The UFC is back, and I’m almost recovered from 2 week hiatus from combat sports. One FC provided me with enough sustenance for the time being, but the big boys are back, and with them they bring a Fight Night card that is deceptively stacked. UFC Fight Night 200: Hermansson vs Strickland is set to start at 9pm this Saturday night, with the main card beginning at 12am Sunday morning.
In response to my last predictions piece for UFC 270, I’ve decided to break this article into two pieces: prelims, and main card. I wrote over 3,000 words for UFC 270, it was over 15 pages long, I think it will help my headspace to break this event into two articles. Going forward I’m going to be breaking my predictions into sections, this also allows me to get a better understanding of the fighters I’m discussing.
Here are links to each section if you are interested!
Starting at the bottom!
UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Strickland – Early Prelims Predictions
Malcolm Gordon vs Denys Bondar
Malcolm Gordon welcomes a UFC newcomer to the mix, in a fight which could determine whether he stays on the UFC roster or not. Gordon has had an unfortunately unimpressive run in the UFC so far, going 1-2 and being finished in those two losses, and is most recently coming off of a victory over Figgy’s brother, Francisco Figueiredo, who is quite lacklustre himself.
Gordon is hard to judge, whenever I’ve seen him fight, he has an air of caution that borders on anxiety, like a form of stage fright but for the UFC. This was especially apparent in his fight with Su Mudaerji, where Gordon looked completely helpless only 30 seconds into the fight! He seemed to give up. Whatever the case, I just hope a replenished Gordon shows up in this fight, It’s his time to prove himself against a tough newcomer.
Gordon’s opponent Denys “Psycho” Bondar, a hard-as-nails Ukrainian with a boatload of fight experience (14-2 professional, 12-2 amateur), hopes to impress the UFC with a finish of Gordon in his debut . Bondar hasn’t won a fight by decision so far, finishing every victory, and he rides an 8 fight finish streak into his UFC debut, it spells all sorts of trouble for Gordon.
I think that the toolset and experience that Bondar brings into the fight will hold him the edge over Gordon. The only element I have Gordon holding an advantage in is the UFC experience. Gordon has struggled with aggressive fighters, and looked like he didn’t belong against the likes of Mudaerji. Maybe I’m wrong, but I anticipate Bondar will run through Gordon this Saturday night.
My pick – Bondar by KO/TKO
Jason Witt vs Philip Rowe
An interesting matchup as we see Jason Witt with plenty of fight experience, fighting a relatively fresh opponent in Philip Rowe. This is a classic case of fighter with lots of experience and victories over legit opponents, fighting the new guy that finishes everybody.
Witt comes into this fight at 19-7, with a notable win over Bryan Barbarena in his last fight. Witt is susceptible to being knocked out, with KO/TKO losses accounting for 71% of his defeats. Knockouts being something that Rowe has a specialty for, Rowe has finished 100% of his fights, with a perfect 50/50 split between knockouts and submissions.
Rowe, a BJJ brown belt, has competed in professional grappling as well as kickboxing. Most notably, Rowe has grappled against Gordan Ryan, and Gabriel Checco. So Rowe isn’t a one dimensional fighter here, and should prove to be a real threat on the ground as well as the feet.
This is the proving ground for Philip Rowe to build some real momentum, and the UFC is giving him a decent name to build a win from. Rowe has all the tools to win this fight, and I’m in favour of him potentially submitting Witt, if not knocking him out.
My pick – Rowe by Finish
Jailton Almeida vs Danilo Marques
Here we see two Brazilian Light Heavyweight units clash in a fight that Marques hopefully doesn’t ruin. Danilo Marques lost my fanfare when he decided to become a 6’6 human rucksack against Kennedy Nzechukwu for 2.5 rounds of their fight, before inexplicably getting clobbered and finished on his feet. It was truly one of the worst fights I’d ever seen. It was the type of shit fight that would come on whenever I tried to convince my friends to watch MMA. Watching Danilo try to wet blanket Kennedy like he did seriously has me rooting for Jailton to finish him in this fight.
DWCS’ Jailton Almeida is a submission specialist with a 100% finishing rate in his 14 victories. I hope his grappling skills are enough to nullify the offense of Marques, because I seriously want to see him win.
My pick – Almeida by finish
Alexis Davis vs Julija Stoliarenko
Alexis Davis has fought the who’s who of women’s MMA. A few names on her resumé are: Ronda Rousey (L), Liz Carmouche (W x2), Amanda Nunes (who she knocked out?!), Tonya Evinger (W), and Katlyn Chookagian (L). It’s a really impressive resumé considering the depth of WMMA, two wins over Carmouche, and a (dated) victory over Amanda Nunes are nothing to sniff your nose up at.
Her opponent, Julia Stoliarenko, hails from Lithuania and has a modest record of 9-5-2, with an 89% finish rate by submission. Alexis is 37 years old now, and probably on the decline, but she’s still only losing to the biggest names in WMMA, and her ONLY submission loss was back in 2016, she hasn’t been finished since.
I think Davis holds enough of an experience advantage over Stoliarenko to completely shut down her game, unless Stoliarenko is a grappling phenom I’m unaware of. I see Davis grinding out a decision.
My pick – Davis by UD
Chidi Njokuani vs Marc-Andre Barriault
I’m really liking the matchmaking on this card so far. Chidi Njokuani is a Dana White’s Contender’s Series alumni making his UFC debut. He’s a tall middleweight standing at 6’3, and apart from some high tier losses to Rafael Carvalho, John Salter and Andrey Koreshkov, he’s on an absolute tear. Njokuani holds some legit wins over fighters like Melvin Guillard, Max Griffin and Andre Fialho. The latter of which, Fialho, really impressed me in his performance against Michel Pereira at UFC 270 the other week.
Chidi certainly has the finishing ability, but so does Barriault, with an impressive 69% finishing rate in his 13 wins, all by TKO/KO. Barriault has had a tough run in the UFC, with back-to-back-to-back losses to Andrew Sanchez, Krzysztof Jotko, and Jun Yong Park, before a No-Contest against Oskar Piechota in which Barriault tested positive for ostarine. Barriault has since gotten victories over Abu Azaitar (brother of Ottoman), and Dalcha Lungiambula.
I think that with Barriault’s sketchy record, and Chidi’s toolset, Chidi should be able to take this fight. He’s a very long fighter, with all the tools needed to punish an opponent like Barriault. He also has the high profile wins to bolster his chances.
My pick – Njokuani by finish
Hakeem Dawodu vs Michael Trizano
Here we get into the juicy fights of the card. ‘Mean’ Hakeem Dawodu is a dark horse in the featherweight division. Dawodu has some of the most underrated striking in the division, his Muay Thai skills are exceptional, but what’s more impressive is his ability to rack up the wins in a division against stylistic matchups that don’t favour his stand and bang style. Dawodu has proven his place in the pack with victories over Zubaira Tukhugov and Julio Arce, and he had a fairly competitive fight against Movsar Evloev last June. It’s fair to say that Dawodu is fearsome on the feet, and he is one of the main reasons I’m tuning in this Saturday.
Dawodu’s opponent Michael Trizano is a very well rounded fighter with a wealth of experience. Trizano hails from TUF 27, and including his TUF finale debut, has gone 3-1 in the UFC. Trizano isn’t a finisher, with most of his fights ending by decision, but he is a legitimate submission threat, and has a bunch of submission finishes prior to his pro debut.
This is where the styles come into play. Trizano doesn’t have the finishing ability to threaten Dawodu on the feet, and Dawodu has fought some monster grapplers in his last few fights, so this shouldn’t trouble him either. Best case scenario is that this fight stays on the feet and we see a striking clinic from Dawodu. If Trizano resorts to grappling, I see Dawodu denying any attempts and cruising to a comfortable UD win.
My pick – Dawodu by UD
Miles Johns vs John Castaneda
Miles Johns has been delivering lately, with two flush KO wins in his last two fights. Johns is an extremely well rounded fighter, with good striking and grappling, he walks down his opponents and his in-fight composure is exceptional. Johns has had a great UFC tenure, only dropping one fight to a perfect flying knee at the (knee?) hands of Mario Bautista back in 2020. That was an unlucky loss, and can be put down to bad fight IQ from Johns who was warned by his corner about dropping his head. Since that flash defeat, Johns has looked in good form.
John Castaneda should be a tough fight for Johns, whilst both men are 5’7, Castaneda has a lankier frame and a higher finishing potential. I think that albeit Johns has less fights overall than Castaneda, he holds an advantage in the fact he’s fought higher tier opposition in the UFC, It’s a tough one to call, but I have Johns.
My pick – Miles Johns by UD
And that’s it for the UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs Strickland Prelims! If you’d like to read my picks for the main card, click here!
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Mathew is a UK-based combat sports journalist. He currently works for MMA Knockout, part of the Sports Illustrated FanNation network. The Fight Fanatic is Mathew’s one-man operation. His past bylines include Heavy on UFC, Sportskeeda, and MMA UK.
Contact Mathew via Twitter or through [email protected]