Ultimate Fighting Championship is back at the UFC Apex later TONIGHT (Sat., Feb. 10, 2024) to stage UFC Vegas 86, featuring a Middleweight bout between Jack Hermansson vs. Joe Pyfer. Co-headlining the ESPN+-streamed event is a Featherweight bout between Dan Ige vs. Andre Fili that will undoubtedly spark fireworks.
Nassourdine Imavov secured a big win last weekend, defeating Roman Dolidze at UFC Vegas 85, which was good enough to put him in the Top 10. Now, Hermansson and Pyfer are out to make their respective statements in order to climb the Middleweight ranks. Hermansson is currently ranked No. 9 in the division, but is coming off a loss to the aforementioned Roman Dolidze, so he has a ton of pressure on his shoulders coming into his latest headlining gig. “The Joker” was at one time getting closer to a 185-pound title shot after securing a 7-2 record to start his UFC career, but over the last few years he has really cooled down, alternating wins and losses since 2019 to the tune of earning 4-4 record. While that may be good enough to prove you don’t deserve to get cut, it won’t do anything for his hopes of ever reaching a world title fight. And things are not getting any easier with his next opponent.
In just three fights inside the Octagon, Pyfer has really made an impression, securing three straight finishes over Alen Amedovski, Gerald Meerschaert and Abdul Razak Alhassan. The Contender Series alum has 11 finishes in 12 wins, so he is all about putting on a show. The man they call “Bodybagz” is hoping to earn perhaps the biggest win of his career over an established veteran like Hermansson, and keeping the action on the feet will definitely be his best path to victory. After all, he punches harder than Francis Ngannou. A win for Pyfer will earn him a ranking spot, which would be a tremendous feat just four fights into his UFC run. Indeed, at just 27 years of age, Pyfer really has a big opportunity to shine in his first-ever headlining gig, because an impressive victory will expedite his ascension with the company. We have seen time and again one promising contender after another fail to make that next big jump so early in their careers, but “Bodybagz” is determined to be the one who breaks through just 17 months into his career with the promotion.
Ihor Potieria is currently on a two-fight losing streak and is just 1-3 during his time with UFC. His opponent, Robert Bryczek, is making his UFC debut. While he is coming in on a five-fight win streak, I don’t understand why the promotion decided it had to squeeze in this sixth fight on the main card. You have a newcomer who doesn’t have a big fan base yet taking on a struggling combatant who hasn’t been able to do much of anything inside the Octagon. It’s mind-boggling, really.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Damir Hadzovic was all ready to try and get back into the win column against UFC newcomer, Bolaji Oki, but he was ultimately forced off the event after encountering the ever-nagging visa issues that a lot of the international fighters have to endure. Oki will now face Timothy Cuamba. Speaking of which, Albert Duraev was bounced from his fight against Bryczek for the same reason. That’s how the Bryczek vs. Potieria matchup came to be.
Lerone Murphy was in line to face Dan Ige on this card, but was forced out with an undisclosed injury and was ultimately replaced by Andre Fili. Melsik Baghdasaryan was forced out of his fight against Fernie Garcia, also because of an undisclosed injury.
We’ve already touched on Bryczek making his Octagon debut against Potieria, so let’s take a look at the rest of the UFC rookies ...
Carlos Prates had an explosive knockout win over Mitch Ramirez on Contender Series in Aug. 2023, punching his ticket to the big show. He will step in on a seven-fight win streak, six via knockout, so he is all about business once he steps inside the cage. He will have his hands full because he will be taking on 12-fight UFC veteran, Trevin Giles, who is eager to taste victory once more after he was forced to tap for dear life against Gabriel Bonfim last summer.
After suffering a loss in his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut six years ago, Bolaji Oki has gone on a tear, racking up eight straight wins with six finishes, earning him a spot on Contender Series. He parlayed that opportunity into a first round technical knockout win, and now he has the chance to do the same in his official UFC debut. He was supposed to be taking on Damir Hadzovic — who was in desperate need of a win after going just 1-3 in his last four fights with the promotion — but he bowed out because of visa issues. Stepping in to take his place in another UFC newcomer in Timothy Cuamba, who is on a five-fight win streak. He didn’t make it to the big show following his win on Contender Series, but after earning another “W” on the regional circuit, he now gets his time to shine.
Hyder Amil will bring his undefeated (8-0) record to the Octagon to face Fernie Garcia in a Featherweight bout. Amil has five finishes in his resume, though his unanimous decision win on Contender Series was good enough to secure him a shot in the big leagues. The former Bellator MMA and Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) veteran will attempt to hand Garcia his fourth straight loss inside the Octagon.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Kicking things off will be a Bantamweight bout between undefeated (15-0, 2-0 UFC) contender Daniel Marcos taking on Qileng Aori, who hasn’t been able to make much waves during his time under the UFC banner. Aori is just 3-3 inside the Octagon, so it’s going to take a lot more than that to get on the radar. Handing Marcos — who has eight knockout wins on his resume — his first loss would be a great way to draw more attention to himself.
Since making his way into the UFC ranks via The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), Zac Pauga has been unable to make much of an impact, going just 1-2. He is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Modestas Bukauskas as he goes into his bout against Bogdan Guskov, who wasn’t able to make the splash he was hoping for against Volkan Oezdemir in Sept. 2023. Prior to that he was on a four-fight win streak, so he does have the skills to get it done. And get it done he must because starting off your UFC career with two straight losses is far from ideal.
In the Welterweight division, Jeremiah Wells will attempt to get back in the win column after his six-fight win streak was snapped by Carlston Harris, which was his first loss in nearly five years. Standing in the way of his goal is Max Griffin, who hasn’t exactly been lighting it up as of late. “Pain” is just 1-2 in his last three fights so if he wants to maintain his spot on the crowed roster, he needs a win or a good showing at the very least.
In the Light Heavyweight division, Devin Clark will battle Marcin Prachnio. Both men are just 1-2 in their last three fights, so to say they are struggling would be an understatement. They have each shown flashes of brilliance during their time inside the Octagon, but they really need to start putting it together on a more consistent basis if they want to take that next big step. Also, Loma Lookboonmee is in search of her first three-fight win streak when she battles Bruna Brasil who is coming off a big win over Shauna Bannon.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Fernie Garcia has had three chances to show what he’s made of inside the Octagon ... and he has come up short on all occasions. He will welcome UFC newcomer, Hyder Amil, to the eight-walled cage. If Garcia can’t manage to earn a much-needed victory here, it could be the end of the UFC road for him. And it will be a tough task because Amil has yet to taste defeat (8-0) in his professional MMA career.
Interest Level: 6/10
In the co-main event, Ige and Fili will throw down in a pivotal bout at 145 pounds. After starting his UFC career with an impress 6-1 record, “50K” has had a tough time trying to replicate that success. Indeed, he has only managed to rack up a 3-5 mark since his hot start. He had his two-fight win streak snapped by Bryce Mitchell five months ago, so now he is out to start another run against Fili, who has been rather inconsistent himself over the last couple of years. Since 2020, he has only managed to collect a 3-4-1 record with his last back-to-back wins coming in 2019. Still, he has done just enough to hang on to spot on the bloated roster. He is coming off a technical knockout win over Lucas Almeida at UFC 296 in Dec. 2023, so building off the momentum with a win over Ige would be huge for his career.
Michael Johnson was at one point considered a potential title challenger, but after 14 years with UFC, “Menace” was never able to reach the promised land. Over his last eight fights, Johnson is just 2-6 and is coming off a knockout loss at the hands of Carlos Diego Ferreira. His opponent, Darrius Flowers, also needs a win here because he came up short in his UFC debut against Jake Matthews last summer. This could be a do-or-die situation for both men.
In Middleweight action, Rodolfo Vieira and Armen Petrosyan will collide in what is sure to be a hard-hitting affair. Vieira got back on track with a big win over Cody Brundage, upping his record to 4-2 under the UFC banner. Petrosyan is on a two-fight win streak and a third victory in a row would be a huge push for his goals of trying to crack the Top 15, which is a tall task because the 185-pound weight class is absolutely loaded with talent.
Long-time UFC veteran, Brad Tavares, is still going strong in what is his fourteenth year with the promotion. He was able to snap his two-fight skid against former Middleweight champion, Chris Weidman, six months ago and now he will be facing off against Gregory Rodrigues, who is fresh off a big win over Denis Tiuliulin via first round knockout. “RoboCop” hits like a truck, so Tavares will have to be light on his feet if he wants to secure his first back-to-back win streak in three years.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC Vegas 86 Main Event On ESPN+:
185 lbs.: Jack Hermansson vs. Joe Pyfer
UFC Vegas 86 Main Card on ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Dan Ige vs. Andre Fili
185 lbs.: Robert Bryczek vs. Ihor Potieria (not Albert Duraev)
185 lbs.: Brad Tavares vs. Gregory Rodrigues
155 lbs.: Darrius Flowers vs. Michael Johnson
185 lbs.: Rodolfo Vieira vs. Armen Petrosyan
UFC Vegas 86 ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Trevin Giles vs. Carlos Prates
155 lbs.: Bolaji Oki vs. Timothy Cuamba (not Damir Hadzovic)
115 lbs.: Loma Lookboonmee vs. Bruna Brasil
205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Marcin Prachnio
170 lbs.: Max Griffin vs. Jeremiah Wells
205 lbs.: Bogdan Guskov vs. Zac Pauga
145 lbs.: Hyder Amil vs. Fernie Garcia (not Melsik Baghdasaryan)
135 lbs.: Daniel Marcos vs. Qileng Aori
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 86 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.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 86: “Pyfer vs. Hermansson” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.