Former Cage Warriors champion Jai Herbert is set to face off against the Slovak up-and-comer Ľudovít Klein this weekend at UFC 286.
Both are coming off of solid wins, with Herbert taking Kyle Nelson to a unanimous division and Klein riding off a two-fight win streak against Mason Jones and Devonte Smith, however, it’ll take much more than a simple win for them to make their name in such a star-studded division.
The two lightweights are very sharp strikers with a vast arsenal of attacks on the feet, making this an extremely interesting and technical fight for an early prelim.
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Likely due to the fact that he’s riding a solid win streak against more talented opponents, Ľudovít Klein enters this bout as a slight favorite.
As stated before, these two are extremely technical in their striking despite their lack of rank or prestige. Herbert is extremely long for a 155-pound fighter, sporting a lanky 77-inch reach that he uses to try and snipe his opponents with quick jabs and leg kicks. When opponents enter the pocket with him, he uses heavy knees and hooks in order to circle off and regain distance. He actually has very capable power as well, with his precise and quick shots often finding the mark to hurt his opponents greatly.
Klein implements a very similar style, albeit fairly more aggressively, using his southpaw stance to throw stinging jabs and follow up with left hands in order to enter the pocket. He’s much more liberal than Herbert in the diversity and frequency of his strikes, often throwing off his opponents by mixing the placement of his kicks and finding unorthodox angles to attack the legs and body. He’s much more willing to get hurt as well, taking some solid shots in his exchanges in order to throw back more menacing strikes.
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When it comes to grappling, both fighters seem to be at a deficit, at least in comparison to much of their competition in the lightweight division. When matched up with grapplers, they’ve both shown themselves to be fairly outmatched, expending much of their energy trying to get back to their feet. This likely will not be a large factor in this fight, however, unless either fighter gets hurt badly.
From within the clinch, both fighters are fairly dangerous. Neither threatens takedowns or any exchanges of grappling, but they both frequently throw knees from the Thai clinch and often circle off in order to throw devastating shots on the break. Although none of them were fight-enders, Herbert has also thrown some extremely dangerous elbows from within the clinch, adding to the danger that his opponents face when entering the pocket with him.
Prediction and Betting Guide
The main problem with Herbert going into this fight is his chin. Of his four fights within the UFC, he’s been knocked out in three, all of which in fairly brutal fashion. In exchanges where he’s been caught clean, he tends to retreat far too passively and not be able to keep himself together for the rest of the fight.
Klein is more than capable of throwing a knockout punch or kick and, should Herbert be within range, they could do some serious damage to Herbert and alter the fight completely. Herbert showed many improvements in his most recent fight, however, being much more active after losing the first round, so it would be wrong to count him out completely.
Pick: Ludovit Klein to win (-195)