Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight talents Jack Hermansson and Joe Pyfer will go to war TONIGHT (Sat., Feb. 10, 2024) at UFC Vegas 86 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hermansson nearly scored a title shot in 2019, peaking off a victory over Ronaldo Souza that shot him up the rankings. Since then, however, Hermansson has struggled to find consistency at the highest level, alternating wins and losses in his last eight bouts. On the plus side, that pattern dictates that he’s due for a victory here! Pyfer, conversely, hasn’t even been on the roster for two years. Three fights into his UFC career, it’s quite clear that “Bodybagz” has some special talent, most notably his ability to hit stupidly hard.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Kelvin Gastelum (UFC Fight Island 2), Ronaldo Souza (UFC Fight Night 150), Edmen Shahbazyan (UFC Vegas 27), Chris Curtis (UFC London), David Branch (UFC on ESPN 2), Thales Leites (UFC 224)
Key Losses: Sean Strickland (UFC Vegas 47), Jarred Cannonier (UFC Fight Night 160), Marvin Vettori (UFC Vegas 16), Roman Dolidze (UFC Orlando)
Keys to Victory: Hermansson is about as tough as they come. An unusual striker with a vicious top game, Hermansson is no stranger to taking a bit of a beating then rallying late in the fight.
Hopefully, that won’t be necessary here. Pyfer hits too hard to count on a comeback win — his opponents just seem to shut down when they feel his power. A central point to Hermansson’s strategy in this match up his to be avoiding both the fence and pocket exchanges, two positions where he would be in serious danger.
The truth about Pyfer is that we have yet to see him tested in the Octagon. We’ve never seen him fatigued or on his back. We have seen a distaste for calf kicks, a strike Hermansson can utilize quite well. As such, there’s a fairly clear strategic approach for “The Joker.”
On the feet, Hermansson has to be circling and kicking or pressing Pyfer back — no inbetween. Whenever possible, the Swede should be looking to wrestle and tire the rising prospect, because a bit of exhausting goes a long way in a 25 minute fight. Hermansson has to prolong the bout and allow his toughness/experience to come into play, at which point he’s far more likely to find some success.
Key Wins: Abdul Razak Alhassan (UFC Vegas 80), Gerald Meerschaert (UFC 287), Alen Amedovski (UFC Vegas 60), Ozzy Diaz (Contender Series 2022)
Key Losses: Dustin Stoltzfus (Contenders Series 2020)
Keys to Victory: The truth about Joe Pyfer is that it’s still early to get real reads on many of his skills. Certainly, he’s demonstrated a nice fundamental boxing game and ungodly power, but the rest remains something of a mystery.
Fortunately, we know a whole lot about Jack Hermansson. Straight shooters like Vettori and Strickland found great success in walking him to the fence, slowing down the constant movement, and then firing punches down the middle into his chin. If Pyfer lands half as much as those two, “The Joker” is in serious trouble.
That approach fits naturally into Pyfer’s usual game of pressure boxing, he just has to adjust to throw a few more crosses than his usual barrage of right hooks. His snappy jab that finishes combinations should work wonders as well. As such, it’s largely about maintaining his composure and avoiding mistakes.
It’s a big moment for Joe Pyfer.
Hermansson is fighting to remove himself from the gatekeeper status and start fighting back up the ladder. Unfortunately, that loss to Roman Dolidze hurts, as does his previous losses to title contenders like Vettori and Cannonier. It’s going to take a nice win streak to dislodge him from his current position, but that work could begin tonight.
As for Pyfer, he’s still unranked despite his fast rise. A win here changes that and introduces him to the upper echelon of Middleweight contenders, a rank and file that could use fresh faces. Beating Hermansson is historically a good path to an eventual title shot, and surely Pyfer has those ambitions himself.
Hermansson is a considerable step up from Alhassan, so let’s see how Pyfer handles the task.
At UFC Vegas 86, Jack Hermansson and Joe Pyfer will battle in the main event. Which man earns the victory?