UFC returns to the UFC APEX for UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Strickland. A fight card filled with the potential for fireworks and a handful of middleweight bouts, here are the most significant matchups.
(All stats according to UFC’s Record Book and FightMetric as of February 2, 2022 and only include active athletes in their respective division unless noted otherwise)
Main Event: Jack Hermansson vs Sean Strickland
Key Stats: 4.86 strikes landed per minute (7th all-time among MW), 36.2% takedown accuracy (7th), +1.5 striking differential (6th)
What It Means: “The Joker” is an aggressive, disciplined fighter who has a particularly unique brand of grappling and ground-and-pound. He’s not a suffocating wrestler but an exhausting one, and the way he snatches submissions is predicated on that aggression. It’s not sloppy, but there’s a certain intensity to it. He’s a patient fighter, and he likes to use long-range strikes when on the feet. If he gets the fight to the ground, he looks for any and every opportunity to posture up and unleash punches and elbows. From there, he also keeps a keen eye on any opportunities for submissions.
Key Stats: 0.69% bottom position percentage (2nd all-time among MW), +2.74 striking differential (1st all-time among MW), 73.4% significant strike defense (1st all-time among MW)
What It Means: Strickland is the kind of fighter who makes fighting look easy even though what he does has a high degree of difficulty. His stance is flat-footed and tall, but he has really good footwork when pressuring his opponent and cutting off the cage. He mainly utilizes a boxing-based approach on the feet, featuring a shoulder-roll defense that makes the most of his head movement and countering abilities. His jab is heavy and fast and has power moving forward and back. Strickland can stand-and-bang for five rounds, but if the fight moves into a grappling arena, he exhibits strong jiu jitsu, both offensively and defensively.
What to Look For in the Fight: Although this fight might look like a striker-vs-grappler affair, they both have complex shades of skills in every department. While Strickland likely has the upper hand on the feet, he’s not out of his depth on the ground, and vice versa for Hermansson in the striking department. Granted, if the fight is upright more often than not, Strickland is likely dictating the terms of the fight, and if it’s on the ground, Hermansson probably did something to get it there.
Co-Main Event: Punahele Soriano vs Nick Maximov
Key Stats: 4.44 strikes landed per minute, 1.58 takedowns per 15 minutes, 9:31 average fight time
What It Means: Although he has a good wrestling base, Soriano is a knockout artist who puts nearly everything into every punch he throws. He’s at his best when he’s not too wild, though. His left hand is particularly heavy, but he’s the kind of striker who is naturally so powerful that he does not need to wing wide, looping punches that exhaust his gas tank. If he needs to, he’ll start grappling, and he’s a fundamentally strong wrestler who can grind for takedowns. Ultimately, though, he wants to land that knockout shot.
Key Stats: 3 takedowns per 15 minutes, 30% takedown accuracy, 1.7 strikes landed per minute
What It Means: Maximov wants to get the fight to the ground, and he’ll shoot takedown attempt after takedown attempt to engage in those scrambles. He’s an exhaustive wrestler who tends to shoot in the open mat before working methodically along the fence to either ride his opponent or drag them down to the mat. On the feet, he’ll throw heavy shots that have some pop but, in general, he wants to strike to get close and grapple.
What to Look For in the Fight: Although both fighters come from wrestling backgrounds, Soriano is going to want to stand and trade much more eagerly than Maximov. How Maximov avoids that danger is key, and if he can force Soriano to grapple defensively, he could test Soriano’s cardio and look for submissions. That said, Soriano’s power carries deep into a fight, so he can set up uppercuts and straight shots to land when Maximov shoots for a takedown.
Other Fights to Watch (Hakeem Dawodu vs Michael Trizano)
Key Stats: +2.33 striking differential (4th all-time among FW), 2.39 strikes absorbed per minute (6th), 67% takedown defense
What It Means: Dawodu is a talented and technical kickboxer who is patient about how he goes about finding his offense. Sometimes, he gets a little caught up waiting for moments to counter, but when he gets into clinches, he has strong knees and elbows. He has every strike in the book at his disposal to go along with a keen defensive sense, so it can be frustrating for opponents to find a rhythm against him.
Key Stats: 3.22 strikes per minute, 50% takedown accuracy, 0.9 submissions per 15 minutes
What It Means: A steady and measured fighter, Trizano has a rangy set of skills and a good fight IQ that allows him to make good adjustments throughout the course of the fight. He has a long frame and a good jab, and when he sits down on a cross, it has plenty of pop. He does his best work when advancing and he does well to cut off the cage instead of following his opponents. Trizano also has strong low kicks that mitigate his opponent’s movement.
What to Look For in the Fight: This figures to be a technical striking battle. Dawodu has a more diverse and varied attack with the better kicks, and he likely has the speed advantage. Trizano is a bit taller, but Dawodu has a two-inch reach advantage. Dawodu also appears more comfortable fighting off the back foot, but if they both stand in the center and trade, it could be a matter of who lands the right shots at the right time.
*Hasn’t competed enough in weight class to qualify in UFC Record Book
UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Strickland took place on Saturday, January 15, 2022, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive all of the action on UFC Fight Pass.