Junior Hernandez is a 5’9″ bantamweight with an overall record of 13-5, 0-1 in the UFC. His opponent is Hugo Viana, a 5’6″ bantamweight with an overall record of 7-1, 2-1 in the UFC. Both fighters are coming off losses; Hernandez lost by first-round submission to Lucas Martins while Viana lost by first-round KO to T.J. Dillashaw.
We didn’t get to see much of Hernandez in his UFC debut. He unwisely left his hands down and goaded Lucas Martins into hitting his exposed chin… which Martins did, dropping Hernandez and following up with a rear naked choke that caused Hernandez to pass out. From a data/analysis standpoint, Hernandez’s move doesn’t say a lot about his fighting ability, but from a “common sense” standpoint, it tells me he’s not the most intelligent fighter at 135 pounds.
In general Hernandez is a brawler. He likes to stand toe to toe with his opponent and throw a barrage of strikes. This would be great if Hernandez would create angles or control distance, but instead he stands right in front of his opponent, and that means he eats a lot of strikes while firing off his assault. That’s pretty much what happened in his short debut against Martins.
For better or worse, that’s Hernandez’s style. He does have four career wins by submission, but three by triangle choke and one by heel hook, indicating that if Hernandez is on the ground it’s because his opponent took him down. He does possess some knockout power and is a threat to finish fights, but nothing about the way he fights suggests that his game will work at a high level in the UFC.
Viana is also a fighter who primarily likes to stand and strike with his opponents. Viana is definitely more controlled about it than Hernandez but he’s still very aggressive. He tends to throw wide and looping punches that leave him exposed to eating strikes from his opponent. Through three UFC fights Viana has absorbed an above-average rate of 3.45 significant strikes per minute. However, Viana makes up for his defensive shortcomings with his aggression. He’s landed 4.18 significant strikes per minute, including three knockdowns in his first-round victory over Reuben Duran.
Despite the power he’s shown in the UFC, Viana has only one career win by knockout and six by decision. It’s possible that Viana’s punching power isn’t nearly as good as the fight against Duran would indicate. Watching Viana on tape, he seems to throw strikes in a way that would suggest he hits hard, but he’s also not a very precise striker. A hard punch that doesn’t hit the right spot isn’t likely to result in a knockdown – this may be Viana’s issue but I’m unsure because there just isn’t much footage of Viana available.
As far as grappling is concerned, all I know is that Viana has defended seven out of nine takedowns in the UFC. He hasn’t shown any desire to play the top control game or pursue submissions and I doubt his ground game will be tested at all by Hernandez.
Junior Hernandez vs. Hugo Viana
I believe Viana does have good knockout power… and when I consider Hernandez’s wild style, the math seems to be: Hernandez’s wildness plus Viana’s power equals Viana by knockout. At the same time I don’t think Hernandez should be counted out here. His UFC debut may have been as bad as it gets but he does have some decent wins on his record and could hurt Viana with some of his brawling strikes. Even so I think Viana is the more polished fighter and deserves to be considered the favorite.
Pick: Hugo Viana by KO
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
Right now Viana is -350 while Hernandez is +250. I understand why the line is that high; after all, Hernandez got smoked by Lucas Martins in his UFC debut. I have to wonder if the line is a slight overreaction to that loss. That’s not to say I’m tempted to bet on Hernandez here. I have to ask myself: “do I really want to place a bet on Junior Hernandez to win a UFC fight?” The answer is no, not really.