After a lackluster Middleweight showdown between Roman Dolidze and Nassourdine Imavov in which the French fighter won a majority decision, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remains in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 86. Middleweights headline once again as No. 11 Jack Hermansson takes on surging Joe Pyfer.
While UFC Vegas 82 isn’t the strongest card regarding name value it has several fun and exciting fights. So, before it goes down on ESPN+, let’s check out some random storylines, tidbits, and statistics ahead of showtime …
Hermansson returns from a 14-month layoff this weekend. The UFC veteran was supposed to return against Brendan Allen last June, however, the fight was scrapped because of an injury. He revealed during UFC Vegas 86 media Day that it was a back injury.
Hermansson is coming off a brutal loss to Dolidze at UFC Orlando and will be looking to get back into the Middleweight contender conversation.
Defend Your Ranking!
Hermansson will be defending his Top 15 spot as he puts his No. 11 ranking up for grabs in his fifth main event.
Be Joe Pyfer! (Until He Loses)
After just three fights in the promotion, “Bodybagz” will compete in his first main event, which is pretty impressive as long time Lightweight knockout king Drew Dober still hasn’t received a main event after 23 fights in UFC. Pyfer has had a UFC jetpack strapped to him since winning a contract on Contender Series, but he has delivered every single time.
As mentioned before, Hermansson will be defending his No. 11 ranking, meaning with a win, Pyfer could be a Top 10 fighter by the time the new rankings come out.
Is he being rushed too quickly?
Andre Fili replaced Lerone Murphy, stepping in on 20 days notice to fight Dan Ige. “Touchy” Fili is coming off a first-round knockout of Lucas Almeida at UFC 296 (watch highlights). The 11-year UFC veteran gets his shot at the Top 15 rankings and will look to snatch Ige’s No. 13 spot.
Ihor Potieria is stepping up on a weeks notice to fight UFC newcomer Robert Bryczek AND he is dropping down to Middleweight after spending his entire career at Light Heavyweight.
Potieria is coming off an insane banger with Rodolfo Bellato at UFC Austin, which earned Fight of Night – he lost via TKO.
Gregory Rodrigues vs. Brad Tavares is finally happening (knock on wood). The pair of Middleweights were supposed to fight at UFC 283, however, Tavares pulled out of the fight. Rodrigues would still fight at UFC 283 but it ended badly because he got slept by Brunno Ferreira (watch highlights).
Tavares is coming off a win against Chris Weidman and Rodrigues is coming off a knockout win at Denis Tiuliulin, both at UFC 292.
Rebooked! Part. 2
Another Middleweight fight is finally happening as Rodolfo Vieira takes on Armen Petrosyan. The two 185ers were supposed to clash at UFC Sao Paulo, however, Petrosyan ended up pulling out during the event due to sickness … according to him, he was poisoned.
Vieira vs. Petrosyan is a classic “Striker vs. Grappler” matchup. Petrosyan is a brilliant kickboxer who is developing into an MMA fighter quite nicely, while Vieira is a seriously dangerous world-champion grappler.
Welcome To The UFC!
Five fighters are making their UFC debuts at UFC Vegas 86.
- Robert Bryczek (17-5) takes on Potieria. Byczek is Polish and comes from Oktagon MMA. He holds a 71% finish rate – with 11 knockouts.
- Carlos Prates (17-6) fights Trevin Giles. Prates is coming off a contract-winning performance on season seven of Contender Series against Mitch Ramirez, where he knocked him out in the second round. He holds an 88% finish rate with 12 knockouts.
- Bolaji Oki (8-1) debuts against fellow debutant Timothy Cuamba (8-1). Both men scored wins on season seven of Contender Series, however, Cuamba did not get signed right away. Oki holds a 76% finish rate and is riding a seven-fight win streak. Cuamba holds a 50% finish rate and is riding a five-fight win streak.
- Hyder Amil (8-0) takes on Fernie Garcia, who takes the fight on short notice. Amil also comes off of season seven of Contender Series, defeating Emrah Sonmez. Amil is must must-watch television and an all-action fighter. Don’t miss him.
Speaking of Cuamba, he is fighting Oki on less than a week’s notice, and on top of that, the 25-year-old fought last Friday (Feb. 2, 2024) at Tuff-N-Uff 135, where he knocked out top prospect Michael Stack.
Teammates Going To War Together
There are four top mixed martial arts (MMA) gyms that have a couple of fighters on the card.
- Xtreme Couture, located in Las Vegas has two fighters competing on Saturday – Ige and Tavares.
- Elevation Fight Team, located in Colorado, has two fighters competing – Zac Pauga and Devin Clark.
- Marquez Mixed Martial Arts, located in Philadelphia has two fighters fighting – Pyfer and Jeremiah Wells.
- Kill Cliff FC, located in Deer Beach, Florida has two fighters competing – Michael Johnson and Rodrigues.
Fighters always say training camp is much easier when they have a teammate going through hell with them, but also some get very nervous when they have teammates fighting on the same card.
Winners And Losers
Fifteen fighters are coming off wins, while 13 are coming off losses.
Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:
- One Light Heavyweight fight
- Four Middleweight fights
- Two Welterweight fights
- Two Lightweight fights
- Two Featherweight fights
- One Bantamweight fight
- One Women’s Strawweight fight
According to DraftKings, UFC Vegas 85’s “biggest” underdog is Bruna Brasil at +230.