UFC Fight Night 236 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Jack Hermansson vs. Joe Pyfer
The 35-year-old Hermansson has been stuck in a pattern of win-one, lose-one, for the last five years, but even heading into this fight he remains ranked at No.11 on the middleweight ladder. Now he fights promising Contender Series recruit Joe Pyfer, who has racked up three stoppage wins in a row since joining the promotion.
Hermansson is a solid all-rounder who can pose problems for opponents both on the feet and on the mat. Striking wise he makes the most of his reach, working the jab and landing low kicks, while he is always on the lookout for opportunities to land harder counter-strikes. At the same time, Hermansson will also nicely time his takedown attempts, and if he gets the fight to the mat he has hard ground-and-pound and a crafty submission game too. However, though he has beaten some good fighters in the UFC he struggles to do so consistently and can run into trouble against more physically strong and harder-hitting opponents.
The 27-year-old Pyfer is a big middleweight with solid boxing ability and proven finishing power in his hands, with four his last five wins coming via TKO. However, Pyfer does also have respectable wrestling and some submission ability too as he demonstrated by locking in an arm-triangle submission last time out, although it’s worth keeping in mind that was against a very striking-orientated Abdul Razak Alhassan.
Hermansson is a challenging opponent for Pyfer, but I think his power and physicality can make the difference here against the veteran, leading him to a 2nd round TKO finish.
Pick: Joe Pyfer wins by TKO in Rd2.
Dan Ige vs. Andre Fili
Both of these featherweights have won two of their last three fights, with the No.13 ranked Ige coming in off a decision loss to Bryce Mitchell, while the unranked Andre Fili won via TKO against Lucas Almeida.
The 32-year-old Ige is a compact boxer with a tough, gritty style, working best at close quarters with punches to the body and head, though he will make use of leg kicks too. He’s not a big finisher, but his strikes are impactful and he’s also very durable, having never been stopped in his career. Ige also likes to use takedowns strategically in order to help him win otherwise close rounds.
The 33-year-old Fili has 4″ in height and 3″ in reach over Ige and he will use that with lengthy punches and kicks on the outside. He’ll happily fight at a measured pace and can counter-strike nicely at times, but isn’t afraid to get into a scrap if required. He is more hittable than you’d like to see though and he’s not immune to being hurt. Like Ige he can also be a decent offensive wrestler, but is less likely to use that than his opponent.
I Lean towards Ige here as I feel he can get into range on Fili and land the more meaningful blows, while also being more durable, allowing him to battle his way to a decision victory.
Pick: Dan Ige wins by decision.
Brad Tavares vs. Gregory Rodrigues
Despite his unassuming demeanour Brad Tavares proved to be a ruthless competitor last time out when he repeatedly targeted Chris Weidman’s recently healed broken leg with kicks on his way to a decision victory to cast aside back-to-back defeats. Now he faces Gregory Rodrigues who was KO’d in the first round last year, but then bounced back with an even faster KO win.
The 36-year-old Tavares has quietly gone about his business in the UFC for an impressive 14 years stretch now since joining from TUF Season 11. He’s never really had an attention-grabbing style though, instead just being dependably consistent with his striking fundamentals, working efficiently behind a solid jab with good movement and mindful defense, but not much in the way of stopping power, while also having solid takedown defense and good cardio. It’s been good enough to beat a slew of respectable opponents, but he’s often fallen short against high-ranked 185lb’ers that could have taken him to the next level.
By way of contrast, the 31-year-old Rodrigues is powerfully built and is much less risk-averse in his pursuit of finishing opponents. He actually has a credentialed background in grappling, but doesn’t use that as often as he should. Instead he likes to apply pressure from early in the fight and make use of his explosive power in the striking department. He’s capable of a one-punch knockout, but is willing to invest in a higher-output strategy to get the job done too. It’s a strategy that has generally paid off for him, but his offensive focus comes at the cost of his defense and so he has suffered a couple of 1st round KO losses over the years.
There’s certainly an avenue to victory for Tavares here if he can survive the early onslaught and employ his usual decision-minded approach. However, I think his offense will struggle to deter Rodrigues from aggressively advancing on him, and at this stage in his career I think he’ll be unable to withstand Rodrigues’ firepower, leading to a KO win in the opening round.
Pick: Gregory Rodrigues wins by KO in Rd1.
Michael Johnson vs. Darrius Flowers
A KO loss in May of last year means Michael Johnson has now lost 6 of his last 8 fights as he now attempts to turn things around against Contender Series Recruit Darrius Flowers, who suffered a submission loss in his UFC debut.
It’s somewhat bemusing how Johnson managed to beat the likes of Dustin Poirier and Edson Barboza earlier in his UFC run, yet at the age of 37 now holds a salty 13-15 record in the Octagon. At this late stage it feels like the ship has long since sailed in terms of Johnson to finally figure things out and live up to his potential. Still, he remains a fairly athletic striker with solid boxing technique and good movement who also has decent wrestling too. Johnson’s submission defense has always been a glaring weakness though and he’s no longer quite as sharp and durable on the feet.
This is a clear step down in competition for Johnson, going up against a fighter whose still to prove that he really belongs in the UFC. The 29-year-old Flowers shares the same susceptibility to submissions as Johnson, but while he has power and is more aggressive, he lacks Johnson’s agility and movement and has relatively poor striking defense.
As such there’s a clear path to victory for Johnson here if he just stays mobile and technical on the feet, picking apart his opponent in a calculated fashion to get a much-needed victory under his belt.
Pick: Michael Johnson wins by decision.
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Armen Petrosyan
Rodolfo Vieira has gone back-and-forth between wins and losses for the past couple of years and now gets ready to fight Arman Petrosyan, who is 3-1 in the UFC so far.
Originally set for November, of last year, this fight was cancelled on the night of the event when Vieira fell ill. As such my prediction hasn’t changed from the original one I made back then.
Vieira is one of the best BJJ players in the sport and has 8 wins via submission from 9 career victories to prove it. His striking isn’t much to right home about, but he’s not the kind of grappler who is likely to be left stranded on the feet as he is a solid wrestler too. However, cardio is a big issue for the muscular 34-year-old, and even left him so tired in the second round of his fight against Anthony Hernandez a couple of years ago that he was actually tapped out – something that no-one would have expected.
Petrosyan may be hoping to take advantage of that decline in his abilities later in the fight too, but in order to do so he’ll have to keep the fight standing as he’s not got much to offer on the mat. That’s concerning as his takedown defense in particular is poor. On the upside though the 33-year-old has a background in kickboxing (not to be mistaken with the champion kickboxer who holds the same name as him) and has a skilled kicking game in particular, good offensive output and solid cardio.
If Petrosyan does keep the fight upright then things bode well for him later in the fight. However, I just can’t see him having the wrestling chops to stop Vieira’s takedowns long enough to tire him out, and that’s going to leave him in a very bad spot sooner than later on the mat, leading to a first round submission finish.
Pick: Rodolfo Vieira wins by submission in Rd1.
Robert Bryczek vs. Ihor Potieria
Robert Bryczek has been running through opponents on the regional scene in Europe, having one a series of fights via strikes. Now it’s time for his UFC debut against Ihor Poteiria, who comes in on a few weeks notice trying to hold onto his place on the roster after losing three of his four fights so far.
There’s no doubt that the 33-year-old Bryczek is fun to watch with his aggressive, heavy-handed brawling on the feet, while he also has mean ground-and-pound too. Nobody he’s faced in the past two years has got out of the first round, but it’s doubtful he’ll continue that good fortune if he continues to employ such a brute-force approach in the UFC.
That being said, the 27-year-old Potieria could be vulnerable to it as he’s been finished via strikes in three of his four UFC fights. Potieria did also earn a TKO win over Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua that sent him into retirement, but everyone knows the Brazilian legend should have hung up his gloves long ago. Still, Potieria is a threat offensively with his aggressive flurries, but his defense is porous and that’s bad news when his chin is weak too. Potieira can also pose a threat via submissions, but lacks the wrestling to get the fight to the mat in the first place.
I think these two will just go straight to battle here and I don’t think that ends well for Potieria, with Bryczek landing big to secure a 1st round KO finish.
Pick: Robert Bryczek wins by KO in Rd1.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Trevin Giles vs. Carlos Prates
Damir Hadzovic vs. Bolaji Oki
Loma Lookboonmee vs. Bruna Brasil
Devin Clark vs. Marcin Prachnio
Zac Pauga vs. Bogdan Guskov
Max Griffin vs. Jeremiah Wells
Daniel Marcos vs. Aoriqileng