UFC Fight Night 200 takes place this coming Saturday night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Jack Hermansson vs. Sean Strickland
After five wins in a row Strickland has risen to prominence and now claims the No.7 spot on the middleweight rankings, but is still on place below Hermansson, even though the Swede is 3-2 in his last five Octagon outings.
Strickland is a gritty striker with good boxing fundamentals who will pressure fighters with his volume-based approach and while he’s not the heaviest hitter, he can break opponents who are unable to match his intensity and iron will in the heat of the battle.
Hermansson also puts out high numbers offensively and will have a slight reach advantage to help him in the exchanges, but it’s been shown in the past that he doesn’t tend to deal well with being pressured and that can leave him at risk of being overwhelmed at times.
On the other hand, Hermansson is more assured on the mat as he’s a very crafty grappler who will seize on submission opportunities but can also land heavy ground-and-pound too.
While Strickland can handle himself fairly well on the mat he is more likely to rely on the fact that he has very good takedown defense here to try and keep the fight where he wants it.
Strickland operates well from range which aids his chances of being able to see Hermansson’s takedowns coming and I feel his continual offensive pressure will throw his opponent off his game and lead him to a decision win.
Pick: Sean Strickland wins by decision.
Punahele Soriano vs. Nick Maximov
This is a bit of an odd choice for co-main event with Soriano coming off a loss to Brendan Allen after having won his first three fights in the promotion, while Maximov is 7-0 in his MMA career, but only one of those wins was in the UFC.
Maximov is very much a grappler as he doesn’t have much to offer on the feet at all other than trying to set up takedown attempts. On the mat he is effective though with his mix of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling.
This is a tricky fight for him though because Soriano is a good wrestler in his own right and can utilize that to keep the fight standing.
From there Soriano should have major success as he’s the far better striker and has big power, which should lead him to a second round TKO stoppage.
Pick: Punahele Soriano to win by TKO in Rd2.
Shavkat Rakhmanov vs. Carlston Harris
These two have got their UFC careers off to a good start with back-to-back wins each, leaving Rakhmanov with a perfect 14-0 career run, while Harris holds a 17-4 record and is on a 5-fight winning streak overall.
At 27, Rakhmanov is heading into his prime years with a very well-rounded skill-set and and impressive record of having finished all his fights inside the distance, split evenly between strikes and submissions, and so far he’s been able to continue that in the UFC against veterans like Alex Oliveira and Michel Prazeres.
On the other hand, at 34, Harris might be past his prime, but he remains an aggressive and throws with power on the feet, though his best work comes on the canvas where he unleashes brutal ground-and-pound and poses a submission threat too.
It’s a solid match-up but I feel like Rakhmanov has a much higher ceiling here with his quality all-round skill-set and he’ll prove to be technically superior on the feet as he picks apart Harris from range to claim a second round TKO stoppage.
Pick: Shavkat Rakhmanov wins by TKO in Rd2.
Sam Alvey vs. Brendan Allen
Alvey’s original opponent Ian Heinisch dropped out in December, while Phil Hawes also pulled out at the start of fight week, but he’s been kept on the card against late replacement Brendan Allen instead, though the fight has now being moved up to light-heavyweight.
That’s a tough opponent to be put in against at this late stage, but Alvey was never going to turn it down as he’s already beyond fortunate to even be getting another fight in the UFC at all given that he’s now gone without a win in seven fights.
He’s not exactly blowing people away with his performances either as though he does have fight-ending power in his hands, at this late stage in his 50+ fight career he is rather slow and ponderous at times and adopts a low-output style (accentuated further at light-heavyweight).
On the other hand, the 26-year-old Allen has much more spark about his game. He’s developed his striking over time and is the far more active fighter here offensively, but his real strength lies in his grappling and he is very good at controlling the action on top.
It should be noted that he’s generally done well during his 5-2 run in the UFC so far, Allen has been TKO’d twice, including in his last fight against Chris Curtis in December, and taking this fight at 205lbs against a power puncher like Alvey does present a risk.
Nevertheless, I think Allen can make good use of his wrestling and outwork Alvey wherever the fight takes place in order to secure a win on the scorecards.
Pick: Brendan Allen wins by decision.
Tresean Gore vs. Bryan Battle
These two were originally set to clash in the final of the latest season of TUF before Gore withdrew due to a knee injury, leading to Battle beating Keith Urbina in the finale instead.
Now we’ll get to see who the ‘real’ Ultimate Fighter should be with Gore now healed up and ready for his official UFC debut.
Gore is stepping onto the big stage at a relatively early stage in his pro-career, having only compiled a 3-0 record prior to his TUF stint, but he’s already shown real promise with his hard-hitting punching power and speed, while he kicks well from range too. On the other hand, he doesn’t pull the trigger as often as he should and that lack of activity at times can be concerning.
Battle might not have that kind of speed or power, but he is the more well-rounded fighter of the two and has a 3.5″ reach advantage to work with. He’ll apply more volume on the feet than Gore, but he’s more likely to be seeking repeated takedowns and submission opportunities instead.
There’s opportunities for both men to win here, with Battle’s best chance coming from outworking Gore and mixing things up on the feet and mat, but I think his eagerness to get the fight to the mat will leave him open to getting caught by Gore, which will result in a second round TKO finish.
Pick: Tresean Gore wins by TKO in Rd2.
Julian Erosa vs. Steven Peterson
Erosa has had a few stints in the UFC over the years and he’s finally starting to make good with it after winning three of his last four fights, while Peterson has shrugged off back-to-back wins by winning two in a row more recently.
Despite Erosa’s recent successes there is still a concern regarding his chin as he’s been KO’d on three occasions and TKO’d once during his overall 5-5 UFC run.
That’s partly due to Erosa’s action-packed kill-or-be-killed style, and to be fair to him, when he’s not the one being finished he has shown a real knack for putting away his opponents, with 23 of his 26 career wins coming by way of strikes or submission.
Peterson isn’t as potent as Erosa on the feet, but he is a hard worker who will look to wear down his opponents and had a respectable finishing rate in his own right on the regional circuit, particularly via submission, but has only shown flashes of that during his 3-3 UFC run.
Erosa has a 3″ height and 4.5″ reach advantage here and I think he’s the more skilled and dangerous fighter overall here, enabling him to get the better of the action on the feet and avoid any submission attempts on the mat to claim a decision victory.
Pick: Julian Erosa wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Miles Johns vs. John Castaneda
Hakeem Dawodu vs. Michael Trizano
Chidi Njokuani vs. Marc-André Barriault
Alexis Davis vs. Julija Stoliarenko
Jailton Almeida vs. Danilo Marques
Jason Witt vs. Phillip Rowe
Malcolm Gordon vs. Denys Bondar