Jack Hermansson Outwits Joe Pyfer in Taxing UFC Fight Night 236 Main Event

Experience has no substitute.

Jack Hermansson dug in his heels and curbed some of the enthusiasm around one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight division’s fastest-rising stars, as he took a unanimous decision from Joe Pyfer in their UFC Fight Night 236 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. All three judges saw it the same: 48-47 for Hermansson (24-8, 11-6 UFC).

Pyfer (12-3, 3-1 UFC) managed to hold serve through two rounds with booming punches to the body and head. However, he started to unravel when those efforts failed to throw Hermansson off his scent. The former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder battered Pyfer’s lower lead leg with crushing kicks and marked up his face with a piercing jab, seizing the reins with his guile and grit. Hermansson forced the Dana White’s Contender Series graduate onto his back foot, at which point he became far less aggressive and effective. Pyfer had little left in the tank for Round 5. Hermansson secured a takedown some two minutes into the period and proceeded to pile up points with the remaining time, hammering the American with shoulder strikes, short punches and elbows.

The loss put an end to Pyfer’s run of consecutive victories at five.

Meanwhile, Xtreme Couture’s Dan Ige bounced back from a Sept. 23 decision defeat to Bryce Mitchell in resounding fashion, as he punched out Team Alpha Male mainstay Andre Fili in the first round of their featherweight co-main event. A short-notice substitution for Lerone Murphy, Fili (23-11, 11-10 UFC) checked out 2:43 into Round 1.

Ige (18-7, 10-6 UFC) got busy with left hooks to the body and head, all while mixing in a few leg kicks. Fili responded with check hooks and a guard-splitting jab, only to see his work unravel in an instant. Ige decked the Californian with a counter overhand right and followed it with a savage standing-to-ground punch for the no-questions-asked finish.

The 32-year-old Ige has won three of his last four fights.

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Further down the card, ex-World Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Ihor Potieria stepped in as a late replacement for Albert Duraev and laid claim to a unanimous verdict over organizational newcomer Robert Bryczek in a three-round middleweight showcase. Potieria (20-5, 2-3 UFC)—who missed weight for the bout by 1½ pounds—earned 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 scores from the cageside judges.

Bryczek (17-6, 0-1 UFC) landed his share of shots but struggled to managed distance effectively against the lengthy Ukrainian. Potieria hit his stride in the second round and turned up the heat further in the third. He floored Bryczek with a right hook, sprawled on an attempted takedown and swarmed with follow-up punches. Once it became apparent the finish he sought was not in play, Potieria settled back into a rhythm, kept his Polish counterpart at bay and salted away the decision.

The setback snapped Bryczek’s five-fight winning streak.

Not to be overshadowed by those above him on the bill, former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Gregory Rodrigues disposed of Brad Tavares with punches in the third round of their middleweight attraction. Tavares (20-9, 15-9 UFC) succumbed to unanswered blows 55 seconds into Round 3, losing for the third time in four appearances.

Rodrigues (15-5, 6-2 UFC) simply had more horsepower at his disposal. He tore into Tavares’ lower lead leg with kicks, backed him up with punches and incorporated takedowns when opportunities arose. Rodrigues unleashed a hellacious barrage of power punches early in the third round, fired a knee up the middle and reset in open space. He then pushed Tavares to the fence and cut loose with a volley of right hands to the head that had “The Ultimate Fighter 11” semifinalist ducking for cover and forced referee Jason Herzog to act.

The 31-year-old Rodrigues has rattled off eight victories across his past 10 outings.

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Elsewhere, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 finalist Michael Johnson rebounded from a May 20 knockout loss to Diego Ferreira with a unanimous decision over Darrius Flowers in a three-round lightweight feature. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Johnson (22-19, 14-15 UFC).

Flowers (12-7-1, 0-2 UFC) called upon an active kicking game but could not stay upright long enough for it to take hold. Johnson executed multiple takedowns, consolidating them with stifling control, smooth positional advances and steady ground-and-pound. Flowers offered little in terms of meaningful resistance until late in the third round. However, the experienced and resourceful Johnson managed to dodge a few bullets in the waning moments, quieting a potential rally from the Syndicate MMA rep.

Johnson, 37, has won three of his past five bouts.

Finally, Fusion X-Cel rep Rodolfo Vieira took care of former Fight Nights Global champion Armen Petrosyan with an arm-triangle choke in the first round of their middleweight appetizer. Petrosyan (9-3, 3-2 UFC) raised the white flag of surrender 4:48 into Round 1, suffering the first submission defeat of his 12-fight career.

The 34-year-old Vieira (10-2, 5-2 UFC) obliged the Armenian kickboxer with a few standup exchanges, then tuned up the takedowns and control. The 2015 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Fighting World Championships gold medalist climbed to full mount with roughly a minute to go in the first round and briefly transitioned to the back before settling in top position. From there, he framed the arm-triangle, tightened his squeeze and prompted the tapout.

All 10 of Vieira’s professional MMA victories have resulted in finishes, nine of them via submission.

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Anatoly Malykhin