UFC Florida Preview: Jacare vs Hermansson
By Anuj Datta
The UFC returns to the Sunshine State this weekend, for Jacare vs Hermansson. Initial rumours were that Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa would headline the card, but Jacare vs Romero 2 was made official. Romero unfortunately had to withdraw with pneumonia earlier this month, so Jack “The Joker” accepted on short notice.
Hermansson has looked impressive lately, with finishes in his last five victories. Most notably a 49 second submission over Gracie black belt David Branch that catapulted him into the top 10. He will be in for the biggest fight of his career against Jacare Souza. The number 4 ranked middleweight, and former Strikeforce champion has been vying for a title shot, and has been promised one should he win.
Jacare is widely regarded as one of the best grapplers in MMA history, a multiple time Jiu Jitsu world champion and submission wrestling world champion. His striking is not to be overlooked though, with impressive KO wins over former champions Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort. He is pushing 40 however, and this could be his last fight if he doesn’t emerge victorious.
Greg Hardy is making his second appearance in the octagon when he takes on Dmitry Smolyakov. The controversial Hardy was 3-0 before facing Allen Crowder earlier this year. He lost via disqualification, as a result of kneeing Crowder whilst he was down. Smolyakov is no slouch, with a background in freestyle wrestling and 9 wins out of 11, his only losses coming in the UFC. The former NFL standout will have to win and in impressive fashion if he wants to win over the UFC faithful.
One bout that will draw eyes is Alex Olivera vs Mike Perry. Two fighters that are renowned for their fight style are sure to bring the entertainment factor to the BB&T center. “Cowboy” Olivera secured back to back wins before losing to Gunnar Nelson in devastating fashion. “Platinum” Mike also seems to be at a crossroads in his career, losing three of his last four. In a talent packed welterweight division, a win is necessary for either man to make a run for the top 10.
Perennial light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira will take on “The Hulk” Ion Cutelaba. This is very much the old lion vs new lion, with both fighters looking to make a statement in a division that has seen a resurgence as of late.
Veteran John Lineker will face Cory Sandhagen. Sandhagen has been extremely active since making his MMA debut less than four years ago, fighting eleven times and amassing a 10-1 record. He will be fighting “Hands of Stone” Lineker who is just as well rounded. Lineker is just 2 years his senior, but will be participating in his 40th professional fight. With the bantamweight division in a state of uncertainty – especially if current flyweight king Henry Cejudo wins the belt, the winner could be a fight or two away from a shot at the 135lb crown.
To start the main card, undefeated lightweight prospect Roosevelt Roberts and Thomas Gifford will battle. Whilst this fight may not garner much media attention, it has the capacity to steal the show. Roberts impressed UFC president Dana White with a stoppage win on the Tuesday night contender series, and again at TUF finale.
The middleweight division is looking tight at the top after Israel Adesanya’s career defining performance, and the return of champ Robert Whittaker looming to unify the belt. A victory for the bookies favourite Souza will put him next in line, but an emphatic victory for Hermansson will surely put him in the conversation too. Could we see the first UFC champion from Scandinavia by the end of 2019?