UFC president Dana White has been saying it quite a bit in current weeks, and it is value repeating right here: Simply get via 2020.
It is secure to say the UFC has accomplished an amazing job working inside a pandemic this 12 months, and it is almost throughout the 2020 end line with three occasions to go. However simply to state the apparent: It has been a tough go as of late.
Saturday’s UFC Combat Night time will function a middleweight important occasion between title contender Jack Hermansson (21-5) and Marvin Vettori (15-3-1). Hermansson was initially scheduled to face Darren Till in the primary occasion. Then Kevin Holland. Now Vettori. The earlier two matchups fell aside on account of damage and COVID-19.
The ultimate six UFC playing cards of the 12 months have all seen modifications to their important occasions — and we have seen every part from Paul Felder stepping in to combat a former light-weight champion on five days’ notice, to flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo agreeing to 2 title defenses in a span of 21 days (the quickest turnaround in UFC title historical past).
The attraction of Saturday’s altering important occasion lies in its one fixed: Hermansson, who’s firmly in title rivalry at 185 kilos. He’s No. 6 in the ESPN middleweight rankings. One may simply argue the Swedish-born fighter out of Norway is probably the most troublesome stylistic matchup for champion Israel Adesanya, with three first-round submission wins in his previous 5 fights.
Hermansson, 32, has every part to lose towards Vettori, who shouldn’t be ranked inside the highest 10 however may show to be a fixture in these rankings for years to come back. The 27-year-old Italian is assured and well-rounded, and he was aggressive towards Adesanya in a split-decision loss two years in the past.
It is a 185-pound matchup between a contender who’s on his third opponent in lower than one month and a hopeful with a lot to realize in taking a combat on brief discover. Such circumstances are proving to be the norm because the UFC closes out probably the most distinctive 12 months in its historical past.
For a great trigger: Combat Like Hell Night time
On December 7, 2019, ESPN and the UFC celebrated Stuart Scott with a Combat Night time devoted to him, which ended with an enormous Jairzinho Rosenstruik knockout.
The UFC is dedicating this Combat Night time to the Stuart Scott Memorial Most cancers Analysis Fund, established in reminiscence of the ESPN character who died of most cancers in 2015. Scott had a robust connection to blended martial arts and even skilled through the time of his therapy.
The UFC will make a $100,000 contribution to life-saving analysis funded via the Scott fund, which aids African American, Hispanic and different minority researchers and likewise analysis that explores the biology behind why some cancers usually tend to happen or are extra aggressive or more durable to deal with in some minority populations. Throughout Saturday’s broadcast, the UFC will encourage followers to help this analysis.
Viewers can help the marketing campaign by visiting v.org/ufc.
By the numbers
0: Fighters from Italy who’ve headlined UFC playing cards. Vettori would be the first, and a victory would tie the native of the town of Trento with Alessio Sakara for many wins contained in the Octagon by an Italian, with six.
8: Finishes within the UFC by Hermansson, placing him simply two behind Derek Brunson, Thiago Santos and Jacare Souza, the leaders amongst energetic middleweights. 5 of Hermansson’s finishes have come within the first spherical, which leads us to …
7:28: Common combat time within the UFC for Hermansson, in minutes and seconds. It is the fifth shortest amongst energetic 185-pounders.
67.1: Proportion of opponent strike makes an attempt prevented by Vettori in his UFC bouts, the very best protection amongst energetic middleweights and second finest all time, behind Chael Sonnen‘s 67.7%.
2.56: Important strikes landed per minute by Hermansson for each one he absorbs in his UFC fights. It’s the identical differential as that of Santos; they’re tied for the very best in middleweight historical past.
Sources: ESPN Stats & Info and UFC Stats
5 vs. 5
Jack Hermansson’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Kelvin Gastelum (Sub1, July 19, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Jared Cannonier (TKO2, Sept. 28, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Jacare Souza (UD, April 27, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: David Branch (Sub1, March 30, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Gerald Meerschaert (Sub1, Dec. 15, 2018)
Marvin Vettori’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Karl Roberson (Sub1, June 13, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Andrew Sanchez (UD, Oct. 12, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Cezar Ferreira (UD, July 13, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Israel Adesanya (SD, April 14, 2018)
Draw: Omari Akhmedov (MD, Dec. 30, 2017)
And the winner is …
Vettori looks like a classy choose proper now, and it is simple to see why. He is very, superb, and he has been underrated prior to now, so there was a correction by way of how followers and media view him. He is well-rounded and supremely assured. I am as excessive on Vettori as nearly anybody on the market, however he is preventing one other underrated middleweight, Hermansson. It is a coin flip type of combat, however I imagine the 5 rounds favors Hermansson, as does the very fact Vettori wasn’t scheduled to combat till January. Hermansson by determination.
How one can watch the fights
Watch the fights on ESPN+. If you do not have ESPN+, get it here.
There’s additionally FightCenter, which affords stay updates for each UFC card.
Saturday’s combat card
ESPN2/ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET
Jack Hermansson vs. Marvin Vettori | Middleweight
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Jamahal Hill | Gentle heavyweight
Gabriel Benitez vs. Justin Jaynes | Light-weight
Montana De La Rosa vs. Taila Santos | Ladies’s flyweight
Roman Dolidze vs. John Allan | Gentle heavyweight
Movsar Evloev vs. Nate Landwehr | Males’s featherweight
ESPN2/ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET
Louis Smolka vs. Jose Quinonez | Males’s bantamweight
Matt Wiman vs. Jordan Leavitt | Light-weight
Jimmy Flick vs. Cody Durden | Males’s flyweight
Ilia Topuria vs. Damon Jackson | Males’s featherweight
Gian Villante vs. Jake Collier | Heavyweight
5 extra issues to know (from ESPN Stats & Info)
1. 5 fighters will put undefeated data on the road Saturday evening: Jamahal Hill (7-0, 1 NC), who faces Ovince Saint Preux within the mild heavyweight co-main occasion; fellow 205-pounder Roman Dolidze (7-0), who fights John Allan; Movsar Evloev (13-0), who opens the primary card as a 6-to-1 favourite towards featherweight Nate Landwehr; Jordan Leavitt (7-0), who makes his UFC debut towards veteran light-weight Matt Wiman; and featherweight Ilia Topuria (9-0), who takes on Damon Jackson.
2. Saint Preux might be seeking to win consecutive fights for the primary time since 2017. General, although, OSP has 13 mild heavyweight wins, tied for the fourth most in division historical past. He has finishes in 11 of these wins, second most in division historical past behind Glover Teixeira‘s 12.
3. Whereas Nigeria was within the limelight in 2019 with Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman successful championships, 2020 is perhaps the 12 months of Georgia. Getting into this occasion, Georgian fighters are 11-1 contained in the Octagon, with Dolidze and Topuria favored to win on Saturday.
5. Jake Collier faces Gian Villante within the night’s opening bout. It’s Collier’s second combat at heavyweight. If Collier wins, he would turn out to be the thirteenth fighter in UFC historical past to win fights in three divisions.
ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim contributed to this combat preview.