AFTER a slight break in the action last weekend, the UFC returns early Sunday morning with a card stacked full of valuable betting angles.
Jack Hermansson vs Sean Strickland – Main Event
Two top-flight middleweights go face-to-face at the UFC Apex to decide who moves closer to a potential title shot in 2022. After going through an up and down couple of years inside the octagon, Jack Hermansson is looking to make another run at the title, following a win over Edmen Shahbazyan in May last year, where he came home very strong to secure a decision victory. On the other hand, Strickland will look to continue is undefeated run at middleweight, which has seen him take out some worthy names in Uriah Hall, Krzysztof Jotko and Brendan Allen.
How might the fight play out?
Hermansson will be looking to get this to the ground and work for a finish, whereas Strickland wants this on the feet. The bad news for Hermansson is Strickland has only been taken down once at middleweight, and that was nearly 8 years ago against Bubba McDaniel! Since then, he has only been tested in the wrestling department against the current Welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman. Against Usman, he was taken down twice and competed well for 3 rounds, which is quite the accomplishment considering Usman’s wrestling credentials. Considering this was 5 years ago, you would assume Strickland has only improved in this area, so I believe Hermansson will struggle to get this to the ground consistently. On the feet, Hermansson should be out-matched by Strickland, who will look to march forward and overwhelm with superior boxing at a high rate. In summary, this is a tough match-up for Hermansson, especially if he can’t get Strickland to the ground. I expect Strickland to come out on top with a knockout or decision win, but rest assured Hermansson is a live underdog for the full 5 rounds.
No bet for me here.
Punahele Soriano vs Nick Maximov – Co-Main Event
Another exciting middleweight fight takes centre stage this weekend between two up and coming fighters who only share 16 professional fights combined. After a decision loss to Brendan Allen, power-puncher Soriano will be looking to bounce back with another KO for the highlight reel and continue his run towards the top of the division. Whereas the undefeated Maximov, hailing from the Nick Diaz academy, looks to notch his second win in the UFC.
How might the fight play out?
This is yet another case of striker versus grappler. On the feet, Soriano should have a decent advantage, especially in the power department. He is not the most technical striker and has a lot of improvement left to go, but he is levels above Maximov, who looks very hesitant to throw anything standing up. From what we’ve seen in the UFC, Maximov likes to employ a grappling-heavy approach with no interest in the striking, and I assume it will be more of the same on Sunday. The problem for Maximov is Soriano has never been taken down inside the octagon and is a NCAA Division III All-American wrestler. So while Soriano is strong and full of gas, you would assume it will be very difficult for Maximov to get him down. Maximov’s takedown timing will need to be impeccable, but going off his last fight, he still has a lot of work to do in that area. There is a chance Soriano may even try a take-down himself, but considering how impressive Maximov has looked down there, I think it will be a risk not worth taking for Puna. Sprawl and brawl should be the game-plan, and the longer Soriano keeps this on the feet he will always have a chance of another KO victory. Maximov’s chances of victory will improve as the fight goes on and Soriano slows down, so if he can avoid a big punch, get this to the ground and wear on the Soriano gas tank, we could be in for an upset victory. But considering Soriano’s striking superiority and the he has ability to stop Maximov’s takedowns, his moneyline price presents some value.
Our best bet: Soriano win $1.55 at PlayUp