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It seems a bit of a shame that this card was downgraded from ESPN to ESPN+ after a late change to the main event, as it may have been the strongest offering on the network to date. Yoel Romero’s getting pulled from the headliner was disappointing -- as is the continued existence of Greg Hardy on the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster -- but up and down the UFC Fight Night 150 lineup, there is a ton of potential for fun action, whether the fights figure to be all-out wars or quick sprints. In an age of picking and choosing cards, this one definitely falls in the latter category.
Now to the preview for UFC Fight Night 150 “Jacare vs. Hermansson,” set for Saturday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida:
MiddleweightsRonaldo Souza (26-6, -185) vs. Jack Hermansson (19-4, +160): For the umpteenth time it seems, Souza finds himself on the precipice of earning a UFC title shot; maybe this time he will actually land it. Souza figured to become an immediate middleweight contender when the UFC absorbed the Strikeforce roster, and in fact, that did happen, as “Jacare” rattled off five one-sided wins to kick off his career in the Octagon. However, as the middleweight championship constantly got held up, whether by Chris Weidman’s injuries or Michael Bisping’s fantasy camp of a title reign, it was Souza who suffered. Either there was a more deserving contender in the UFC’s eyes, or Souza would suffer the wrong loss at the wrong time. Most of those losses have been narrow. Romero controversially won a decision from “Jacare” in 2015, and Souza likely would have secured a title fight if not for a narrow defeat to Kelvin Gastelum in 2018. Nearing the age of 40, Souza has slowed down a bit, but his last bout against Weidman proved he can still gut out a win, even in a brawl that did not see him use his elite jiu-jitsu skills. Souza has teased retirement unless he gets a title shot posthaste, and this bout was initially slated to be a title eliminator rematch against Romero. Souza has still been promised a title shot, eventually, with a win here against a late replacement in Hermansson.
Hermansson’s ascent to fringe middleweight contender has been sudden. He scored the biggest win of his career against David Branch on March 30, which figured to set him up for a significant opportunity in his native Sweden in June rather than a headlining bout here. After a successful run in Europe, “The Joker” got off to a rocky start in the UFC, which suggested he would just slot into the promotion’s cadre of anonymous European middleweights it trots out during every trip across the pond. However, in the last year-plus, Hermansson has made a surprising pivot from awkward brawler to ground specialist. At first, it just meant Hermansson taking down his opponents for some vicious ground-and-pound, but in his last few bouts, he has shown a tricky set of submissions, including the flash guillotine that netted his surprising win over Branch. That set up Hermansson to be the best option to replace Romero, and it will be interesting to see if he can take advantage of the opportunity.
Souza is not quite as explosive as he once was and his gas tank has been betraying him more and more frequently, but the Gastelum and Weidman fights showed that for all those flaws he is still more than capable of gutting through damage and exhaustion to remain a dangerous opponent. If Hermansson cannot wear out Souza or score a knockout, it is going to mean trouble, particularly since Hermansson’s work in the clinch and on the mat will likely be nullified. Yes, Branch is also a decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu player, but he is also lackadaisical in his grappling approach in a way Souza is not. “Jacare” continues to age and Hermansson can crack a bit, so there is a chance this is the fight where Souza suddenly looks old. If not, this looks like a fight where Hermansson is all too willing to dive into the teeth of the alligator. The pick is Souza via first-round submission.
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