The UFC will present its 3rd Fight Island event on Saturday night from the Flash Forum on Yas Island. All the attention will be on the Flyweight fight between Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez. However, the co-main event too will interest fans as the Middleweight fighters enter the fray in the buildup to their divisional title going on the line in the coming months.
It features Kelvin Gastelum taking on Jack Hermansson.
Kelvin Gastelum has not tasted victory in over 2 years in the UFC. Since, 2014, he is yet to string together a series of 3 wins. However, he will enter the cage in Fight Island’s Flash Forum knowing that a defeat will see him have a hat trick of losses for the first time in his professional MMA career. He has registered the large majority of his wins via KO. However, the last of these came in 2017 against Michael Bisping.
The fighter has been on the wrong end of decision defeats to Israel Adesanya and Darren Till in 2019. As a result, he has fallen in the rankings and occupies the 7th spot.
Jack Hermansson has been away from the octagon since going down to Jared Cannonier at Fight Night: Hermansson vs Cannonier. The fight snapped ‘The Joker’s 4 fight win streak, which was his longest in the UFC. In this sequence, he registered submission wins for the first time in the company and changed his reputation as a KO specialist.
The submission victories ended 4 years where the Swede had not claimed a win by tapping out his opponent. ‘The Joker’ is proficient in the knockout, with 11/20 wins coming in this fashion. However, he may have to be cautious as a loss here will see him lose his 6th rank to his opponent.
‘The Joker’ has a 6-inch reach advantage and a minor height advantage over his opponent. Furthermore, he lands 1.38 more significant strikes per minute than his opponent. Hermansson even leads by 5% in the strike accuracy department. This combined with him registering 55% of his wins by knockout will have him as the favorite.
However, Gastelum is yet to suffer a KO as a professional in 15 fights. Also, he boasts of higher significant strikes defended compared to his opponent.
Gastelum lands an average of 0.73 takedowns per 3 rounds, which is significantly lower than ‘The Joker’s 2.23. Also, the American hasn’t tapped out an opponent in over 5 years since Jake Ellenberger submitted to the rear-naked choke. Hermansson hasn’t submitted since 2016 and based on the stats it is unlikely that he will tap out tonight.
This is because he will use his reach and strike accuracy to punish his opponent and keep him honest. Even if he misses, he has a strong 77% takedown defense that should hold him in good stead on the night if his opponent tries to take the fight to the ground.
This is an unlikely scenario given Gastelum’s low TD rate and their combined low submissions attempted average.
‘The Joker’ seems to be the favorite on paper and he may put himself in prime position to leapfrog 5th ranked Darren Till. By doing so he will pile the pressure on the Englishman who fights top-ranked Robert Whittaker next week.
Gastelum will likely absorb the punches, however, as he is on a losing streak he may go for broke. This could leave him vulnerable to strikes. Also, he could allow ‘The Joker’ to take him down or leave him dazed with punches and go for the guillotine choke he has used in recent times. Do not expect this bout to be decided by the judges’ scorecards.
Jack Hermansson to win via 2nd round submission.
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