Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight talents Sean Strickland and Jack Hermansson will go to war TONIGHT (Sat., Feb. 5, 2022) at UFC Vegas 47 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the last two years, Strickland really emerged as an unlikely contender, living up to a largely forgotten hype and potential that was once discussed back around his 2014 debut. His confidence is riding high, and he’ll look to parlay that momentum into a second main event victory and truly break into the title picture. On the flip side, Hermansson put together his own big win streak that culminated in upsetting Ronaldo Souza and making him a Top 10 mainstay. He’s yet to string together wins since gaining that rank, but “The Joker” remains a tough test for just about any 185-pounder on the roster.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Uriah Hall (UFC Vegas 33), Brendan Allen (UFC Vegas 14), Krzysztof Jotko (UFC Vegas 25), Nordine Taleb (UFC Fight Night 138), Tom Breese (UFC 199)
Key Losses: Kamaru Usman (UFC 210), Elizeu Zalaeski dos Santos (UFC 224), Santiago Ponzinibbio (UFC Fight Night 61)
Keys to Victory: Strickland is a high-volume boxer who’s deceptively sharp on defense. He doesn’t dance around or do anything too complicated, but Strickland can advance into the pocket and roll with the punches, heckling his opponent with jabs all the while. While rarely his game plan, Strickland’s wrestling and grappling skills are very legit to boot.
Ten of his wins come via knockout.
Strickland’s slow march forward is a quality antidote to Hermansson’s erratic movement. Likely, Hermansson will be looking to draw him into powerful counters and takedown attempts, so Strickland’s ability to remain in good position while advancing while be key here.
In general, I’d really like to see Strickland switch up his targets a bit, as he’s been something of a head hunter in many fights. Jabbing to the body would be a wise way to track Hermansson down without over-extending, and Hermansson’s stance-switching and directional changes can often be countered with low kicks. They don’t even have to be powerful or require full commitment; a quick chop to the calf as “The Joker” circles into blow would be a gamechanger.
The more Strickland is landing — to whatever target — the more difficult it will be for Hermansson to find his flow and set up his takedown.
Key Wins: Kelvin Gastelum (UFC Fight Island 2), Ronaldo Souza (UFC Fight Night 150), Edmen Shahbazyan (UFC Vegas 27), David Branch (UFC on ESPN 2), Thales Leites (UFC 224), Gerald Meerschaert (UFC on FOX 31)
Key Losses: Jarred Cannonier (UFC Fight Night 160), Marvin Vettori (UFC Vegas 16), Thiago Santos (UFC Fight Night 119), Cezar Ferreira (UFC Fight Night 100)
Keys to Victory: Hermansson has a funky style all his own. The Swedish veteran relies on feints and movement to set up powerful low kicks and counter shots, as well as his double leg takedown. Once in top position, Hermansson is a ruthless finisher, both via strikes and strangles.
I really think the low calf kick is Hermansson’s most important weapon here. He has to land takedowns in order to win this fight, and to set up those shots, Hermansson absolutely must earn Strickland’s respect. If he’s forced onto his back foot, reactive and defensive, the shot simply isn’t likely to work, and he’s in for a rough replay of the Vettori fight: stuck on the end of a sharper puncher’s straight punches.
The low kick can change all that. Strickland is a jabber with a flat-footed manner about him, a pair of traits that leave the lead leg vulnerable. Hermansson obviously cannot go to the well too often — he has to work his own jab too, for example — but hammering away at the calf when Strickland goes to punch is a good idea.
Giving Strickland something to consider and making his footspeed even slower would be huge. Suddenly, Hermansson’s feints would be more formidable, and his punches are going to sneak through too.
The takedown is much easier to land in that scenario.
This isn’t a title eliminator — that would be Derek Brunson vs. Jared Cannonier next weekend — but the winner is in great position nevertheless.
Strickland rides the longer win streak heading into this clash, but that’s largely because he’s only recently reached Hermansson’s level of elite opposition. As such, the stakes are pretty similar. Whichever man is victorious is lined up for another high-profile foe like Marvin Vettori or Paulo Costa, and that fight could end up a title eliminator depending on how the division shakes out.
Alternatively, defeat is a bit different for either man. Strickland has unbeaten at Middleweight, so his first loss will hurt his momentum, but he could still bounce back quickly. Hermansson, however, already has several losses to the division’s elite, and each one further makes it far more difficult to advance up the ladder.
At UFC Vegas 47, Sean Strickland and Jack Hermansson will collide in the main event. Which man earns the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 47 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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