UFC Fight Night Report: Sean Strickland defeats Jack Hermansson by split decision

Originally published at UFC Fight Night: Sean Strickland defeats Jack Hermansson by split decision

UFC Fight Night Report: Sean Strickland defeats Jack Hermansson by split decision

By: Eric Marcotte

The UFC held their first Fight Night event of the month on Saturday evening, from the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the headlining bout, UFC middleweight contenders Sean Strickland and Jack Hermansson faced off, with both men looking to make their case for a title shot. Hermansson was the higher-ranked fighter coming into this bout, but momentum was on Strickland’s side, with Strickland riding a five-fight win streak coming into this one. Hermansson has been a bit more inconsistent in recent years, with a 2-2 record throughout his past four fights, and a big win against Strickland would be necessary for him to maintain his status as a contender in the division. Elsewhere on the card, The Ultimate Fighter Season 29 winner, Bryan Battle, faced Tresean Gore, who was his originally scheduled opponent in the TUF 29 finale, before Gore was forced to withdraw due to injury.

The commentary team for this card consisted of Brendan Fitzgerald, Paul Felder, and Michael Bisping. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Shavkat Rakhmonov and Chidi Njokuani. Julian Erosa received both Fight of the Night bonuses, as his opponent, Steven Peterson, missed weight.

QUICK RESULTS:

*Malcolm Gordon def. Denys Bondar by TKO at 1:22 of Round 1

*Philip Rowe def. Jason Witt by TKO at 2:15 of Round 2

*Jailton Almeida def. Danilo Marques by TKO at 2:57 of Round 1

*Alexis Davis def. Julija Stoliarenko by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 30-27)

*Chidi Njokuani def. Marc-Andre Barriault by TKO at 0:16 of Round 1

*Hakeem Dawodu def. Michael Trizano by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*John Castaneda def. Miles Johns by arm triangle at 1:38 of Round 3

*Julian Erosa def. Steven Peterson by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Bryan Battle def. Tresean Gore by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Brendan Allen def. Sam Alvey by rear-naked choke at 2:10 of Round 2

*Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Carlston Harris by KO at 4:10 of Round 1

*Nick Maximov def. Punahele Soriano by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)

*Sean Strickland def. Jack Hermansson by split decision (49-46, 49-46, 47-48)

MALCOLM GORDON (13-5, 126) VS DENYS BONDAR (14-2, 125) – FLYWEIGHT

In the opening minute of the fight, Gordon clipped Bondar with a combination of punches and was taken down in the process. Gordon threatened a triangle choke before switching to an armbar, which allowed him to scramble into top position, and during this sequence, Bondar posted up on his left arm in an awkward fashion, and all of his weight, as well as Gordons, came down on it. Bondar yelled out in pain, and the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Malcolm Gordon by TKO at 1:22 of Round 1

When Gordon attempted that armbar, he really extended the arm of Bondar, so that may very well have been what resulted in the injury, but as far as I can tell, it was that final post up on the arm that resulted in the stoppage. It was an unfortunate end to the first fight of the night, but even before the injury, Gordon was looking great, and almost by default I think you have to consider this to be his best performance thus far into his UFC run. He improved to 2-2 in the promotion with this win.

JASON WITT (19-7, 171) VS PHILIP ROWE (8-3, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT

Witt began the fight with a strong leg kick, before taking Rowe down near the cage. Witt was working from half guard, where he was able to just smother Rowe with his weight, allowing Rowe no opportunities to return to his feet. Witt was very inactive from top position, but the fighters were not stood up, and Witt took this round despite eating a left hook in the final seconds. 10-9 Witt.

Witt wasted very little time in shooting for another takedown, and once again, he was quickly able to drag Rowe down to the ground. Unlike the first round, however, Rowe was able to work his way back to the feet in about a minute, and he did not waste the opportunity. Rowe pressed forward and landed this beautiful three-punch combination that knocked Witt unconscious.

WINNER: Philip Rowe by TKO at 2:15 of Round 2

Despite losing the prior seven minutes of the fight decisively, Rowe looked fresh and confident when he returned to his feet in the second round, and the three-piece combination of strikes that ended the fight was just perfectly placed, each landing with tremendous power. Although he dropped his first fight in the UFC, Rowe has made an impression with strong finishes in his last two bouts, and this marked his biggest win to date, defeating a Jason Witt who came into this fight riding the highs of a strong victory of his own, a win over Bryan Barberena.

JAILTON ALMEIDA (14-2, 203) VS DANILO MARQUES (11-3, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Almeida quickly powered Marques to the ground, where he was able to work his way into side control. He proceeded to move into full mount, where he started throwing down brutal ground and pound shots. Marques held out for as long as he could but was ultimately unable to improve his position, and the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Jailton Almeida by TKO at 2:57 of Round 1

This was a tremendous performance from Jailton Almeida. The commentary team built him up as someone who fights with a similar style to that of Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Almeida really lived up to that comparison, with the pure dominance of his win here. This marked Almeida’s UFC debut and his 10th consecutive win. He called out Shogun Rua in his post-fight interview.

ALEXIS DAVIS (20-11, 135) VS JULIJA STOLIARENKO (9-5, 2 NC, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT

It took Davis less than ten seconds to take Stoliarenko down. Stoliarenko nearly locked in an armbar from her back, but Davis escaped and retained top position. Stoliarenko went right back to the armbar, but this time Davis was wise to it and landed some strong ground and pound strikes from on top. This sequence repeated itself before Stoliarenko landed an illegal up kick, which led to a momentary pause in the action. Referee Mark Smith made the choice not to take a point, and Davis controlled the remainder of the round from top position. 10-9 Davis.

Davis attacked the lead leg of Stoliarenko in the second round, while Stoliarenko responded with counters as Davis marched forward. At one point Stoliarenko landed this perfect head kick while circling that Davis just ate. Stoliarenko opened up a nasty cut on the right eye of Davis and seemed to be getting the better of these striking exchanges in my eyes. The entirety of the round played out like this, and I thought Stoliarenko did enough to tie things up on the scorecards. 19-19.

A heavy leg kick from Davis brought Stoliarenko to the ground in the opening minute of round three, and Davis followed her down, taking top position. Much like the first round, Davis did not give up top control, and rode out the round in this position, while defending Stoliarenko’s attempts to set up an armbar. 29-28 Davis.

WINNER: Alexis Davis by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 30-27)

The fight was a bit closer than the scorecards indicate, but I agreed with Davis getting the nod. Stoliarenko was active off of her back in the first round, however, Davis never gave up top position, and dealt more than enough damage to secure the round in my mind. Two of the judges saw round three as a 10-8 round as well, which was fair considering the damage Davis did in the final minute. Regardless, this was a strong win for the former title challenger, and she is now 8-6 in the UFC.

CHIDI NJOKUANI (20-7, 1 NC, 185) VS MARC-ANDRE BARRIAULT (13-4, 1 NC, 184.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT

Just seconds into the fight, Njokuani followed up a jab with a right hand that dropped Barriault hard, and he immediately followed Barriault to the ground, finishing the fight with ground and pound.

WINNER: Chidi Njokuani by TKO at 0:16 of Round 1

The broadcast listed this as the second quickest finish for a fighter making their UFC debut, although there was some debate regarding this statistic online. Either way. Njokuani really just landed the perfect shot here, and he became the first fighter to finish Barriault with this stoppage. Njokuani’s promotional debut really could not have gone any better than this, and he is now on a three-fight win streak, his longest streak of wins since his loss to Andrey Koreshkov in the main event of Bellator 182, back in 2017.

HAKEEM DAWODU (12-2-1, 146) VS MICHAEL TRIZANO (9-1, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT

The fighters traded jabs and calf kicks to begin the fight. Dawodu was landing with a bit more power, but they exchanged shots at a fairly even rate throughout the early goings of this bout. The calf kicks from Dawodu piled on as the round progressed, but they did not appear to be affecting Trizano much, at least at this point in the fight. Both men ended the round by throwing heavy right hands. 10-9 Dawodu.

Dawodu snapped Trizano’s head back with a hard shot in the second round. Trizano fired right back with a left hand, and Dawodu pushed him to the cage momentarily as he took a moment to recover. Trizano continued to look for that left hook after finding a home for it earlier in the round, and this really prompted Dawodu to commit to fighting him against the cage, as opposed to at range, where he was content to prior. Regardless. Dawodu likely took this round based on offensive activity alone, and I had him up 20-18 on the scorecards going into the final round.

Trizano switched things up in the third round by taking Dawodu down, but Dawodu quickly returned to his feet and created separation between the fighters. For the next couple minutes, Dawodu attacked Trizano in the clinch, where he landed numerous hard knees to the body. Trizano was never really able to get going in this round, and the fight went the distance. 30-27 Dawodu.

WINNER: Hakeem Dawodu by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Dawodu fought his fight for fifteen minutes, and despite a strong effort from Trizano, I don’t think Dawodu ever seemed to be in danger of falling behind in this one. Dawodu was constantly active offensively throughout this fight, and he really attacked the legs and body (as well as the head), giving Trizano a great deal to worry about. Dawodu improved to 6-2 in the UFC with this win and gave a shoutout to his fellow Canadians on this card in his post-fight interview.

MILES JOHNS (12-1, 135.5) VS JOHN CASTANEDA (18-5, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT

Johns was finding a home for his heavy right hand early in the first round. There wasn’t a ton of activity on either side, as both men seemed to be looking for that one big fight-ending shot. Castaneda landed a quick hook that Johns responded to with a much heavier shot of his own. This was a tough round to score, but I gave it to Castaneda based on activity.

Moments into the second round, Johns was caught by a kick that landed low, resulting in a momentary pause to the bout. When the fight resumed, Johns flurried forward with a combination of punches. Castaneda was largely able to avoid the shots, and began applying forward pressure once more, landing a head kick as Johns went on the retreat. As the round progressed, Johns was beginning to look a bit off as he circled the cage, and the commentary team speculated that he may have been hurt or tired by this point. A right hand from Castaneda wobbled Johns, and he immediately chased Johns to the ground, where he began to work from half guard. Castaneda allowed Johns back to his feet with thirty seconds remaining in the round, and he landed a few more shots before time expired.

Castaneda hurt Johns with another right hook early in round three. He pressured forward in pursuit of a finish, and a knee to the head sent Johns to the ground. Castaneda followed him down, where he quickly locked in an arm triangle, choking Johns unconscious.

WINNER: John Castaneda by arm triangle at 1:38 of Round 3

Castaneda’s constant pressure throughout this bout was remarkable. John’s corner was imploring him to move forward, but Castaneda refused to take a step back, and when he began to piece together his combinations, he began to take over this fight. In Castaneda’s post-fight interview, he stated that this was the final fight on his UFC contract, but given how impressive he’s looked throughout this last two bouts, I daresay that we will see considerably more of him in the UFC.

JULIAN EROSA (26-9, 145.5) VS STEVEN PETERSON (19-9, 149) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Peterson missed weight by 3lbs and was fined 30% of his purse.

Peterson’s game plan was clearly to take Erosa down in this fight and immediately went for a takedown, to no success. Erosa threw combinations to the body while moving forwards, backing Peterson into the cage. Erosa was having a ton of success on the feet, seemingly having an advantage in speed. Peterson was caught by a strong combination near the end of the round that appeared to rock him, but time expired before Erosa could capitalize. 10-9 Erosa.

Peterson seemed to have recovered between rounds, but Erosa went right back on the attack when the second round began. Peterson was bleeding from his nose, but he was beginning to find success on the feet himself, landing numerous hard right hands as Erosa pressed forwards. Peterson began to throw that right hand over and over, and it just kept landing, eventually rocking Erosa badly. For a moment, it appeared as though Erosa was out on his feet, but he threw a desperation spinning back fist that landed cleanly, and he knocked Peterson down in the process. The fighters continued to brawl, with Peterson defending Erosa’s attempts to take him down. Peterson landed a head kick that caught Erosa, and they exchanged hard shot before the round ended. This was a tremendous round. 19-19.

Erosa changed levels for a takedown early in round three but was nearly caught in a guillotine choke in the process. He escaped the submission, and the fighters returned to their feet with just over three minutes remaining. Peterson was tagging Erosa with hard one-two’s and knocked him off balance with a leg kick as well. Erosa connected with a heavy right hand as he pressed forward, yelling at Peterson as they traded shots. In the final minute, Erosa took Peterson back down, where he landed strong ground and pound until the final ten seconds, where Peterson scrambled to his feet. Erosa (naturally) ended the bout with a rolling thunder kick. 29-28 Erosa.

WINNER: Julian Erosa by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

This may have been the best fight of the year to this point. Erosa started the fight off strongly, but Peterson began to take over as the second round began, and just when it looked like he was about to finish Erosa, Erosa threw a complete desperation spinning backfist that landed flush, allowing him to mount a remarkable comeback, finishing the third round strongly. Unfortunately for Peterson, his weight miss resulted in him being ineligible for any post-fight bonuses, but as Paul Felder said on commentary, Erosa was certainly deserving of the full 100k for this performance. If you missed this card, go back and check this fight out.

TRESEAN GORE (3-0, 186) VS BRYAN BATTLE (6-1, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT

Gore and Battle were jawing at each other from across the cage while they were being introduced. Gore pressed forward as the fight began, working his jab while throwing hard high kicks. The fighters exchanged leg kicks, with Battle seemingly getting the better of the exchanges. As the round progressed, Battle really began to pull ahead on activity, but Gore was still throwing with a great deal of power whenever he let loose. In the final seconds, Gore landed a hard combination that knocked Battles mouthpiece out, and they talked trash to each other for some time after the horn sounded. 10-9 Battle.

Gore began the second round with a bit more aggression, but Battle was giving him a ton of issues with his constant activity despite being on the backfoot. Gore buckled the legs of Battle with a vicious hook that landed flush, and this repeated itself moments later after Gore backed Battle into the cage yet again. Gore defended a takedown from Battle following a quick combination of strikes, but Battle was successful in wrapping Gore up against the cage. Gore threatened a standing guillotine choke, which allowed him to take Battle down, and he ended the round on top. 19-19 on my scorecard.

Battle’s right eye had swollen shut between rounds, and he was quickly taken down to start the third round. Battle returned to his feet and looked for a takedown of his own, but he was unsuccessful, and Gore landed a big combination before Battle broke away. Battle threw a quick combination and shot for another takedown to no success. Battle racked up a sizeable amount of control time against the cage, largely preventing Gore from landing any of those bombs he found a home for in the second round. This was a very close round, but I gave the slightest of edges to Bryan Battle. 29-28 Battle.

WINNER: Bryan Battle by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

This was the originally scheduled finale for the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter, but Gore was forced to withdraw from the fight due to injury. Instead, Battle won the season by defeating Gilbert Urbina, who Gore had previously knocked out in the tournament. Thus, this fight was advertised as the “true” Ultimate Fighter finale, and Battle brought his trophy into the cage following his win. I thought both men looked decent given their level of experience, but naturally, both men have a lot of improvements that they’ll need to make to their respective games in order to climb the middleweight ladder.

SAM ALVEY (33-16-1, 1 NC, 205) VS BRENDAN ALLEN (17-5, 205) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Allen landed a pair of body shots to begin the fight. Alvey swung wildly in the pocket, backing Allen off, and Allen proceeded to shoot for a takedown that Alvey defended. Alvey was doing a good job of countering Allen on his way in, which deterred Allen from fighting with much aggression as the round progressed. The commentary team eventually got bored of the fight and began plugging their respective shows and podcasts on the broadcast. Towards the end of the round, Allen knocked Alvey down with a right hand, stealing the round back.

Allen took control of the fight with a number of high kicks, that was largely blocked by Alvey. Eventually, Allen rushed in and landed a brutal left hook that dropped Alvey, and he immediately followed Alvey to the ground, where he locked in a rear-naked choke and finished the fight.

WINNER: Brendan Allen by rear-naked choke at 2:10 of Round 2

Despite taking this fight on just a few day’s notice and coming into this fight off of a stoppage loss, Allen was the biggest betting favorite on this card, and he made good on those odds by stopping Alvey with relative ease here. Alvey is now 0-7-1 throughout his last eight fights, which is tied for the longest winless skid in the history of the UFC, and one has to imagine that this is it for him in the promotion. Of course, I believe I have said that exact same thing after his last two losses, so perhaps we will see him again in the UFC octagon. Regardless, this was an ideal way to bounce back from a tough loss for Allen, and his UFC record is now 6-2 following this win.

SHAVKAT RAKHMONOV (14-0, 170.5) VS CARLSTON HARRIS (17-4, 169) – WELTERWEIGHT

Rakhmonov landed a spin kick to the body before rocking Harris with a hook. Rahmonov followed him to the cage, where he began to pursue a takedown. Harris defended well, and the fighters spent the next few minutes battling in the clinch against the cage. Eventually, Rakhmonov succeeded in taking Harris down, but Harris popped right back up, and the fight resumed on the feet. Rakhmonov proceeded to throw a wheel kick that knocked Harris down, and he immediately started throwing down brutal ground and pound shots, knocking Harris out cold.

WINNER: Shavkat Rakhmonov by KO at 4:10 of Round 1

Fifteen fights. Fifteen finishes. Shavkat Rakhmonov is the real deal, and with three highlight finishes over three tough opponents, I think he’s officially your top unranked prospect at welterweight. The finish here was beautiful, and I believe the next time Rakhmonov fights, there will be considerably more attention on him than there has been for his prior bouts in the promotion.

PUNAHELE SORIANO (8-1, 185) VS NICK MAXIMOV (7-0, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT

Maximov threw a right hand before shooting for a takedown, which Soriano defended well, resulting in a stalemate position on the ground. The fighters returned to the feet, where Soriano cracked Maximov with a quick combination, as well as a knee to the head that busted him open. Maximov took the back of Soriano in a standing position, and he began to crank the neck, Demian Maia style. Soriano was eventually able to shake him off and ended the round with ground and pound. 10-9 Soriano.

There was a very impressive scramble to begin the second round, which ultimately resulted in both fighters returning to their feet. Soriano started fighting aggressively, but this allowed Maximov to change levels and wrap Soriano up momentarily. Soriano went right back on the attack after breaking away, landing a hard body shot that forced Maximov to shoot again. He was successful this time, and Maximov controlled Soriano against the cage for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Soriano.

Maximov quickly brought the fight back to the ground in round three. Soriano seemed to be drained of energy by this point in the fight, and Maximov was effectively rag-dolling him. The commentary team speculated that Soriano may have injured his knee at one point in the bout as well, and he did appear to be having trouble putting weight on his left leg. Regardless, this was a clear round for Maximov, but I scored the fight 29-28 for Soriano.

WINNER: Nick Maximov by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)

I wasn’t surprised to see that the scorecards were all over the place for this one. While the final round can only be scored for Maximov, both of the first two rounds were very closely contested. I gave the edge to Soriano based on damage, but I had no issues with Maximov getting his arm raised here either. Maximov improved to 2-0 in the UFC with this win, extending his undefeated record to 8-0 professionally.

JACK HERMANSSON (22-6, 185.5) VS SEAN STRICKLAND (24-3, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT

The fighters touched gloves to begin the main event. Both fighters worked their jab before Strickland defended a takedown attempt. The majority of the round looked like this, with neither man really pulling ahead with their striking. Strickland began to put a bit more behind his shots towards the end of the round, but Hermansson seemed to be slightly busier. Rounds really don’t get much tougher to score than this. 10-9 Hermansson.

The fight continued at a similar pace in round two. Strickland was very patient offensively, and Strickland was spending a lot of time swinging at air. Hermansson threw a solid combination of punches that found their target and followed it up with a kick to the body. Strickland continued to find success with his jab but was not following it up with much. Right at the end of the round, Strickland threw a hook that knocked Hermansson off balance, but it looked enough like a knockdown that the judges may have very well been swayed. 19-19.

Hermansson continued to attack the lead leg of Strickland in round three, while largely missing on his attempted shots to the head. I thought Strickland was finding a home for his shots with a bit more regularity, but if he was ahead, it wasn’t by much. Strickland’s jab was the difference-maker, and I scored this round for him as well. 29-28 Strickland.

The broadcast had Hermansson’s accuracy for attempted strikes to the head at about 10% by this point in the fight, which seemed about right. Strickland defended another takedown attempt and just kept working his jab. Hermansson was unable to make any adjustments to his game, resulting in another round in which Strickland easily outstruck him. 39-37 Strickland.

Hermansson was likely in need of a finish in this final round and was a bit more aggressive to begin this round as a result. Still, he was missing the majority of what he was throwing, and Strickland was never really in any significant danger. Strickland continued to fight at his pace, worked his jab, and the fight went the distance. This was Hermansson’s best round since the first, but it was too little too late. 49-46 Strickland on my scorecard.

WINNER: Sean Strickland by split decision (49-46, 49-46, 47-48)

Strickland fought his style of fight, at his pace for twenty-five minutes, and Hermansson just couldn’t beat Strickland at his own game. I can’t believe one judge saw this fight for Jack Hermansson. We are all prone to hyperbole immediately after the thing in question occurs, but 48-47 Hermansson is really an all-timer for bad scorecards. Scoring controversies aside; this was not the most entertaining fight, but Strickland showcased some very impressive takedown defense throughout this bout, and in many ways, this is his biggest win to date. Now riding a six-fight win streak, Strickland is a genuine contender at middleweight and used his post-fight interview to call for a fight against the winner of the Adesanya/Whittaker rematch next week.

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