Here’s hoping that by the time this story is read by MMA fans and bettors that there haven’t been more changes, but there’s another UFC Fight Night card this Saturday, and it’s headlined by a matchup between middleweights Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Jack Hermansson at the BB&T Center near Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
We mention the above because few cards in memory have undergone more changes. Originally, it was to be headlined by Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa and held at American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami. However, the UFC in late February moved the card to Sunrise’s BB&T Center, home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers. In early March, the UFC replaced Costa with Souza in a rematch of a UFC 194 event in which Romero won by split decision.
Alas, an illness (reportedly pneumonia) forced Romero to pull out of this fight. There was even talk of bringing Costa back to the card to replace Romero, but instead it’s Jack Hermansson. Got all that? Souza is a -200 favorite with Hermansson at +160.
The Brazilian Souza (26-6) is ranked No. 4 in the middleweight division. With a victory Saturday, he allegedly will get his first-ever title shot against the winner of the Israel Adesanya-Robert Whittaker fight, which will take place later this year. So, Souza might have to wait until 2020 for that chance if he does win – Souza lost to Whittaker in April 2017 before Whittaker was champion. Souza comes off a third-round knockout of former middleweight champion Chris Weidman last November. More often than not (54 percent), Souza wins by submission.
Hermansson (19-4), from Sweden, is ranked No. 10 in the division. He took this bout on pretty short notice as he was in the Octagon on March 30 and beat David Branch by first-round submission (guillotine choke). It was Hermansson’s third straight win since a first-round knockout loss to Thiago Santos.
To casual sports fans, the biggest name on the card might be former NFL Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy, who is a -325 favorite for his heavyweight fight against Dmitry Smolyakov (+250). Hardy’s best season was in 2013 with the Carolina Panthers when he had 15 sacks. He last played in the NFL – off-field legal issues basically ended his football career – in 2015 with the Dallas Cowboys.
Hardy (3-1) comes off a second-round DQ loss (illegal knee) in January against Allen Crowder. The Russian Smolyakov (9-2) makes only his third UFC appearance.