At UFC 271, Israel Adesanya will defend the UFC middleweight title against former champion Robert Whittaker. However, prior to that fight, two top ten fighters will look to fight for a potential title shot. Sean Strickland will face Jack Hermansson on Feb. 5 from the UFC’s APEX Center in Las Vegas.
Ranked seventh in the UFC middleweight rankings, Strickland made his MMA debut in 2008. A King of the Cage middleweight champion, Strickland joined the UFC in 2014. Initially fighting in the welterweight division in his early UFC career, Strickland returned to middleweight in 2020. He is on a four-fight winning streak since the transition and on a five-fight winning streak overall. His last fight was a unanimous decision victory over Uriah Hall.
Hermansson made his MMA debut in 2010. Competing for Cage Warriors and Bellator, Hermansson joined the UFC in 2016. The former Cage Warriors FC middleweight champion is 9-4 with the UFC and 2-2 in his last four fights. Ranked sixth, Hermansson’s last fight was a unanimous decision win over Edmen Shahbazyan in May.
UFC Vegas 47 odds for Sean Strickland vs. Jack Hermansson.
According to FanDuel sportsbooks, Hermansson is the +180 underdog, which means a $55.56 bet will win you about $100. By betting $100, you’d win $180. Strickland is the -225 favorite, which means a $225 bet will earn you $100.
According to Sports Interaction, Strickland is the -250 favorite, while Hermansson is the -185 underdog.
Sean Strickland vs. Jack Hermansson prediction.
The most important thing about this fight is the wrestling game of both fighters, or lack thereof for Strickland. It is well known that Strickland is not a wrestling fan, even though he had four in his last fight against Hall. His average mark for takedowns landed is 1.32 compared to Hermansson’s 2.09. Strickland has an 82% takedown defense, but will that be enough to stop a man who has produced 14 takedowns in his last seven fights?
If Hermansson can take Strickland to the ground, it will be interesting to see how the latter can adapt to the situation. “The Joker” has six wins via submission, his last a heel hook against Kelvin Gastelum in 2020. Strickland’s last win via submission was in 2014, in his UFC debut. Mind you, he allowed only two Kamaru Usman takedowns in eight attempts.
On the ground he might favor Hermansson, but on his feet, Strickland has the advantage.
Strickland has landed 5.45 significant strikes per minute, with 40% accuracy. While Hermansson has 45% punch accuracy, he has landed 4.86 meaningful punches per minute. During his five-game winning streak, Strickland has managed to land 535 hits. He landed 186 against Hall and dominated Krzysztof Jotko with an 84-on-37 mark. In his last five fights, Hermansson has landed 347 punches, 122 of them against Marvin Vettori, who lost.
Known for being a pressure fighter, Strickland’s accurate punches and aggressive nature may give him the edge here. He’s been working on ways to avoid Hermansson and his ground game, though it’s uncertain if it will be effective. One thing is for sure: this will be one of the toughest tasks of Strickland’s career. He knows it, and the fighter isn’t up for the challenge.
Yes, Hermansson’s fight game is elite. However, Strickland has all the momentum on his side since a brutal motorcycle accident in 2018. Expect Strickland to play mind games in the octagon and use his power to bully Hermansson. We could end up seeing a new middleweight contender heading into UFC 271.