Joe Pyfer

Two heavy-hitting middleweights, Joe Pyfer and Abdul Razak Hassan, are scheduled to go to war for 15 minutes in the co-main event this Saturday for UFC Vegas 80.

With 20 knockouts and 17 first-round finishes between the two, they likely won’t need that long to get the biggest win of their career.

Betting Odds

The odds heavily favor the Philadelphia product, Joe Pyfer but the power of Alhassan could make for a big payday if you like betting on the underdog:

  • Joe Pyfer -450 (BetUS)
  • Abdul Razak Alhassan +325 (BetUS)

Special Offer: Sign up to BetUS today and get an exclusive sign-up offer worth up to $2,500

Fight Breakdown

Many will remember Joe Pyfer for his second run on the Contender Series last year where Dana White reminded the rest of the contestants that if they want to make it to the UFC, “be Joe Pyfer”. Pyfer, 27, has a professional record of 11-2 and is a well rounded mixed martial artist with crazy power. 

On the feet, Pyfer stalks his opponent and forces them back to the cage with feints and steady pressure with his jab. He’ll mix in kicks to the body, occasionally targeting the head, but they are mainly used to prod at the mid-section to open up opportunities for his right hand. Pyfer’s right hand is one of the best in the middleweight division. It carries a ton of power and is deadly accurate whether he throws it as a solo strike or behind the left hand. He times his opponent’s movement and entries and understands distancing very well, often landing it with perfect extension without overcommitting. 

The wrestling of Pyfer is another aspect of his game where you can tell just how powerful he is. His takedowns often come from space where he can wait for his opponent to think about throwing and shoot at the hips. Once he gets there, he’ll often latch onto the single leg before picking up and dumping his opponents with ease. 

When he’s in top control, he uses good forehead pressure to keep his opponent flat while he transitions, looking for submissions and ground n pound. Training out of Philly with the likes of Sean Brady, you know he’s been drilling his submissions but they’ve still been a work in progress. He’s good at advancing to positions where he can attack chokes but he’s struggled to maintain these positions and get the finish in the UFC.

Though there is a ton to love about Joe Pyfer’s game, there are a few areas of concern. The first being on the feet when his opponent is able to move laterally around the cage quickly. Joe likes to walk forward, keeping his opponent in front of him and when they bolt out to his left, he’s a little late to react and he’ll take a big step in with his front foot and look for the big shovel hook to the liver. This puts him in a bad situation should his opponent plant their feet after they’ve gotten the angle and sit down on a right hand.

Pyfer’s cardio is one other aspect of the game that causes a bit of worry, though we haven’t seen him fight into the third round yet in the UFC. We have seen him on the stool after one round against a few guys though and he’s looked more tired than you’d hope. Luckily, he’s game isn’t predicated on volume and he’s so naturally powerful so his offense doesn’t really suffer, but I worry how it’ll affect his ability to avoid damage

His opponent is the heavy hitter, Abdul Razak Alhassan. Alhassan is 38 years old and 12-5 as a pro with all 12 of wins coming by knockout (11 of those in the first round). He’s the definition of dangerous and if you reach or get off-balance, his right hand is powerful enough to stop anyone.

Alhassan has primarily been a striker in his UFC career, earning six wins with the promotion with explosive power in his punches and kicks. His most utilized weapon is his right hand; he likes to wait for his opponent to throw out a strike where he can dip off to the left and send an overhand missile hurling towards his opponent. Though it’s powerful, he loads up and telegraphs it badly and is often swinging and missing. That said, it only takes one shot for him to put someone’s lights out so as long as he can sling it, he always has a chance.

The kicks of Alhassan are the other major part of his striking game. He loves to dig kicks mainly to the body and leg but as we saw against Alessio Di Chirico, he has the ability to keep that power with high kicks as well. He does a lot of damage to the front leg of his opponents and is willing to switch stances to target different areas. Against lefties, he’ll switch from his conventional stance to southpaw so he can throw the outside leg kick and do damage to their lead calf before switching back to orthodox. Similarly, he’ll switch to southpaw against conventional fighters to dig the body kick to the open side of his opponent’s stance while consistently attacking the calf when he’s in his normal, conventional stance.

The game plan of Alhassan has very seldom strayed from swinging heavy leather but we did see him try to work in a new wrinkle into his attack against Claudio Ribeiro and that’s the wrestling. He was explosive with his shots early on and times them well, but was unable to finish any of the attempts. At 38 years old, it’s hard to believe that this will become an area where he excels, but it’s nice to see him mix in level changes and give his opponent more to think about which will open up more opportunities to land the big shots on the feet.

That being said, the defensive wrestling of Alhassan has been a major weak point for him in the UFC. He keeps his feet planted to keep himself ready to counter wildly with the right hand and, given how easily his opponents can see him load it up, opponents are able to time their takedowns attempts and often get him down when they get to his hips. We saw him struggle to stay on his feet against Joaquin Buckley and even more against Jacob Malkoun who was able to surpass 11 minutes of control time against Alhassan. Though he’s been thrown around with trips and single legs, he’s always shown a good ability to get back to his feet without taking too much damage or giving up submission opportunities. He does this mostly with brute strength and fighting to get up this way so many times wears on the gas tank which is already a problem.

The motor of Alhassan has been his biggest weakness. As his 11 first-round knockouts may suggest, he comes out strong and does his best work in the first five minutes. Outside of this first round however, he’s 1-4 with four decision losses and earned his only win outside of the first in the first 30 seconds of the second round against Ribeiro. His strikes become even easier to read and he’s not nearly as nimble when defending takedowns and striking blitzes. Against Buckley, we saw him shell up a few times along the cage while Buckley teed off in the second round. That isn’t going to be a viable strategy against natural Middleweights like Pyfer.

Joe Pyfer is the large favorite in this one and it’s easy to see why. I believe he’s better everywhere in terms of technique and skill but Alhassan has the nuclear option with the right hand. If Alhassan is able to pull off the huge upset, it’ll be because he catches Pyfer sleeping in a striking exchange and lands that big shot.

For Pyfer, it’d be smart to utilize his explosive wrestling game early on and deplete the gas tank as much as possible before he tries to stand with Alhassan. Pyfer should be strong enough to hold Alhassan down more than some of his past opponents who took a more wrestling-heavy approach and that’ll make Alhassan work even harder to return to his feet where he has a shot. In the striking exchanges, he needs to work the jab and follow it with the straight right hand. The technical striking of Pyfer is something we’ve seen Alhassan struggle with at range and the power of Joe Pyfer is enough to stun and likely stop Abdul.

Fight Prediction

Outside of a knockout blow landing in a flurry from Alhassan, I don’t see a path to victory for him. Pyfer could showcase his wrestling to not risk getting clipped and to hunt for his third career submission victory. If he wants a more violent finish, I still think he’ll utilize his wrestling early before standing and trading with Alhassan in the later part of round one into round two.

Currently, the odds for Alhassan to win by knockout in the first is +900 which is absolutely worth a hedge because. As we know all too well, anything can happen in MMA but I’m confident Pyfer gets this one done inside the distance.

Prediction: Joe Pyfer to win inside the distance -250 (BetUS)

Special Offer: Sign up to BetUS today and get an exclusive sign-up offer worth up to $2,500

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *