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Diggin’ Deep on UFC Vegas 16: Hermansson vs. Vettori - Main card preview

Get the lowdown on the main card action of UFC Vegas 16, headlined by a potential middleweight title eliminator between Jack Hermansson and late replacement Marvin Vettori.

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

If you look at the UFC schedule about a month in advance and see what the main event is, you might as well count on the main event being completely different. This is the fourth event in a row that saw the main event change, including the third that changed within roughly a week. Rafael dos Anjos vs. Islam Makhachev turned into dos Anjos vs. Paul Felder. Deiveison Figueiredo vs. Cody Garbrandt turned into Figueiredo vs. Alex Perez. Derrick Lewis vs. Curtis Blaydes turned into Anthony Smith vs. Devin Clark. At least this time, it doesn’t feel like we’re losing much – if anything at all – with Marvin Vettori replacing Kevin Holland against Jack Hermansson. There’s an outside chance the winner could get a crack at Israel Adesanya – I haven’t heard of any traction being gained on Adesnaya’s potential matchup with Jan Blachowicz – but chances are stronger they’ll end up in a title eliminator with Robert Whittaker. We’ll have to see….

Jack Hermansson vs. Marvin Vettori, Middleweight

Hermansson is easily the better-known figure, having secured wins over Jacare Souza and Kelvin Gastelum. Often times, being more recognizable leads to bettors throwing more money down as people tend to not feel very comfortable throwing down money on someone they don’t know. And yet, Hermansson enters the contest as a slight underdog. Do the bettors know something most casual fans wouldn’t?

There’s a couple of things that can be pointed to. Hermansson has some power, but he’s more reliant on overwhelming his opponent with volume. He’s been effective at doing so too, relying heavily upon a jab. Hermansson will mix in short boxing combinations and low kicks too, but one of his more underrated skills is his ability to score points off of breaks. It’s difficult to outwork Hermansson. However, he also noticeably slowed in his five-round contest with Jacare in the last three rounds. That doesn’t mean Hermansson stopped throwing volume. In fact, Hermansson’s ability to work through fatigue is impressive. The issue is Hermansson’s movement was more labored. Given Jacare also has a history of fading, he was unable to capitalize on that. Vettori hasn’t shown signs of slowing.

Granted, Vettori has never fought beyond a three-round contest. Given his tendency to throw everything with ill intentions, it’s plausible he could end up fading hard too, especially given he had to move up the window of his weight cut by a week. However, it seems most likely Vettori would become labored in his movement – much like Hermansson – as opposed to becoming largely inactive. The Italian always appears to be supremely conditioned and hasn’t appeared to take anything off his punches late.

Most would agree Vettori should have the advantage on the feet – though it isn’t a guarantee – but there is little debate about Hermansson’s advantage on the mat. A confident grappler – he not only went to the mat willingly with Jacare, he chose to do so – Hermansson has a crushing guillotine and has shown an arsenal of submissions beyond his signature guillotine. Hermansson also has some of the best GnP in the division, almost all of his KO/TKO victories coming from his pounding out his opposition on the mat.

The problem there is the wrestling. Hermansson isn’t a poor wrestler. In fact, his wrestling has visibly improved since he first got into the UFC, securing takedowns beyond the first level that he wasn’t securing early in his UFC run. However, Vettori has been very difficult to take down and Hermansson can be quite reckless in his attempts to take the fight to the mat. Even if Hermansson gets the fight to the mat, Vettori is a very underrated grappler in his own right, especially on the defensive end. After all, he did survive several minutes under the control of Antonio Carlos Junior. Vettori doesn’t make a lot of mistakes on the mat and will no doubt be aware of Hermansson’s guillotine.

Hermansson may be the better overall fighter, but Vettori looks like a bad matchup for him. Hermansson’s jab hasn’t been as effective against southpaws or switch fighters. Vettori is a southpaw. Hermansson has also struggled when he’s the one being pressured. Vettori rarely takes a backwards step. Plus, while Vettori is known for fighting angry, he doesn’t fight stupid. He listens to his coaches and does what they ask of him between rounds to his benefit. I will admit Hermansson is very tough, but he isn’t the most durable fighter. Vettori’s inability to finish fights with strikes since he got into the UFC, but no one debates if he has power. He absolutely does. He’s also been fighting opponents who are more defensively conscious than Hermansson. Vettori catches Hermansson late as the Swede losses the pep in his step. Vettori via TKO of RD4

  • Through Jon Jones’ suspensions, through premature retirements of Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson, and through the UFC allowing half of their viable 205ers to jump to Bellator, Ovince Saint Preux has been the biggest constant of the light heavyweight division the last several years. If only the same could be said of his performances. Nevertheless, despite his inconsistencies, OSP can’t be taken lightly. Though the UFC has beaten to death that he’s a former collegiate football player from the SEC, it does provide merit to the idea that he’s a fantastic athlete. Even at 37, he still has an athletic advantage over a significant majority of the light heavyweight division. His defense is still questionable, but OSP knows how to use his length on offense and has plenty of power to spare. He’s durable too… provided he isn’t winded. Every time OSP has been finished, it’s come after he’s exhausted himself, usually through extended efforts to get the fight to the mat. Of course, Jamahal Hill’s biggest weakness thus far has been his inability to stuff takedowns, so that’s unlikely to be an issue for OSP. Like OSP, Hill has a lanky frame that allows him to attack from the outside. Also like OSP, he doesn’t have the best defense. The biggest difference in their attacks is Hill is all about constantly touching up his opponent, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at his opponent, all with surprising accuracy given his lack of experience. However, Hill hasn’t faced an athlete anywhere near the level of OSP. It can be one hell of a shock to the system the first time facing someone of equal or greater athletic ability for the first time. Throw in OSP continuing to find ways to sink in his patented Von Preux choke and I struggle to see Hill emerging with his breakout win here. OSP via TKO of RD2
  • The jury is out on just how good Taila Santos can be. While her record is impressive, it was built by crushing cans on the Brazilian scene. She ended up losing her UFC debut – finally facing a decent talent in Mara Borella – but bounced back with a dominant showing against Molly McCann. She showed good use of her length, a vicious clinch, and much improved grappling from what she displayed against Borella. McCann is hardly the person one would want to judge her grappling abilities by, but Santos did what she was supposed to do. She gets a sizeable step up in Montana De la Rosa, one of the best submission specialists in the division. Of course, as De la Rosa’s own competition has improved, her submission victories have completely dried up. Fortunately, De la Rosa is no dummy and has made serious strides to improve her standup to the point she came thisclose to beating Viviane Araujo in a standup battle. Santos appears to be more consistent than Araujo on the feet, but not quite as dynamic. It may not matter if De la Rosa continues to improve… but Santos could still be improving too. Perhaps De la Rosa takes Santos down and submits her… but Santos is difficult to take down. This is a very difficult contest to predict, Santos appearing to have the advantage on the feet and De la Rosa appearing to have the advantage on the mat… but neither can be stated definitively. Given De la Rosa has far more experience against credible competition, I’ll lean in her direction, but with minimal confidence as Santos is the better athlete. De la Rosa via decision
  • It was one hell of a violent scene when Roman Dolidze disposed of Khadis Ibragimov with an attempted head kick. I say attempted as it was his knee connecting with Ibragimov’s jaw that left Ibragimov wondering if he was in Kansas. Dolidze is a bit of a wild man, willing to throw high risk strikes with abandon, in large part because he’s an accomplished grappler with a couple of heel hook submissions on his record. His recklessness on the feet will be put to the test by John Allan, a heavy handed Muay Thai practitioner out of Brazil. He was strictly known as a striker prior to his UFC debut, but he unexpectedly showed improved wrestling and grappling against Mike Rodriguez. Would it be enough against Dolidze on the mat? Probably not, but he is the more experienced striker and would probably win in a point battle if the contest stays standing for its entirety. However, this is MMA and there’s a very good chance this fight goes to the mat. Allan has been submitted on several occasions throughout his career by lesser grapplers than Dolidze. That doesn’t bode well for him. Dolidze via submission of RD2
  • Nate Landwehr is a crazy man. I don’t say that to be discriminating. In fact, I’m sure he’d say he’s a crazy SOB himself. During his win over Darren Elkins, he was doing things such as fighting with one hand behind his back and yelling at both Elkins and Uncle Dana throughout the fight. Given Elkins isn’t known for his punching power, it appears his antics were low risk. That won’t be the case with Movsar Evloev, a slick Russian with more power and speed than the plodding Elkins. In fact, Evloev has proven to an extremely intelligent combatant thus far, picking apart his opponents where they are at their weakest. He’s proven to be elusive on the mat too, never staying under the control of Mike Grundy for long when the English wrestler proved successful in getting him down. The biggest issue with Evloev at this point appears to be his lack of killer instinct. Landwehr isn’t lacking for that in the least, throwing with plenty of power and never taking a backwards step. A hulking 145er, Landwehr has only used his wrestling to stay upright thus far, but can score takedowns when he’s in the mood. Landwehr is more slick on his feet than he gets credit for, but it’s primarily uppercuts and hooks, the type of strikes Evloev has been able to evade. Evloev is small enough that he could be fighting at bantamweight, meaning Landwehr might be able to overpower him. It seems more likely Evloev outwits a hard-charging Landwehr. Evloev via decision