A middleweight fight between longtime contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Jack Hermansson headlines UFC Fort Lauderdale on Saturday in Sunrise, Fla.
Jacare (26-6, 1NC) was slated to face Yoel Romero in a rematch, but Romero (pneumonia) withdrew. Hermansson (19-4) is fighting on short notice.
Hermansson isn’t the ideal opponent for the Brazilian ranking-wise. But a win should guarantee Souza a fight against the Robert Whittaker-Israel Adesanya winner.
“The Joker” Hermansson could leapfrog a number of contenders if he secures the biggest win of his career, but it won’t be easy. Jacare is a phenom on the ground with his jiujitsu and all-round grappling, and also possesses knockout power and an improved striking game, as evidenced by his last win over Chris Weidman.
It’s not surprising that Souza opened as the -175 favorite, according to BestFightOdds.com.
Hermansson, a +135 underdog fighting without a full training camp, also fares well on the ground. However, he will not want to test those skills against Jacare. Hermansson’s stand-up game is inferior to his ground game, and could find himself in trouble if he can’t handle Jacare’s pressure.
There’s always a chance of an upset, but this should give Jacare his fifth win in his last seven fights.
Prediction: Jacare by submission
Greg Hardy vs. Dmitrii Smoliakov
In the co-main event, former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy is fighting Dmitrii Smoliakov for a chance at his first legitimate UFC win.
Hardy (3-1) looked good in the first few minutes of his fight against Allen Crowder in January. However, as the fight went on, he ran out of energy. Crowder looked like he would score a knockout, but an illegal knee disqualified Hardy.
Hardy now takes on the 36-year-old Smoliakov (9-2), winless in his only two UFC appearances and seemingly brought back to be fed to Hardy.
That should point to a Hardy win. The former NFL player likely has worked on his cardio since his last fight. He opened the fight as a heavy -265 favorite, while his Russian opponent was a +185 underdog.
If the fight goes the distance, there could be value in betting on an upset.
Prediction: Hardy by KO/TKO
Mike Perry vs. Alex Oliveira
The welterweight bout between Mike “Platinum” Perry and Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira is part of the main card. Perry (12-4), having lost three of his last four fights, stepped in on short notice for Li Jingliang.
“Platinum” came into the UFC as an undefeated knockout artist, but things haven’t gone his way recently. He can be reckless and has shown he can be outpointed with a good game plan.
Oliveira (19-6-1 2NC) is more than capable of winning on points. Along with being in camp longer than Perry, he opened as the -175 favorite.
Perry opened as the +135 underdog, and while there’s always a chance of him landing that one big haymaker, it looks likely to be a win for the Brazilian.
Prediction: Oliveira by decision
Glover Teixeira vs. Ion Cutelaba
Former UFC title challenger Glover Teixeira takes on Ion Cutelaba in a light heavyweight bout.
Teixeira (28-7) still holds hopes of becoming a champion and a win over Cutelaba (14-3 1NC) would put him on a winning streak for the first time since 2016.
Oddsmakers don’t see that happening. Cutelaba opened as a -135 favorite.
Most of Teixeira’s losses have come against elite competition, but his surprising loss to Corey Anderson could be an indicator that he’s past his prime. However, he bounced back well with a quick finish over Karl Roberson earlier this year, and should emerge victorious on Saturday.
The fact that he’s the underdog also adds value.
Prediction: Teixiera by submission