With nearly five years of UFC experience, middleweight contender Jack Hermansson has learned to roll with the punches. He proved that before his last fight, accepting fights with three different opponents over the course of the final month leading up to the bout. In the end, he fought Marvin Vettori, dropping a hard-fought decision to the talented Italian.
Despite being caught with a hard punch that broke his orbital bone in the first round, Hermansson hung tough, putting on a Fight of the Night performance and contributing to history in the process as he and Vettori combined for 286 significant strikes in the bout, a UFC middleweight record.
The fight taught Hermansson some lessons and it also was an experience that he believes he needed to have before truly making a run at the title.
That run starts Saturday, at UFC Fight Night: Font vs Garbrandt, as he faces another finisher in Edmen Shahbazyan. With 27 finishes in 32 combined fights, both middleweights are coming into the bout on a mission to make a statement.
The 32-year-old Hermansson is confident that his experience will be a factor in the bout, as “The Joker” has seven more UFC fights than the 23-year-old Shahbazyan.
“I do think that I have an advantage based off of experience, but also, he’s coming off his first loss and everyone handles that differently,” Hermansson told UFC.com. “That could also be a thing that is in his head.”
Hermansson is referring to Shahbazyan’s defeat last August to Derek Brunson. It was Shahbazyan’s first UFC main event and even though he wasn’t able to get past Brunson, Hermansson isn’t overlooking him one bit.
“I watched his fight with Brunson, and he showed that it’s not his strong area on the ground, but I kind of thought before that, as well,” Hermansson said. “I think that Edmen has his best skills in the standup and with his boxing, and I have my best skills in the wrestling and on the ground. I think it comes to down to who can make it their fight and who can push their will in the fight and be the smartest fighter, so the fight takes place where they want it to go. I believe I have a solid plan to make it happen.”
Rise of Jack Hermansson
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Rise of Jack Hermansson
Hermansson enters this bout determined to bounce back from that loss against Vettori, who is now fighting champion Israel Adesanya. Seeing Vettori make it to a title shot motivates Hermansson and shows him that he’s not far off from earning his own shot at UFC gold.
“If I have a great win against Edmen I should be able to get a fight with one of the top guys in the division and to get back into that title contention discussion,” Hermansson said with a big smile. “By the end of 2021 I see myself with this victory, plus another one against a good opponent and the following year I’m going to be fighting for the title.”
First things first, Hermansson knows he has to get by Shahbazyan, and he expects their bout on Saturday to be one that fans are going to love.
“I think this is going to be a great fight because Edmen Shahbazyan is a very good fighter. He’s extremely technical, has beautiful standup fighting, and I think that I bring some of the best ground game in the business,” Hermansson said. “Either way of where the fight takes place, I think it’s going to be exciting.”
Watch Hermansson’s middleweight clash with Shahbazyan on the main card of UFC Fight Night: Font vs Garbrandt on ESPN+ at 7pm ET / 4pm PT.