Jai Herbert vs. Fares Ziam prediction | UFC London 1

Jai “The Black Country Banger” Herbert, 35, is once again fighting in his home country, England. Herbert is 2-3-1 in the UFC but tends to find himself in exciting fights. All three of his losses have come inside the distance.

Fares “Smile Killer” Ziam, 26, has been on the shelf since September of 2022 when he won a unanimous decision. That brought Ziam’s UFC record to 3-2, with all three wins going the distance.

Betting Odds

The line opened as a pick’em, but Ziam has separated himself as the favorite.

  • Fares Ziam: -155 (BetUS)
  • Jai Herbert: +135 (BetUS)

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Fight Breakdown

Herbert is a powerful and athletic kickboxer with an often significant length advantage in the cage. His main problem is his defense and glass jaw. Herbert tends to look dangerous and powerful in the first round. Early in the fight, Herbert uses his length well, fighting behind a snapping jab and several long and prodding kicks. He moves athletically and can throw both punches and kicks in combination.

Herbert’s striking is clean and technical, and early in the fight, he packs some real power. The most notable example of this is the last time Herbert fought in London when he landed a flush head kick against Ilia Topuria- a featherweight who is likely next in line for a shot at the belt- and nearly knocked him out cold.

Herbert’s fight against Topuria perfectly summarizes his UFC career. Herbert went from nearly landing a shocking and impressive knockout early in the fight to getting finished himself soon after. After the first few minutes of the fight, Herbert tends to either get too aggressive or too passive. When he gets too aggressive, he tends to overextend on his strikes and finish in the pocket with an exposed chin. When this happens, Herbert often gets caught and dropped. If Herbert gets too passive, he tends to get backed into the cage, nullifying his length, and eventually gets caught and dropped. Typically, Herbert has a solid chance to win a fight emphatically early on; but, as the fight progresses, Herbert’s vulnerable and shaky chin become more and more exposed.

Ziam is a highly technical kickboxer who, when allowed to fight at his own pace, combines crisp strikes with well-timed wrestling. However, when Ziam is forced to fight at a higher rate, Ziam struggles to match the volume of his opponents and seems to get stuck, never really leaving first gear.

When he’s the one leading the dance, Ziam fights at range, picking his shots tactfully. He has a stiff jab and high-level footwork that help him land shots without absorbing them. While Ziam’s technical and tactful approach is his greatest strength, it also limits his upside. Ziam has extremely low volume, only landing 2.5 significant strikes per minute. When trying to set up the perfect shot, Ziam can sometimes get caught watching with long bouts of inactivity.

While we haven’t seen Ziam in the cage in over a year, in the most recent fight, Ziam showed a significant improvement in his wrestling with well-timed shots and an ability to drive through the takedowns and hold opponents down. Given his age and long layoff, it’s possible that we’ll see another improvement in this fight.


Both Herbert and Ziam excel in slow and technical kickboxing matches that take place at range. So, it’s possible we get a boring low-volume point fight matchup where neither fighter lands much damage. If this fight were taking place in the United States, that might be the direction I expect it to go.

But, given that Herbert is fighting in his backyard again, I expect to see the same aggressive Herbert we saw last time in London. If he comes out with that aggression, Herbert’s tendency to be athletic, powerful, and dangerous in round 1 might be enough to catch Ziam clean before he enters his second gear. In his last 4 fights, Herbert has a first-round knockout win and nearly another one against Topuria.

Herbert’s best chance to win the fight is to catch Ziam early. If he doesn’t, Herbert is likely to fall victim to the same pattern that has plagued him in the past. Given the odds, I like the value of a 1st round Herbert knockout. It’s a long-shot play, but I think the likelihood of Herbert getting the early finish is better than the odds suggest. I’ll take a small flyer on the London native getting a highlight reel finish.

Best Bet: Herbert by first-round knockout (+900)

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