UFC Vegas 16: Late Changes Lead to Jack Hermansson vs. Marvin Vettori

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Marvin Vettori UFC Vegas 16
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 04: Marvin Vettori of Italy poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on December 04, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Jack Hermansson has gone through three different opponent changes, and now rising contender Marvin Vettori hopes to take his place in the rankings at UFC Vegas 16.

Make no mistake, Jack Hermansson gets closer to the middleweight title regardless of who stands in front of him in the end at UFC Vegas 16. Originally taking on fan-favorite Darren Till, the Swedish contender rolled with the punches as his opponent changed to Kevin Holland roughly a month out from the fight.

Exactly a week from fight night, it was announced that Holland would be forced to withdraw and Hermansson would now take on an opponent with a drastically different style in Marvin Vettori. The circumstances are already not ideal for any fighter, but considering that the fight with Till was a possible title-eliminator in the eyes of many, the fact that he appears to have quickly taken the changes in stride is a testament to his gamesmanship.

 

Consider, Hermansson would have likely stood as the next title challenger in the middleweight division with a victory over Till. With current champion Israel Adesanya having already dispatched top contender Robert Whittaker, back-to-back wins over Kelvin Gastelum and potentially Till would have made Hermansson as the de-facto top contender. After going 5-1 since 2018 with wins over Jacare Souza, Gastelum, David Branch, and Gerald Meerschaert, another victory had Hermansson as a potential title contender even before news came that Adesanya would be moving up to light heavyweight in his next bout.

“The Italian Dream” Marvin Vettori is looking to show that he is one of the best fighters in the middleweight division with a victory over his highest ranked opponent to date. After opening his career 12-3-1, he was matched up with a New Zealander making his sophomore UFC appearance named Israel Adesanya in 2018. The two fought in a highly competitive contest, one of the closest in years for the current champion as the fight went to a split-decision. Following that fight, Vettori has gone 3-0 with victories over Cezar Ferreira, Andrew Sanchez, and Karl Roberson.

As much as Hermansson is being praised for going with the changes, so too does Vettori deserve recognition for the adjustments he will be making. While he is facing another grappler in going from Jacare to “The Joker,” he is moving up his weight cut by a week on top of also making the adjustment to fighting 25 minutes compared to the previously scheduled 15. It is a risk, but one that could pay off for Vettori as a fourth-straight victory would propel him into the upper-echelon of the rankings going into 2021.

Stylistically, Vettori will be looking to use his physicality and multi-faceted attack to overwhelm Hermansson. Vettori should look to keep the fight at mid-range and pick his spots for combinations with the Swede. Conserving his energy will help him two-fold as it will give Hermansson less opportunities to change levels and get the fight to the ground and help with his gas tank if they reach the later rounds.

Hermansson should look to push Vettori to the fence where he can force his foe to carry his weight and make his movements labored. Hermansson has proven to have one of the best submission attacks in the division and getting top position on Vettori will be his best route to victory.

A victory for Hermansson figures to set him up for a matchup with Robert Whittaker in 2021 depending on when Israel Adesanya returns from his planned excursion to light-heavyweight in the new year. Vettori would take a huge jump in the rankings with a victory.  While a title eliminator with Whittaker is a possibility, matchups with other members of the top ten such as Derek Brunson and Darren Till are also likely.

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