The UFC kicks off February with a card that has devious appeal if you look at it in the right light.
Saturday’s main event of UFC Vegas 47 shouldn’t require much selling as two compelling middleweight contenders have been booked to contest five rounds in a classic clash of styles. Jack Hermansson – No. 8 in the MMA Fighting World Rankings – brings a ferocious grappling game to the octagon while Sean Strickland (9) has proven to be one of the best attackers at 185lbs since moving up in a weight class. The two are looking to stay in contention in a lively division and even putting aside the unfiltered character of Strickland, there are plenty of reasons to be intrigued just by what is about to unfold inside. the UFC APEX octagon.
Two more key middleweight fights are coming up with Israel Adesanya defending his UFC title in a rematch with Robert Whittaker at UFC 271 next week and top contenders Derek Brunson and Jared Cannonier will square off at that same show, so the winner of this weekend’s headliner will have a good idea of what awaits them on their own championship path.
In other main card action, Punahele Soriano meets Nick Maximov in another striker vs grappler clash, welterweight newcomers Shavkat Rakhmonov and Carlston Harris square off, Sam Alvey looks to stop a seven-fight winless skid as he faces short- notice replacing Brendan Allen in a light heavyweight fight, Tresean Gore meets Bryan Battle in a new booking of the Ultimate Fighter 29 middleweight tournament final, and Julian Erosa fights Steven Peterson in a 149-pound bout after Peterson missed the featherweight limit.
What: UFC Vegas 47
When: Saturday 5 February. The seven-fight preliminary card begins on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET, followed by a six-fight main card on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
(Numbers in parentheses indicate that World MMA Fight Rankings)
Jack Hermansson (8) vs. Sean Strickland (9)
Jack Hermansson has all the tools to land a quick finish in this one. While I consider this a grappler vs. striker matchup, Hermansson can stand up and trade with confidence and Sean Strickland isn’t exactly a dead duck on the court. They both have the versatility not to be overwhelmed by each other’s strengths.
In a five-round fight, you have to lean towards Strickland. It has a deep gas tank and once it starts on its feet, it’s hard to slow down. Strickland throws with precision and volume while being aware of his opponent’s weapons. Don’t let his reckless attitude fool you, when it comes to stand-up play, Strickland is as disciplined as they come.
Any prolonged instance of ground combat will favor Hermansson, but I see Strickland surviving those moments before picking up the fight where he wants. As insane as it is to count Hermansson, I just don’t see him dictating the action in this one. He will go the distance and Strickland makes a clear decision.
Punahele Soriano vs. Nick Maximov
Is there an echo here? Because guess what, we have another attacker vs grappler clash and this one is even more striking in comparison than the main event.
Puna Soriano throws bombs. Yes, that’s a simplistic and clichéd description of his fighting style at this point, but it can’t be overemphasized. Pouna. Soriano. Spear. BOMBS. He has good technique, but his right hand is always locked and loaded and he’s not afraid to throw it with little to no setup.
On the other side of this matchup is BJJ-minded Nick Maximov. He’s unrefined on the feet and you have to wonder if he has enough striking to set up his takedowns. That hasn’t been too much of a problem for him so far, but Soriano’s combination of strength and athleticism could pose problems for Maximov.
If Maximov comes out of the first round, he should be in a position to get a win or even submit Soriano. That’s a big if, as Soriano will be looking to end this one sooner. I haven’t seen Maximov enough yet to pick him for the upset here, so I like Soriano hurting him early and finishing in the first or second round.
Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Carlston Harris
Great matchmaking here as we should be treated to a chess match between two welterweights who have impressed in their UFC appearances so far.
Carlston Harris is more likely to initiate the action here, while Shavkat Rakhmonov is more likely to stay curled up and ready before exploding for a flurry or a takedown attempt. Both men know how close they are to breaking into the top 15, so you can bet they’ll be cautious early on. If it was in a crowded venue as opposed to the comfortable confines of UFC APEX, you might even hear a handful of boos.
But once they make their move, the intensity will quickly increase to 11. Rakhmonov throws searing combinations, for which Harris has an answer in the form of his timely counter-punches. Harris also has a smooth submission game, but Rakhmonov is strong in first position. They are tied in several areas.
Harris is one of the most intriguing upset picks of the night, so I don’t blame anyone who likes the Guyanese fighter handing Rakhmonov his first loss. I still think Rakhmonov pulls it off, wearing down Harris with his wrestling before finding a late submission.
Sam Alvey vs. Brendan Allen
Is Brendan Allen the ultimate opportunist?
As for Sam Alvey, when Alvey’s originally scheduled opponent Phil Hawes (himself a replacement for Ian Heinisch) was forced out and the matchmakers then began their search for another replacement, you can imagine Allen saw this as an opportunity to bounce back. of a disappointing loss in December against Chris Curtis. After all, Alvey hasn’t won a fight since June 2018 and Allen would have to be favored to extend Alvey’s winless streak to eight, a number that would tie Alvey to BJ Penn’s own questionable UFC futility record.
They say you shouldn’t rely on a man who has nothing to lose and a lot to prove, so don’t start pushing Alvey out just yet. He’s a durable fighter with a delicate style who always seems to bring out the worst in his opponents, and he’s always had a solid left hand even if recent results haven’t been conclusive. Maybe with his back to the proverbial wall, we’ll see a side of Alvey we haven’t seen in a while.
However, he just doesn’t have the versatility of Allen, a developing prospect who is comfortable on the feet or on the mat. Allen has a big home court advantage and that’s where I expect this fight to happen while it lasts. Look for Allen to trade blows with Alvey before dragging him to the floor and setting up a fight-ending submission in the first or second round.
Tresean Gore vs Bryan Battle
Tresean Gore showed a ton of potential in his two TUF 29 appearances, so I can understand why some viewers considered him the uncrowned king of the season. Before a knee injury forced him out of the finals, he was a popular choice to beat fellow finalist Bryan Battle.
We should, however, respect the Battle name. He outclassed Gilbert Urbina to win the show (in fairness, Gore also finished Urbina in the semifinals) and he has an experience advantage that shouldn’t be overlooked. As talented as Gore is, he has yet to participate in the battles that Battle has participated in.
A key to Battle will be controlling the range and using its length to frustrate Gore, because if Gore can get his hands dirty it will be a short night for Battle. Battle also needs to watch his Ps and Qs when grappling, as Gore has some serious muscle behind his takedowns. Conversely, a few drunken attempts could tire Gore.
I see Battle outlast Gore after a competitive first round and overtake him for a submission victory in the second.
Julian Erosa vs. Steven Peterson
It’s a shame Steven Peterson came in with three pounds of weight because that should be a top contender for Fight of the Night. It’s a great matchmaking between two featherweights who are always on the lookout for bonuses.
Julian Erosa has the edge in finishing ability and he remains one of the 145-pound divisions most underrated fighters. All he does is take on tough fighters and chase finishes, which will be hard to come by against the rugged Peterson. It won’t be for lack of trying, but Erosa will likely have to go the distance to win here.
One of Erosa’s best attributes is how he uses his reach. He attacks from awkward angles while somehow generating solid power, making him difficult to deal with even if you’re an aggressive fighter like Peterson. Wanting to pressure Erosa and figuring out how to do it are two very different things. Peterson will have his moments during the fight, but I expect Erosa to take over the majority of the exchanges.
Erosa is a bigger threat on the field than Chase Hooper and Hooper has been able to take down Peterson on multiple occasions. If Erosa mixes takedowns with his wonky striking game, then a competitive decision will go his way.
Miles Johns beats. John Castaneda
Hakeem Dawodu defeated. Michael Trizano
Chidi Njokuani defeated. Marc-Andre Barriault
Alexis Davis (15) bats. Julija Stoliarenko
Jailton Almeida defeated. Danilo Brands
Jason Witt won. Philip Rowe
Denys Bondar defeated. Malcolm Gordon