As we inch closer to the end of the year, COVID-19 has thrown wrench after wrench into the UFC’s planned fight cards, but the promotion has risen to the challenge, managing to still provide compelling cards without interruption. This week is no different. After Kevin Holland had to withdraw from the main event of Saturday’s show, UFC brass sprung into action, grabbing Marvin Vettori to stand in—a more than serviceable replacement. The rest of the bout sheet is standard fodder, with prospects making up the majority of the lineup, along with a few familiar veterans peppered throughout.
We’ve highlighted some of the fighters from UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Vettori that we feel best fit the criteria for our specialty categories. Let’s take a look at why they stand out.
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MMA NEWS ALERT: The Montana De La Rosa-Talia Santos, Movsar Evloev-Nate Landwehr and Jimmy Flick-Cody Durden fights for tonight's UFC Fight Night card have been canceled. pic.twitter.com/K4NvuWKDkv— DK Nation (@dklive) December 5, 2020
Jamahal Hill, $8,400
Jamahal Hill is an incredibly talented prospect with an unbeaten 7-0 record. His impressive knockout of Klidson Abreu, a guy most considered to have a granite chin, showed diversity in his striking, including in his win over Darko Stosic before that. “Sweet Dreams” is the textbook definition of a volume striker. Based off nearly nine minutes of fight time, Hill lands a whopping 7.9 strikes per minute, and surprisingly, only absorbs 2.81 strikes in that same 60 seconds. For one so young and with just seven pro fights under his belt, that level of defensive awareness is almost unheard of. Facing a veteran of 39 fights, most at the highest level, is certainly going to be a daunting challenge, one he can absolutely accomplish, but he has the hurdles of Ovince Saint Preux’s ($7,800) excellent grappling and teeth-rattling power to get around, and to this point, Saint Preux doesn’t lose to prospects.
Nate Landwehr, $6,900 Nate Landwehr is another true volume striker, but “The Train” doesn’t defend himself nearly as well as he should. Nate lands an impressive 6.89 strikes per minute but absorbs 7.22 strikes during that same interval (based off nine minutes of fight time). An orthodox striker, Landwehr has exceptional cardio and frequently exhausts his opponents, who try to keep up with his pace. While Nate is not known for outstanding grappling, he’s not terrible on the ground either, but Movsar Evloev ($9,300) is a much higher level wrestler than the opponents he’s faced thus far. Add to that Evloev’s intelligent fight style and rapidly improving striking and you have a very tough out for Mr. Landwehr.
Ovince Saint Preux, $7,800
Ovince Saint Preux is an anomaly. He’s fought his entire career from a smallish Knoxville gym, depending on athleticism and power, along with a surprisingly good submission game. Many have wondered what he might’ve looked like if he’d trained with one of the supercamps, but honestly, OSP has fought at the fringe contender/contender level for most of his career, even competing for the title against Jon Jones in 2016. And while his trademark speed has decreased a bit, his devastating power hasn’t, evidenced by 12 knockouts, most recent being a second-round heater that put Alonzo Menifield on another planet this past September. Saint Preux is versatile in that he’d just as easily slap a Von Preux choke on Hill, being that he’s basically made the Von Flue choke his own with four of his own—a feat considering how few of them we see across the board. OSP doesn’t land at an astounding rate, just 2.64 strikes per minute, and he absorbs close to that in the same time frame. He might not be the most cerebral fighter, but he’s definitely got power, good submission chops and a fairly sturdy chin. His cardio isn’t always the best, though, and for that reason, we will keep him in the Gas Guzzler’s category.
Jack Hermansson, $8,000
There is a lot of hype around Jack Hermansson’s grappling, which is very underrated, but his striking warrants praise, especially considering that 11 of his wins are by knockout. While one-punch KO power isn’t what he’s known for, he does put together combos that break down his opponents, opening them up to be finished. He lands at a very respectable rate, averaging 5.08 strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.52 in that same span. He faces Marvin Vettori ($8,200), a late replacement for Kevin Holland, but a definite step up from the sensational Texan. Vettori is a strong grappler that will give the Swede a much tougher challenge. Marvin’s striking isn’t on par with “The Joker” but he’s a willing and eager opponent; aggressive, but not foolhardy. He’s bullishly strong and has an endless gas tank. That’s quite a handful for Jack, but not an insurmountable challenge. Hermansson went from having a very winnable fight to possibly facing one of his toughest, most well-matched opponents yet.
Jimmy Flick, $8,500 Jimmy Flick is a hot prospect debuting in the flyweight division. The 30-year-old Oklahoman has been putting in work on the regional scene for a little over a decade, amassing a 15-5 record along the way. What makes Flick special is his ground game. Of those 15 wins, 13 of them are by submission. He doesn’t waste time standing and banging either. He didn’t fall in love with his hands as so many grapplers do. He works from the jump to get the fight to the ground where the advantage favors his style. He’s a very aggressive submission hunter averaging 2.26 takedowns per 15-minute fight, and attempts around 7.9 submissions per 15 minutes. He is a durable fighter with stamina reserves that allow for finishes in the latter rounds of his fights. His opponent, Cody Durden ($7,700), is a strong wrestler and a step above the competition Flick normally faces, but along with that explosive athletic ability, Durden also has durability issues, making him our other candidate for the Gas Guzzlers category. This is a very well-matched fight against two exciting prospects. It’s bound to be entertaining considering both men will be looking to get the fight to the ground.
Damon Jackson, $7,200
Damon Jackson is trying to extend his Cinderella run after getting the pink slip treatment back in 2016 after his first stint with the UFC ended up being a wash. He would end up on the regional circuit, going 8-2 before getting that call this past September to step in as a late replacement for Mirsad Bektic. Jackson is another talented grappler, as 14 of his 18 wins are by submission. Damon isn’t a super enthusiastic striker, but he definitely throws with power as best he can, working knees up the middle in the clinch, and peppering hard shots to soften up his opponents. His come-from-behind ability was on full display in the Bektic fight, where he was pretty much mauled on the ground by Mirsad for the first two rounds. Jackson’s tenacity allowed him to be the first to ever submit Bektic. He faces a very strong, athletically gifted prospect in Georgia’s Ilia Topuria ($9,000), an unbeaten talent with excellent grappling and a recently discovered well of legitimate knockout power. His win over Youssef Zalal this past October was a breakout performance at a much higher level than he was seeing on the regional circuit. Topuria is very smart about how he sets up his takedowns, throwing massive power shots down the middle to that effect. The Fortis MMA product will have his hands full with Ilia, even with a 4-inch height and 2-inch reach advantage.
Ovince Saint Preux, $7,800
Ovince Saint Preux, $7,800
Jimmy Flick, $8,500
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