After last weekend saw the UFC cancel their main event when Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19, they’ll be hoping for more luck this time around. UFC Vegas 16 has already seen two changes to its headliner, and the promotion will be praying that the current match of Jack Hermansson vs. Marvin Vettori stays intact.
Elsewhere on the card, there should be some decent fights, but like UFC Vegas 15, this is a show largely devoid of name value. UFC fans will need to wait a couple of weeks for that.
Until then though, here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Vegas 16: Hermansson vs. Vettori.
#1 UFC Middleweight Division: Jack Hermansson vs. Marvin Vettori
Vettori is actually Hermansson’s third different opponent on this card, as the Swede was initially pegged to face Darren Till. That would’ve been a fight with major ramifications for the UFC Middleweight division, but when Till was forced out with an injury, Hermansson was handed a fight with the streaking Kevin Holland instead.
Beating Holland would probably have allowed Hermansson to remain in the title picture, but of course, Holland was also forced out due to COVID-19. So now, ‘The Joker’ is faced with arguably a more dangerous opponent than Holland in a fight that he really can’t afford to lose.
So can Vettori spring a bit of an upset on relatively late notice? Well, thankfully for ‘The Italian Dream’, he’s not going to come into this fight with zero preparation. Vettori was initially pegged to face Jacare Souza at UFC 256 on December 12th, meaning he’s basically just shifted his fight forward a week.
However, Hermansson sounds like a really difficult test for the Italian. Vettori has been in the UFC now since 2016, and over that period, he’s gradually improved his overall game. A highly physical fighter, Vettori looks to bully his opponents inside the clinch and with his takedowns, and while he’s not a brilliant kickboxer, he’s more than happy to hold his own standing.
Right now, ‘The Italian Dream’ is on a three-fight win streak, and most recently submitted kickboxer Karl Roberson with a rear naked choke in June.
In Hermansson though, he’s faced with a bit of a nightmare opponent. Like Vettori, ‘The Joker’ also debuted in the UFC in 2016, and while he’s taken a few losses, he’s largely been able to climb through the ranks in impressive fashion.
The Swede is highly skilled, but it’s notable that he’s a fighter who makes the most of his natural physical gifts. At 6’1”, Hermansson isn’t the tallest Middleweight on the UFC’s roster, but his 77.5” reach is practically freakish.
And ‘The Joker’ looks to use that reach to full advantage both standing and on the ground. We saw him use his jab and length on the feet to outpoint Jacare Souza in probably his biggest UFC win to date in 2019, and his long arms have led him to a pair of impressive guillotine choke wins in the UFC, over Gerald Meerschaert and David Branch.
Most recently, he picked up a huge win in July, submitting former UFC title challenger Kelvin Gastelum with a heel hook.
Hermansson has shown one real weakness in his UFC career – he does leave himself a little open to being hit on the feet, and against concussive strikers like Jared Cannonier and Thiago Santos, it’s easy to understand why he was knocked out.
However, Vettori doesn’t have the thudding power of either man, and it’s also worth noting that Cannonier’s reach actually matched that of Hermansson. ‘The Italian Dream’, on the other hand, is giving up 3.5” of reach to the Swede.
Overall I think this should be Hermansson’s fight to lose. If he can keep Vettori at the end of his strikes, avoid clinching with him and perhaps surprise him with a takedown, he’ll find a path to victory.
Vettori is probably tough enough to last the distance – he’s never been finished in the UFC – but I see this as a lopsided win for Hermansson.