Welcome fight enthusiasts to UFC LV47 Hermansson vs. Strickland. This week’s event will be back at the APEX for the scheduled 13 bouts. The main event and co-main event are both middleweight bouts featuring striker vs. grappler matchups to be held in the close confines of the smaller 25-foot APEX cage.
As a note: the APEX cage is 44% smaller than the octagon used in last week’s UFC 270. The smaller cage surely encourages more confrontation among athletes, especially larger ones. Finish rates for fighters 185 pounds and larger are 5% higher in the smaller octagon since the start of 2020.
Insight the Octagon releases for UFC 270 went 1-1 for a net loss of .35 units. Gane was a loser at -145 while the over 2.5 rounds got there for us + 110.
Year to date: 2-1 (+ 0.65 units).
Jack Hermansson (+ 190) vs. Sean Strickland (-220)
Middleweight (185 pounds) main event
This is going to be a fascinating bout because it pits a soft-spoken yet accomplished grappler/submission specialist with Muay Thai skill against a brazen kickboxing striker/brawler who uses volume striking and forward pressure while trash talking in his ambition to badger opponents.
Strickland, the foul-mouthed favorite in the bout, is ranked seventh in the division. He enters riding tremendous momentum, having won his last five fights albeit against solid, not elite competition.
Strickland had a rough childhood and was rescued by mixed martial arts as an early teen.
Over the years, he has progressed into an athlete poised to compete at the top of the middleweight division.
Strickland’s game is to apply constant forward pressure, backing up his opponents while blabbering at them about who knows what and take them out of their comfort zone. Strickland uses forward pressure and volume striking, and he delivers them with bad intention, though he’s not the most powerful fighter.
Hermansson, the sixth-ranked middleweight, holds a wealth of experience over his opponent and he’s been in the octagon against a much higher level of competition.
Hermansson is 2-2 in his last four bouts with victories over Kelvin Gastelum and Edmen Shahbazyan and losses to Jared Cannonier and Marvin Vettori, the last a five-round decision. All of those fighters have more MMA ability than the athletes Strickland has faced.
Hermansson uses an awkward form of Muay Thai striking to distance himself from opponents until he can find a way to penetrate the pocket. He must initiate clasping on to opponents then press them against the cage in order to gain control. Once into the clinch, it’s his single point of focus to drag opponents to the mat, where he’ll have the advantage.
Strickland will attempt to bully Hermansson, back him up and blister him with volume striking from varying angles using constant movement, strikes, elbows, kicks and yapping.
Hermansson must find a way to tax the slighter fighter by immediately standing up to his pressure. He must force Strickland backward, where he can then engage in down-and-dirty grappling. This form of smothering attack will be to his advantage because it will put him in top position on the floor and sap some of Strickland’s zip.
Should this fight be held on the feet, Strickland will have the upper hand. Hermansson’s advantage will be on the mat, so he needs to drag this cocky Californian to the floor for a flogging.
The key to this bout is where it’s held.
Strickland opened: -210
Total in this fight: 4.5 Under -115
Punahele Soriano (-180) vs. Nick Maximov (+ 160)
Middleweight co-main event
Maximov is a grappling-based fighter who is dominant on the mat but uncomfortable on the feet. He’s the bigger fighter with reach, length and age advantages. Maximov must force this fight to the floor. If he can get it there, he’ll hold a big advantage.
Soriano is coming off a loss, so a bounce is very possible. Quality athletes don’t take well to losing, and Soriano’s decision loss to another natural grappler in Brendan Allen may have been the best prep he could have had for this bout. Allen, a most accomplished grappler is a much more diverse and dynamic mixed martial artist than Maximov, and Soriano was able to fight him to a decision.
The telling stat in this fight: Soriano has 100% takedown defense while the less experienced Maximov successfully completes just 30% of his takedown attempts.
Soriano opened: -200
Lean: Soriano -180
Total in this fight: 1.5 Over -160
I’ll be patient and wait until later this week to monitor any further movement in Soriano’s price as well as scour the props market for this fight and the rest of the card.