Sunday, May 28th, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden for UFC Fight Night 109: “Gustafsson vs Teixeira” by Daniel Tom

The opinions expressed in this free content are for entertainment purposes only, as my goal here is to provide analysis for those who enjoy the technical or gaming aspects of our sport. If you choose to gamble, I recommend doing so responsibly and legally as it is at your own risk. Enjoy the fights!

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Alexander Gustafsson (17-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 30 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 79″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Jan Blachowicz (9-3-16)
  • Camp: Allstars Training Center (Sweden)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Amateur Boxing Experience
+   10 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   3 Submission wins
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   Superb cardio & conditioning
+   Good footwork / moves well
+   High volume puncher
^   Accurate jabs, hooks, & uppercuts
+   Dangerous knees
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Improved takedown ability
+   Solid top game / pressure
+   Good get-up urgency

Glover Teixeira (26-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 37 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Jared Cannonier (2-11-17)
  • Camp: Teixiera MMA (Danbury, CT)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   16 KO victories
+   17 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Solid boxing technique
^   Accurate R.hand—L. hook
+   Good economy of movement
^   Rarely throws self out of position
+   Works well off single-legs
+   Underrated wrestling ability
+   Improved get-up urgency
^   Uses under-hooks or turtles out
–    Struggles against the fence


The main event in Stockholm features a fun fight between top-ranked light heavyweights as Alexander Gustafsson squares off with Glover Teixeira.

Coming in as the division’s number one contender, Alexander Gustafsson has saddled back up for another run toward the title. But before he can get another shot, he’ll first have to get past the most dangerous Brazilian in the division.

A longtime veteran at light heavyweight, Glover Teixeira has shown he still has what it takes to stay on top as he is currently the number two man in the division. Seeking one more shot at the top, Teixeira will now have a chance to unseat the fighter ahead of him.

Starting off on the feet, we will likely be in store for a fun fight between two talented strikers who express themselves in different ways within the cage.

Moving deceptively well for a tall fighter, Gustafsson demonstrates a superb fleet-of-foot as he maintains the overall discipline of his footwork round by round. Working behind a steady dose of long jabs and corralling hooks, the Swede will sneak in uppercuts underneath or crosses over the shoulder amidst his waves of offense.

A more traditional stalker, Teixeira will steadily come forward as he looks to ply pressure, pushing his opponent back and forcing them to answer. Often starting the party with a lead right hand, the Brazilian will bait his opposition into exchanging as he keeps his cleanup-hitting left hook at the ready.

Although Teixeira will seldom throw himself out of position, it is when throwing his lead cross where the Brazilian tends to lean forward and expose himself to uppercuts and left hands. Even if these may be small openings I am referring to, leading off with your power hand is a tactic where the risk only increases with age as it is timing based.

Despite Gustafsson having an accurate right-hand and uppercut to boot, I feel that his left hand may be the weapon to watch for in this fight.

With Teixeira having a tendency to lead with his right, left hooks are often his common culprit in exchanges as he tends to get clipped with checks or collisions(as seen in his fights with Jones, Bader, and to an extent, Johnson).

Though I give a slight edge standing to Gustafsson, the Swede will need to be careful anytime he plays along the outside as Teixeira tends to push for takedowns whenever he can get his opponents to the fence.

Whether he is shooting traditional double-legs or running his chains off of his favored head-outside single, Teixeira should be more than able to take Gustafsson down on paper.

That said, wrestling has been the biggest area of improvement for the Swede in recent years. Once again employing the services of his old training partner and friend, Phil Davis, I imagine Gustafsson may surprise many with his defensive tactics and skills.

Despite his long and gangly frame, Gustafsson also keeps a tight top game as he applies good shoulder pressure and fundamentals. Those fundamentals translate to his work inside the guard, as Gustafsson is good about keeping his hands off the mat and maintains a safe posture.

Nevertheless, the ground edge will belong to the Brazilian, especially should Teixeira find his way topside.

As we saw in Teixeira’s fight with Ovince Saint Preux, the Brazilian can close the show if you turtle-out or expose your back. A smooth pressure passer, Teixeira is a master chef when it comes to cooking his opposition underneath him.

Methodically(and brutally) using ground strikes, Teixeira adds fuel to the fire as he force-feeds his opponents into head & arm chokes if they turn into them, or rear-naked-chokes if they turn way. If Gustafsson finds himself on the bottom and unable to create a scramble, we could see scorecards as well as momentum possibly swing Teixeira’s way.

In looking at the current line, I feel that the oddsmakers have this one right at opening Alexander Gustafsson as a two-to-one favorite. Though the stationary style Gustafsson displayed in his last fight could be troublesome, I feel that his speed and reactionary takedowns will thwart the pressure of an oncoming Teixeira.

Should Gustafsson get careless in the pocket, he could still pay the price as I doubt Teixeira’s punching power has gone anywhere. The Brazilian’s speed, however, is another story as his plodding style may not bode well for him against an accurate volume puncher like Gustafsson, as I see the Swede piling on and halting Teixeira’s heroic efforts late.

Official Pick: Gustafsson – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Gustafsson – KO (round 5)

Volkan Oezdemir (13-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 27 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Ovince St. Preux (2-4-17)
  • Camp: Combat Club (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Kickboxing Accolades
^   5-0 as a Pro
+   9 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   10 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Solid Muay Thai Technique
^   Seldom out of position
+   Accurate left hook
+   Hard leg kicks
^   Often punctuates combos
+   Strong inside of the clinch
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Good defensive fundamentals
+/-Often turtles to stand

Misha Cirkunov (13-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 30 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Nikita Krylov (12-10-16)
  • Camp: Xtreme Couture (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Title
+   Black Belt BJJ & Judo
+   5 KO victories
+   6 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Improved striking technique
^   Accurate left cross
+   Hard & effective kicker
^   Deceptive leg dexterity
+   Good clinch game
^   Strikes, throws, & trips
+   Solid sweeps / bottom game
+   Excellent transitional grappler
^   Rides, strikes, looks for back


The co-main event in Stockholm features a battle between Top-10 light heavyweights as Volkan Oezdemir takes on Misha Cirkunov.

A former training partner of Alistair Overeem, Volkan Oezdemir has found success since making his way into MMA. Now, training state-side with Henri Hooft in South Florida, Oezdemir will seek to make a statement in his sophomore performance inside the Octagon.

Looking to stop the Swede’s ascension is Misha Cirkunov, a longtime prospect of this division who has seemingly already staked his claim. And with the Latvian-born Canadian recently re-upping his contract with the organization, you can be certain that he will seek to remind everyone of his worth.

Starting off on the feet, we essentially have a fight between a Dutch-style Thai striker and a pressure-fighting southpaw. Though the odds may not reflect much of a chance for Oezdemir, his best chances will without a doubt be on the feet as he is the more skilled striker.

A well-trained Muay Thai practitioner whose trained both in Thailand and The Netherlands, Oezdemir implements a bit of both styles into his MMA game. Moving with his punches and seldom throwing himself out of position, Oezdemir will punctuate his combinations with crushing kicks that often follow his patent left hook.

Despite typically maintaining a technical and measured approach, Oezdemir has also shown that he is not afraid to stand his ground and return with force. Regardless of on-paper advantages, planting against the pressure of Cirkunov could cost the Swede in a multitude of ways.

Almost like a lumbering, light heavyweight version of Rafael Dos Anjos, Misha Cirkunov embodies a similar intent in regards to his application of southpaw pressure. Steadily improving upon this from fight-to-fight, Cirkunov will also stalk forward as he seeks to feint and force exchanges on his terms.

Usually setting up strikes from his power side, Cirkunov’s primary weapons could serve him well against the defensive stylings of Oezdemir. Often reverting to a shell guard, Oezdemir is most culpable to body shots and straight punches down the pipe by default(as we saw in his last fight).

Considering the left cross and liver kick are Cirkunov’s go-to strikes, I suspect those may pay dividends for the Latvian-born Canadian. During these expected collisions of pressure strikers, the clinch should come into play heavily as this is an area where Cirkunov has the on-paper edge.

However, this is also an area that I feel Oezdemir is underrated in, particularly in the counter wrestling department. Demonstrating defensive fundamentals that tell me he has been well-trained, Oezdemir does all the right things from under & over-hooks, to his overall grip and hip awareness.

Although I feel that the Swede could surprise Cirkunov in regards to thwarting some of his takedown attempts, I see the way in which Oezdemir returns to his feet being problematic in this matchup.

Typically turtling-out to stand back up(once being taken down), Oezdemir does a solid job of implementing a wrestling tactic that I am a fan of personally. That said, every position has a downside as turtling can expose you to back-takes and front-headlocks.

Despite the back-take threats being low at light heavyweight, Cirkunov, in my opinion, is amongst the best of them as he systematically transitions through strikes and ride positions. And considering that Cirkunov has shown a crafty choke competency from the front-headlock, I am not so sure there will be a lesser of two evils here for Oezdemir.

Considering that these are two skilled, top-ranked light heavyweights, I am a bit surprised to see the line open so wide. Nevertheless, I do agree with who the oddsmakers favored as I predict that Cirkunov will eventually wear down, if not stun Oezdemir, and catch him with a submission in transition.

Official Pick: Cirkunov – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Oezdemir – KO (round 1)

Peter Sobotta (16-5-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 30 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Nicolas Dalby (9-3-16)
  • Camp: Planet Eater (Germany)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   4 KO victories
+   10 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   Good footwork
^   Manages distance well
+   Accurate right hand
+   Powerful left body kick
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Well-timed double-legs
+   Superb top & transition game
^   Excellent back taker

Ben Saunders (21-7-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 34 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 77.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Court McGee (1-15-17)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Orlando)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   10 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   10 first round finishes
+   Accurate shot selection
+   Hard Thai kicks
^   Legs, body, & head
+   Strong from the Thai clinch
^   Devastating knees
+   Improved wrestling
+   Active from bottom
^   Favors high-guard attacks


In a fun welterweight affair, Peter Sobotta takes on Ben “Killa’ B” Saunders.

Even though Peter Sobotta has only made annual appearances since his second stint with the organization, the Polish-born German has demonstrated he is a much different fighter than the one who originally debuted years ago.

Standing in the way of Sobotta’s rise is Ben Saunders, a longtime fan favorite who has also had multiple runs with the organization. Coming off a hard-fought win over Court McGee in January, Saunders will be seeking to show his full skills and make a statement.

Starting off on the feet, Saunders will certainly have the on-paper edge, but Sobotta’s fight-to-fight improvements should not be over-looked.

We saw in Sobotta’s last outing that his time spent striking in between fights have paid dividends. Sharpening up his Muay Thai in particular, Sobotta can now hone in on the strong-points of being a southpaw.

Utilizing a measuring jab from early on in his career, Sobotta will now slip-and-return much more soundly as he explores his arsenal of hooks(especially when facing a fellow southpaw). Considering that right hands have been a common culprit for Saunders(stunned or dropped in 3 of last 5-fights), I would not be surprised for Sobotta to find success here.

The European grappler also has developed hard, accurate kicks off of his power side. Though Sobotta should have ample opportunity to target Saunders legs and body(as defense is not the American’s forte), he will still be playing with fire anytime he hangs out at range.

Despite drawing from a vast array of martial arts influences, Ben Saunders’ Muay Thai has spoken the loudest for him on the feet. A long and rangy welterweight, Saunders utilizes his reach well as he quietly carries one of the highest landing percentages amongst his contemporaries.

Although I feel his more plodding nature may put him at a movement disadvantage against Sobotta, Saunders’ sweeping Thai kicks could help him compensate for this by corralling Sobotta into his strike zone.

Throwing kicks from high to low, Saunders does a good job of mixing up the looks that he gives his opposition. That said, he does sometimes throw his kicks naked(without strikes for disguise) which could cost him counters if he is not careful.

We saw Patrick Cote capitalize on this as he would follow back the single-strike retractions of the taller man to get inside. Should Sobotta find his range and rhythm early, Saunders could find himself being timed or worse–having his kicks caught and turned into takedowns.

Regardless of Saunders’ comfortability and acumen off of his back, Sobotta is a well-trained grappling champion, both in and out of the Gi. And even though Saunders is one of the few fighters who can hold a candle to the rubber-guard argument in MMA, I do not see him having much more than a stall to offer Sobotta, who is quietly one of the better guard passers at welterweight.

Modeling his grappling game after his idol, Demian Maia, Sobotta executes a more conservative version of the Brazilian contender’s top control, utilizing a solid shoulder-pressure to make way for his passes. And if he cannot force his opposition into giving their back, then Sobotta is more than happy to ride position and take rounds.

In my opinion, unless Saunders can compromise his opponent first, then I believe that Sobotta will have the edge on the floor, regardless of position. And though Saunders is dangerous inside of the clinch, he still shows to be way too vulnerable to strikes and takedowns for my liking, as I see Sobotta having many options to exercise.

Despite the oddsmakers making Saunders a slight favorite here, I see a clear path for Sobotta. Although body kicks are Ben Saunders best weapons standing, there may be too much stock put into Sobotta’s stoppage loss to Kyle Noke, as it truly was a perfectly placed kick.

Outside of that instance, Sobotta has shown to be durable in both victory or defeat. And given the fight-to-fight improvements he has demonstrated striking, Sobotta could surprise many, including Saunders.

Ultimately, I predict that Sobotta’s speed will be a key factor in this fight as I feel he is the faster man, who will also have more options of control at his disposal. As a fan of Ben Saunders, I would honestly love to see him do well here. But as an analyst, I see Sobotta taking a competitive decision.

Official Pick: Sobotta – Decision

Official Outcome: Sobotta – TKO (Round 2)

Abdul Alhassan (7-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Charlie Ward (11-19-16)
  • Camp: Team Genesis (Texas)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Judo Black Belt
+   Multiple Judo Accolades
+   7 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Superb athlete
^   Explosive & agile
+   Good sense of striking
^   Pulls & returns off feints
+   Devastating right-sided attacks
^   Leg kicks, uppercuts, & overhands
+   Physically & technically strong in clinch
^   Defensively & offensively
?    Questionable overall ground game
+/-Never been out of the first round

Omari Akhmedov (16-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 29 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Kyle Noke (11-26-16)
  • Camp: Eagles MMA (Russia)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Master of Sports Combat Sambo
+   7 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   11 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Favors countering & colliding
+   Hard leg kicks
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Strikes off of the breaks
+   Solid takedown game
^   Favors power-doubles
+   Active ground striker
–    Propensity to fade
^   Gas tank bares watching


In a potential welterweight war, Abdul Razak Alhassan squares off with Omari “Wolverine” Akhmedov.

A Judo practitioner from childhood, Abdul Razak Alhassan has seemingly made waves since stepping over to mixed martial arts. An easily identifiable athletic phenom, the undefeated Alhassan has had trouble finding regional fights, hence his early landing in the UFC.

Coming off a successful debut in November of last year, Alhassan is now tasked to take on the battle tested Omari Akhmedov. Hailing from Dagestan, Akhmedov is Sambo and hand-to-hand combat specialist who has trained and fought all over the world. Recently bouncing back from a two-fight skid, Akhmedov will be seeking to make a statement and spoil the party.

Starting off on the feet, we have a matchup of two men who favor throwing similar weapons, but in slightly different ways. An imposing pressure-fighter, Alhassan will steadily stalk his opposition as he displays a preternatural sense of range and anticipation.

Fueled by his explosive athleticism, Alhassan’s brilliant instincts often serve him well as he draws his opponent’s reactions out, and capitalizes on their openings. Bullying his way into space with the swinging baseball bats that he calls leg kicks, Alhassan will typically have his right hand in mind as he utilizes uppercuts and overhands in a cleanup hitting fashion.

Nevertheless, Alhassan is not immune to power coming back at him as he will need to respect an obliging Akhmedov. Although he is a fighter who is seemingly one shot away from engaging in war, Akhmedov will typically sit back and wait for his opponent to make the first move.

Despite not having the best defense, Akhmedov will commit to his counters as he plants and wings hooks in a right-to-left continuum. Also demonstrating the veteran savvy of when to change levels and shoot, the Dagestani keeps a plethora of threats on the table that a stalking fighter like Alhassan should respect.

Akhmedov’s undoubted toughness aside, I feel that his defense is far too culpable in this matchup, particularly in his porous head movement. Keeping his hands low in general—and dropping them further as the fight wears on—Akhmedov will likely find himself open to the overhand right of Alhassan or worse, give a tiredly telling level-change that ends up with him eating an uppercut.

Regardless of the fight’s outcome, I hope that Akhmedov can ground Alhassan so that we can get some tangible information on the judoka’s Newaza(ground work) in MMA. However, Akhmedov does not have the cleanest, nor fastest level change as he heavily relies on the “power” in a power-double takedown.

Given Alhassan’s freakish base in his hips and balance on his limbs, I see Akhmedov having a hard time taking the Judoka down, especially if he fails to do so fresh as the Dagestani fighter has a propensity to fade as battles prolong.

Despite the limited sample size of Alhassan, I do believe that the oddsmakers got it right in favoring him at 2-1 over Akhmedov. The Dagestani is the right level and style to test Alhassan, and hopefully, tell us more about this prospect. And though I would love to see what Alhassan looks like outside of the first round, I ultimately believe that he will be closing up shop early.

Official Pick: Alhassan – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Akhmedov – Split Decision

Oliver Enkamp (7-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: N/A Age: 25 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: N/A”
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Frodi Hansen (4-1-17)
  • Camp: Pancrase Gym (Sweden)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt Karate (2nd degree)
+   Amateur MMA & Kickboxing Accolades
+   1 KO victory
+   4 Submission wins
+   1 first round finish
+   KO Power
+   Good footwork
^   Can fight forward & backward
+   Dynamic & dangerous kicker
^   Variates between stances & styles
+   Accurate shot selection
+   Competent wrestling ability
+   Active & attacking guard
^   Superb leg dexterity

Nordine Taleb (12-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 35 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Dec loss / Santiago Ponzinibbio (2-19-17)
  • Camp: Tristar Gym (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Title
+   6 KO victories
+   2 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Good footwork
^   Manages distance well
+   Solid Muay Thai technique
^   Accurate shot selection
+   Hard kicking game
^   Variates well between legs & body
+   Strong inside the clinch
+   Competent wrestling & takedowns
+   Good from top position
^   Active ground striker


In a potentially fun fight at welterweight, Oliver Enkamp will take on Nordine Taleb.

Stepping in on short notice, Oliver Enkamp will replace fellow countryman, Emil Meek, who was forced to withdraw from the bout. A qualifier for the 22nd season of TUF who willingly gave his spot to gain more experience, Emkamp will now take his shot at the big show as he attempts to turn irony into inspiration.

Welcoming the newcomer is Nordine Taleb, a Tristar staple who has fought and trained all over the world. Coming off an entertaining fight with Santiago Ponzinibbio, the 35-year old Taleb will be looking to get back in the win column and make a statement over the young lion.

Starting off on the feet, we have the potential for a plethora of fun exchanges as both fighters are technically competent in their craft.

Despite being one of the heavier underdogs on the card, I give Enkamp an edge in the striking department. A life-long martial artist, Enkamp was born into a family who embraced the arts as the Swede grew up in a Karate gym.

Achieving multiple ranks and accolades, it did not take Enkamp long to make his way into professional kickboxing and Muay Thai, each of which he went undefeated. When Enkamp would enter MMA(both as a pro and amateur), we would see the Swede steadily, and a seamlessly meld his influences together within the striking realm.

Not standing too square nor too bladed, Enkamp keeps all directions of movement from lateral to otherwise open as the Karate based fighter can strike just as well going backward as he does going forward. That said, Emkamp does his best work when pressuring his opposition into exchanges.

Working behind a series of fakes and feints, Enkamp will get his opponents to bite on traps or distractions. Punctuating his presence through a dynamic arsenal of kicks, the Swede will smoothly variate his stances and styles as he goes from hard, planting Thai kicks to the leg, or accurate spinning assaults thrown to the head or body.

However, even though Emkamp may be one of the better kickers Taleb has faced, he will still need to be mindful of his attempts as the Tristar fighter as a knack for catching kicks and countering(as seen in his fight with Erick Silva).

Despite being a decade older with, arguably, not as much experience, Taleb is the much more proven fighter within the world of MMA. Hailing from the renown Tristar camp, Taleb demonstrates all the well-rounded attributes that I imagine Firas Zahabi tries to instill into each of his fighters.

Working behind good footwork and jab fundamentals, Taleb has made marked improvements to his Muay Thai in recent years. Putting in time at Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand, Taleb now throws his leg and body kicks with much more accuracy, as well as vigor.

Although Taleb has shown a vulnerability to pressure at boxing range in the past, the Canadian-based fighter keeps a solid takedown transition game in his back pocket as I suspect it will serve him well in this battle.

Working off of different entries from difference spaces and setups, Taleb will present many threats that may compensate for any athletic or speed deficiencies within the matchup. The big intangible here will be Enkamp’s takedown defense and progression.

In looking at Emkamp’s grappling and MMA footage, wrestling seems to be the weakest link for the Swede. Despite demonstrating an awareness of hips within his sprawl and an urgency for under-hooks, I still have not seen enough exchanges from credible threats to know where Enkamp is at technically.

On the floor, however, the Swede is fearless as he attacks—and can finish from—most positions on the mat. Fueled by his incredible leg dexterity, the kicking skills of Enkamp translate well to his guard work as he shows to retain position or create scrambles with effect.

If Taleb is not careful or goes to the ground compromised, he could get into trouble. That said, I still side with the Tristar fighter on the floor as Taleb displays solid guard-fighting fundamentals from hand to hip position, which in turn help his ferocious ground striking.

Regardless of this fights betting line being a bit wide for my liking, the oddsmakers ultimately got the favorite right here. Even though Enkamp has the skills and intangibles to upset, Taleb is the battle-tested fighter who will have the size and superior stylistic options.

As a fan of Karate influence in MMA—I will be rooting for Enkamp, but the analyst in me suspects that Taleb will quiet the Swede’s effort in the clinch and on the floor for a decision victory.

Official Pick: Taleb – Decision

Official Outcome: Taleb – Decision

Jack Hermansson (14-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 28 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Cezar Ferreira (11-19-16)
  • Camp: Frontline Academy (Sweden)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Wrestling Base
+   8 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   5 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Accurate left hook
+   Hard leg & body kicks
+   Strong clinch game
^   Dirty boxing, trips, takedowns
+   Solid transitional grappler
+   Active & attacking guard
^   Chains submission attempts well

Alex Nicholson (7-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 27 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 81″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Sam Alvey (11-5-16)
  • Camp: ATT Orlando (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Boxing & Muay Thai Accolades
+   Black Belt TKD
+   6 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   6 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
+   Dynamic kicking attack
^   Variates looks & levels
+/-Propensity to brawl
+   Improved wrestling fundamentals
+   Competent off of back


Kicking off the main card in Stockholm is a potential barnburner in the middleweight division as Jack “The Joker” Hermansson meets Alex “The Spartan” Nicholson.

A prospect on the European circuit who won titles in multiple organizations, Jack Hermansson has recently tasted the big show as the Sweedish-born fighter has gone 1-1 since debuting last year. Now, looking to start another winning streak, Hermansson will have his chance to get back on the horse in front of his hometown.

Standing in the Swede’s way is Alex Nicholson, a former brawler turned fighter whose exploits in and on out the cage has garnered him attention. Seeking to silence his doubters and spoil the show, Nicholson will step behind enemy lines as he looks to live and die by his moniker of Spartan.

Starting off on the feet, we are looking at two fighters who are not afraid to plant and trade. However, each man goes about business a bit differently, as we will likely be in store for a game of high-stakes striking.

Working behind the bounce in his step, Hermansson will utilize feints to pressure his opponents. No stranger to sticking and moving when necessary, the Swede may find himself having to exercise those options more than usual in this fight.

Even though Hermansson throws an accurate left hook coming forward, he throws it arguably better as a check, which could come in handy against an oncoming Nicholson.

A more traditional pressure-fighter(at least as of late), Nicholson will come forward with a multitude of threats. Measuring with a pawing jab, the South Floridian will unleash unpredictable kicks that range from ariel assaults, spinning attacks, or straight shots up the middle.

If Hermansson is not on point nor respecting what is coming at him, then he could be in for a rude awakening as Nicholson possesses the power to put most men in the division to sleep. That said, Nicholson also has a tendency to attack in straight lines, which could open up the previously mentioned check hook or worse––allow for Hermansson to time a takedown.

Striking stanzas aside, I do believe the advantages in this matchup will become more apparent if this fight hits the floor. There, I believe the Swede should be the far superior grappler.

Despite losing his last bout via submission, I do not feel that it was a condemnable performance given the circumstances and opponent. Outside of that instance, Hermansson’s grappling has looked impressive from multiple positions in many fights.

Whether he is striking and transitioning from topside or chaining through submission attempts off of his back, Hermansson demonstrates the technics that tell me he is a notch above his counterpart.

Nevertheless, Hermansson will have to respect the fight-to-fight improvements of Nicholson, who is currently in the prime of his career to make them. Even in his last two fights, we have seen Nicholson make marked improvements to his wrestling fundamentals.

In fact, I would not be surprised to see Nicholson stuff Hermansson’s initial takedown attempts. However, that may not be enough for the South Floridian as Hermansson makes his money inside of the clinch and against the cage.

If Nicholson does not have answers in regards to takedowns and cage pressure, then Hermansson may be able to extinguish his efforts through nullifying controls and taxing strikes.

Should Nicholson get taken down by the crafty clinch fighter, he will need to be careful in the way in which he chooses to stand. Although Nicholson does a good job of parlaying his athleticism into get-up urgency, he has a tendency to turtle when getting back to his feet.

Against a savvy opportunist likes Hermansson, giving the back could be a costly mistake, especially in a close round. In a fight that oddsmakers opened at nearly even, the public seems to be on the same side as me here as they have shifted the betting lines to favor Jack Hermansson.

Despite Nicholson’s unpredictability and power threats, I feel that this should be Hermansson’s fight to lose. The Swede is the more technical, well-rounded fighter, as I see him stifling the American both at range and in close as he eventually seizes an opportunity to finish on the floor.

Official Pick: Hermansson – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Hermansson – TKO (Round 1)

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Munhoz def. Stasiak
  • Camozzi def. Smith
  • Silva def. Madadi
  • Musoke def. Velickovic
  • Till def. Ayari
  • Hadzovic def. Held

Recommended Plays:

Props worth looking at(

-Cirkunov by Submission +100 (0.5 Unit)
-Alhassan by TKO -149 (1.0 Unit)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-Alexander Gustafsson
-Abdul Alhassan
-Chris Camozzi

Fights to avoid:

-Musoke vs Velickovic
-Till vs Ayari
-Silva vs Madadi

For further technical and betting analysis, listen and subscribe to: The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast and for future & past UFC breakdowns, stay tuned to:

  • DC Howard

    Fantastic stuff, Dan! Best breakdown on the ‘net

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