Joe Pyfer might be the most hyped middleweight prospect not named Bo Nickal in the UFC. Pyfer pursues a sixth straight stoppage win and Jack Hermansson’s place in the official UFC middleweight rankings. Hermansson vs. Pyfer headlines UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Hermansson (23-8) returns to the UFC Apex following the longest layoff of his UFC tenure. Hermansson has been absent since losing to Roman Dolidze in December 2022, partly due to an injury suffered while training for Brendan Allen last year. “The Joker” was all smiles when speaking to CBS Sports this week but expressed frustration over delays and inconsistent performances in the last five years.
“I couldn’t train with the state that my body was in,” Hermansson told CBS Sports. “After that, it was kind of a rehabilitation period and slowly back into martial arts. In September, I felt ready to compete again and I’ve been trying to get a fight ever since. I’ve been itching for a while. It sucks to be off because you don’t feel productive. You feel like the time is running away from you. Especially at this stage of my career.
“It’s really, really tricky especially when you’re going up against the best guys in the world. One wrong decision can cost you the fight. There’s no room for that and I’m doing everything I can to perform without any errors.”
Check out the full interview with Jack Hermansson below.
Pyfer (12-2) shot out of a cannon in his second “Contender Series” appearance. He impressed UFC president Dana White with a second-round TKO and followed through with three straight UFC finishes. Pyfer can punch his ticket to the middleweight top 15 with a win over Hermansson (No. 11). Pyfer’s explosive power has earned him a 92% finishing rate but fighting mindfully and tactically is imperative in the long term.
“I have big power. I think I could use a little more movement but sometimes I fall in love with wanting to punch people really hard,” Pyfer told CBS Sports. “I’m still a growing athlete. I’m still maturing. I’m still getting smarter.”
Check out the full interview with Joe Pyfer below.
Saturday’s Fight Night is pretty lackluster but there are a couple of worthwhile offerings. Dan Ige vs. Andre Fili at featherweight is somewhat compelling and Gregory Rodrigues vs. Brad Tavares is intriguing enough. Longtime fans might also get a kick out of Michael Johnson returning to action against Darrius Flowers.
Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday with the latest odds before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
|Joe Pyfer -270
|Jack Hermansson +220
|Dan Ige -180
|Andre Fili +152
|Robert Bryczek -160
|Ihor Potieria +135
|Gregory Rodrigues -275
|Brad Tavares +215
|Michael Johnson -140
|Darrius Flowers +118
|Rodolfo Vieira -115
|Armen Petrosyan -105
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: Feb. 10 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: UFC Apex — Las Vegas
TV channel: ESPN+
Jack Hermansson vs. Joe Pyfer: Hermansson often finds himself fending off hungry up-and-comers. He’s mostly been successful against fighters the caliber of Chris Curtis and Edmen Shahbazyan. Almost every loss was against fighters in the title sphere like Sean Strickland and Jared Cannonier. It’s his recent defeat to Roman Dolidze, and Dolidze’s subsequent performances, that cause concern. Hermansson was a reliable submission and knockout threat through most of his career but has struggled to finish Top 15 opponents. His chin is solid but far from bulletproof. Pyfer is facing his most experienced opponent to date but has key competitive advantages. Pyfer has the power necessary to stop Hermansson and the takedown defense to avoid Hermansson’s submission game. Hermansson is better than some give him credit for but lacks the tools to threaten Pyfer. Pyfer via KO2