PREDICTION: Ovince Saint Preux

Jack Hermansson vs. Marvin Vettori

First off, let’s give a little bit of love to this new main event and to the UFC brass for thinking fast and putting this one together on such short notice. One could argue that this is an even better fight than Hermansson/Holland. So who will come out on top?

I struggle to see this fight ending early, but then again, you can never really be sure with Jack Hermansson, as he can win in so many ways. He can win a controlling, grinding win; a come-from-behinder; an early submission; a ground-and-pound finish at any point of the fight…the list goes on and on. But with Marvin Vettori, I think the most likely path to victory for him here would be a decision by outstriking and outworking Hermansson wherever the fight goes.

The problem for Vettori is he’s going to have to overcome a couple of stereotypes to pull that off. He has to fend off the “muscle-bound guy with low cardio” stereotype and the “he’s accepting a fight on short notice so won’t have the same cardio” stereotype. From what we’ve seen from him thus far, he seems well equipped to bust these stereotypes and has definitely shown that he has what it takes to go stride for stride with Hermansson. However, we don’t know for sure because we’ve never seen Vettori go more than three rounds in his entire MMA career. Meanwhile, Hermansson is becoming more and more accustomed to it.

On the feet, I give the edge to Vettori, but I can see Hermansson having a lot of success with leg kicks and possessing a speed advantage. But overall, I do think Vettori would outstrike Hermansson. On the mat, I feel that if Vettori takes Hermansson down, he could control the fight and maybe get the finish, but if Hermansson is the one in control, the fight is likelier to end at any moment.

So I’m going to go with Jack Hermansson for two reasons. One, I believe this fight will go the distance, and I think that will favor Hermansson with Vettori stepping in on short notice. And two, I’m just tired of Jack Hermansson proving me wrong. I’m tired of sleeping on this guy, so let’s see how it works out when I give him some respect.

PREDICTION: Jack Hermansson

That’ll do it for the UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Vettori Preview & Picks! Do you agree with these picks? Who do you think will emerge victorious on the main card? Give us your predictions in the comments below and be sure to stick with us for live coverage of UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Vettori tomorrow night!