This Saturday, #7 ranked Kelvin Gastelum (16-5-0) will be taking on #6 ranked Jack “The Joker” Hermansson (20-5-0). They’re set to meet in a bout that will surely skyrocket the winner into the conversation for a place in the top 5 of the stacked Middleweight division.
Though Kelvin is coming off of two straight losses, don’t let this stat deceive you. In his most recent outing, Gastelum took the surging Darren Till to a close decision. Though neither man looked the best we have ever seen them, the consensus opinion coming away from that fight is that the usually aggressive Gastelum seemed to be missing a step when he stepped into the Octagon with Till that night. This was almost a polar opposite performance to the one in his bout prior to this against undefeated currently Middleweight Champion of the world, Israel Adesanya. In a fight that many consider an all-time great, Kelvin and Israel went the distance with both men enduring ungodly amounts of damage over the 25-minute duration of the contest.
#6 ranked Jack Hermansson is similarly coming off a loss to the division’s dark horse Jared Cannonier. Prior to this setback, Hermansson surprised many fans by winning a clear cut decision over Jacare Souza in a fight that launched “The Joker” to the forefront of Middleweight title contention. With 16 of Hermansson’s 20 wins being finishes, we will likely see him attempt to stop Gastelum inside the 25.
Keys to Victory
The Straight Left
Though not the most “Notorious” left hand in the game, Kelvin has managed to put countless opponents away with this shot. Though usually landed as a counter (Against Michael Bisping, for example), Kelvin may fair better being the aggressor on the feet when he takes on Hermansson. Given “The Joker’s” height and reach advantage, the 5’9 Gastelum will likely look to pressure the 6’1 Hermansson backwards and use his superior boxing to land shots in the pocket.
Though Kelvin is an absolutely stellar wrestler, his biggest advantage in this fight is on the feet. Throughout Kelvin’s career, he has effectively used the threat of the takedown to increase the effectiveness of his boxing. AKA “MiniCain”. This style may serve him wonders this Saturday when he takes on the impressive, yet oftentimes herky-jerky striking style of Hermansson.
Jack Hermansson’s guillotine is quickly becoming a signature of his. With two straight coming against Gerald Meerschaert and David Branch as well as a near finish over 4th Degree Black belt Ronaldo Souza, Hermansson’s jiu-jitsu is nothing to be trifled with. By being the taller man, Hermansson may find himself with plenty of opportunities to lock in a guillotine from the clinch against the shorter Gastelum.
Being the taller man gives Hermansson certain advantages, one of them being clinch positioning. By having more leverage in the clinch, Hermansson will have more control over where the fight takes place. Particularly in the Thai Plum. (as pictured above). By effectively using the Thai Plum, Hermansson will not only be able to land strikes but also tire his opponent. Furthermore, the Thai plum is a perfect position for “The Joker” to look to snatch up his signature Guillotine.
A tough one to call. This has all the makings of a modern-day striker vs grappler matchup. Though Hermansson could very well snatch up a guillotine if Kelvin leaves his head out there, I feel as though Gastelum’s boxing and ever-evolving fight IQ may prove too much for the Joker come Saturday night.
I personally do not see this going 5 rounds regardless of the victor. With Hermansson’s elite grappling and Gastelum’s sharp boxing, this likely isn’t going 25 minutes.
I can see the first round being very competitive, with both men struggling to find their range. As the fight goes on, I believe Kelvin will begin to find his range to land the left straight and we will see him put Hermansson away in the latter stages of the contest.
What’s Next for the Winner?
The loser of Adesanya vs Paulo Costa or Jared Cannonier in the meantime.
The loser of Whittaker vs Till.
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