Both fighters rely heavily on intangibles and scrappiness to win, which makes this a bit tricky to predict. It should be a high paced fight with bath fighters scoring regular offense. Strickland has edges in durability, speed and athleticism which will likely be difference makers. Hermansson meanwhile has the advantages in finishing ability and pure power. It makes for an interesting dynamic that should be a fun one to watch.
On the feet, it’s hard to overlook the potential for Strickland’s crisp jab here. Hermansson moves forward regularly and does so in a straight line. Strickland should be able to pepper him with the jab early and often. If so, that will stifle Jack’s offense and cause his attacks to become more desperate. Pocket exchanges are a concern given the defensive issues of Strickland and the sneaky power of his opponent, but if he can keep distance and land long strikes, Sean has a clear path to victory.
Clinches and ground-work are where Hermansson will find his most success. The clinch should be a fairly neutral position but “The Joker” can use those opportunities for trip takedowns, pulling guard or leg lock attempts. His best takedowns come from the body lock position with double under hooks and he’s capable of taking down better wrestlers from there. Focusing primarily on defense from the clinch position would be wise from Sean. Creating space and distance in general would be a smart tactical decision. It’s a high-risk area where Strickland needs to be cautious whether Hermansson is fresh or fatigued.
The same is true should the fight hit the floor. Strickland can wrestle and grapple fairly well, but the ground is certainly the most dangerous realm for him here. Even from top position, he must be highly aware of submission attempts and sweeps from the bottom. Hermansson likely won’t get top position himself unless it’s via a scramble and will resort to various guard pulls or drop downs. He’ll even go for a low percentage submission attempt as an opportunity to end up on top. Strickland should be able to avoid these situations if he’s paying attention but one lapse in judgement or focus could spell disaster.
Down the stretch, Strickland should have at least a small edge in the cardio department. His superior durability means he’s likely to get hurt less along the way as well, which should keep him fresher for longer. Volume advantages also go to Sean, which is an important factor in wining rounds in the judges’ eyes. Strickland isn’t a particularly strong puncher, but if he lands enough volume over enough time, it could lead to a TKO stoppage.
We’ve seen Hermansson can win a five round decision when he bested Jacare Souza, but that was a completely different dynamic where Jack had a significant cardio advantage. In a matchup against Strickland, who holds the cardio edge over him, I expect Hermansson to get worn down and possibly sloppy down the stretch. The longer this goes, the more it should favor Strickland.
That said, finishing ability clearly favors Hermansson and he could easily be losing every step of this fight before uncorking a Hail Mary submission. Regardless of what round it is and how well he’s performing, Strickland has to remain on point for the entire duration. This is a significant concern to me given that he’s had momentarily lapses in the past and isn’t exactly known for brilliant fight IQ, but I still see enough advantages that I have to favor him to win. It’s not a particularly confident pick but I do have to go with Strickland by decision. I expect some fun exchanges and possibly a close round or two, but overrall Sean’s small edges should add up to a victory.
Sean Strickland -220