A pair of not-so-normal middleweights clash as the headliner to the UFC’s first event in February: Jack Hermansson versus Sean Strickland. These middleweight aren’t just unorthodox but could secure a title shot with an impressive win. The UFC betting lines favor Strickland (24-3-0), who is unbeaten (5-0-0) as a middleweight as he looks to smash Hermansson (22-6-0).
- Date: Saturday, 6 p.m. ET
- Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Watch on: ESPN+
Jack Hermansson vs Sean Strickland
- Weight Class: Middleweight (185)
- Rounds: Five (Main Event)
- Moneyline: Jack Hermansson +175, Sean Strickland -220
- Totals: Over/Under 4½ (-115)
Hermansson and Strickland are ranked sixth and seventh in the UFC rankings, but Strickland is the sizable favorite on the online sports betting odds. “The Joker” is just 2-2 in his last four fights, but has fought tougher competition while Strickland’s win over Uriah Hall stands as his lone win over a ranked fighter. Stylistically, though, Strickland is the rightful favorite here.
Strickland in for Showcase Performance
Aptly nicknamed “Tarzan,” Sean Strickland is savage in how he fights. He isn’t the most stylish or technical fighter, but he is well-rounded enough to exploit any weaknesses of his opponents. Against a striker like Hall, he mixed it up and took him down four times. When facing a grappler in Jack Marshman, he kept it standing and whooped him.
Strickland may be more of a striker but his best skills lie with his grappling. Don’t let the Jiu-Jitsu brown belt fool you: Strickland grapples with the likes of Khamzat Chimaev and has developed a reputation as being a tough customer on the mat.
The game plan for Strickland against someone like Hermansson is straightforward: Keep it standing and don’t get cocky. Strickland may be “colorful” in personality but his fighting IQ is sound enough to trust when betting online.
Hermansson Must Evolve Beyond Grappling
Hermansson was this close to getting a title shot until Jared Cannonier hit him so hard that he didn’t know what to do. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” and that’s what happened.
The Swede is primarily a grappler but has developed a bit of striking style to make himself well-rounded enough to beat most fighters. The issue is that Hermansson is still not that comfortable on his feet and his herky-jerky style exists as a tactic to confuse his opponent, because he’s too cautious to stand in the pocket.
If Hermansson wants to realize his potential, he’ll need to prove he can hang with the better strikers in the division. This may take improvement to his technique or for him to simply bite down on his mouthguard and fire away to gain his opponent’s respect.
Hermansson vs Strickland: Who Wins?
This fight should begin competitively with Hermansson potentially winning the first round. But the moment Strickland turns up the heat and starts chipping away at Hermansson, the more the fight goes his way. Strickland should be able to land and hurt Hermansson on their feet while stuffing his takedown attempts.
Thus, a straight bet on Strickland at -220 is decent and even better as a parlay piece. Alternatively, Strickland to win by decision at +175 is one of the best UFC bets as the Joker is tough even if he becomes a shell of himself once he gets rocked.
Pick: Sean Strickland -220
There is a possibility that this fight gets finished early given Hermansson’s penchant for submission and Strickland’s punching power. But that is unlikely as three of their last five fights have all gone the distance. You can hedge a finish in round 1 at a significant payout otherwise.