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UFC Fight Night: Hermansson v Pyfer Predictions

Lethal rising star Joe Pyfer looks to punch his ticket into the middleweight top 10 when he goes head-to-head with divisional stalwart Jack Hermansson in UFC Vegas 85’s headliner on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.


Lethal rising star Joe Pyfer looks to punch his ticket into the middleweight top 10 when he goes head-to-head with divisional stalwart Jack Hermansson in UFC Vegas 85’s headliner on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Featherweights are featured in the co-main event at the APEX with hard-hitting Dan Ige facing Andre Fili, while lightweight veteran Michael Johnson returns to duke it out against Darrius Flowers.

Aside from the main event, there are three further fights at 185 pounds on the main card with the debuting Robert Bryczek battling Ihor Potieria, Brad Tavares taking on Gregory Rodrigues and Rodolfo Vieira squaring off against Armen Petrosyan.

MAIN CARD (from 2 AM Sunday SA time):

Jack Hermansson (3.10) v Joe Pyfer (1.38) (Middleweight)

Pyfer (12-2) is potent. A human highlight reel, he’s only gone to a decision twice in his career and that was early on in his mixed martial arts journey.

Since blowing Dana White away on the Contender Series to earn a UFC contract in July 2022, “Bodybagz” has blazed a fiery trail through the Octagon and left three casualties in his wake.

He knocked out both Alen Amedovski and Gerald Meerschaert in the opening round and submitted Abdul Razak Alhassan in the second. His flair for finishes has earned him a crack at one of the division’s elites and his first UFC main event this weekend.

Serving as his litmus test is No. 10-ranked Hermansson (23-8), who has a point to prove as well. The Swede has secured wins over notable opponents like Chris Curtis, Edmen Shahbazyan and Kelvin Gastelum over the course of his near-eight-year tenure in the UFC and is champing at the bit to remind everyone of his class as he returns after being kept out of the Octagon for the entire 2023 because of injury.

The last time we saw “The Joker”, he lost a decision to Roman Dolidze in December 2022. While both men are well-rounded, there’s a real sense that Hermansson’s time is up and Pyfer’s time is now.

The younger man by eight years, Pyfer (27) is too explosive for his veteran and potentially rusty rival and is poised to pick up the biggest win of his career.   

Prediction: Pyfer by stoppage.

Best Bet: Pyfer by KO/TKO/submission/DQ at 1.57.

Alternative Bet: Pyfer by KO/TKO/DQ at 2.00.

Dan Ige (1.58) v Andre Fili (2.42) (Featherweight)

Replacing an injured Lerone Murphy on roughly three weeks’ notice, Fili (23-10) takes his shot at breaking into the featherweight top 15 against No. 13-ranked Ige (17-7).

Both men are veterans with Fili making a quick turnaround after scoring a first-round knockout win over Lucas Almeida last December. It was his 10th career KO, while he also has three submissions to his name.

His double-tough opponent, though, has never been finished. “Touchy” is successful when he leads the dance, but when he’s forced on the back foot, he leaves openings.

Ige (17-7) has wicked one-punch knockout power but doesn’t overly rely on it. Instead, he goes to work behind an excellent jab and stays in your face with technical and tireless striking.

“50k” is well-rounded with his 10 finishes split right down the middle between knockouts and submissions and has faced some of the division’s finest, giving him an invaluable advantage in elite-level experience.

With Fili coming in on short notice, Ige is primed to push the pace to sap his gas tank, which could lead to a TKO. I can also see him winning a decision, so I’m content going with the moneyline. 

Prediction: Ige by TKO.

Best Bet: Ige at 1.58.

Alternative Bet: Ige by KO/TKO/DQ at 3.50.

Robert Bryczek (1.50) v Ihor Potieria (2.64) (Middleweight)

In another case of a late switch-up, Potieria (20-5) on Tuesday stepped in for Albert Duraev due to the latter having visa issues. It leaves the Ukrainian at a serious disadvantage, with his opponent having had a full camp, and he’s likely going to come out all gun’s blazing hoping for an early finish.

Poland’s Bryczek (17-5) enters his UFC debut on a five-fight win streak, with all five victories coming in the first round. A good striker who clearly doesn’t work by the hour, he has 11 knockouts in all.

Not only is Potieria coming in a less than a week’s notice but he’s also dropping down to middleweight for the first time, a 20-pound move south prompted by a 1-3 run at light heavyweight that saw all four fights finish inside the distance.

His experience is the only advantage “The Duelist” has given the circumstances. It’s very much a gamble on his part, one that’s likely to blow up in his face.

Prediction: Bryczek by knockout.

Best Bet: Bryczek at 1.50.

Alternative Bet: Bryczek by KO/TKO/DQ at 1.62.

Brad Tavares (2.95) v Gregory Rodrigues (1.42) (Middleweight)

A 14-year UFC veteran, Tavares (20-8) has mixed it up with some of the biggest names in the middleweight division.

He was the first and is one of just two men to go the distance with South Africa’s first-ever UFC champion Dricus du Plessis and beat former 185-pound king Chris Weidman last time out to arrest a two-fight losing streak. The Hawaiian has always lacked stopping power and killer instinct. His striking is crisp and he relies on his fight IQ and output.

In contrast, Rodrigues (14-5) – who’s won three of his last four – packs a serious punch. He’s earned finishes in each of his last four victories, including his epic comeback win over Chidi Njokuani in 2022, and has 12 stoppages in total (nine knockouts and three submissions).

While Rodriguez is rightly the favourite, the line surprised me. Tavares is a tough and technical veteran, so it’s unlikely that “Robocop” will walk through him. Instead, he should win on the scorecards.

Prediction: Rodrigues by decision.

Best Bet: Rodrigues by decision at 2.75.

Alternative Bet: Rodrigues at 1.42.

Michael Johnson (1.74) v Darrius Flowers (2.14) (Lightweight)

Octagon veteran Johnson (21-19) crosses paths with promotional greenhorn Flowers (12-6-1) at lightweight.

Johnson has been around forever and has massive wins over the likes of Edson Barboza, former interim champion Tony Ferguson and perennial top contender Dustin Poirier. However, at 37, his best days are behind him as is reflected by his 2-6 return in his last eight fights.

“The Menace” still has fast hands, which, coupled with his vast experience, makes him the slight favourite to bounce back from a vicious knockout loss to Carlos Ferreira.

A four-fight win streak earned Flowers a call to make his UFC debut on short notice against Jake Matthews last July. Looking undersized at welterweight, he wound up being submitted and has decided to move down to lightweight for the first time.

“Beast Mode” can crack (he boasts eight knockouts), but it remains to be seen how much the weight cut takes out of him. He’s also likely to struggle with the faster pace at 155 pounds, which makes Johnson the smart bet. 

Prediction: Johnson by decision.

Best Bet: Johnson at 1.74.

Alternative Bet: Johnson by decision at 5.50.

Rodolfo Vieira (1.86) v Armen Petrosyan (1.95) (Middleweight)

The main card gets underway with a classic striker and grappler battle. Petrosyan (8-2) has earned six of his wins by knockout while all but one of Vieira’s (9-2) wins are by submission.

“Superman” is slick on the feet with solid combinations. With a two-inch reach advantage, he will have no choice but to engage and lateral movement will be key for him to avoid being taken down.

Vieira is no ordinary submission artist. The man known as “The Black Belt Hunter” is a multi-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and has probably forgotten more about grappling than his opponent has learned.

Quite simply, this fight will come down to whether Petrosyan can keep things standing. Seeing as though he has a lowly 36% takedown defence, the odds are in Vieira’s favour for good reason.

Prediction: Vieira by submission.

Best Bet: Vieira by submission at 2.65.

Alternative Bet: Vieira at 1.86.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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