Jack Hermansson vs Kelvin Gastelum
Jack Hermansson (-115) (20-5-0)
Hermansson enters this fight looking to bounce back from a 2nd round knockout to Jarod Cannonier. The loss ended a four fight win-streak that had seen him rise to the top-5 of the middleweight division. He was able to take Cannonier down early but was never able to maintain control. He went for another takedown in the 2nd round and Cannonier caught him with an uppercut and finished him with ground and pound.
Expect Hermansson to come into this fight with a very similar gameplan. His best path to victory is to take Gastelum down early, create some scrambles, and sink in a submission. He has good trips and a sneaky guillotine that he was able to find against both David Branch and Gerald Meerschaert. With a win and particularly a finish, Hermansson finds himself right back in the picture at the top of the division.
Kelvin Gastelum (-115) (16-5-0, 1NC)
Kelvin Gastelum also enters this fight looking to rebound from an unfortunate 2019. He lost a tough, competitive decision to Israel Adesanya and then a split-decision to middleweight newcomer Darren Till in November. He’s had plenty of time to recover however and he should come into this fight in excellent form. He knows Hermansson’s gameplan, so I expect his takedown defense to be on point. Even if Gastelum does get taken down, he’s solid on the ground and he’s shown the ability to get back to his feet.
Gastelum is undersized for the division but he’s got sneaky power and excellent boxing. He stays relaxed under pressure and he has great cardio. This is an extremely important fight for Gastelum and with a win, he can prove he’s still a top contender in the middleweight division.
Prediction: Kelvin Gastelum via KO/TKO
Gastelum asked for a July date with Hermansson and he got his wish. I expect him to show a lot of growth and a lot of confidence despite coming into this fight winless in over two years. He’s taken Stylebender into the 5th round, tied at two rounds a piece, and was a round away from becoming champion. Hermansson hasn’t fought the same level of competition and when he does face the top-level guys, he has a tendency to get knocked out (i.e. Jarod Cannonier and Thiago Santos).
Gastelum is a top-level guy and has very deceptive power and strength. I expect him to avoid most takedowns and even if he does get taken down, he’ll remain calm and get right back up. Hermansson’s striking is unorthodox and he will have a 6-inch reach advantage, but Gastelum has a great chin and good head movement. Gastelum is too technical and I expect him to pick Hermansson apart as the fight goes on. He’s had time to recover physically, mentally and emotionally and I think we may see his best version yet. Take Gastelum to get it done.