Jai Herbert looked to get on the first winning streak of his UFC career in his home country as he faced off with electric Slovak L’udovit Klein early on the UFC 286 card.
Despite Herbert’s 2-3 UFC record, he had a difficult strength of schedule with all three of his losses coming against top talents, including the undefeated Ilia Topuria and currently ranked Renato Moicano. Herbert is also a teammate of current welterweight champion Leon Edwards, who speaks highly of Jai. On the other hand, Klein came into this fight on a two-fight winning streak after spoiling the show for top Welsh prospect Mason Jones in his last fight on the last UFC card in London; he looked to do the same at UFC 286.
Klein and Herbert traded kicks right after the opening glove touch, both blocking on their high guard. They stalked each other, feeling out their opponent’s rhythm for the first minute until Klein grabbed Jai and took him down into full-guard. Herbert had trouble getting up at first but was then able to land a few upkicks to the face of Klein. After three or four landed cleanly to a standing Klein his right eyebrow was opened up by a big cut and he fell down, possibly hurt, into the guard of Herbert, to the joy of the London crowd. He got up soon after that, letting the Brit stand up. They clinched up with one minute left and Herbert landed some solid clinch knees which seemed to hurt Klein to the head and body. Most of the time spent at range in the first round was a slow-paced affair, but Jai Herbert still seemed to win the round off of a few good moments on the ground and in the clinch.
Early in round two Klein looked to land knees in the clinch and Herbert grabbed him to push him to the fence, but they broke off after a short time. Klein pushed forward in the middle round with pressure, though not pace. Jai Herbert made sure to stay out of range for the most part with his footwork. Herbert then shot a takedown but Klein stuffed it relatively easily. Herbert began to get some more strikes off, using his long legs to teep and round kick the body of the Slovak from the outside as Klein stalked forward. Klein clinched up to land some dirty elbows but Herbert broke free. In the last twenty seconds Klein clinched again and landed one last big elbow before the round ended.
The fight was close, it seemed likely that it was tied or Jai Herbert was ahead at the start of the third and final round. The southpaw Klein pressed forward again and sent more kicks at Herbert. A groin shot by Herbert paused the fight but upon resuming Klein landed a big knee that hurt Herbert. He followed it up by pressing forward and landing another, but Herbert landed one of his own in the clinch afterwards. Herbert tried to let his hands go more and he scored with a right hand.
Then, unfortunately, Herbert tried to knee Klein in the clinch but again landed low, to the groin. The referee took a point away as a result. Upon the replay being played, there was a question as to whether the knee connected with the groin at all.
Both fighters seemed urgent after the deduction. Suddenly Jai Herbert tripped Klein to the mat from the clinch and landed elbows from some awkward angles before settling in top half-guard. L’udovit tried to get to a hip and get up but Jai was able to control him while landing strikes. Herbert made a mistake as Klein wrestled up and ended up getting taken down himself, forcing Herbert into full-guard against the fence. Herbert got up, using the fence, and then tried and failed a trip. However, he leveraged that into a back body-lock which he used to punch Klein right up to the bell. He definitely won the third round, before taking the point deduction into consideration.
The judges’ decision was important in this fight and when Bruce Buffer read them out it was indeed a draw, though one judge gave Herbert the win in spite of the point deduction. It is certain that a discussion will rage in the coming days about the point deduction by referee Rich Mitchell.
Official Result: Jai Herbert vs. L’udovit Klein ends in a Majority Draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)