We were dealt a bad hand this past weekend with injuries and infections, but the UFC once delivered with an exciting card. This weekend will be no different, as we will once again return to the APEX.
The main event features late replacement Marvin Vettori against the relentless Jack Hermansson, while the co-main is a classic prospect vs. veteran matchup between Light Heavyweights!
Jack Hermansson vs. Marvin Vettori (MW)
Jack Hermansson (21-5, 8-3 UFC) returned with a sub-minute submission of Kelvin Gastelum after his defeat to Jared Cannonier, putting himself right back in the title chase. “The Joker” holds seventeen finishes with ten by knockout, often as a result of his ferocious ground and pound. When Hermansson is able to establish top control, it is hard to get him off and even harder to survive the onslaught of punishment. He is not lost when striking, either, as his high mobility and lengthy frame allow him to move around the outside, forcing his opponent to come to him if they want to land their power punches. Still, his striking mainly exists as an avenue to his ground game, but he is hard to deter once he establishes himself in top control.
Marvin Vettori (15-4-1, 5-2-1 UFC) has finally been given the step-up in competition that he has been asking for, stepping in here on short notice. “The Italian Dream” picked up a first-round submission back in June over Karl Roberson, putting a quick end to their bitter rivalry. Vettori is a talented grappler with nine submissions to his name, as well as nasty top control. His striking has improved leaps and bounds since his debut, as he only narrowly lost a decision to Israel Adesanya, one of the most technical strikers in all of combat sports. However, his athleticism remains his key strength, as he can manhandle his opponent in clinch or surge in with power hooks.
This is quite a step up in competition for Vettori, but he will be injected right into the title mix if he pulls off a dominant win. Both of these fighters sport well-rounded skillsets based around a grappling specialty, with Vettori holding the better jiu-jitsu and Hermansson’s violent top control. I find Hermansson more likely to implement his wrestling should it go there, but both sport takedown defense that can ward off a number of takedown entries from their opponent. In the striking, I have to give Hermansson the edge, too. While Vettori has been making leaps and bounds in his striking, the Norseman’s volume and freakish 77.5″ reach will spell trouble for the explosive entries of Vettori. I favor Hermansson to find a late G&P knockout or lopsided decision.
Take the Shot: Jack Hermansson via Knockout
Ovince St. Preux vs. Jamahal Hill (LHW)
Ovince St. Preux (25-14, 13-9 UFC) has been against top-level Light Heavyweight for what feels like forever. OSP is one of the most experienced UFC Light Heavyweights, taking on the likes of Jon Jones, Shogun Rua, and Glover Texeira. An extremely well-rounded fighter, OSP can knock you at in a second with long power kicks as well as his punches, which he recently used to flatten Alonzo Menifield in the second round.. However, his main strength is his ground game, hence the newly christened OSP choke (I never want to hear it called the Von Flue again). OSP has incredibly high fight IQ and fights expertly for a man of his age (38).
A second round TKO on the Contender Series earned Jamahal Hill (8-0, 2-0 UFC) his UFC contract, from which he earned two victories. Most recently, “Sweet Dreamz” floored Klidson Abreu with a vicious knee to the body in the first round to score his fourth pro knockout. Hill is a striking specialist with an impressive work rate and volume, using his technical Muay Thai and length to pick apart his opponents. Though he has gone to decision in half of his bouts, Hill does have finishing power when he senses vulnerability. His offensive grappling is pretty limited, but he has shown an impressive ability to regain his footing when taken down.
This is a fun clash between a generalist and specialist. The most notable advantage for OSP here will be recovery and experience. He can switch his game immediately when he knows he is in trouble and has all the skills to weather a storm and return with his own firepower. On top of that, his submission prowess grants him a big edge on the mat. However, Hill has OSP outgunned on the feet, with the volume and length that is proven to give OSP trouble. Unless St. Preux can ground Hill early, I see Hill taking home victory by a wide striking margin.
Take the Shot: Jamahal Hill via Decision
Montana De La Rosa vs. Taila Santos (FLW)
After snatching up three submissions in her first three UFC bouts, Montana De La Rosa (11-6, 4-2 UFC) ran into some tough competition, with two competitive losses to Andrea Lee and Viviane Aruajo sandwiching a decision win over Mara Romero Borella. The former TUF competitor is a dangerous grappler with nine submissions on her pro record. On the feet, De Le Rosa is serviceable and can certainly handle herself with a skilled jab and some nice kicks. The element that I have issue with is the takedowns she uses. She has difficulty securing her opponent on the mat and often needs to exploit her opponent’s willingness to grapple.
Taila Santos (16-1, 1-1 UFC) emerged in the UFC after a victory on the Contender Series, outworking Estefani Almeida to a decision. After dropping a split decision in her debut, she rebounded with a well-rounded performance over Molly McCann in July. Santos does her best work in the striking with her Muay Thai, offering a powerful kicking game. She has a clean switch kick, as well as skilled grappling from top control and two submissions. My criticism of Santos comes from her level of competition. Up until the Almeida fight on DWCS, she had not fought an opponent with more than five fights, much less five victories. Still, she offers skilled striking and aggressive grappling, just maybe not as much finishing ability as the ten knockouts on her record may suggest.
Santos impressed me in her last bout with her adjustment to the wrestling, able to capitalize on the porous defense of McCann. However, for all her skillful takedown defense and dominant clinch work, De La Rosa has her soundly beat on the mat. While Santos will likely not have difficulty establishing top position, that is a dangerous spot to be against De La Rosa, who practically wants to work from her guard. Though Santos’ kicks and long striking will give her an edge on the feet and she will try to score points with top control, the crafty sweeps and submission game of De La Rosa will give her problems if she goes to the floor.
Take the Shot: Montana De La Rosa via Submission
Roman Dolidze vs. John Allan (LHW)
Roman Dolidze (7-0, 1-0 UFC) made a statement in his UFC debut, flooring Khadis Ibragimov with a knee inside the first round. He has finished all of his pro victories, four coming in by knockout. Dolidze has an elite grappling background, being crowned the 2016 ADCC Jiu-Jitsu world champion as well as a love for Combat Sambo. He is more than happy to accept positions on his back, as he is most deadly from that position with an array of heel hooks and triangles that he likes to attack with. On the feet, he prefers to counter-strike from range, loading up on power shots when his opponent overexposes themself.
The victorious UFC debut of John Allan (13-5, 0-0-(1) UFC) was overturned to a No Contest after a USADA violation. This will be his first appearance in nearly sixteen months after that decision win over Mike Rodriguez. Fighting out of Chute Box, Allan has skilled Muay Thai, but does throw looping shots sometimes. His grappling is best described as ‘decent’, sporting some wrestling chops but lackluster off of his back. He has finished all but one of his wins, including nine by knockout. His lapses on the ground seem to be a factor that cannot be ignored here. Four of his five defeats have come by submission, primarily due to how he can be taken advantage of in transitions. That is too great a weakness to have opposite Dolidze, who has Allan vastly outmatched in grappling and all the tools to stay competitive on the feet.
Take the Shot: Roman Dolidze via Submission
Movsar Evloev vs. Nate Landwehr (FTW)
I have few prospects I hold in higher regard than Movsar Evloev (13-0, 3-0 UFC). Evloev is a dangerous fighter with crisp striking, as well as holding a Master of Sport in Greco-Roman wrestling. He holds seven finishes on his resume, with four coming in by way of submission. Training out of Tiger Muay Thai, Evloev has a diverse and technical striking attack with some good clip in his punches as well. On the mat, Evloev is capable of incredible scrambles and has a quick submission game to bolster his wrestling. Though he has shown some issues with his cardio, his most recent fight against Mike Grundy showed an improved gas tank and patience, as well as impressive fight IQ.
The UFC debut of Nate Landwehr (14-3, 1-1 UFC) was anxiously awaited after his reign as Featherweight champion in the top-tier M-1 promotion. He has somewhat failed to deliver on that hype, picking up a split decision after being devastatingly KO’d in his debut to Herbert Burns. “The Train” has an entertaining, blood and guts fighting style, as he surges forward with aggression into the pocket to trade haymakers, relying on his chin and relentless pacing. In addition, he has adept wrestling that he primarily uses to keep it on the feet.
This will be a surefire battle, as both fighters have high volume and aggressive striking. Evloev has a technical edge, particularly at distance, while Landwehr will find success if he can breach the pocket inside of Evloev’s quick kicks. That advantage is somewhat of a wash when considering the massive discrepancy on the mat. While Landwehr has skilled takedown defense and some catch wrestling in his back pocket, he will be limited when secured under the dominant top control of the Russian. Evloev picks “The Train” apart at range while mixing it up with takedowns en route to a decision.
I have few prospects I hold in higher regard than Movsar Evloev (11-0, 1-0 UFC). Evloev is a dangerous fighter with crisp striking, as well as ground skill for days. Evloev is capable of incredible scrambles and a good sub game to bolster his wrestling. His cardio and striking are never-ending struggles, capable of working his opponent over from every angle. I give this one to Evloev, by whichever way he wants it.
Take the Shot: Movsar Evloev via Decision
Check back tomorrow for the prelims predictions!