Alexander “The Great Ape” Hernandez, 30, has dropped back-to-back fights for the first time in his career; both came inside the distance. Hernandez is 13-6 as a professional but 5-5 in the UFC. Jim “A-10” Miller, nearly a decade older than Hernandez, is on a three-fight winning streak, with all fights ending via second-round finish. Miller has amassed a 24-15 UFC record that dates back to 2008.
Despite recent fights, Hernandez opened as the favorite and has continued to grow throughout the week.
- Hernandez: -230
- Miller: +190
Hernandez is a highly talented but incredibly inconsistent fighter. Finding the right division has proved difficult, often being the smaller man at 155 but struggling with the weight cut at 145 pounds. Hernandez’s game is steeped in athletic kickboxing and strong wrestling, but, he’s had significant issues with cardio and fight IQ, both of which have only been exacerbated by his lack of a clear division. When he’s fighting well, which typically happens in the first 5 minutes, Hernandez likes to create space on the feet where he can athletically bounce in and out of range. “The Great Ape” tends to strike with versatility, speed, and power. He times his shots well is able to counter cleanly, and can land strikes from multiple levels.
In the grappling department, Hernandez is a strong wrestler who is able to drive opponents to the cage and pin them there for long periods of time. He is more position over submission or ground and pound, often using his wrestling to steal close rounds or give himself a breather after a heavy striking exchange. Hernandez’s issues come after the first round. Despite his physique and wrestling ability even when tired, Hernandez, recently, has struggled to get anything going once round 1 ends. His strikes become labored, his wrestling an afterthought, and his defense nearly non-existent.
There are no glaring reasons to explain why Hernandez gasses as much as he does; but, his cardio has failed him in back-to-back fights and has only 2 wins in the UFC outside of round 1 finishes. Because his game requires athletic movement and explosive action to be truly dangerous, Hernandez seems to be caught in between game plans. If he slows his pace, he limits his upside. But, if he keeps up his pace, which makes him dangerous in the first 5 minutes, Hernandez seems to be a 1 round fighter.
Miller, somehow despite his age and grueling number of fights, seems to have found a resurgence in his career. In his prime, Miller was a brawler on the feet, unafraid of standing toe-to-toe to swing haymakers for 15 minutes and had an excellent submission game to finish fights. Miller has gotten into countless fan-friendly fights, both wins and losses. More recently, Miller fights in a similar way but his game plan has flipped from brawl first to grapple first. This switch demonstrates his knowledge of himself, his skills, and what he needs to do to win. Miller still carries power in his hands and can eat a clean shot with the best of them, but, his striking is often a step behind many others in the division. Being a beat slow on the feet is not a criticism but it is a dangerous reality. Miller, recognizing this, has shifted into a more grapple focused fighting style.
Typically, Miller will use technical footwork and heavy hooks to strategically push his opponents back to the cage. As his opponent is busy defending Miller’s striking volume, he exposes his hips. “A-10” does not have the best pure wrestling but he is effective at clinch work, dirty boxing, and advancing position against the cage. The struggles Miller faces are against speed and opponents who can match his pressure and push him back. Miller, despite still having a good chin, tends to keep his head on the center line and eat clean shots as he looks for his own.
Prediction and Betting Guide
This fight will really test how far Hernandez has fallen. “The Great Ape” should have enough speed, power, and striking versatility to beat a 39-year-old fighter who struggles to stay off the centerline. However, Miller is crafty, multi-dimensional in his own offense, and is going to try and make this a dogfight.
My favorite bet is under 2.5 rounds at a -160. I think Hernandez has the skills and power to put Miller away in the first round, even though Miller hasn’t been finished since 2018. If Miller survives the early pressure, he should be able to get Hernandez against the cage and find a finish against his, likely depleted, opponent. As a straight pick, though, I’ll ride with the dog. I anticipate Miller getting Hernandez against the cage to take away Hernandez’s kicks and speed advantage, and then win a grizzly and dirty fight.
Pick: Miller to win inside the distance (+300)