Since losing to Thiago Santos in October 2017, Jack Hermansson has been on a tear, and now he believes he is near the front of the line for the UFC’s middleweight title.
Hermansson (20-4) turned in a terrific performance on Saturday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night 150 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he picked apart longtime veteran Ronaldo Souza. “The Joker” busted the jiu jitsu legend up with sharp jabs and sizzling counter hooks and, rather shockingly, he controlled the Brazilian on the ground.
Souza was expected to face off against Yoel Romero, but when “Soldier of God” withdrew from the bout due to an illness, Hermansson stepped up on less than a week’s notice. Since the Swede quickly submitted David Branch at UFC on ESPN 2 last month, he was as fresh as a spring chicken and his decision to take on such a dangerous opponent with almost no training camp paid off.
“I just trusted my skills that I built up throughout these years and I didn’t need a full camp,” he said after his win. “Because those skills that I have, they were built up from 10 years of practice, not from a camp.”
Souza (26-7, 1 NC) has been a perennial contender for the UFC’s 185-pound gold, but his record has been spotty as of late. One of the greatest jiu-jitsu players in MMA history, many felt that Souza would be too much for Hermansson to handle, but “The Joker” knew otherwise coming into the headlining battle.
“This was pretty much what I expected for this fight,” he said. “I was expecting to hit him more than he would hit me, but I know that he was going to throw hard and he caught me a couple of times. It was dangerous in there. I know that I am trickier, more intelligent and more versatile than he is, and I think that is what I showed tonight.”
Hermansson has won four in a row, with three of those victories coming by way of either submission or knockout. He had won two consecutive battles before his stoppage loss to Santos, and the Frontline Academy standout feels he’s right where he needs to be. With back-to-back wins over former world champions -- Souza in Strikeforce and Branch in the WSOF – Hermansson senses that his shot at a UFC title is around the corner.
“Now I am expecting another top name,” he stated. “I want to continue climbing up and get to the title. I have four first-round finishes. I have a win on short notice against one of the top guys in the world and I think that’s enough to put me right there on the top and to be one of the contenders.”